Tracking Multilingual Sites in Google Analytics

I haven’t seen much detailed advice out there on how to track websites in multiple languages and/or regions in Google Analytics, within the same domain. Here’s my recommendation on the best way to implement this + possible goal conversion pitfalls that you may run into.

The Question

A question was posted in our Analytics Course forums by a student named Jeannie. She wanted to track a Chinese version of her website – thereby making it multilingual – and she wanted to make sure that she was approaching it correctly.

Now Jeannie is an advanced user of Google Analytics, so she started with her proposed solution.

“My suggestion is to track the website on one domain with only one Analytics code and create different profiles [views] for every country (subfolder) and add filters.”

She understands the purposes of views and filters in Google Analytics, and knows that this is the best way to track multilingual websites. But she is concerned about tracking goal conversions accurately within the newly created view.

“I am prepared for the fact that issues can arise with tracking goal conversions. But how can I either avoid them or reduce pending problems in advance?”

The goal of this post is to teach you how to properly track your multi-regional and multilingual sites in Google Analytics, without sacrificing your ability to measure goals for each view created.

The Solution

Let me first clarify that this article assumes you’re setting up a multi language / region website on the same root domain – in a subfolder (i.e. domain.com/cn/) or subdomain (i.e. cn.domain.com) structure.

Next, I agree with Jeannie’s solution for tracking each language subfolder: use the same tracking code, and then create a unique view per language or region. Each view will be set up using filters – details below.

With regard to goals and reporting, this can get tricky, so I also recommend setting up a view with all traffic (no filters) with some advanced segments as a backup. Between having a unique view per subfolder, and advanced segments, she should be able to answer the majority of business questions that come up.

Note: It gets easier if all conversion points are all within each language subfolder. Because this way each goal can be tracked individually per view. Otherwise, if goal URLs are nestled within the root folder (for example, by using the same secure checkout URL regardless of which language visitors were browsing), then a more complex goal setup is necessary.

For now, we will focus on implementing a solution where goals are housed within each language subfolder. Time to dive into the details on how to track multilingual sites in Google Analytics.

Step 1. Set up unique views with filters – per subsite

Let’s assume we are working with 3 regions in all (if your website structure differs or uses subdomains, the below rules should still apply – by “hostname” rather than “subdirectory” in the case of subdomains):

First, make sure you have a view for “all traffic” that isn’t filtered by region.

Then, create the views per region:

Create new view


And for the sake of this example, I’ll name the view by country:

Then go ahead to Filters (under this view) and click + ADD FILTER. Set it up as follows:

The process can be repeated for each region – one view + filter per region. In my example however, my US traffic flows through my root domain www.test.com (no subfolder) – so the filter here is set up a little differently:

Here we use a custom filter type for the root domain to exclude all language/region subfolders. Change the regex (filter pattern) to what suits your structure, but the basic idea is “show me all traffic that doesn’t flow through my region subfolders” – meaning, my root site traffic only. Here’s the code – simply include your subfolders separated by a | delimiter where appropriate:

^\/(gb|cn)([\/?]|$)

Source

Once you have the view sub-folders in place, you can measure the Chinese, UK and US traffic.

Step 2. Track Goals & Conversions Per Region/Language

You need to create separate goals for each subfolder.

As mentioned previously, if all conversion points are within the subfolders as well – then this is pretty straightforward. Simply set up the goal/conversion for the specific (subfolder) URL – for example – and this can be tracked individually per view. In the below screenshot, each Screen/Page URL would include your /cn/ or /gb/ subfolder where appropriate, for example.


This may require custom code on your website based on the language/region the website visitor is transacting – for example, a virtual pageview for / (US), /gb/ and /cn/ per funnel step, so that goals can be tracked individually per region. However, if we had traffic flowing back to the root domain (the US site in my example), say for an ecommerce site that only hosts its payment gateway in the root https://www.test.com/secure/ – then these same goals would need a more advanced setup. As a funnel has been used above, you could implement a solution similar to  Google’s guide for Identical URLs across multiple steps.

Step 3. Set up Advanced Segments as a backup

Your main view (that covers all regions) should also be setup to use advanced segments per region. This will serve as a backup for you to compare data to your views and essentially provide an additional insight that your goals are being tracked correctly per region.

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Closing Notes

  1. This article isn’t a solution for cross domain tracking – Google has a separate explanation of how to achieve this. https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/1034342?hl=en
  2. As I write this article, Google Analytics allows 25 views per property. If this is not enough to support your site and its languages, use segments only instead. A more complex alternative if required: think creatively on how to manage multiple properties which in turn have multiple views. For example, if one Analyst in my team was focusing on Europe, I could have a property for Europe, and then separate views for each language in Europe on my site, assuming that fits within the limit.

P.S. You may be advised to use a separate Google Analytics property per region or language. I advise against this, as that requires even more managerial overhead that is completely unnecessary.

About the Author

Rishi Daryanani is a technical manager and entrepreneur with a background in web development, and passion towards conversions and content writing. Running a digital/development shop for over 10 years, for agencies in need of a partnership mindset when building solutions that require deep business analysis and attention to detail.

  • Another idea to provide more ways to dissect the data is to add a Content Grouping that groups by region. That will make it easier to compare performances of regions in the “all traffic” view.

  • Elena Jimenez

    Excellent article !! Pretty straightforward

    • Rishi Daryanani

      Thanks Elena – always good to hear such feedback 🙂

      • Elena Jimenez

        Hi Rishi,

        Just one question, I have done the step:

        “Then go ahead to Filters (under this view) and click + ADD FILTER. Set it up as follows”, including traffic to the subdirectories….

        My web is http://www.mysite.com/fr/

        When I check in Google Analytics I have only traffic to http://www.mysite.com/fr/ , I do not have traffic to more pages.

        Is this normail?
        Thanks

        • Rishi Daryanani

          Hi Elena, it looks like a mistake on my part. Can you try “begins with” instead of “equals to” for the filter setup? I found this question that is similar to this situation: https://stackoverflow.com/questions/15136177/filter-on-directory-and-all-subdirectories-in-google-analytics – and it also confirms “begins with” is what worked. Also, omit the ending “/” if your permanent URL for the French home page is http://www.mysite.com/fr . Please let me know if that works for you, and I’ll update the article.

          Thanks

          • Elena Jimenez

            Hi Rishi,

            I have made the change today. I have verify the new filter and it shows a difference with the previous settings, more pageviews, so it seems it works well now.
            I will confirm this in a few days.
            Thanks

          • Rishi Daryanani

            Great, Elena – please confirm it’s all working now. Thanks for the update.

          • Elena Jimenez

            All working well now.
            Best