Tools to enhance data quality for Google Analytics

1.  Remove spam traffic in GA

You can exclude each spam source by hand but if you want to try an automatic way to do this there are tools that can help.

spammy

The tool with the biggest list of spam websites I have found so far is GA Referrer Spam blocker (free).

Alternatives:

Search Commander Spam filters (free)

Simo Ahava Spam Filters (free)

How you can use a GA Spam filters tool:

Click the main call to action on the page and select your Google Analytics Account where you want to apply the filters.

The tools will also ask for permissions to add these filters before starting the process.

2. Get unsampled data

Suggested tool: Google Analytics for Spreadsheets (free tool)

10000-rows-no-limit-google-sheets-google-analytics

To unsample the data you will need to select Sampling level : Higher_Precision

See this tutorial for more details to remove sampling

Alternative tool: Supermetrics for Google Drive (paid pro feature)

supermetrics-table

Alternative tool 2: Analytics Canvas (free trial)

Analytics Canvas can reduce or eliminate sampling by using query partitioning.

3.  Table Booster

The Table Booster for Google Analytics is a small plugin that can help a GA user to analyse the performance of a dimension (for example a source) on one or multiple metrics.

You can work with different tests and charts:

  • Z-test.
  • Bar-Chart.
  • Heatmap.
  • Comparison.

Here is an example where we the best traffic source by conversion rate is marked with bright green: bing / organic which has a conv. rate of 1.23% much higher vs. the avg. 0.84%.

binggg

4.  Check Google algorithm updates impact on traffic

Suggested tool: Panguin (free)

With this tool you can find out if the latest Google algorithm update had any effects on your website.

panguin-tool

 

Google Data Studio – My first Demo Reports (with examples on how to use the tool)

header-google-data-studio-reports

Est. reading time: 10 minutes.

I have found out about the Google Data Studio Beta on 24 May ’16 on the Google Performance Summit showing Google Ads & Analytics Innovations.

If you have time and want to view the event, the recording is on youtube.

icon-playClick here to skip to the part related to Google Data Studio.

My first Demo Reports

I decided to share my first demo report via Twitter.

Didn’t expect the first demo report to generate a lot of interest but it seems it was noticed and retweeted on the Google Analytics twitter page.

After using more options I made a new demo report with additional data:

  1. Filters to explore specific dimensions.
  2. Time graph with 3 metrics.
  3. Multiple dimensions on a table to identify specific sources.

demo-report-data-studio

eye Click here to load the Demo Report in a new tab

This time I also made 2 examples on how to analyse the generated data

(the screenshots are generated also using Google Data Studio)

data-analysis-example-by-os-browser-data-studio

eye Click to see the screenshot in a new tab

data-analysis-example-by-traffic-source-data-studio

eye Click to see the screenshot in a new tab

I want to share with you some of the options in the tool that I think they can be useful for a data analysis project (and how to edit them).

1. See Changes over time

(Ex.: current week vs. previous week , current month vs. same month on last year)

How to edit this option on a table

Note: If you are creating a new table you will see on the edit options on right when scrolling there is an option after Default Date Range showing “None”. Click on it to add the compare period.

compare-none

Below is an example with changes current period vs. same period last year and how it looks on a table.

changes

Another example on how it looks on a Scorecard after selecting Previous year.

Note: The change will show with a green or red number on a Scorecard.

scorecard-changes

(Ex.: the conv. rate improved by: +73.1% here.)

2. Filter controls filter-controls

Use filter controls if you have time to explore more details on your data.

Here is a 4 min. presentation from Google regarding the filter controls:

After clicking the Filter control button you will see that you can create a square or a rectangle that will be showing all the options selected by default.

filter-control-default.png

If you want you can change this default view state to a dropdown.

Go on the Filter Control Properties on right and choose Style.

filter-control-properties

icon-play Short recording here on how to do edit the multiple options on the properties.

3. Additional metrics and dimensions in tables.

By adding more metrics and dimensions you can get more specific in your data analysis.

For example you could add in a table the dimensions: O.S. , O.S. version, Browser, Browser Version and the metric ecommerce conv. rate to identify the specific sources where you might have problems.

icon-play Recording with example here

Extra tip:

Increase the report width for more space

If  you need to increase the space on width to show more data in the first screen you can change this from File – Report and theme settings – Layout – and choose  Landscape.

icon-playRecording  here on how to do it.

file-theme

Resources list:

Google Data Studio 360: How to get Facebook, Bing & Twitter data in 3 minutes- Supermetrics-com

Google Data Studio: A Step-By-Step Guide – Online-Behavior.com

Showing off the new (free) Google Data Studio, with reddit April’s gilded comments for Sanders/Trump/Clinton in BigQuery – Felipe Hoffa

Interactive Guide from Google

Data Studio 360: First Steps  -AnalyticsPros.com

The users on Data Studio are limited to creating five reports per account but on Data Studio 360 they can make unlimited reports.

