Answers to your Top 10 Google Analytics Questions


google-analytics-logoEvery day, I wake up and read the Google Groups for GA. Here are the ten questions I see just about every day, with answers.

Question #1: Can’t I reprocess the data in some way? Sorry. Google Analytics doesn’t let you go back and reprocess. A very best practice is to think about your needs while you are setting up your analytics, and try to anticipate the future. This includes creation of a profile for every important campaign that you run, whether you define “campaign” as a Google AdWords campaign, a banner ad campaign, or an email campaign.

Question #2: I don’t know how to set up links in my newsletter. Or, I don’t know how to set up links in the paid search for non-Google search engines. Answer: Google Analytics has a nice linkbuilder tool to solve this problem, but I like ROI Revolution’s better. It is more intuitive, and it doesn’t have any typos . You can use the linkbuilder to code the links in any of your marketing campaigns — your email marketing, your Yahoo campaigns, your banner ads. (You don’t have to code Google AdWords, the default in AdWords is auto-tagging — it codes for you.) Once external links are coded, they’ll talk to your GA.

Question #3. Why can’t I get rid of the site overlay? You’ll need to clear your cookies. The Site Overlay activates if the GA tracking code sees the “GASO” cookie when you visit your website. Just use Firefox, choose Tools>Options>Show cookies and type in GASO. Delete that cookie.

Question #4. Why is my site overlay broken? If you make any changes to your Request URI — for example, if you ask to only see page titles and not / — the site overlay will not work for the profile where you have the changes made. You should set up a clean profile without those changes. (To be honest, I feel like the site overlay is just about always broken, and I am awed when I see people ask questions about why they can’t get a specific piece of data from it. )

Question #5. My AdWords used to be linked to one GA account. I unlinked them, but now I can’t relink them, for some reason, to the correct account. Why? Answer: Relinking a previously linked AdWords account has to be done by Google. Submit a support ticket and they’ll get right one it. GA knows that you can’t do it without their help, and they are pretty responsive to this problem, I hear.

Question #6. My site has a new name. How should I handle my analytics? Answer: GA doesn’t really care what the name of your site is. So you can take your previous code and put it on your new site. But why would you want to do that? Unless the pages match perfectly (example: you kept the same site but moved from .asp to .php), you will really be comparing apples and oranges. Why don’t you just create a new profile in the same account and put that new code on your new site?

Question #7: Why is my own site my top referring source? Why is it even in my list of referring sources? Answer: Probably because you have more than one domain (for example, you are using a third party shopping cart) and you didn’t take the time to learn how to do the cross-domain tracking. Or because you have an old domain that you are redirecting to your new domain, and you are doing the redirect with javascript intead of with a server side redirect.

Question #8: Can’t I get conversion numbers instead of conversion percentages? Answer: Well, you can get them in the Total Conversions report, but you probably want them in the traffic report. And you can get them by a) pulling out your calculator and multiplying or b) dumping it all into excel and multiplying.

Question #9: Can I mix the secure code and the regular code? Google Analytics has a regular form of code (that includes, but is not limited to, the line — and they also have the secure code, which uses the secure version of that,

There are three ways that you can do this:

Option I) Since the name of your site is probably, you are probably tempted to tell GA that when you sign up. This will give you the non-secure code. You can put it on all of your pages (even the secure pages), but it will generate a security error, possibly scaring off potential customers. So, Option I is a lousy idea.

Option II) You can follow the same instructions as above, but go in to the secure pages and be sure to change to be

Option III) Create a new profile, and pretend that your whole site is secure. To do that, choose the https beginning. GA will then automatically generate secure code for you, which you can put on your whole site. Using the secure site on all your pages – http and https alike — does not matter and will not affect your data. GA will not care that your site is mostly an http site.

Question #10) Why can’t I see the past the question mark in my referrers report? Answer: I really don’t have an answer. I would love if someone else would weigh in on this topic.

