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3 Google Analytics tweaks to make your life easier

Google Analytics is a fantastic tool that can transform all your lovely data into insights about who visits your website, where they come from and whether they like what they see enough to stick around and convert, painting you a picture of what’s working and what isn’t and allowing you to improve their experience


But sometimes the vastness of all this data can seem overwhelming and there are probably occasions when you’ve scratched your head while looking at an Analytics report and thought “hmm, that doesn’t look quite right”.

Fortunately, there are ways around these blips and pain points to improve the accuracy of your data and make your life easier when viewing and interpreting it. Here are three of them…

1. Filter out internal traffic

It’s a very basic one but if you don’t do it, when your colleagues or employees (or you) are active on your site it will be included in your reports along with customer actions, and therefore skew your data.

Here’s how you can apply the filter to a View (although you can also apply it at Account level):

  • In the View where you want to add the filter, navigate to Admin > View > Filters.
  • Select ‘Add Filter’ and give it a name (such as ‘Exclude employee traffic’).
  • Under ‘Filter Type’, choose ‘Predefined’, then Exclude > traffic from the IP addresses > that are equal to
  • Enter your IP address (you can find this out by opening a new window and searching ‘my IP address’) and save.

google analytics add employee filter

To test that the filter is excluding internal traffic, click Reporting > Real-Time > Overview. It might take a little while for Google Analytics (GA) to filter out all internal traffic, but you should see it steadily decline.

2. Set campaign parameters to lower case

As GA is case sensitive, it will treat URLs that have the same name but contain different cases as separate entities in your reports. If you’re using tracking code to monitor your campaigns (using Google’s URL Builder, any other tool or manually), this can wreak havoc in your reports and make accurate analysis more complicated than it needs to be.

For example, a campaign named ‘Campaign1’ in all uppercase will show up separately from a campaign named ‘campaign1’ in all lowercase.

Of course, it’s important to use consistent naming conventions for campaign tracking as a matter of course, but there’s a way around the case sensitivity issue, and this is to add a filter to force GA to interpret all URLs as lower case.

  • In the View where you want to add the filter, navigate to Admin > View > Filters.
  • Select ‘Add Filter’ and give it a name (such as ‘lowercase’, as in the example below).
  • Under ‘Filter Type’, choose ‘Custom’, then select ‘Lowercase’.
  • Under the ‘Filter Field’ dropdown, select the campaign parameter you want to apply the filter to (‘Campaign Source’, in the example below).
  • Save.
google analytics force lowercase

Unfortunately, you’ll need to create separate lowercase filters for the other campaign parameters, such as ‘Campaign Medium’, ‘Campaign Term’ and ‘Campaign Content’.

3. Create custom dashboards

There will be some reports that you want to check – and compare – more regularly and frequently than others. To save you having to navigate to a number of specific reports each time you want to check them, you can create, save and share your own customised dashboards. GA dashboards are basically collections of ‘widgets’ that give you a summary of the reports that are most important to you, all in one place.

Create a new one by going to ‘Customisation’ in the top left hand corner, followed by Dashboards > Create a new dashboard > Create, then select a blank or starter (ie, template) dashboard, and give it a name. If you’re creating a dashboard for the first time, it’s probably easiest to select the ‘starter’ template – you can then choose to either customise the basic widgets automatically provided, or create your own widget (‘+ Add Widget’).

For example, one of the standard widgets shows ‘Avg. Session Duration and Pages/Session’ compared as a timeline (in the yellow box), whereas I’m more interested in seeing ‘Avg. Session Duration vs Bounce Rate’, so I’ve gone in and edited the second metric (in the red box):

google analytics dashboard widget

In each widget, you can also:

  • Choose whether to view your data as Metric, Timeline, Geomap, Table, Pie, or Bar Chart, along with corresponding options for the dimensions you want to view and/or compare.
  • Add filters to a widget to drill down even further to the data that you want to track.
  • With some widgets, choose to display the data in real-time, which means they automatically update without you having to load or refresh the dashboard.

In the dashboard itself, you can:

  • Change the layout, but clicking Customise Dashboard in the top right hand corner.
  • Change the order of the widget elements by dragging and dropping.
  • Go to the full report by clicking on the widget name.
  • Choose whether to share, or keep it private (if you individual log-ins).

Test first though

As best practice, we recommend trying out new tweaks in your Test View first, rather than in your Master or Raw Data Views, so that if you make a mistake, the world doesn’t end.


We’d love to hear about any tips or tricks you use in Google Analytics – get in touch and tell us. 

 

 



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