3 common Google Analytics questions for beginners

by on 5th February 2015

No analytics training? I get people constantly asking me about things related to Google Analytics and I don’t mind it at all, in fact I love it. Here are a few things I have been asked about already this year by people who are new to analytics.

Are unfiltered and testing views important?

One thing that always intrigues me is when clients have only one view set up for Google Analytics (GA). I am a big believer in having multiple views tailored for your site, but one view that should be universal across anyone who uses GA is an unfiltered view. This view should contain no filters and maintains all the raw data.

Let’s assume you don’t have an unfiltered view and instead have only one view set up, and that’s all. If you make any changes around filters, you have no way of getting that filtered data back. Additionally, if you have an unfiltered view and something goes wrong in one of your other views, you will be able to reference the raw data to find the cause.

Another that I like to have set up for clients is a testing view. This again is just an unfiltered view, but with this view you will be able to test possible changes to filters, goals, etc. This will allow you to test in an environment of your own data without accidentally ruining a perfectly good view (like ones you may use for reporting).

Now, this testing view should not be used for reporting purposes. As I just mentioned, it is there to be your safety net. For example, let’s say I wanted to add a filter to exclude a specific IP address and somehow I completely messed up my filter. For this example, let’s say it filtered out a massive range of IP addresses and my traffic plummeted. You would lose that data and then probably have a massive panic attack and think you have ruined everything.


Image Source

Don’t worry; you aren’t Pete Carroll here. But if you had a test view, an unfiltered view and additional specific views based on your site this would be caught and would only impact the test view. The other views would not be impacted and you would catch this mistake before deploying it to your other views (minus the unfiltered view of course).

You can copy your unfiltered view to create a test view. To copy an existing view simply go to Admin > {select which view you want to copy} > View Settings > Copy View and boom – there you go.

Know that when you create or copy a view, that data collection for that new view starts from the time it is created. So even if you copy a view that has existed for years there will be no historical data present.

Side note that Google Analytics’ trash can feature provides a much-valued safety net to retrieve any view, property or account that you may have accidentally deleted. Just in case you accidentally delete a view while creating new ones!

Creating a new goal = event + existing goal?

So someone comes to you and says I want a goal set up in Google Analytics. Easy enough. However, they want a new goal that combines an existing event (let’s say a button click) and an existing goal based on a destination URL. Now if you are a beginner with GA, you may open up the interface and hit that little +New Goal button, only to realize you can’t reference other goals in goals with an event. But what you can do is create an event to fire when the destination page (that is the existing goal) is loaded.

Now you have 2 events firing that can be combined in to one goal with RegEx (if necessary) based on Event naming convention.


goal regex

What you need to be aware of is that you now have event tracking set up for a button click and a destination URL. You also have a goal set up for your destination URL as well as button click + destination URL. This means that your overall goal numbers will be duplicated, so make sure you look at goals at an individual level and do not take the overall goal numbers just as is, since destination URLs will be in both goals. This is important in understanding what you are reporting on.

Great tool for Regular Expressions.

Why am I missing data in Social > Data Hub Activity report?

Not getting any data in your Data Hub Activity reports? Most times with Data Hub Activity the social settings get misconfigured. So for those who want to check to make sure their information is correctly set up head over to Admin > {select your property} > Social Settings. The biggest configuration issue I see time and time again is that someone has added some of their social profile page URLs – which is great, until they forget to add their own domain.

What happens here is that whatever sites you listed are the ONLY sites that will be shown. So if you added your Facebook page, YouTube Channel page and Twitter page then only links to those pages will show up. You must make sure that if you add any URLs to this section in GA, you also include your domain and any sub-domains you may want tracked as well.

social settings

This is just a sample, make sure you include any and all pages you want tracked, ie. Twitter, Facebook, sub-domains etc.

For more guidance with digital analytics and measurement, check out our Beginner’s Guide to Google Analytics.


  1. Thanks for sharing this infirmation Kaitlin Ziessler

  2. “Know that when you create or copy a view that data collection for that new view starts from the time it is created. So even if you copy a view that has existed for years there will be no historical data present.”

    That’s a dumb feature. So tell me again, why I should have an unfiltered view?

    • Hi Herb, the reason to have an unfiltered view is to maintain at least one view that maintains all the data. For example if you have one view that contains filters on it and you mess up one of the filters all that data is gone and you may not know you messed up the filter because there is no benchmark for you to compare. With an unfiltered view you can always see what GA is pulling in without filters, etc.

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