UPDATE 3rd Sept 2013: Many thanks to +Clancy Childs for getting Page Value fixed http://clearclu.es/15oObU8

(although bear in mind Goal Completions still skewed so calculating Page Value via API using raw values will be incorrect). But great to have Page Value back! 

Original discussion below:

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Calling all GA experts: I think I've found a bug in GA related to how Goal Completions are assigned to pages where Goals are jQuery/JS events (e.g. clicks on buttons, outbound clicks etc). This inflates both goals and page value. I say think because it's more likely that there is another logical explanation but please bear with me.


The problem
Goal Completions are higher than Unique Pageviews for a given page (spotted this on several websites I have access to and a couple unanswered posts on GA help forum). Usually people report higher Unique Pageviews than Goals, not the other way around.


The trigger (my hypothesis)
Goals (events or virtual pageviews) when defined as click on a button, outbound link or another page element (ie. a great many cases).


The direct impact
Page Value is directly connected to Goal Completions. If Goal Completions numbers are inflated, so is Page Value. Therefore any content-level analysis using Page Value is likely to be inaccurate.


End result (read the rest only if it's of interest)
Inflated Goal Completions: http://clearclu.es/18tBatM
Skewed Page Value: http://clearclu.es/ZBqQ2t


My controlled experiment to test the hypothesis involved:
- Use of test server (ie. no other visitors)
- No profile filters, no custom settings
- Straightforward Goal definition (see here http://clearclu.es/ZBqdG8)
- Setting unique visit-level custom variable to then identify single sessions in reports
- Clearing cookies after every single test visit
- Recording all steps taken with GA debugger
- Using two simple, minimalist pages, Page G and Page H with a single link on both called Button B1. Clicking this triggers an event (also the goal; value = $50). Both pages identical (see complete source code for each here: http://clearclu.es/18tEbdA)

I've manually architected this visit (see here screenshot http://clearclu.es/18tyyMz):

Page G >> Page G >> Page H >> Page G >> Click Button B1


How GA Goal processing logic works:
- Goals are counted only ONCE once per session.
- Any page seen before the goal was reached gets equal credit for the goal. Only once. (ie. if Page G was seen 3 times before the goal, it gets assigned only 1 Goal Completion and $50 value).

Wrong, Page G shows 3 Goal Completions and $150 page value.



What GA shows:
1. Click Button B event was fired only once in my session (see screenshot http://clearclu.es/YoJImH) -- exactly as expected

2. One Goal Completion at session-level (as expected), but 3 goal completions for Page G: http://clearclu.es/18tBatM

3. Skewed Page Value in content reports: http://clearclu.es/ZBqQ2t



Experiment variations I've tried:
- Both Google Tag Manager implementation and directly with GA snippet
- Hard-coded JS code to capture the click as well as jQuery version
- Click captured as event and virtual pageview
- Firefox and Chrome

There is surprisingly little documentation available on how GA processes Goals AFTER hits are sent to their servers and most of it is described in the context of Page Value: http://analytics.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/understanding-and-using-page-value.html



Your turn
-- Can you find higher Goal Completions than Unique Pageviews in your reports? If yes, how are those Goals defined? Are they user interactions with page elements tracked with JS (e.g. clicks)?

-- Is this a bug? Is this an implementation error (I've triple checked everything)

-- Is there anything I've missed? Glaringly obvious or otherwise?

I've spent a fair bit of time troubleshooting this so I may have stopped seeing the woods for the trees. Feel free to tell me I've completely missed the point.
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