7 Advanced Google Analytics Tricks

May 10th, 2007 Da Vinci

Advanced Google Analytics tricksIn a previous post on the best Web analytics solutions I mentioned that in my view Omniture is the clear leader in enterprise Web analytics and that Google Analytics is the best free solution. Omniture has spoilt me and I often wish I could get a little more out of GA (which I use on Da Vinci Planet). After some digging around I found a few hacks that enable valuable reports in Google Analytics, including full referrer URLs, file downloads, and custom segmentation.

1. How to track file downloads, clicks on outbound links or Flash

Google Analytics provides an easy way to track clicks on links that lead to file downloads like PDFs or MP3s, outbound links and Flash. Simply include an onClick event in the hyperlink that calls the urchinTracker JavaScript. Link.

2. Integrate Google Website Optimizer with Google Analytics


Website Optimizer is a multivariate web page testing tool that can help you understand which web page designs really work. It uses a javascript code snippet very similar to Google Analytics. However, Website Optimizer only uses conversion rate as the metric to determine which combination of variations is best. You can use GA with Website Optimizer to use more valuable metrics like Page Value, Avg. Time and Bounce Rate. Link.

3. Identify additional search engines in the Referral reports

By default, GA tracks referrals from 20 search engines, however, you can add additional search engines by adding _uOsr and _uOkw variables to your tracking code. When you look closely at your Referring Source report you may notice some sources where the Medium is “referral” and that are search results on Web sites that should come through as “organic”. Link.

4. Tracking full referrer URLs

A common complaint about Google Analytics is that it truncates URLs at the end of the pagename and cuts off the querystring. So on sites that use query parameters as page identifiers, some reports will show aggregate numbers for those pages. There are two ways one can address this issue:
1. Use the urchinTracker to record the whole URL. Link
2. Create a User-defined report by using Custom Filters. With Custom Filters you can manipulate data before GA simplifies it and therefore one can do lots of interesting things like extracting segments into extra profiles. Link.

5. Track AdSense clicks

There is a lot of debate on the legality of using GA to track AdSense clicks, but if you are interested this is how you can do it. Link.

6. Custom Segmentation

The utmSetVar variable can be used to assign users to a certain segment. E.g. you could use the variable to track users that viewed a particular page. The variable populates the User-Defined report (Marketing Optimization > Visitor Segment Performance > User-Defined) report. Note that only the first value of this variable is recorded. Link.

7. Use link tagging to track campaigns


You can use GA to track all your campaigns including email campaigns. AdWords campaigns are tracked by default if the account is linked to your GA account, however you need to tag your links in order to use campaign tracking for other campaigns. Link tagging simply requires you to add certain parameters to your URL and Google has a nifty URL Builder for the purpose. Link.

UPDATE: The new version of Google Analytics is out and while the reports have changed the configuration and advanced tricks mentioned above have not. Phew!


14 Responses to “7 Advanced Google Analytics Tricks”

  1. 30+ Google Analytics Tools, Goals, Segments, Filters, Hacks & Resources | SEOptimise Says:

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  2. Jonathan Dingman Says:

    Just as a heads up, for #5, Google is slowly rolling out AdSense for Analytics and this hack is fairly worthless now. With the implementation from Google directly into Analytics, I can track revenue, which page an ad was clicked on, and how many clicks — all directly with just a single line of code being added (per their instructions).

    Here is the official blog post about it, http://adsense.blogspot.com/2008/10/make-date-with-data-in-google-analytics.html

  3. Vineet Manohar Says:

    You can also use the events API to visualize your website’s response time how real users see it, not crawlers. You can achieve this by populating the fourth parameter (value) by the response time and then charting it using Analytics.

    Similarly you can track the page load time by setting up a javascript timer in the page and using page onload to capture the page load time. For more details see my blog post:
    http://www.vineetmanohar.com/blog/2009/03/23/using-google-analytics-event-api-to-track-your-website-performance/

  4. 27 Excellent Google Analytics Articles | Pajama Professional Says:

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  6. 25 Essential Google Analytics Resources | TwitTrix Says:

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  7. rtpHarry Says:

    The link in tip 1 is now broken. I think this is because instead of using urchinTracker the modern API uses pageTracker._trackEvent();

    You might be interested to learn how you can use jQuery to auto tag the your urls so that they register events:
    How to automatically track events with Google Analytics and jQuery.

  8. Firesit Says:

    You have to check up these Google Analytics tips

  9. rtpHarry Says:

    Another shameless plug for an article I have written; but seeing as this is a pretty good resource page for GA tips I figure it should be listed!

    How to track scroll depth to reveal content engagement in Google Analytics

  10. myblogtrainer Says:

    the link of the 3rd paragraph doesn’t work.
    hth ;-)

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  14. 5 Key Google Analytics To Watch for Blog Progress | Says:

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