Top 5 Google Analytics Customizations

By August 7, 2014 No Comments

Google Analytics is a complex beast that can help content creators make the most of their website by providing clear-cut statistics on how a visitor use the site. These stats can help you evaluate site content and determine what areas of your site need improvement. Becoming an Analytics expert is difficult, but it will help direct and influence your online marketing campaigns. There are five specific customizations that can be made to your Google Analytics tracking script to help improve and enhance the statistics that are provided for you which will help you better understand and convert your visitors.

Lowercase Page URLs

By default, Analytics tracks each page uniquely by the URL the visitor used to view the page. Take for example:

“/I-Am-A-Ninja” appears as a different page than “/i-am-a-ninja”

In each of these examples, the latter URL will show up differently in Analytics registering as a completely different page, even though the page might be the same content and should report as the same page. To combat this issue, you can add a line of code to ensure the pageview shows up in Analytics as the same URL, regardless of the casing of the URL. To do this, we add a ‘set’ line between the ‘create’ and ‘send’ lines in the Analytics script.

ga('create', 'UA-XXXXXXXXX-X', 'auto');
ga('set', {
'page': (location.pathname +
ga('send', 'pageview');

Custom Defined Variables

Google allows you to track unique data that’s specific to your site in Custom Defined Variables. These variables can include a slew of data that is useful in tracking visitor behavior and how it correlates with certain data. You could track a specific user ID, subscription or plan details, or a specific profile field. These details could give you an insight on how visitors are using your site, and they can give you details on specific visitors to help provide a subset of data, which really can bring the data to life!

You can set up Custom Defined Variables from the Admin panel within Analytics. Click Admin, select the Property you want to use, then select Custom Definitions and Custom Dimensions.

Track a User ID

Many sites often require their visitors to have a specific user account in order to view content and interact with the website. Although Google is not set up to easily track these visitors normally, it doesn’t take away from the fact that it is helpful to understand how they are interacting with your site. There are a couple different methods that can be used to track these types of users.

Custom Defined Variables

As we discussed above, Custom Defined Variables allow you to push specific data to Analytics and run reports against it. This is the best way to track specific users, since you’re able to view details about each specific user and their usage habits. Understanding specific usage habits can help you hone in a user’s experience.

Specific Analytics Snippet

Google does provide an official way to track a User ID, which is convenient because it creates a unique view for you that you can quickly and easily use to distinguish between your signed in and signed out traffic. The downside to this method is that while you send specific user data to Google, they give you no way to query that specific User ID data. This is not helpful when trying to narrow down specific user habits. However, if you don’t have the need to get specific traffic details, the official Google method of tracking User IDs is handy because they walk step-by-step through the process of turning on this feature.

To setup this feature, hit the Admin button in Analytics, click the Tracking Info link under the specific property you want to track, and then select the User ID link. There you will see several required steps you must walk through before adding the tracking snippet.

Track Purchases and Donations

Analytics does a great job of providing you a convenient way of tracking visitors to your site, but it also gives you the ability to gather data on the purchases that are taking place on your site. What products are your customers purchasing? What are the transaction details?

Recently, Analytics has released enhanced ecommerce tracking options that can help provide further detail about the checkout process, refunds and promotions the customer has viewed. Integrating with these advanced options can provide helpful insight into the behavior of your shopping guests, which is often one of the most important aspects of the site since it’s generating revenue. Learning from guests’ shopping behavior can help ease the shopping experience of your visitors and can improve sales. Setup and integration can be difficult to navigate because the options are so expansive, but here’s a look at the options available.

Social Media Interactions

One of the many benefits to Analytics is it allows you to automatically segment out traffic that arrives at your site from social media outlets. However, the basic Analytics tracking script doesn’t track how visitors interact with social media features on your site. If a visitor likes your Facebook page when they’re on your site, you can track that using Google Analytics. In order to track these types of interactions, you must hook into the social media network’s API. For example, if you wanted to track each time a user followed you on Twitter, you could use a snippet of code, like the code below, to track these interactions.'follow', function (event) {
ga('send', 'social', {
'socialNetwork': 'twitter',
'socialAction': 'follow',
'socialTarget': ''

The Twitter API allows you to tie in retweets, favorites, follows and several other events that could happen when a visitor interacts with your website’s Twitter plugin. Facebook also has a similar API that can used to help track user interaction. With social media being such a vital aspect to increasing your organization’s reach, tracking user interaction with these outlets on your site can help you understand how to better utilize social media and expand the reach of your site.

Track and Learn

If you setup the correct reports and tracking scripts, you can find out much more about how visitors get to and interact with your website. This additional information can be vital in improving your online marketing strategy by determining what content is helpful and useful for your visitors. After setting up the proper tracking scripts, be sure to review the reports on a regular basis so that you can make tweaks and alterations to content and continue to improve your market position.

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