Ever wish you could take something back? It happens — and we all make mistakes.
For businesses, mistakes often happen when selecting data sources for analytic reporting. But with the addition of a data retrieval feature in Google Analytics, there is now a suite of tools that can help minimize data source errors and permit users to make corrections as needed.
Here's how the diagnostic tools can keep Google Analytics reporting accurately.
Digging Through the Trash
Google introduced a new beta feature for Google Analytics called Trash Can. Trash Can recovers deleted data associated in a view, property or account. To select Trash Can, navigate to the admin page. The can appears in the account column. Select it and then choose the data that you want to recover. You can retrieve data up to 35 days before the deletion date.
The trash can feature is on top of several tools that you can use to diagnose problems that impact data … and, just maybe, avoid having to fetch data back in the first place.
First, consider Analytics Notification, a diagnostic alert center in the upper right corner of the Google Analytics accounts page. Analytics Notification scans an account for site tags and reports configuration problems. It then highlights the changes that impact data-quality issues. It arranges notifications from urgently necessary modifications to recommended changes.
A second diagnostic resource is administrative settings, meant to adjust data sources. One setting is a bot filter setting in the account administration panels. This setting can eliminate session counts triggered by spider crawls on a site. A referral traffic filter is also available, removing unwanted sources from the referral reports.
A third diagnostic source is inspecting the script settings within browser debugger tools. Chrome and Firefox have been popular choices among developers, mainly because of the volume of developer-crafted plugins available, but debugging tools are also available in Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, so users have choice that fits their own browser preference.
A specific browser tool, a tag assistant, is useful for debugging site tags. Tag assistants plug into the browser to inspect page code and detect if pages are missing tag information. There are several available, such as WASP, developed by well-known analytics practitioner Stephane Hamel of Cardinal Path, and Firebug.
One last tip, a nod to good trouble-shooting protocol: Maintaining a journal regarding issues encountered in a Google Analytics account is a great way to keep informed on what changes have been implemented, and the results stemming from those changes.
Change history tracks setting changes, while annotation history captures notes that administrators share. In addition, the Analytics Notification can be exported into a clipboard to be added to an off-solution journal like a Word file or a note in Evernote.
Noting changes is important, because Google Analytics cannot reprocess data once a setting has been adjusted. So if a team adjusted a filter setting at the beginning of the month, for example, those changes will not affect data from the period before the change. Thus, change notation, along with the aforementioned diagnostic tools, can create an informative maintenance log, influencing the next decisions to improve analytic reporting and business strategy.