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www.it-ebooks.info CHAPTER 5 Google Analytics Accounts and Profiles Google Analytics is divided into a simple hierarchy of accounts and profiles. Many people confuse a Google Analytics account with a Google account. A Google account is a way for Google to identify you, as a person. A Google Analytics account is your instance of Google Analytics used to track websites. Google uses an email address to identify your Google account. Some people believe that you must have a Gmail address, like analytics-fangmail.com, to have a Google account. This is not true. You can turn any email address into a Google account. This means that your work email address, like jim-riceredsox.com, can be a Google account. Once you have a Google account, Google attaches various services to your account. These services can include Gmail, Google Docs, AdWords, etc. Google Analytics is just one service that you can associate with your Google account. If you’ve ever signed up for a Google service, you have a Google account. Figure 5-1 represents the hierarchy of Google accounts and the Google Analytics account. Figure 5-1. A Google account can contain many Google services, including Analytics 33www.it-ebooks.info Google Analytics Accounts For the most part, Google Analytics accounts organize the different web properties that you track. Google Analytics makes it easy for you to identify everything you are tracking by placing everything in one account. Google ties the data coming from your website to your Google Analytics account using a unique account number. You can find your account number in the tracking code you place on your site. The location of the account number is shown in bold in the code below. script type="text/javascript" var _gaq = _gaq ; _gaq.push('_setAccount', 'UA-XXXXXX-YY'); _gaq.push('_trackPageview'); (function() var ga = document.createElement('script'); ga.type = 'text/javascript'; ga.async = true; ga.src = ('https:' == document.location.protocol ? 'https://ssl' : 'http://www') + '.google-analytics.com/ga.js'; var s = document.getElementsByTagName('script')0; s.parentNode.insertBefore(ga, s); )(); /script The XXXXXX is your account number. The YY part is the profile number, which we’ll discuss shortly. When combined in the format UA-XXXXXX-YY, it is called the profile ID. There is a one-to-many relationship of a Google account to Google Analytics accounts. This means you can access multiple Google Analytics accounts simply by adding your Google account to an existing Google Analytics account (Figure 5-2). A Google Analytics account is used primarily to hold all of your profiles and organize everything you’re tracking. There are a few settings that are specific to a Google Ana- lytics account. These features pertain to data sharing and will be discussed in the section “Creating a Google Analytics Account” on page 35. Within a Google Analytics account is a structure called a profile. Most people think of a profile as the data from a website. But in fact a profile is a collection of data and configuration settings. It is possible, and actually recommended, to have multiple pro- files for each of your websites. I’ll explain more about how to create multiple profiles and why you would want to later. You are allowed to create up to 50 profiles in your Google Analytics account. Google identifies your analytics account and the profiles within the account using a unique ID. This number appears in the GATC. When the JavaScript executes, Google uses the ID to route the data to your Analytics account. If you look at the tracking code for your site, you can see the unique ID. It’s preceded by a UA-, as shown in the code above. 34 Chapter 5: Google Analytics Accounts and Profileswww.it-ebooks.info Figure 5-2. A single Google account can access multiple Google Analytics accounts Also, notice the -YY in the tracking code. This is the profile number within your account. Together the account number and the profile number are called a web property ID. When the JavaScript executes, it sends the data to the specified web property ID. Also, remember that you can use Google Analytics to track different types of things, like mobile apps. It is possible to track an app in its own dedicated profile rather than in a profile that contains traffic from a website. Creating a Google Analytics Account If you’re new to Google Analytics, you’ll need to create a Google Analytics account. The recommended way to create a Google Analytics account is through AdWords, because it’s easier to link your AdWords account to your Analytics account if you create the Analytics account from within AdWords. Log in to your AdWords account and choose Google Analytics in the Reporting menu. Next, enable the Create my Free Google Analytics Account option and click Continue, as shown in Figure 5-3. If you don’t have a Google AdWords account, you can create a Google Analytics ac- count at http://www.google.com/analytics. Google will walk you through a number of steps to create your Analytics account. First, you’ll need to specify some basic information about your website, like the domain name (Figure 5-4). You can also choose to give your Google Analytics account a name to make it easier to identify in a list. If you do not give it a name, Google will use the website