How you log into GA or if you are an agency and have multiple Accounts it is the topmost level.
The site, mobile application, etc
View (Previously called Profiles)
View of data and access point for reports
TIP: Have a Raw /Master View that contains no filters, otherwise you will only have Views that exclude or alter your data in some way.
Who can login to view/edit either at the Account, Property and/or View levels. You can grant 4 types of User permission: Manage Users, Edit, Collaborate and Read & Analyze. User permission can be adjusted by going to Admin>>User Management.
Google Analytics is all about speed and they want to make sure you get your data as fast as possible. GA collects data, calculates it and stores this data in aggregated tables. These tables are what make up your Standard Reports and retrieve your data request without sampling. The Standard Reports in GA are:
Dashboards – Customized overviews. You can create up to 20 dashboards each with up to 12 widgets. Each Dashboard is only available in the View it was created in unless shared.
Shortcuts – Remembers your settings and configurations for a report. These are visible only to the User that creates it unless shared.
Intelligence Events – Automatic & Custom Alerts
Real-Time – Monitor activity in real-time or last 30 minutes. TIP: Real-Time reports don’t display widened dimensions
Audience – What visitors came to your site
Acquisition – How visitors came to your site
Behavior – What visitors viewed & did on your site
Conversions – Goal and eCommerce information
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What Are We Tracking?
Dimensions vs Metrics
Dimensions: Describe Data
Thinking the “what” (what keyword did they use, what city is the visitor from)
Ex: Source/Medium, Browser, Exit Page, Session Duration
Metrics: Measure Data
Think of it as answering “how many” or “how long” (how many sessions)
Ex: Sessions, Screenviews, Bounce Rate, New Users
Google’s Dimensions & Metrics Reference Page
Group of interactions that take place on your website within a given time frame.
What ends a session?
30 minutes of inactivity
Campaign change: a user arrives via 1 campaign, leaves and then comes back via a different campaign.
Average Sessions Duration
Total duration of all sessions (in seconds) / # of sessions
*Does not include time on last page of visit unless there is an additional engagement hit
Here is an example from Google on what this looks like:
Events vs Pages
Triggered by URL (or Virtual Pageview)
Triggered by interaction
Difference between events and conversion goals is that events are typically tied to website elements and not reaching certain pages (or URL destinations). Events can be used to track things like buttons, PDF downloads, clicking the play button in a video, etc.
Exit Rate vs Bounce Rate
% of sessions in which the person left your site from the entrance page without interacting with the page.
Exit Rate (%Exit)
# of Exits / # of Pageviews
For all pageviews to the page, the exit rate is the percentage that were the last in the session.
For all sessions that start with the page, bounce rate is the percentage that were the only one of the session.
The bounce rate calculation for a page is based only on sessions that start with that page.
Google provides a great example of this:
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Event Tracking Structure
Do you have a process set in place for your Event Tracking? A lot of sites don’t and also don’t realize how this can be hurting their analysis. If you go to Behavior>>Events>>Top Events you will be able to see a list of Event Categories(if you have implemented Event Tracking). Event Tracking with Asynchronous Analytics (ga.js or dc.js) has 5 fields:
Event tracking with Universal Analytics (analytics.js) has 4 fields:
Issues occur when no structure is in place for your Event Tracking. Common issues I see are non-descriptive fields, duplication errors, Category and Label named the same. Here is an example of what Event Tracking can look like if you have no structure:
Notice how capitalization is a huge issue above? There is a category for “download, Download and Downloads”. This means that we are not getting a holistic view of how all Downloads are actually performing. My recommendation is to create some type of structure for your Event Tracking. Create an excel document like the one below:
Also keep in mind that when you use an underscore to combine words GA sees that as 1 word vs using a – which GA sees as individual words. For example, lets say you define a Category as ‘Download_link_here’ and another Category as ‘Download-link-here’. If you use the search feature in the GA interface and search for ‘here’ only ‘Download-link-here’ would show up as GA sees ‘Download_link_here’ as 1 word.
Goals & Goal Values
If you can identify an expected path to your Destination goal, you should create a funnel for that goal.
Benefits of Funnels: it demonstrates drop-off in the Funnel Goals and Funnels Visualization report, and it allows Google Analytics to calculate an Abandonment Rate (and a specific Funnel Conversion Rate).
Even for non-monetized goals, specifying an arbitrary goal value such as $1 allows Google Analytics to calculate the Page Value metric (goal value + Ecommerce revenue generated after the page was viewed unique pageviews).
TIP: Goals are not retroactive.
Goal Abandonment Rate
Abandonment Rate strictly refers to the percentage of visits during which the visitor entered your funnel (at the first step, if you specified this as required, or otherwise at any step) but did not reach the goal destination.
*You cannot apply advanced segments to the Funnel Visualization report. To generate a funnel for different audience segments, you can create separate views with filters that match to your advanced segment definitions.
Custom Campaign Tagging
As we have mentioned throughout this post Google does not know everything and needs a little bit of help from us, this is especially true when it comes to campaign tagging. Google Analytics can’t always determine which medium drove traffic or what you want it to be.
What does tagging look like?
What it can look like when you don’t utilize custom tagging properly:
Google provides a URL builder to help customize your campaign URLs. There is also the URL builder extension I mention in the Tools section. TIP: (none) is different than (not set). (none) indicates the url was not tagged at all. (not set) indicates an issue with the tagging or loading the parameters.
Default Channel Groupings
Under Acquisition>>Channels you will notice the primary dimension is set to Default Channel Grouping. This is Google defining your channels by default with their own set of rules. Here is the list of how Google defines each channel.
