Isn’t it disappointing when you see “not set” in your Google Analytics report? This label just makes your analysis that much more difficult and doesn’t tell us much in terms of the decision-making process, leaving you with not enough information on those dimensions with no set data.
What is ‘(not set)’ in Google Analytics Report?
Google Analytics assigns the value ‘(not set)’ when it has NOT received any information for the dimension you have selected. One of the reports in Google Analytics where you may see the (not set) value more often than not, is that of Landing Page.
The Landing Page dimension tells you which page or screen a user has viewed first when they visited your app or website. This report will be very important when you are optimizing your website performance, especially with A/B testing. Tatvic Solution from Google Marketing Platform for Google Optimize 360.
Having (not set) in this report can be an indicator of some issue in your tracking. ‘Not set’ in landing page reports can be due to many reasons. In this blog post, I’m sharing a few reasons which I’ve experienced with some of my clients, and these reasons are also followed by the solution for each one of them.
Problem #1: Session Expiry:
By default in Google Analytics, the session expires after 30 minutes of inactivity, and this inactivity is measured from the last interaction that the user carried out on your website. Also every midnight Google Analytics ends the existing sessions according to the timezone set for reporting, if any event fires after the session are expired due to any one of the reasons Google Analytics sets the Landing Page value to (not set). For example, a user lands on your website and navigates through a few pages, and leaves a web page open as it is. After 30 mins of inactivity on that web page, say the user returns to that same webpage and interacts with it. This interaction will lead to a new session in Google Analytics and that session will have a landing page as (not set).
This can often happen with websites with lengthy content or embedded videos as well as eCommerce websites offering a variety of products. Think of all the times when you may have opened a new tab only to be distracted to compare the best prices and come back to the original tab later.
Solution #1: If the ‘(not set)’ problem exists on your site or app due to the lengthy content or long videos, you can change your Session Timeout settings to more than 30 minutes (up to 4 hours) on the basis of the content on your website and on the basis of business requirement. Longer session timeout settings will decrease the (not set) numbers in any such scenarios.
Problem #2: Session Breakage:
When a user visits a particular website, several hits like pageviews, events, transactions, etc can be sent to Google Analytics. These pageviews or events, or any other hits should all be connected so you can get a complete picture of the user activities on your website. However, for many different reasons, these hits sometimes can get disconnected and exist in separate sessions. In short, if a session is not set off by pageview but something else, your Landing Page dimension will show as (not set). This is one of the more critical issues that should be addressed.
Solution #2: This usually happens because of a tracking issue. Your old on-page code could be conflicting with your tags of Google Tag Manager. One has to make sure that your trackers are communicating together with each other to connect all of the hits of a session.
Problem #3: Implementation Errors:
The third possibility could be if a session contains an event hit but it does not include a pageview hit. For example, a user landed on one of the pages of the website which does not have pageview implemented, but only event hits like below:
Entry -> Event 1 -> Event 2 -> Event 3 -> Event 4 -> Exit
In the above-mentioned case, there is no pageview hit sent to GA, but we have one session with 4 events. This leads to (not set) value in the Google Analytics Landing Page reporting.
Solution #3: You need to consider implementing the analytics tracking code on every page of the website. If the value (not set) is the result of firing only specific events and no pageview hit, then you can identify which events are contributing to (not set) values and rectify the tracking for those events.
Problem #4: Incorrect Filters:
Sometimes due to an incorrect Tag implementation, pageviews may NOT be the first thing firing when a page load or event is the only thing firing. Because of this implementation error, pageview will not be recorded in Google Analytics and (not set) will appear on landing pages.
Solution #4: Please check and make sure ga(‘send’,’ pageview’) hits; comes first.
Helpful Resource: Tracking with gtag.js: The Future of Tagging and How to Set it up!
Problem #5: Incorrect Filters:
Although not a very common occurrence, it is possible that one of your view filters is filtering out pageviews for specific landing pages for which events are getting tracked.
Solution #5: Double-check your view filters and remove unwanted/incorrect filters.
I hope this clears up any questions that you may have about ‘not set’ in your landing page report. Since this ‘not set’ won’t be disappearing anytime soon, it’s important to know what you can and cannot waive off in your analysis. There are a handful of other reports which can have ‘(not set)’.
If you would like us to investigate your ‘not set’ issue, drop a comment below and we will get back to you.