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5 Hacks to Get More Out of Google Analytics

Most digital marketers use Google Analytics on a daily basis. Sticking to the basic reporting keeps it manageable at first, but ultimately taking advantage of the full functionality and customizability of Google Analytics will make you more effective and efficient at your job. (monthly and quarterly reports, anyone?) These are five of my favorite hacks for getting more out of Google Analytics.

1.Measure Impact with Content Groups

Google Analytics makes measuring the performance of an individual landing page or blog post relatively easy. However, pulling data for groups of pages becomes more complicated and time-consuming. By setting up content groups, you can quickly pull data for select pages that you’re currently working on, and use the content group as a primary dimension within reports.

Google Analytics allows you to set up 5 content groupings per view. You can then create multiple content groups within a grouping.

To set up a content grouping, go to the admin tab and select “content grouping” in the third column.


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Select New Content Grouping

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Then, name and configure the grouping. There are three main options for configuring a group:

Tracking Code

To use this option, you will need to modify the javascript of the Google Analytics tracking code on each page of the content group. Within the tracking code include the group number and the name of the content group.The code snippet will look like this in Universal Analytics:

ga('set', 'contentGroup1', 'My Group Name');


This option uses Google Analytics regex to create a regex capture group by URL or page title. Regex offers more flexibility in capturing a large number of pages with unique URL structures. For an overview of how to use regular expressions, see this series of support articles.

Rule Definitions

This is the fastest option to implement. Set multiple rules based on URL or Page title. These rules can include exact match, partial match, and regex rules.

Bear in mind, that just like Google Analytics filters, these rules will be applied in the order they are set. Content groups do not apply to historical data, and any given page can only belong to one content group.

Content Grouping reports can be found in the All Pages report. Under primary dimension, click on "content grouping", and select the desired content group.

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A content group can also be used a primary dimension in a customized report in Google Analytics dashboards.

2. Simplify Reporting with Goal Groups

Goal groups are a frequently overlooked feature of the conversion tracking in Google Analytics. When setting up goals in the Admin tab, Google Analytics will either automatically set a Goal ID under a “Goal Set” group, or you can manually assign the goal to a specific group. Each group can include up to four different goals.

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Bear in mind, that the goal ID and group can’t be changed once the goal is saved, so be sure to organize your goals ahead of time and plan for future growth.

Some useful applications of Google Analytics groups include:

  • Separating micro conversions and macro conversions for reporting
  • Grouping goals by product category
  • Separating conversion goals from engagement goals
  • Categorizing goals based on value

Goal groupings can be found in the explore section of the Behavior and Acquisition reports. Selecting these will reconfigure these reports to show only the goals in the selected groups. Goal groups can also be used as a dimension in custom dashboard reports.

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3. Save Filters in Shortcuts

Shortcuts are a great feature for cutting down on time spent creating monthly reports or accessing reports that can’t be easily configured into a dashboard widget. You manage shortcuts in the left-hand navigation. Click on "overview" to review, rename or delete current shortcuts.

You can create a shortcut from any report within Google Analytics. The shortcut will then remember all applied filters, segments and secondary dimensions except the date range. To add a shortcut, go to the top of the page and select “shortcut.”

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4. Create Customized Charts in Dashboards

Marketers frequently use screenshots of Google Analytics charts to create reports, but certain charts end up being too large, too difficult to configure or unavailable in the default reporting. Within Google Analytics dashboards, you have the capability to create a widget from any dimension and metric and apply custom filters to pull the exact data you need. For example, Google Analytics doesn’t offer a simple report for the top converting landing pages filtered by a specific traffic source. However, you can create a widget that pulls landing pages sorted by conversions and then apply a filter for a specific traffic source.

5. Measure Social Engagement

Google Analytics can integrate with social plugins to track social shares and automatically configure reports with more detail than basic event tracking. A developer can set this tracking up manually, or The socialTracker plugin will automatically add social tracking to any official Facebook or Twitter button. The Google +1 button automatically integrates with Google Analytics social tracking.

The socialTracker plugin is part of a library of plugins called Autotrack. To implement the plugin, you will need to adapt your Google Analytics tracking code to require it to either run the entire Autotrack library or just the individual plugin. The tracking code will look like this:

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To use only socialTracker, substitute autotrack with socialTracker after ‘require’. Access the full library here.
The social engagement report is located under Acquisition > Social > Plugins

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Use the dimension “social entity” to see shares by URL.


There you have it. Add any other hacks you've found helpful in the comments, and happy reporting!

Christina Sanders

Christina Sanders is an Enterprise Campaign Manager at 97th Floor.

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