April 20, 2022 in Tips by

I love Google Analytics. It’s an essential part of my marketing toolkit. However, recent rulings in Europe suggest it is illegal to track Europeans with it- so we might have to abandon Google Analytics. 

First of all, let me remind you that I am not a lawyer. I am not recommending you breaking the law. If you are worried you might be breaking the law, you should speak with your lawyer. 

Second, as of April 2022, this issue is still evolving. From my understanding, a court in Europe has deemed Google Analytics illegal because it stores information in the United States. The US is trying to work on a compromise with the EU- but this is still in the works. GA4 does not solve this problem. Nor does server-side analytics.

Is this an problem for your website? I’ve created a custom Google dashboard to help you quickly see if you’re getting traffic (and leads) from the EU to help you decide whether you need to take action here. You can use your Google Analytics to tell if you’re getting traffic from the EU and if you’re collecting information (via forms, for instance) about people who reside in the EU. 

https://analytics.google.com/analytics/web/template?uid=gGPxG0iLRgKCjVh_wJBMuA

Yes, I understand the irony of using a tool that might be illegal in the EU to determine whether or not you’re possibly breaking the law in the EU. Still, since Google Analytics is the issue, it makes sense to use it to see if you need to move away from GA. Besides, you might not have another way to determine this information.

What this dashboard will tell you

This report is a simple set of pie charts comparing your traffic and leads from a continent. It will show you:

How much traffic is from Europe? 

This report will show you the percentage of your total traffic by continent to your website. It’s important to know that “Europe” includes countries that are not part of the European Union- which the recent Google Analytics case relates to exclusively. So, if you get a lot of traffic from England, that will report as from Europe. However, from what I understand, that’s not relevant to the ruling from the EU (since Brexit).

This report does not consider how they found you (your marketing channel or source) because that doesn’t matter for our purposes. 

Why is it important to know from what location your traffic is coming? 

If you have a significant portion of your traffic from the EU, you might be breaking the law. You might need to look at another solution for tracking how people find your site and what they do when they visit it.

How many leads are coming to your website from Europe? 

Assuming you’ve set up Goal tracking in GA, you will see from where you’re getting business. I’m assuming you have a form on your website that collects personal information from your potential customers. 

Why is it important to know from where your customers are coming?

Two reasons. For one, if you’re collecting personal information about your customers (name, phone number, email address, etc.) and they’re from the EU, you might need to comply with GDPR’s rules about that information. 

This chart also helps you establish the implications of tracking traffic from the EU. If you have traffic from the EU but never get any customers, you might not care about that traffic from the EU. Now you might be breaking the law by collecting information about those visitors using GA- but you might be willing to lose all your traffic from the EU if none of them ever become your customers! 

What if you need to abandon Google Analytics because of the EU’s ruling?

We’ll you still need to track how people come to your website and what they do when they visit! Don’t just uninstall GA and walk away. If you do that, how will you know whether your marketing efforts are working? Without this data, you’re just guessing (or hoping) your measures are effective. While you could build your own tracking solution (and store that data in the EU). Instead, it’s probably easier to install another website analytics system (I’ve heard good things about Fathom) that complies with the law (from my understanding).

However, I’d suggest that Google Analytics will find a solution. Alphabet (Google’s parent company) has invested too much time and money in GA to give up all those customers! They need to find a solution that makes the EU happy. They will, for sure, but it will take some time.

Meanwhile, hopefully, this report will help you understand how imperative it is for your website to address this issue. 

WordCamp Santa Clarita 2021

You might have heard David speak about SEO at WC Santa Clarita, CA in July 2021.

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