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JavaScript Basics in Google Analytics

Google Analytics relies heavily on JavaScript. Well, actually, it's almost entirely JavaScript. "Relies heavily" is probably an understatement.

Sure, the Google Analytics tracking code can just be copied and pasted into each page on a website. You could go the easy way out. But what if you want to get into more advanced features? What if you want to track file downloads? Or what if you just wanted to really screw up your tracking code? Well, you would need to know some basics about how JavaScript works.

Adding and Testing Google Analytics Tracking Code

One reason that Google Analytics has gained such rapid popularity is its ease of implementation. Google made the installation process easy enough that non-technical website owners have been able to use it.

For most websites, simply copying and pasting the code that Google provides is sufficient. It's important to be able to test that code implementation immediately, though. Sometimes it's even necessary to go back into the account to grab the code again.

Cookies in Google Analytics

Cookies form the foundation of Google Analytics attribution reports.
A warm, delicious foundation.

Cookies are at the heart of Google Analytics. Not just because they are delicious, but because they provide a critical link in tracking return visitors and attribution.

Organizing Your Google Analytics Account

Google Analytics reports a lot of data. If you don't take out the irrelevant stuff, you will have a hard time getting anything useful from it.

Almost every company I've seen, large and small, uses Google Analytics unfiltered in the beginning. Trying to make useful analysis out of raw data is difficult. To really make sense of the reports, you need to exclude outliers, consolidate pages and isolate irrelevant data.

Real-Time Analysis and Google Analytics

Why Real-Time?

Here are some of the most legitimate reasons for real-time tracking that we have heard:

  • Need to know if ads are underperforming in real-time so that they can be modified or discontinued.
  • Need to know if a page is failing so that it can be remedied.
  • Want to track individual users as they interact with my site.
  • Need to know if a page is popular so that a link to it can be posted somewhere.
  • Want to proactively engage visitors on the site.

Tracking Campaigns in Google Analytics

Google Analytics provides a simple way to track any marketing that drives traffic to your website without making any changes to your account.

To track marketing campaigns, simply insert campaign information into the landing page's query string. It looks something like this:

First, let's take a look at how Google Analytics keeps track of where a visitor came from.

Upgrading Your Site From urchin.js to ga.js

If you're an Urchin customer, you can migrate your Urchin data to Angelfish Software.

There has been some hullabaloo about how long Google will continue supporting urchin.js, the older version of the Google Analytics tracking code. It was marked as deprecated some timeago, and Google stopped making updates to it to encourage customers to "upgrade" to ga.js.

Web Analysis Tools Don't Do Analysis

"Web Analytics Software" is a misnomer. Web analytics tools don't analyze data. They report metrics.

Reporting vs. Analyzing

At first glance, that distinction may seem trivial. When you consider it, though, there is a world of difference between telling me what happened in the past and telling me what I should do going forward.

If you know what you're looking for, good web analytics tools make that very apparent. Analysis requires intelligence. Reporting tools simply provide calculations.

Google Analytics API

The Google Analytics API is secure, lightweight and flexible. It lays the foundation for the future of web analysis.

The long-awaited Google Analytics API has been released. Developers around the globe are tinkering with it to make programs and applications that can leverage your Google Analytics data in new and profound ways.

So, just what is the API? How does it work? What features are available? Where do we go from here?

Measuring the Influence of Your Marketing

If you're relying on "conversions" to measure your marketing you're not seeing the whole picture.

One of the primary reasons for using Google Analytics is to make decisions about your marketing efforts. After analyzing reports, you should be able to answer the question, "What do I do now?" Do you stop a marketing campaign because it's not working? Do you beef up another one that is surprisingly successful?

Google Analytics: Where to Start?

Uh ... now what??

The code is on your site. You know your data is clean. It's time to start doing something really awesome.

But what do you do now? How do you get started?

Step Back

Determine Which Questions to Answer

Why would you waste your time analyzing reports if you don't know what you're looking for?

Okay, we've all done it at one time or another. That doesn't make it any less nonsensical, though.

Backward Analysis

All reports in a web analysis answer a question. Sometimes the questions they answer are pointless. In fact, often the high level reports right out of the box are useless.

Understanding Web Analysis

Web analytics can be really, really cool. But you have to understand what its limitations are and how to use it.