I hope you found the info useful.

What is your impression of Google Data Studio?

Leave a comment below.

The best Google Analytics Debugging Tools

debugging-examples-and-tips

Est. reading time: 20 minutes.

If you want to make sure you are tracking accurate data (or if you want to check if you have issues with the Google Analytics setup) this article is for you.

There are multiple ways where your analytics data can be inaccurate. You can fix some of the bugs, but others are beyond your control.

Actions based on incomplete or invalid data can have a negative impact on a business  and the number of missed opportunities can increase.

debug-importance

I have divided the tools suggestions by 2 categories based on their location:

inside GA and external.

Tools for debugging inside Google Analytics

1. Google Analytics Diagnostics (inside the GA product).

Suggestion for: Everyone.

Google Analytics will check the configuration for common problems and sometimes it will report us the issues.

How you can use it for debugging:

Click on the bell icon on the top right corner to see if there are notifications triggered.

critical-notifications

Tip: Click on “Details” for each notification to learn more about it and to find possible solutions.

Learn more about the diagnostics messages here.

Limits

  • You have to wait for the issues to appear after data is collected.
  • It will tell us if an issue was fixed or not only after collecting more data.( Crawl frequency varies)

2. Real-time Reports  (inside the GA product). 

Suggested for: Everyone

Real-time Reports are great for testing.

I use them to check the triggers for the tracking code, goals, events or virtual pageviews.

How you can use it for debugging

This is an example where a link event is recorded ok.

I selected a page where I have the Google Analytics tracking code installed and also an event on a link. After clicking on the link with the event I went in GA on the “Reports” section > Real Time > Events to see if the event was triggered.

realtime-reports-event-test

These 2 sections inside Google Analytics are useful but for a full debugging I suggest using other external tools.

External tools for debugging GA 

1. Google Tag Assistant (Chrome Extension)

Google-Tag-Assistant

Suggestion for: Everyone.

This tool helps you check if  the tracking tags are installed correctly on your pages (not just GA). You can debug Google Analytics Tracking Code (GATC), Google Tag Manager (GTM), and Adwords Conversion Tracking.

How you can use Tag Assistant for debugging:

I will show you some examples with notifications that may or may not appear.

1. “No tags found”.

tag-assistant-no-tags-found

Solution:  Add the Google Analytics tag in the website source code. (Even if it seems obvious, some people forget to do this.)

2. “Code found outside of <head> tag.”

notification-blue-tag

ga-tracking-code-outside-head

Solution: Move the tracking code inside the <head> tag. (This is the recommended location of the from Google)

3. “Same Web Property ID is tracked twice.”

same-property-id-tracked-twice

tag-assistant-multiple-codes

Solution: It is recommended that you keep only one tracking code.

This notification usually means you are using 2 instances of the same tracking code on the website.

Scenario example for this case: you could have the tracking code added in Tag Manager but also from another source (like a plugin; Ex.: Yoast).

If you want to see more information about Google Tag Assistant check this video:

There is also a video from Google showing how to use the recording function.

     Limits:

  • It can’t check all the tags that don’t fire (as they are either broken or waiting for an event to occur first)
  • It can’t scan all the pages from the website automatically.

Tip for checking tags:

Besides checking your website/s, you can also check other websites to see what kind of tags they are using. You can check for example if a website has a remarketing tag.

remarketing-tag

Besides checking the Google tags you can use another extension like “Ghostery” or “Builtwith” to check other tags.

2. GA Checker (online web tool)

Suggestion for: Everyone.

This online tool can check the presence of the GA code on multiple pages of a website.

Limit: Analyse up to 10,000 Pages.

How you can use GA Checker:

Just add your website address and wait for it to scan the pages for the tracking code.

The tool can scan a website for the presence of the following tags:

  • Google Analytics (ga.js)
  • Google Analytics Remarketing (dc.js)
  • Google Universal Analytics (analytics.js)
  • Google Analytics Experiments (ga_exp.js)
  • Google Tag Manager (gtm.js)
  • Google AdWords Conversion (conversion.js)
  • Google AdWords Phone Conversion (loader.js)
  • Google AdWords Remarketing (conversion.js)
  • Google AdWords Dynamic Remarketing (conversion.js)
  • Google DoubleClick

3.  Google Sheets or Excel to make a Health check report

Suggestion for: Everyone.