domain as the name of the account. Creating a Google Analytics Account 35www.it-ebooks.info Figure 5-3. The first step in creating a Google Analytics account from within AdWords Figure 5-4. You must specify a website URL when creating your Google Analytics account When creating your account, you can enable destination URL tagging and configure AdWords cost data. These features make it easier to identify and analyze traffic from Google AdWords in your Google Analytics data. Google also warns you that the cost data from Google AdWords, meaning how much money you spend on Google Ad- Words, will be imported into your Google Analytics reports. I will discuss these features in more detail in Chapter 9. However, it is recommended that you accept the default settings at this step. After submitting the form, you will need to agree to the Google Analytics terms of service, shown in Figure 5-5. You should take the time to read the terms of service. It identifies how you can and cannot use Google Analytics. It also stipulates how Google will protect your data and how long Google will store your data. While there are no big surprises in the terms of service, it’s a good idea to read it at some point. 36 Chapter 5: Google Analytics Accounts and Profileswww.it-ebooks.info Figure 5-5. The Google Analytics terms of service Also notice on this page that Google has specified some data-sharing options that are enabled automatically unless you opt out. Both of these options expand the function- ality of Google Analytics and Google AdWords. Specifically, according to Google, you can share your data with: Other Google Products: If you choose this option Google will share your Google analytics data with Google AdWords, Google AdPlanner and other Google products. Google uses the data to enable certain features. For example, when you share your Google Analytics data with AdWords, you can use the Conversion Optimizer feature. You can also import your Google Analytics goals into Google AdWords to measure conversions. In general this is a useful setting. Other Google Analytics Users: If you choose this option, Google will anonymize your data and merge it with data from other Google Analytics users. This data will be used for a feature called Benchmark, which allows you to compare your website data to ag- gregate data from all other websites in your industry. I recommend that you accept the default settings for data sharing, as they provide some helpful functionality and useful data in Google Analytics. Creating a Google Analytics Account 37www.it-ebooks.info Finally, after you click Create New Account, Google will display the GATC configu- ration wizard, shown in Figure 5-6. Figure 5-6. After you create a Google Analytics account, the tracking code will appear That’s it: you’re done creating the account. Google has created a profile in your new account. Simply copy the code in the text area, add it to your site, and you’ll have data in a few hours. The code configuration tool lets you modify the tracking code to meet your business needs and work within the architecture of your website. Very rarely do you just slap the code on your site; you will usually have to modify it in some way. This tool makes it easy to modify the tracking code without writing any JavaScript. We’ll discuss the various ways to alter the tracking code throughout this book. How to Manage Client Profiles If you are a marketing consultant or agent, or work for any company that manages multiple Google Analytics accounts, you should not add your clients as profiles in your Google Analytics account. You should create a separate Google Analytics account spe- cifically for each of your clients. Then add yourself as an administrator to the client’s Google Analytics account. This will provide you with access to the account, but your client will “own” the account. If you add a client as a profile in your Google Analytics account, there will be no way to separate the profile from your account if the client ever chooses to leave. You cannot move profiles from one Google Analytics account to another. Creating Additional Profiles It is a best practice to create multiple profiles in Google Analytics for every website you would like to track. Creating multiple profiles helps protect against configuration mis- takes, normalizes the data to make it more useful, and can help you control who ac- cesses your data. To create an additional profile, simply click the “Add new profile” link on the main administrative screen (Figure 5-7). 38 Chapter 5: Google Analytics Accounts and Profileswww.it-ebooks.info Figure 5-7. Click “Add new profile” to create a duplicate profile for an existing website The next screen, shown in Figure 5-8, has two sections. The first section gives you the choice to create a new profile for either an existing or a new domain. When creating a new profile for an existing domain, Google Analytics literally copies the data it collected from the tracking code that is already installed on the website. Google Analytics detects that there is already a piece of tracking code deployed for that website and copies the data into each profile. Creating a Google Analytics Account 39www.it-ebooks.info Figure 5-8. Creating an additional profile There aren’t too many options when creating a duplicate profile for an existing domain. You