Answers To Your Top 10 Google Analytics Questions

September 13, 2007
By Robbin Steif

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Every day, I wake up and read the Google Groups for GA. Here are the ten questions I see just about every day, with answers.

Question #1: Can’t I reprocess the data in some way? Sorry. Google Analytics doesn’t let you go back and reprocess. A very best practice is to think about your needs while you are setting up your analytics, and try to anticipate the future. This includes creation of a profile for every important campaign that you run, whether you define “campaign” as a Google AdWords campaign, a banner ad campaign, or an email campaign.

Question #2: I don’t know how to set up links in my newsletter. Or, I don’t know how to set up links in the paid search for non-Google search engines. Answer: Google Analytics has a nice linkbuilder tool to solve this problem, but I like ROI Revolution’s better. It is more intuitive, and it doesn’t have any typos . You can use the linkbuilder to code the links in any of your marketing campaigns — your email marketing, your Yahoo campaigns, your banner ads. (You don’t have to code Google AdWords, the default in AdWords is auto-tagging — it codes for you.) Once external links are coded, they’ll talk to your GA.

Question #3. Why can’t I get rid of the site overlay? You’ll need to clear your cookies. The Site Overlay activates if the GA tracking code sees the “GASO” cookie when you visit your website. Just use Firefox, choose Tools>Options>Show cookies and type in GASO. Delete that cookie.

Question #4. Why is my site overlay broken? If you make any changes to your Request URI — for example, if you ask to only see page titles and not /mypage.com — the site overlay will not work for the profile where you have the changes made. You should set up a clean profile without those changes. (To be honest, I feel like the site overlay is just about always broken, and I am awed when I see people ask questions about why they can’t get a specific piece of data from it. )

Question #5. My AdWords used to be linked to one GA account. I unlinked them, but now I can’t relink them, for some reason, to the correct account. Why? Answer: Relinking a previously linked AdWords account has to be done by Google. Submit a support ticket and they’ll get right one it. GA knows that you can’t do it without their help, and they are pretty responsive to this problem, I hear.

Question #6. My site has a new name. How should I handle my analytics? Answer: GA doesn’t really care what the name of your site is. So you can take your previous code and put it on your new site. But why would you want to do that? Unless the pages match perfectly (example: you kept the same site but moved from .asp to .php), you will really be comparing apples and oranges. Why don’t you just create a new profile in the same account and put that new code on your new site?

Question #7: Why is my own site my top referring source? Why is it even in my list of referring sources? Answer: Probably because you have more than one domain (for example, you are using a third party shopping cart) and you didn’t take the time to learn how to do the cross-domain tracking. Or because you have an old domain that you are redirecting to your new domain, and you are doing the redirect with javascript intead of with a server side redirect.

Question #8: Can’t I get conversion numbers instead of conversion percentages? Answer: Well, you can get them in the Total Conversions report, but you probably want them in the traffic report. And you can get them by a) pulling out your calculator and multiplying or b) dumping it all into excel and multiplying.

Question #9: Can I mix the secure code and the regular code? Google Analytics has a regular form of code (that includes, but is not limited to, the line http://www.google-analytics.com/urchin.js — and they also have the secure code, which uses the secure version of that, https://ssl.google-analytics.com/urchin.js

There are three ways that you can do this:

Option I) Since the name of your site is probably http://www.mysite.com, you are probably tempted to tell GA that when you sign up. This will give you the non-secure code. You can put it on all of your pages (even the secure pages), but it will generate a security error, possibly scaring off potential customers. So, Option I is a lousy idea.

Option II) You can follow the same instructions as above, but go in to the secure pages and be sure to change http://www.google-analytics.com/urchin.js to be https://ssl.google-analytics.com/urchin.js

Option III) Create a new profile, and pretend that your whole site is secure. To do that, choose the https beginning. GA will then automatically generate secure code for you, which you can put on your whole site. Using the secure site on all your pages – http and https alike — does not matter and will not affect your data. GA will not care that your site is mostly an http site.

Question #10) Why can’t I see the past the question mark in my referrers report? Answer: I really don’t have an answer. I would love if someone else would weigh in on this topic.

Bonus: How do I get the IP addresses of the visitors? Answer: you cannot, personally identifiable information is against GA’s terms of service.

Robbin