Default Channel Groupings may not accurately define your data and you may need to Define a new channel like ‘Affiliate’ or you may need to add to some of the Default channel settings. If you go to Admin>>Channel Grouping you will see a list of the Channel Definitions for your site. You are able to add to the System defined definitions to ensure this data is accurately attributing your channels appropriately.TIP: The order of your rules matters.
Content Groupings allow you to group and categorize content together based on rules you define. There are 3 methods for how you can assign content:
Group by Tracking Code (modify the tracking code on each web page:
Add a single line of code that identifies the content index number and the Content Group to which that content belongs.Group Using Extraction (extract content based on URL or page title)
Use a regular expression to identify a full or partial URL, page title, or screen name.Group Using Rule Definitions:
Use the rules editor to create simple rules to identify content.
Justin Cutroni has a nice post that goes in to these methods in even greater detail.
TIP: Content Groupings are not retroactive and can be created at the View level in Admin>>>>Content Grouping. You can create up to 5 Content Groupings.
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Frequent Issues with Google Analytics
Missing Tracking Code
Check for is if the tracking code is on the actual page. You would be surprised how many times websites are only partially coded. You can easily check your website for specific pieces of the GA or GTM tracking code by running a custom filter configuration with Screaming Frog.
These do not FIX duplication related to SEO, these are simply ways to consolidate these issues from a reporting standpoint only.
Use Exclude URL Query Parameters to further consolidate URLs
Ex: you have the userid parameter in URLs that doesn’t determine significantly different page content then you should probably include userid in Exclude URL Query Parameters. This way Google Analytics won’t record a separate URL for each user who accesses the account page. This consolidates the URL variations rather than excluding them. Enter as a comma-separated list for multiple parameters.
/ & /index.html
Define the Default page in Admin >> View Settings. For example, if www.example.com loads your index.html web page, enter index.html in this field.
Uppercase and Lowercase
Create a Filter to Lowercase the Request URI. Otherwise you may have traffic come in as separate URLs when casing is not specified (ie: /home.html and /HOME.html will render as 2 different pages).
Mixing dc.js & ga.js
Installing multiple instances of the Asynchronous Google Analytics Tracking code on a single web page, especially different versions of the code, is not a supported implementation. You should not have part of your site tagged with dc.js and the rest with ga.js.
Incorrect Search & Replace Filters
I have many clients come to me asking me why GA is bringing in traffic for pages that do not exist nor did they ever exist on their site. If this is happening to you the first place I would check is Admin>>Filters and look for something that looks like this:
The Search and Replace filter finds whatever Search String you define (regular expressions are a good way to do this) and replaces that string with the Replace String you define. I have seen this trip up many people, especially when a sub-domain has Search and Replace applied and that sub-domain now shows up as a different hostname. (ie: you have zzz.site.com and create a Search and Replace filter with Filter Field: Request URL, Search String: /http://zzz.site.com and Replace String: /zzz-site-com/. This means that traffic from zzz.site.com will come in to GA as www.site.com/zzz-site-com/.)
Understanding the Direct Attribution
Reason “last interaction” reports may be reporting less revenue than what is attributed under “All Traffic”:
MCF reports show assisted conversions and last click or direct conversions (which is where the Social>>Conversions>>Assisted vs. Last Interaction Analysis comes from).
MCF Report: Direct Traffic that converts is attributed to the “direct” channel.
Other GA Reports: The Direct Traffic conversion is attributed to the previous non-direct campaign or source.
For example, in the other Google Analytics reports, if a user enters your site via a referral, then returns ‘direct’ to convert, the ‘direct’ source is ignored. Instead, the referral gets credit for the conversion. In MCFs, the ‘direct’ source is not ignored. ‘Direct’ gets credit as the last interaction before the conversion, and the referral is counted as an assist interaction.
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Want to make your life easier? Use annotations! I annotate like crazy, there is no way I am going to remember the exact day a robots.txt file was updated for every client, or possibly when a new interactive launched (my memory is not THAT good). This is such an easy way to look at your data and attribute what may have been the cause of a spike or decline.
TIP: If you create an annotation in one view it will not show up in another so be consistent and know which view you are placing your annotations in.
To get custom alerts about your account simply go to Admin>>Personal Tools & Assets>>Custom Alerts and click “+NEW ALERT”. You can have these custom alerts sent to you via email or you can receive a text message notification.
Sample Custom Alerts:
Bounce Rate – is greater than x%
Sessions – is less than 1
Goal Conversions – Increase or Decrease [x% or x] from previous day/week
Sessions from [Medium, Source,etc] – Increase or Decrease [x% or x] from previous day/week
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Analytics Helper – This extension detects if Google Analytics script is installed on whatever page you are on, the type of tracking used and if the code is before the closing head tag.
TIP: This will not detect the code if you are using Google Tag Manager(GTM) use Tag Assistant I mention below for that.
Google Tag Assistant – This extension troubleshoots the various tags implemented on a page. This extends outside of just GA and includes GTM, Adwords Conversion Tracking and more. It also provides you with a multitude of information about Google Analytics Errors that might be present on your page, a list of some of these errors is provided by Google.
EditThisCookie – This extension is a simple cookie manager. I use it when I want to easily analyze how cookies are rendering across a site, it is also a much easier way to delete your cookies quickly.
TIP: Edit This Cookie is beta testing their DevTools panel only accessible in Chrome.
Some additional tools for y’all:
I would love to hear what everyone else is using, let me know what you use in the comments! Also feel free to let me know on twitter @ziesslerk.
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