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.
A question was posted in our Google Analytics Mastery 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.
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:
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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- 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
- 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.
Multilingual tracking in Google Analytics 4
In GA4, you need another approach to achieve the same goal as described above. GA4 doesn’t have views and “goals” are called “conversions”. So, let me quickly redefine your set-up first:
Your GA4 property has 1 datastream for 1 domain with multiple language variants, targeting multiple regions.
And this is your mission:
You want to analyze the conversions for each language version, or region.
Let me start with the good news.
GA4 collects a ton of data. It is likely that the answers to your questions are just a few clicks away…
Set up explorations per region and language version
This is your best option. You can create explorations in GA4 that give you all the answers you need. You can configure them based on the setup of your site, languages and conversions.
For an analysis of your multilingual site, the best is to adapt one of the following exploration templates:
- The funnel exploration
- Path exploration
- Conversion (Use case)
- User behavior (Use case)
The possibilities are endless. Explaining all steps to set up the exact exploration you need would be useless for somebody else.
Before you tackle this gigantic task, I recommend you have a look first at your other options.
They may be sufficient for you to start and they contain some hints that may be useful for your site.
- Setting up explorations is harder than using the default reports and dimensions.
- You can configure an exploration and copy it. Then you only need to change, e.g. the region to get to the data you need.
- Explorations are more flexible than standard reports. You can fully customize them with segments, metrics and dimensions.
How can I see in GA4 how many conversions took place in a region?
In GA4, it’s easy to find out how many conversions happened per targeted region.
Go to Reports > Engagement > Conversions
Click on the Plus sign in the table under the graph:
In the following step, you can choose a geographical zone:
And there it is: your overview of conversions per region.
You don’t need to configure anything special. GA4 collects all this data automatically.
This report doesn’t show you on which language variants the conversions happened.
Where can I find conversions per language in GA4 for my main domain?
If the main domain of your site contains all language variants, you are likely using a folder structure. Your URLs look like this:
English version: https/www.yourwebite.com/en/contact
French version: https/www.yourwebite.com/fr/contact
Go to Reports > Engagement > Pages and screens
Use Page path and screen class as the primary dimension of the table.
Alas, you can not sort the primary dimension alphabetically. Instead of scrolling and trying to make sense of it, you can:
- Export the report to a spreadsheet and filter languages there.
- Open the list of conversions.
Then, select a conversion.
All this data is available in GA4.
- This method only works if you use a folder structure for languages and if conversions happen on your separate language versions. If you have, for example, only one conversion page for all your languages, this report won’t give you the insights you are looking for.
- GA4 will most likely include Not Set. That leaves you with a blind spot in your data.
Where can I find conversions per language in GA4 for my main domain?
If your language versions of your site are hosted on subdomains, you can do the same as in the previous step.
This time, you add hostname as a secondary dimension in the table.
The pros and cons of this method are the same as for the previous one.
Create custom audiences to see conversions per region
You can create custom audiences for every region. As you can see, you have a broad range to define your regions:
You can then use these segments in your reports, such as the conversion report.
In the dimension name, you can choose Audience and then pick the targeted region from the Dimension Values.
- You can use your audiences in other reports and explorations too.
- You can’t see which language version of your site the audience visited. It is possible that someone from France (region) visited the German version of your site.
Create custom dimensions based on folder structure
I won’t go into the technical details here. You can create a custom dimension for pageviews and pass the language part of the path (e.g.: /en/) as parameters.
You then need to create your custom dimensions for them.
- Custom dimensions are useful in reports and explorations.
- In GA4, you can only create 50 event-scoped custom dimensions. Once you reach that limit, you won’t be able to set up other valuable custom dimensions. If you have 51 different language versions of your site, this solution won’t work for you.
Final notes GA4
- Although Google Analytics 4 doesn’t have views and is still under development, it is possible to set up multi-language tracking and get the data you need.
- Some solutions I have suggested will be perfect for some sites only. But that is one of the biggest advantages of GA4. You can dive as deep as you need and want to. There is always a solution.
- Besides the above-mentioned methods, you could track your language variants with content grouping. Or send the ISO language and region codes of your web pages as parameters for all events and use Google Tag Manager to add a script to extract these dynamically from your webpages.
I hope these options will inspire you to find the best possible solution to track your multilingual sites in GA4.
The End (en). La Fin (fr). Das Ende (de). El Fin (es).