need to give the profile a name and specify whether you want to apply AdWords cost data. If you choose not to apply the cost data, there will be no AdWords reports or ROI (return on investment) calculations in the e-commerce reports. When you are finished creating the new profile, you’ll see all of the profiles (including the new one) for that domain, as shown in Figure 5-9. Notice that the profiles are all nested under the same web property ID. Figure 5-9. All of the profiles for a single web property We will discuss the kinds of profiles you should create and the settings that go along with each of them in Chapter 8. In addition to creating duplicate profiles, you can also create new profiles for other websites. Click the “Add new profile” link at the top of your profile list, shown in Figure 5-10. 40 Chapter 5: Google Analytics Accounts and Profileswww.it-ebooks.info Figure 5-10. Click “Add new profile” to create a new profile for a new website Google Analytics will prompt you for the domain of the new website, as shown in Figure 5-11, and will prompt you to specify whether you would like to apply cost data to this profile. Once you supply this information, you must get the tracking code from the Profile Settings section for the newly created profile and add it to the site. Figure 5-11. Creating a profile for a new domain Access Levels There are two types of users in Google Analytics: users and administrators. The dif- ference between the two is very simple. Administrators have complete access to every- thing in a Google Analytics account. They can view all of the data and they can change any setting. Because administrators have such wide-reaching permissions, it’s best to keep the number of administrators in your account to a minimum. Users can only access data in profiles that they have been given access to. They cannot change any settings. Creating a Google Analytics Account 41www.it-ebooks.info There are two ways to add users to your Google Analytics account. First, you can use the User Manager on the main account page, shown in Figure 5-12. The User Manager provides an easy way to access multiple profiles. Click the User Manager link to view a list of all users who currently have access to your account. Next, click Add User in the top right corner of the user table (Figure 5-13). Figure 5-12. You can access the User Manager at the bottom of the main account page Figure 5-13. The new user form 42 Chapter 5: Google Analytics Accounts and Profileswww.it-ebooks.info To add a user, simply enter the Google Account email address in the Email address field. Remember, this must be a Google Account, not a Gmail account. Next, choose the access type. If you choose Administrator, the user will have access to all profiles in the account, and if you choose User, you must specify which profiles the user can access. All About Profiles As mentioned earlier, Google Analytics is divided into a structure of accounts and pro- files. When data is sent to Google Analytics, it is stored in a profile. Most documenta- tion describes a profile as data for a website. But a profile is more than just data: each profile has a number of settings that can affect the data within the profile. A more accurate way to describe a profile is a collection of data and business rules. The business rules modify the data in the profile. In Google Analytics, the business rules are profile settings and filters (I’ll discuss filters more in Chapter 6). Each profile can have different settings and filters, thus changing the data in each ad- ditional profile created for a website. So, even though you may have two profiles for http://www.cutroni.com, the data in the reports could be dramatically different because of the different settings and filters applied to each profile. Why would you create multiple profiles for a single website? To create different sets of data for different types of analysis or to control data access for different users. Under- standing how each setting alters the data in the profile is important when you’re setting things up. Basic Profile Settings You can access all the settings for a profile by clicking the Edit link next to each profile name (Figure 5-14). Figure 5-14. Click Edit to access the settings for each profile All About Profiles 43www.it-ebooks.info There are multiple types of settings associated with a profile, as shown in Fig- ure 5-15. There is the basic profile information, filters, goals, and access to the profile. Let’s begin by walking through all of the Main Website Profile Information. Click the Edit link in the top right corner of the Main Profile Information table. Figure 5-15. Each profile can have different settings Profile Name The Profile Name (shown in Figure 5-16) identifies each profile in a list. There are no restrictions on how to name a profile. You can even create two profiles with the same name, but I don’t recommend this. How would you differentiate them in a list? When thinking about profile names, remember how Google Analytics displays the profiles in your account. The interface displays the URL associated with the profile at the top of the table (Figure 5-17). 