Dear Google Analytics…. Please Help us to Help You

Dear Google Analytics…. Please Help us to Help You

2nd August 2012

Since the launch of the new Google Analytics platform I have generally been pleased with the updates, but there are still a few issues that keep cropping up that make our lives very difficult.

I have spoken to a number of people in the Digital Marketing industry to get some feedback on what elements of Google Analytics they would like to see updated and have compiled a list in this post.

It was promising to see that Google Analytics emailed a Product Review Survey to users on Tuesday 31st July, looking for ways that they can improve Google Analytics for their users. This shows that they are looking to make changes that will make our lives easier. If you want to take part in the survey, click here.

The Frustrations

When asking members of the Digital Marketing industry about the updates, the same frustrations were mentioned frequently. If you have anything you would like to add to this list, please send me a message on Twitter or leave a comment at the end of this post.

Not Provided

By far the biggest annoyance is the continuing loss of keyword data and the inclusion of (not provided). With Google pushing Google+ more and more this problem is only going to get worse.

There isn’t much more to say about this except ‘Please Google, help us to help you! We need this data to understand what people are looking for to be able to return them the best possible results and web pages.’

This screenshot has been taken from an account where you can see the continuous rise of (not provided) data.


Dashboards have to be one of my favourite additions to Google Analytics, but they still come with a number of frustrations.

1) When you create dashboards with widgets that contain a link to a standard or custom report and share the dashboard, the links to the reports disappear

2) Advanced Segments that you have created cannot be added to dashboards yet. I am hoping that this will come soon, as it will make using dashboards a lot more interesting

3) Limiting each dashboard to 12 widgets needs to be reviewed. The idea of dashboards is to give you a snapshot overview of your data, but there are times when you want to see more than 12 reports at one time.

4) When a graph contains two Y axes, it is confusing if one of the metrics doesn’t have any data to show. This screenshot highlights the problem. It would be much clearer if the metric containing no data is shown at the bottom of the graph, rather than in the middle

5) You are unable to show any data for new or returning visitors as a metric

6) Creating dashboards can be time consuming and although there is the functionality to share a dashboard, it would be great if you could import dashboards from profile to profile or account to account

7) Dashboards that you create within a profile or account are only available for the user that created them. Having an option to save the dashboard at user or account level in the same way that you can with annotations would be great.

8) Deleting widgets is far too easy! Once you hit delete, there is no option for you to confirm the removal.

9) Having the ability to drag and drop widgets from one dashboard to another would save a huge amount of time

10) Widgets only allow you to show two sets of metrics and dimensions and we would like to see this increased to show more valuable data


Back in the day, Google Analytics only allowed you to create four goals for a website and have since increased this to 20, but it still isn’t enough. On top of this, there are a few other elements contained under the goal subject which would be great to have.

1) The limitations with the number of goals is problematic, especially in custom reports and csv exports. You have to run multiple custom reports and then manually merge the data to get all results for 10 or more goals.

2) Without having a plugin or creating a custom report, you are unable to see goal numbers for a source or keyword. The goal completion data is only shown as a percentage.

3) There is no mid-way level between user and admin which means you are unable to see, edit or create goals as a user. This causes big problems if your client does not necessarily want to make you an administrator of their account.

Custom Reports and Advanced Segments

If you are not using Custom Reports or Advanced Segments in Google Analytics, you are missing out on so much valuable data that the standard reports don’t offer. The majority of these frustrations are common between both Custom Reports and Advanced Segments.

1) You are not able to create a custom report from scratch for Event metrics. The only way to do it is to click ‘customize’ from the standard events report, but this doesn’t make it easy to combine it with other pages in an existing custom report.

2) As with Dashboards, you are unable to show any data for new or returning visitors as a metric

3) Another similar annoyance that we found with Dashboards is also an issue with custom reports and advanced segments. When you set up custom reports or segments you should be able to share it with the account or keep private in the same way as you can do with annotations.

4) Google have recently stopped the chosen date range from changing when you switch from profile to profile or account to account, but if you view a custom report or dashboard with a selected date range and then view a standard report, the date range reverts to default

5) Multichannel Funnels was a welcome addition to Google Analytics but there are limitations. It would be great to be able to use Multichannel Funnels with Advanced Segments and currently this isn’t possible.

Site Search

You can get a lot of insight if you have Site Search enabled and linked to your Google Analytics account but the new version of GA is not reporting the right data. This problem was raised by Matt Curry from Lovehoney and he was kind enough to share screenshots which really does highlight the issue.

Matt was using the old version of Google Analytics to pull data on what people are searching for on the Love Honey website using their search box because the new version wasn’t reporting accurate data. With the old version of Google Analytics being removed on 17th July, Matt doesn’t have access to the accurate data. Please help!

In the new version of Google Analytics, it doesn’t report on Site Search conversion metrics in the same way as the old version did. We are unsure of how it now links the searches within a session with the transaction it generates, but it definitely broken.

If you go into the new GA and view the Site Search report within the Content section and then click on Search Terms, you will see the primary metric is Total Unique Searches and this seems to be fine, as the search terms generated are in roughly the right popularity order that their other tools report.

The problem comes when you switch to the Ecommerce view and the primary metric is now Visits and the most popular terms bear no resemblance to reality. When digging a little deeper to find the conversion rate for the term you are after, it apparently has a conversion rate of around 2000%!

The screenshots highlighting the problem can be seen below. In each screenshot the data has been sorted by transactions to roughly get the site search term order correct. The search terms have been blurred out and the data is for the Site Search only, not site wide traffic.

Old Google Analytics – Showing sensible conversion rates

New Google Analytics – Showing flawed conversion rates

Accounts and Profiles

The following frustrations have been grouped together as they are general issues that apply to accounts and profiles.

1) When you add a filter to a profile and want the same filter added to another profile, you are unable to copy and paste the filter. This can be done with a plugin but it is not intuitive for the average user.

2) The above would also be beneficial from account to account, rather than having to recreate filters that you have already set up in another account

3) In the old version of Google Analytics you used to be able to alter date range in GA by editing the URL. This is no longer possible as this contains random characters now.

4) When creating a second profile for a web property it would be nice to have the option to transfer goals with it rather than recreating them again.

5) A big frustration among many GA users is data sampling and the only way around this is to pay £10k a month to see all the data!

6) If you still have access to old client profiles in Google Analytics and want to remove them, you have to be an admin user for that account. If you are a standard user you are unable to disassociate yourself from the GA account.

Content Experiments

When Google transferred Google Website Optimizer to Google Analytics Content Experiments, my initial thoughts were that this could be good news. However, there are a number of things that still need to be addressed.

1) Settings and functionality from Google Website Optimizer have not all been carried across to Content Experiments

2) You are unable to import old tests that you have conducted from GWO to GA

3) You have to set up different pages to test as you can’t test different parts on one page

Who did I speak to?

I would like to give credit to the following individuals who helped make this post possible:

Anna Lewis – Koozai

Matt Curry – Lovehoney

Alec Sharratt – Koozai

Annabel Hodges – OMD

Carla Marshall – Sorbet Digital

Barry Adams – Pierce Communications

Michel Wester – Web Sonic


Sam Osborne – Plug and Play


So there you have it, a list of 28 elements within Google Analytics that the digital marketing industry would like fixed or updated. I am sure there are more but these are the ones I have gathered to date and I will continue to update the post should I receive any others.

If you know of a solution to any of the above problems or have any other problems I would love to hear your feedback.


Written By
Samantha Noble is the founder of Biddable Moments and a former editor and contributor to State of Digital.
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