When the Numbers Just Don’t Add Up: Kinks and Quirks in Google Analytics

Posted on Friday, 1. March 2019 in category Google Analytics. 3 min read • Written by

Jill Quick

My talk (which you can catch at 9:50 am on Friday 15th March) is a deep dive into the promised land of Google Analytics, and the kinks and quirks that come with it. I’ll be covering some common themes and issues that can cause your numbers to be off balance, missing, or just plain false.
You know the feeling, we have all been there at one time or another, you have gaping holes in your analytics data, and you are scratching your head because of a data discrepancy. That said, there are ways to prevent this situation from occurring – the first of which, is filters.

Filters In Google Analytics

You pop your UA-property code onto your website for Google Analytics to start collecting data, and based on your configuration (aka your admin settings) it will process that data and pop it into a reporting view.

Filters are essentially tweaking the data so you see what you want to see inside your reporting views. So they take place in between the configuration and process stages. They take out the stuff you don’t want, or include the bits that you do. So as you can imagine, they can be quite powerful.

Bottom line, filters can improve the quality of your reports, and provide a way for you to change and modify the data that you can see in each view. So, they are pretty cool.

There are two types of filters.

Predefined filters

These are small but powerful filters that Google Analytics have made available to reduce your effort in the filter creation process.

An example of how you’d use this type of filter is to remove traffic from your office IP address so your employees don’t show up as website visitors, or just exclude that click happy agency partner of yours.

Custom filters

These are a tad more complicated and challenging as they give you more control over your data. Custom filters give you more flexibility and range in the parameters, and you may need to throw in some regex to make them work.

An example using a custom filter could be to remove query string parameters.

If you have a site search feature on your website, anytime someone uses it , GA will record the url with the search string in your Behaviour reports, which can dilute and fragment your content data. This will remove the query string and therefore clean up your Content reports.

Things to keep in mind

● They take up to 24 hours to work, and you have to think of your filter order
● One filters output in the next filters input. So check your View Order in your admin settings
● Always test filters in a test view otherwise you can trash all your data!
● You need at least 7 days worth of data to test if it works or not
● All filters should have a clear strategic grounding e.g. why are you doing it in the 1st place?

If you want to see more examples of filters that can help fix data issues, in addition to other themes that I will explore, then you know where to find me at inOrbit!
And if you want some help, The Coloring in Department have some templates that can help you audit your admin settings in GA which you can download for free (ungated) here.

 

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