Bonus: How do I get the IP addresses of the visitors? Answer: you cannot, personally identifiable information is against GA’s terms of service.


Our founder, Robbin Steif, started LunaMetrics in 2004. She is a graduate of Harvard College and the Harvard Business School, and has served on the Board of Directors for the Digital Analytics Association. Robbin is a winner of a BusinessWomen First award, as well as a Diamond Award for business leadership. In 2017, Robbin sold her company to HS2 Solutions and has since retired from LunaMetrics.

  • steve

    #10 Wild guess here, but I’d suggest it’s for privacy protection.
    It would be waaaay to easy to identify individuals that way. Be it from a local site or a remote one even. I see all sorts of personally identifiable stuff from webmail-ish sites in our logs. More the ISP’s vs the GMail, Hotmail et al.

    – Steve

  • No, I don’t think so. It’s really easy to do that with your *own* customers, and you aren’t allowed to. So the issue with the personally identifiable information is not about what your query parameters are. If email= is one of your query parameters, you are supposed to take out that query param in your setup.

    But of course, I am guessing too. I really want to know — is there a way to see beyond the question mark? And I just haven’t found it?

  • Question #1
    It’s also a good practices to create a test profile to new filter before applying them. Just in case 🙂

    Question #2
    I remember seeing a Excel files that help you create multiple campaign code at once. I just don’t remember the address.

  • Sebastian, I think the spreadsheet you’re looking for is on the Analytics Talk blog here:

    Also, in regard to #9, you can use Javascript to programmatically determine whether or not to use the standard or SSL GATC. Shawn Purtell posted about this on our blog:

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  • Steve

    Fair enough.
    I wonder if it’s one of the simple answers? 🙂
    As in “Too Hard” – eg resources/space/efficiencies. Or “Too Slow”. So they compromised and pulled it out?
    I’d suggest it’s been a deliberate choice – in that it has been removed, vs left alone.

    You *may* be able to swing the GA folk to add by an “un-filter” if you ken?? 🙂
    As in match this regex, don’t strip the ?= stuff. Similar to the current feature set. ???

    But that would be asking. And guessing is way more entertaining! 😀
    – Steve

  • There actually an option 4 available, which works especially if you only have a limited number of pages using SSL . You can detect the server variable of which page is currently being displayed and make an if then statement for two different sets of code segments for GA to use. If the website detects that it’s on a page that’d normally be secure, if can only use the https:// form of the code. Else, it’ll display the non-secure form. This works for my website: quite nicely, and is a simple mod to do it (especiallly) in ASP.

    Rossi & Rovetti Flowers

  • “Question #7: Why is my own site my top referring source? Why is it even in my list of referring sources? Answer: Probably because you have more than one domain (for example, you are using a third party shopping cart) and you didn’t take the time to learn how to do the cross-domain tracking.”
    Why, yes! That is exactly the question I had. I was tremendously excited to see that you had answered it, and the excitement carried through all the way to the part where we should have learned to do cross-domain tracking. I hurriedly looked all over the rest of the page in case I had missed the part where you explained how to do that. The phrase “didn’t take the time” implies that it is easily learned, something everyone should know, something we would have learned in school if only we hadn’t cut corners and taken philosophy instead…
    Seriously, where would I learn that? Or, if the third party-ness of the shopping cart is the issue, can I just ignore it?

  • Rebecca – you are absolutely right. It isn’t here, and furthermore, it is a lot of work. Here is a help link, but I know that it just a lifejacket and not the real thing.

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  • max

    Anyone know why is always in the top referrers in analytics?

  • I have submitted my site to google.but it indexed just 3 pages out of 9 pages.what should i do?

    • Robbin

      Alex, links are the key to indexing. Get links to your site.

  • jim

    In my analytic pageviews, what is the percent next to the page based on? i can find no info on this?

  • hello,is it possible for two totally different identities to have the same email address? your feed back would be much appreciated,as im trying to catch out a scammer.

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