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What does ‘not set’ mean in Google Analytics?

One of the most common issues you’ll experience in Google Analytics is (not set) values. Missing or inaccurate data compromises your ability to gain reliable insights and make valuable business decisions, which is the whole point of using a platform like Google Analytics.

Here’s a quick summary of what you need to know about (not set) values.

What does ‘not set’ actually mean?

It means GA hasn’t received any valid information for the dimension you’ve selected. However, the reason you’re getting this value and the potential implications can vary, depending on the report it appears in.

Here are some examples:

Page titles

Not set in page title

If you’re looking at page views and set the primary dimension to “page title”, you’ll want to keep an eye out for (not set) values. This is definitely something you should address if you’re seeing this value for pages that rank – or should rank – in search engines.

For non-indexed pages, pages behind login screens or other pages that don’t need to rank, this isn’t such an issue.

Network domain reports

not set in network domain reports

Network domain reports tell you which websites your visits are coming from and there are many reasons why you might get (not set) for a relatively large percentage of traffic.

Google Ads reports

Not set in google ads reports

If your Google Ads reports are returning (not set) values, this could mean your account is either linked incorrectly or not at all.

Browser reports

not set in browser reports

If you see (not set) for a very small percentage of traffic, this is fine. Sometimes, Google simply can’t detect the user agent containing this information. However, a large percentage of traffic (5%+) showing as (not set) means something more serious is going on – for example, you’re getting an unhealthy amount of traffic from bots or crawlers.

Dealing with ‘not set’ values

Detecting (not set) values and determining which ones require action is a key part of website maintenance. In some cases, these values are completely natural but there are many scenarios where they point to technical issues that could impact website performance, search ranking or compromise your data insights.

Need help with Google Analytics?

We have many SEO and web maintenance experts in-house who can investigate and help you deal with these issues. Just drop us a line here and we’ll get in touch.

Dave joined Vertical Leap in 2010 with a strong SEO and web development background, having worked on content management systems and eCommerce websites. With a creative flare, Dave combines his knowledge of design, usability and SEO with advanced technical skills for a broader view of search engine optimisation.

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