Getting a grip on Google Analytics

A crash course in using filters

Today we’re going to look at setting up an Analytics account using some common best practices, which will protect your data integrity as well as make it easy to sort through and view your information. Granted, this one probably isn’t for the advanced people, but we thought it was worth having in the collection.

A mistake I often see, and made myself when I first began using Google Analytics, was using one account to track multiple websites. Google Analytics makes adding new websites easy through the “add new profile” setup instructions, however there isn’t a lot of information discussing why you should use profiles for a specific website only, and add other websites to other accounts.

 

Seperate youg Google accounts

Here are some reasons to keep your Google Analytics accounts separated:

Scenario 1: Suppose you manage accounts for various clients, and a client wants to have administrator access to their account. This seems easy to do by going to add a user and selecting the website you want them to have access to. However, by adding them as an administrator, they will be able to see all websites in your entire analytics account, even ones they do not own. This can cause some serious privacy and other issues.

Scenario 2: You manage the Analytics for several websites, and have a need to create additional, specific profiles for each of those websites. As Analytics limits each account to 50 profiles, you may quickly run out of space and not be able to break down each website’s information further.

Scenario 3: A larger company who has Analytics installed on their site would like different departments to see only the data that pertains to them. The ability to view specific data and not sort through a lot of other information makes it easier and less confusing for each department. By setting up profiles for specific accounts, you can give each department read only access to the profile they are most interested in, and you have room in the account to create as many website profiles as necessary, without worrying about meeting the limits above.

 

Best Practice: A best practices approach would be to create a separate account for each website, and then add a main account you own as an administrator to each account you are managing. You can also create a new account rather than a new profile directly from your Analytics account. This way, you can access all accounts under a single login, while keeping all data secure and separate from one another.

 

Data Integrity through multiple profiles

To maintain data integrity throughout your analytics profiles, a good best practice is to create multiple profiles for each website, and label one as “Original – do not touch” or something similar. This will allow you to test and add filters to your account without messing up the data within your main analytics accounts.

Filters:

Filters allow you to get very specific with the data you want to see by selecting a group of visits or visitors on your website that you don’t want to see at all, or allowing you to see information only from that group. You can also use filters to change how some of the information in your reports is displayed.

Filters combined with additional profiles will allow you to get very specific with the data you see. For instance, you may wish to have one profile show only visits to your website that took place from PPC campaigns, or only visits to your site that resulted from newsletters or email links.

Must Have Filters:

There are a couple filters which I consider to be “must haves” and set these up as soon as I setup an Analytics account: To add a filter, follow the steps below: From the bottom of your Analytics Overview page, select “Filter Manager”

Filter Manager

On the next screen, select “Add Filter”

Add new filter

 

Exclude Internal Traffic:

This filter removes visits from yourself, or from an office. To create this filter, make sure you have the IP address you want to exclude visits from and then go to add a new filter. Name your filter something you can easily identify later, such as “Block Internal Visits”. Under the drop down menu filter type select “Exclude all Traffic from an IP address”. Enter your IP or a range of IPs in the field below:

Blocking internal visits

 

Only show traffic for your site:

This filter is important as it will only show visits on your site. This means, that if someone scrapes the content of your site and uses it somewhere else, you will not see visitor data from the copied site. This could cause your metrics to be overly inflated, or your goal completions and other important tracking information to be off. Use this filter to make sure that only your sites traffic is monitored.

For filter name choose something like “Site traffic only”, under filter type select “custom.” In the radio buttons, select “Include”, under “Filter Field” select your hostname. Under filter pattern, type in yourdomainname\.com, then under “Case Sensitive” choose whether or not you want the filter to be case sensitive.

Site traffic Only

 

Force Lower Case URIs

Information can get confusing if Analytics reports visits to a specific page twice due to URL capitalization issues. To prevent this, you can force Google Analytics to force all pages to appear as lower case URIs

For your filter name, choose something like “Force Lower Case URI”, under “Filter Type” select “Custom” filter form the drop down menu. For custom type in the radio buttons, select “Lowercase”. Under filter field, select “Request URI”.

I hope these filters and Analytics best practice suggestions were helpful, I plan to discuss Analytics features more in depth within this blog, and these best practices should get anyone newer to Analytics on the right track for future posts. If you have any additional best practice tips for setting up your Analytics account, please chime in the comments below!

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