44 Chapter 5: Google Analytics Accounts and Profileswww.it-ebooks.info Figure 5-16. Editing profile settings Figure 5-17. Profiles for various domains All About Profiles 45www.it-ebooks.info I suggest naming profiles something descriptive that all users will understand. If there are filters applied to a profile, include a short description explaining how the filter changes the data in the profile. For example, Figure 5-17 includes a profile named Analytics Talk: z_Test Profile. By the name, we can easily identify that this profile contains test data. Ideas for Profile Names Wondering when a profile was created? You can add the creation date to the profile name; that way, you’ll always know how much data exists in the profile. If you don’t know when the profile was created, look at the reports. Go back in time and identify when the profile started to collect data. That’s probably when the profile was created. Additionally, Google Analytics sorts profiles alphanumerically. You can order profiles by adding a number or letter to the beginning of a profile name. Website URL Google Analytics uses your website URL for several tasks. First, Google Analytics uses it to check the installation of the tracking code. After you create a profile, Google An- alytics will ping the website URL and search for the tracking code to ensure that it exists on the page. Google Analytics will not scan the entire site, just the page located at the website URL you provide. This is normally the homepage of the site. Second, Google Analytics uses the website URL in the reporting interface. Certain content reports provide a link to the website URL in the Top Content reports. Fig- ure 5-18 shows the links you can click to open a URL in a new window or tab. Figure 5-18. Click the small icon at the beginning of each data row in a content report to view that page in the browser 46 Chapter 5: Google Analytics Accounts and Profileswww.it-ebooks.info Google Analytics also uses the website URL in the creation of the Site Overlay report. When the Site Overlay report is generated, Google Analytics retrieves the website URL value and displays the page in a new window. It then adds various pieces of data to each link on the page. This includes the number of pageviews, conversions resulting from the page, and, if the site is an e-commerce site, the amount of revenue the page helped generate. The website URL value is set when you create your Google Analytics account. (Fig- ure 5-19). If you need to change the value, you can edit it in the Profile Information section. But be aware that if you change the value, it can have a negative effect on the reports mentioned above. If the website URL value does not exactly match the URL of your site, the links to the live page in the content report and the site overlay may not work. Figure 5-19. The website URL setting is in the Profile Information section All About Profiles 47www.it-ebooks.info Time Zone You can change the time zone setting of your Google Analytics account only if it is not linked to an AdWords account. If you’ve linked your Analytics account to an AdWords account (which is the default setting), the time zone setting will be the time zone you defined in your Google AdWords account. Applying the AdWords time zone to the Analytics data ensures the Google AdWords reporting in Google Analytics is accurate. If your Analytics account is not linked to an AdWords account, you can change the time zone to match the time zone where your business is located. This makes it easier to understand when people use your site in relation to your operating hours. Default Page Setting the default page for a website is a simple configuration step that ensures the quality of your Google Analytics report data. The default page for a website is the page shown to a visitor when they enter the website domain in the browser’s location bar. For example, if you type http://www.cutroni.com in your browser, the web server returns the index.php file located at that domain. You won’t see index.php in the browser’s location bar, but that’s the page the server returns. This is the same for directories within your website. Why does this matter? When the GATC executes, it creates pageviews using the page URL the visitor requested. What if there is no page URL, as is the case with http:// www.cutroni.com? Google Analytics creates a pageview and names it /. However, when the user types http://www.cutroni.com/index.php, Google Analytics creates a pageview for /index.php. Although the visitor sees the same content, Google Analytics creates a pageview for / and a pageview for /index.php: two different pageviews for the same page. Pageviews for a page should be summarized as a single line item in Google Analytics, not two. Remember, Google Analytics will collect pageviews for / and /index.php separately. Figure 5-20 illustrates how two pageviews can exist for a single page. Figure 5-20. Though they are the same page, /index.html and / appear as separate line items 48 Chapter 5: Google Analytics Accounts and Profileswww.it-ebooks.info To remedy this problem, enter the default page for your website in the Default page field in the main website Profile Information configuration section. Be sure to enter only the page name. Do not include a slash before the page name and do not use regular expressions (Figure 5-21). Figure 5-21. Setting the default page Exclude URL Query Parameters A dynamic website uses query-string parameters to determine what content visitors