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For example, earlier this year when I began working with a global recruitment agency (no names, I’m British) where they had set up google analytics internally, I discovered that visits weren’t 120,000 a month as they thought – but instead closer to 50,000 visits a month. The reason being that there were 16 domains/subdomain so every time a visitor went from one country site to another (with different domains) google analytics was treating them as new visitors. So quite a big problem that needed to first resolved technically – in order to get the correct numbers – and then with tact (obviously). You also need to make sure you add these extra variables to every webpage/tag where visitors can navigate from one domain or subdomain to another.
For example, if you have a product website, a shopping cart on a subdomain and a company website,
1. www.product. com: product website
2. store.corporate. com: shopping cart
3. www.corporate com: company website
You will need to add three variables to your standard GA tracking tag so that when one visitor for example navigates from corporate.com to product.com to store.corporate.com they will be treated as one visitor and not three which is what would happen otherwise.
The three variables you have to add:
First, utmLinker. This variable should be set to “1″ which means on. The reason is that utmLinker is the actual mechanism that transfers the cookies from one domain to the other. Without utmLinker you’d have two sets of cookies with different data – google analytics would not identify the same visitor crossing domains without it. With utmLinker, two different sets of cookies have the same data so that google analytics knows that this is the same visitor.
Second, uhash. This variable is named _uhash and should be set to “off”. This variable adds a hashed (or encoded) version of the domain name to the tracking cookies. This value is used during processing by the GA system.
Third, udn. This variable is named udn and should be set to “none” for the product website and “company name” for the store.company.com and Company.com
This is what you would add to the google analytics tracking tag for each site:
On Store.company. com:
N.B What is a cookie:
Cookies are used by Web servers to differentiate users and to maintain data related to the user during navigation, across multiple visits to a website and as a way of remembering what visitors do on a website for example buying, removing items online or logging in to a site. For example, they were originally developed as a virtual shopping cart/basket into which visitor could “place” items to purchase, and as they navigate add or remove items from their shopping basket at any time.
If you have any thoughts or questions, or happen to know of any other ways of doing things then do please let me know.
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