How to Use Google Analytics in China
Google Analytics works in China, but it doesn’t work perfectly.
Almost all of our global clients use Google Analytics, and most use other additional website analytics tools, such as Baidu Tongji.
To get the most out of Google Analytics, there are a few things you need to know. We’ve listed our four top tips here. If you’ve used Google Analytics on your site, all of these tips should be pretty easy to implement.
How to Access the Google Analytics Interface
While Google Analytics can pick up data from people that visit your website without a problem, the website analytics.google.com is blocked in China.
This means that any of your China-based staff will need to use a VPN to access it. For most Chinese professionals co-ordinating with the outside world, this isn’t an issue. We use Astrill VPN, and there’s more info on staying connected in this post.
Data Collection Is Pretty Good, Not Perfect
Google Analytics will pick up most data from your users but might miss a small percentage. This will probably be less than 10%, but we’ve seen differences as high as 30%.
If it’s critical that you track each goal or transaction, it would be best for you to do it carefully via back-end systems.
For example, for a Drupal-based e-commerce website we promote, we compare Google’s data against the sales made via Drupal.
Tag Your Ads on Baidu, Weibo and Other Platforms
Baidu, and other search and social platforms, allow you to add UTM parameters. These are parameters that can be added to the URL to tell Google Analytics where the traffic is coming from.
In the case of Baidu, you can add these parameters:
utm_source = “Baidu”
utm_medium = “CPC”
utm_term = Use UTF8 code for Chinese characters.
utm_campaign = Use this to identify your ads by group (based on your preferences). We usually insert the campaign name here.
utm_content = Baidu doesn’t support the dynamic insertion of an ad ID, so we usually use this for ad groups instead.
Create a Segment to Watch Chinese Traffic
We’ve noticed that some companies don’t really know just how much Chinese traffic they’re generating. Chinese-language marketing doesn’t only help drive traffic within mainland China, but it also helps attract users based overseas. These users from outside of China fit into one of these categories:
Chinese citizens travelling abroad.
Chinese-reading nationals abroad.
Chinese nationals living in China. However, they appear in your analytics as being elsewhere because they’re using a VPN.
So we recommend using a “segment” that will allow you to analyze traffic that is either a) coming from China or b) from a browser set to Chinese.
This is how to make one:
Login to Google Analytics.
Click on Add Segment.
Click New Segment and then Advanced. There, add two variables:
Language contains “zh”.
Country contains “China”.
Make sure to choose the “or” variable, not “and”. It means that the segment will include traffic from a Chinese-language browser or from China (or both).
If you chose the “and” operator, the segment would only include traffic that is both from China and in Chinese.
When you’re ready, it should look like this:
To view the segment, first view any analytics report as you usually would. For example, clicking on Traffic Sources on the main menu on the left side of the screen will reveal the origins of your traffic. Next, click the Add Segment button, and choose the segment you’d like to add to your views.
I hope these four tips are helpful.
If you’d like to learn more, I suggest checking out Baidu’s analytics tool, Baidu Tongji. Overall, it’s not quite as powerful as Google Analytics, but it does come with some advantages. Read more here.