Google Universal AnalyticsResource Guide

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Advanced Configuration Options

Another of the benefits of Google Universal Analytics is that it offers more configuration options than previously available in Standard Google Analytics. Below are four of these new features only available for properties using Universal Analyitcs.

Customize Organic Search Sources

Google Analytics automatically recognizes the most popular search engines, and attributes traffic to these sources. Traffic that finds your site through any of the default search engines appears as organic search traffic in your reports. Traffic that finds your site through any search engine not included in this list is considered referral traffic, (not as organic search traffic), in your reports.

You can add, delete, and reorder the list of recognized search engines to modify how organic search traffic is attributed in your account and how the data appears in your reports.

GA attributes incoming traffic to one source. Organic search traffic is assigned to the first search engine on your list that matches the domain name and query parameter of the incoming visit.

For example, if you list google.com first and images.google.com second (and both sites use the same query parameter, like q), all searches that happen on images.google.com are attributed to google.com. To change this attribution, you can reorder these search engines in the list to prioritize how visits are attributed. In this example, you could list images.google.com before google.com so searches are properly attributed.

You can also remove search engines from this list. Traffic arriving from any search engine you remove appear as referral traffic instead of as organic search traffic.

If you control a search engine that overlaps with another in this list, and if they use the same query parameter, you could also avoid this situation by changing your search parameter to something unique.

Changing your organic search traffic settings:

  1. Navigate to a property. If you’re not in the settings menu, click Admin. Select the account and property you want to edit.
  2. From the property column, click Tracking Info then Organic Search Sources.
  3. Click +Add Search Engine.
  4. In the form, specify what the Domain Name Contains and the Query Parameter. You can also specify a Search Engine Name and what the Path Contains.
  5. Click Create.

Click edit or delete to change or remove a search engine you’ve already added. To reorder the list, drag and drop the order of each row by using the mouse to grab the dots left of the search engine name.

Session and Campaign Timeout Handling

Sessions and campaigns end after a specific amount of time passes. By default, sessions end after 30 minutes and campaigns end after 6 months. You can change the settings so sessions and campaigns end after the specified amount of time has passed.

The length of a session and campaign depends on your site and business. Here are a few ideas to get you started thinking about session and campaign timeouts:

  1. If your site automatically signs a visitor out after being inactive for a certain amount of time, set the session timeout to match that length of time.
  2. Lengthen the session time if you have a lot of content and expect visitors to take a long time engaging with that content. Conversely, shorten the session time if the site has a small amount of content.
  3. Set the campaign timeout handling to the same amount of time the campaign is going to run or expected to be relevant. Clicks to a social media micro-campaign might not be relevant for more than a few days after launch.

Campaign timeout cannot be greater than 2 years. Sessions cannot be less than 1 minute or greater than 4 hours.

Changing session and campaign timeout settings:

  1. Navigate to a property. If you’re not in the settings menu, click Admin. Select the account and property you want to edit.
  2. From the property column, click Tracking Info then Session Settings.
  3. Under Timeout Handling, use the controls to set Session timeout and Campaign timeout.
  4. Click Apply.

Referral Exclusions

You can exclude specific domains from being recognized as referral traffic sources in your Analytics reports. A common use for this feature is to exclude traffic from a third-party shopping cart to prevent customers from being counted in new session and as a referral when they return to your order confirmation page after checking out on the third-party site.

Google Analytics recognizes the URL you use to set up a new property in your account and automatically excludes this domain from your referral traffic, so you won’t see self-referrals in your Analytics reports.

You must, however, manually add all other domains (including sites in a cross-domain tracking or third-party shopping cart setup) to exclude traffic from those domains from being recognized as referral traffic in your reports.

How excluding referral traffic affects your data:

By default, a referral automatically triggers a new session. When you exclude a referral source, traffic that arrives to your site from the excluded domain doesn’t trigger a new session. If you want traffic arriving from a specific site to trigger a new session, don’t include that domain in this table.

Because each referral triggers a new session, excluding referrals (or not excluding referrals) affects how sessions are calculated in your account. The same interaction can be counted as either one or two sessions, based on how you treat referrals. For example, a visitor on my-site.com goes to your-site.com, and then returns to my-site.com. If you do not exclude your-site.com as a referring domain, two sessions are counted, one for each arrival at my-site.com. If, however, you exclude referrals from your-site.com, the second arrival to my-site.com does not trigger a new session, and only one session is counted.

Add or remove referral traffic sources:

Any hostname that contains the string you add will be excluded. For example, if you add example.com to the list of referral exclusions, another-example.com will also be excluded from your referral traffic.

  1. Navigate to a property. If you’re not in the settings screen, click Admin.
  2. Click Tracking Info then Referral Exclusion List.
  3. Enter the Domain.
  4. Click Apply to save.

You can also remove domains from the list of exclusions, reintroducing that traffic as a referring source in your reports, by following these steps.

Search Term Exclusions

Count some search traffic as direct traffic.

This feature is only available for properties using Universal Analytics.

Google Analytics identifies the terms that visitors used to find your site through search engines, and displays these keywords (including phrases) in your reports. For Google organic searches, Google Analytics will generally show a keyword of (not provided) because all Google searches are secured via SSL, and search queries are not exposed.

You can exclude specific search terms from being identified in your Analytics account. When visitors find your site using an excluded term, that traffic isn’t included as search traffic in your reports. Instead, it’s counted as direct traffic. You might, for example, want to exclude your own company name or your domain as search terms. Any traffic that finds your site by searching either of these terms then appears as direct traffic in your reports.

When you exclude search traffic that arrives at your site using specific keywords, other activities from that traffic, like triggering Events or completing Goals, are still recorded in your reports.

For more information on different kinds of traffic sources, read about traffic sources.

How to exclude search terms:

  1. Navigate to a property. If you’re not in the settings screen, click Admin.
  2. Click Tracking Info then Search Term Exclusion List tab.
  3. Click +Add Search Term
  4. Enter a word, phrase, or string as a Search Term.
  5. Click Create to save.

You can edit these terms any time by following the same steps. Note that this only applies to organic and not paid search traffic.

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