are consuming. Google Analytics automatically includes query-string parameters when it creates the Page Path Dimension. Table 5-1 illustrates how a URL in the browser’s location bar becomes the Page Path Dimension in the Google Analytics report. Table 5-1. How Google Analytics creates page names URL in browser Resulting page path in Google Analytics www.mysite.com/dir/index.php? /dir/index.php?sess=1234&cat=3&prod=foo&var2=bar sess=1234&cat=3&prod=foo&var2=bar www.mysite.com/dir/index.php? /dir/index.php?sess=4567&cat=6&prod=bar&var2=foo sess=4567&cat=6&prod=bar&var2=foo All About Profiles 49www.it-ebooks.info The content reports can become cluttered due to the number of query-string parame- ters. Some query-string parameters indicate the content that a visitor is viewing, and these parameters are useful for analysis. However, many of the query-string parameters are just useless data. For example, some query-string parameters exist only for your web server or web application and provide no insight into the visitor’s actions or the content she views. You do not need these variables and you should eliminate them from Google Analytics. To configure Google Analytics to remove query-string parameters during processing, simply list the unwanted parameters in the Exclude URL Query Parameters field in the Edit Profile Information section (Figure 5-22). List multiple query-string parameters as a comma-separated list. For example, we can remove the query-string variables sess and var2 from the page names given in Table 5-1. Table 5-2 shows how the same URLs will appear after ex- cluding these parameters. Table 5-2. How a URL looks after removing unnecessary query-string parameters URL in Google Analytics Page paths after excluding unnecessary parameters www.mysite.com/dir/index.php? /dir/index.php?cat=3&prod=foo sess=1234&cat=3&prod=foo&var2=bar www.mysite.com/dir/index.php? /dir/index.php?cat=6&prod=bar sess=4567&cat=6&prod=bar&var2=foo Excluding query-string parameters from Google Analytics will affect other parts of the application. Removing a query-string parameter here also removes it completely from the system. This means the parameter data will not be accessible via filters, goal settings, or funnel settings, so if a goal utilizes a particular query-string parameter and the pa- rameter is excluded, the goal will no longer work. Which parameters should you eliminate? In general, you should remove any parameter that does not provide insight into what visitors are doing and what content they are viewing. I’ve found the easiest way is to let Google Analytics collect some data and use the Top Content report to identify all query-string parameters. Sort the pageview met- rics in ascending order. This will help you quickly identify which URLs get only one or two pageviews. These URLs usually contain a unique query-string parameter that may or may not be useful. Use the Top Content report as a master list of parameters and check with your IT staff to learn what each one means. Once you’ve identified which parameters add no value to your analysis, exclude them. This process is not easy, but it is important. 50 Chapter 5: Google Analytics Accounts and Profileswww.it-ebooks.info Figure 5-22. Use the Exclude URL Query Parameters text box to remove unwanted query-string parameters The Trouble with Query-String Parameters It is very common for websites to use a query-string variable called a session ID to identify each individual visitor. Session IDs are unique strings that may appear in the query string of every page. A session ID will make every pageview unique because each session ID is unique. You should eliminate session IDs from Google Analytics using the method described above. Other common query-string parameters that can create unique URLs are order ID val- ues and timestamps. If every page comes through as unique because of the unique query-string parameter, every page will have only one pageview. Only when you aggregate the data by removing the query-string parameter will you fix the problem. Some websites add the session ID as a directory in the file path. In this case, use an advanced filter to restructure the Request URI field. See “Advanced Profile Filters” on page 66 for more information. All About Profiles 51www.it-ebooks.info As usual, changing the Exclude URL Query Parameters setting will not affect data that has already been processed by Google Analytics. Only data processed in the future will reflect this change. It is against the Google Analytics privacy policy to store any personally identifiable information in Google Analytics. If your website uses query- string parameters to pass personal information about your visitors (like email address, name, or address), that information will be stored in Google Analytics, thus violating the privacy policy. You must exclude all query-string variables that may contain personally identifiable information. E-Commerce Settings There are two settings relevant to e-commerce in the profile information section, shown in Figure 5-23. To include e-commerce reports on the reporting interface, set the E- Commerce Website feature to Yes. Use the “Currency displayed as” setting to specify the currency format for your Google Analytics reports. Figure 5-23. E-Commerce settings 52 Chapter 5: Google Analytics Accounts and Profiles