When you spend as much time in Google Analytics as I do, seemingly minor improvements in efficiency shave off a lot of time throughout a week, month, and year in that system. Every minute saved building reports and analyzing data in Google Analytics earns you an additional minute interpreting your results for improvement.
You may know some of these tips already, but in my experience even those that use GA on a daily basis don’t seem to know some of these shortcuts. If you’re new to an analytics team, find some nuggets in this article to wow your colleagues and earn yourself a position as the in-house guru.
Google Analytics Segments Shortcuts
Google Analytics is finicky and annoying. I always want more than the system gives me, and usually I can get closer to my answer when I dig into segmenting. Building and displaying segments is also one of the most time consuming tasks in GA, so we’ll just start there and see if we can make some big gains up front.
One of the most aggravating things about Google Analytics is that every time you want to make a change to your segment, the entire system must reload. It’s so annoying, and depending on how big your site is, can take a while before things are usable again.
One way to speed things up when you’ve got a handful of Segments running is to just drag one of them off the Segments bar when you’re done with it. No need to drop into the Segments menu and uncheck the one you no longer want. Just toss it away.
Alternatively, if you need to add or remove multiple segments at one time, you can simply drop down the Segment menu and select the ones you want to add or remove with the checkbox, then hit save.
Quick Regular Expressions with Google Analytics
Regular Expression sounds nerdy, and it is. A Regular Expression is simply a string of text that describes a search pattern. I know that’s not a very sexy definition, but it is what it is.
Think of Regular Expressions ( or Regex for the cool kids ) as a way to quickly sort through data with a simple line of nerdy looking code that’s easy to understand. Once you start using Regex, you’ve propelled yourself from GA Beginner to GA Machine.
We’re going to start easy with a simple search query to view a handful of pages on your site. This will earn you high scores from your team, so follow along.
Let’s say you’re looking for drop-offs inside your site’s content and you fire up All Pages under Behavior. You’ve got your default view of every page on your site, and it’s probably ugly and not that helpful.
What you want to do is take a look at your home page, maybe your about page, and perhaps a category page on your site ( for sake of argument, we’re going to assume you’ve got a great content site like Sunny & Overcast ). You have a couple of options here:
- Go through the default report and copy the numbers from the pages you’re interested in into a separate spreadsheet for analysis.
- Load your All Pages report and use the search box to go directly to the details of each page. Copy the numbers and do your work.
These two options are boring and a waste of time. This is where Regex comes into the game by loading all three pages you want to look at into a single view for comparison, right inside Google Analytics for your analysis pleasure.
The Regex for this example looks like this:
For today, you don’t really need to know what all of this goofy looking stuff means, just know that the most important part of the equation is the | symbol, which means OR. So the example search query says:
find Home ( / ) OR About ( /about/ ) OR the On Work category ( /category/on-work/ ).
You can find more information about Regular Expressions from Regular-Expressions.info.
Google Analytics Keyboard Shortcuts
Finally, my favorite GA features are keyboard shortcuts. This one is like knowing that hidden menu at In-N-Out or Starbucks. I’ve seen so few people use keyboard shortcuts in GA that I am not sure if Google even markets them, nor do I even know where I first found out about them. All I know is that they make life easier and faster in GA.
There aren’t many keyboard shortcuts in GA, however, they’re still quite helpful, especially the date range shortcuts and the search shortcuts.
To access the shortcut menu, just hit shift + ? and you’ve got it. I’ve listed the shortcuts below for quick reference:
Google Analytics Application Shortcuts
?: Open keyboard shortcut help
h: Search help center
a: Open account panel
s or /: Search reports
<shift> + d: Go to the default dashboard of the current view
m: Toggle the navigation menu
Google Analytics Date Range Shortcuts
dt: Set date range to today
dy: Set date range to yesterday
dw: Set date range to last week
dm: Set date range to last month
d7: Set date range to last 7 days
d30: Set date range to last 30 days
dc: Toggle date comparison mode (previous period)
dx: Toggle date comparison mode (previous year)
That’s pretty much it. My favorite shortcuts are d30 and dc for quick 30 day comparisons. You can also speed up reports during their load by using dt and requesting data for today only.
These are my three favorite tricks for getting more out GA more efficiently, but I’d love to hear yours.