I suggest using a tool like Google Sheets or Excel to make a health check report for monitoring the implementation and to know exactly what the status is on your data.

Tip: If you want to find out details about making a health check report I suggest reading the book  “Successful Analytics” by Brian Clifton.

Suggestions for intermediate and advanced users

4.  Chrome Developer tools (tool inside Google Chrome)

If you have Google Chrome you can activate this tool with the shortcut: CTRL+SHIFT+ I (without installing anything else)

Events testing example:

Make sure you are in the “Console” tab and add the code below if you are using Universal Analytics code (analytics.js)

console-event-code

If the event tracking works ok you will get this alert box:event-confirmation-screen

If the event tracking doesn’t work you could get an error like this one:

ga-console-not-defined-error.png

The code used for testing events (the Universal Analytics format):

ga('send', {
  'hitType': 'event',         
  'eventCategory': 'button', 
  'eventAction': 'click',     
  'eventLabel': 'contact form',
  'hitCallback' : function () {
      alert("Event received");
   }
});

5. GA Debugger (Chrome extension)

google-analytics-debugger

By activating this extension and using it with Developer Tools, you can test adding a new code without uploading it to the server.

New event code testing scenario

On Chrome, load the page where you want to test adding a code for an event.

Right click on the link and select “Inspect element”.

Click on “Preserve Log” and add the code event.

After you will click on the link, new event data should show on the Developer Tools Console.

6. Screaming Frog (desktop software currently at £99)

screaming-frog

If GA checker isn’t enough for your website, you could try a paid alternative like Screaming Frog.

How you can use Screaming Frog:

There are articles on the web on how to check the tracking code on multiple pages using this tool: Check the tutorial from Insideonline  or the one from Seerinteractive

7. Fiddler (free desktop software)

How you can use Fiddler

Install and open Fiddler, type website URL in the box on the bottom of the software screen and press enter.

*Note: I have installed Fiddler 2 on my PC (because I have Win 7).

fiddler-domain-name

 

Select the sessions with the host “www.google-analytics.com” and choose “Inspectors” and “WebForms”.

fiddler-virtual-pageview.png

If you want, you can use the “Filters” tab and select “www.google-analytics.com” to show only GA data.

filters-fiddler-ga

How an event is reported for Classic analytics (ga.js)

fiddler-events

How an event is reported for Universal Analytics (analytics.js)

universal-analytics-fiddler-event

There is also a video tutorial on youtube:

 

 

Book Review – Google Analytics Demystified: A Hands-on Approach by Joel J.Davis  (second edition)

google-analytics-demystified-book

The book has over 700 pages (which may seem a lot at first sight for some people) but I think this is not a reason to worry. (For reference purposes I placed in the image above a smaller book: “Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose” which has 272 pages.)

The content is not overly technical and is quite easy to understand and follow. There are many pages that contain images with tables and graphs from Universal Analytics. I think the screens are useful for new users of the tool and they should help the readers to understand the concepts being discussed.

The author encourages the reader to become an active participant and apply the key concepts from the book by including chapter review questions, exercises and a free downloadable website. (The website is a fictitious travel agency.) Using a website demo when a new user wants to implement something new is a good approach because this way he can better understand the key concepts without the risk of damaging a real website.

Some of the books I have read don’t have the content updated to reflect recent changes in Universal Analytics. This is not the case for the second edition of this book: the content (released in July 2015) is updated for Universal Analytics and includes topics like:

  • cohort analysis
  • benchmarking
  • custom tables
  • tree maps

The book, however, does not address Google Tag Manager.

(There are other books on Amazon and online resources that discuss Tag Manager for those who are interested in taking this approach.)

While a wide range of topics are discussed, the topics that caught my attention were the events regarding video monitoring, form completion monitoring and page scroll. These are not in the standard configuration of Universal Analytics and I liked that the author included them in the book.

To summarize, I believe the book is a good starting point for people who are new to this tool (and it should provide a good reference for those who are already familiar with Google Analytics.

If you are interested in the book you can buy it from Amazon here.

Google Analytics Quiz

Test your GA skills or prepare for GAIQ Certification

GA Quiz

Note: This Quiz doesn’t have a time limit.

The questions from the certification can be different than the ones from this quiz.

  • The official Google Analytics Exam has 70 questions that need to be completed in 90 minutes (You cannot pause the official Exam).
  • That means aprox. 77 seconds per question.
  • The passing score is 80% and it’s good for 18 months.

analytics-exam