Google Analytics Best Practices: View Setup

As long-time veterans of the SEO world, we’ve come up with a set of best practices based on Google’s own recommendations and our very own tried-and-true methods. When setting up new views for a property, we encourage you to use these best practices whether you’re a first time Google Analytics (GA) user, a seasoned veteran or a data nerd.

Why should I use multiple views in Google Analytics?

Before we dive into which views your account should have, let’s first examine how Google Analytics processes data. Lars Lofgren outlines the steps data goes through before being accessible in your GA account:

  • Your Google Analytics Tracking Code sends visitor data to Google Analytics’ Servers.
  • Google Analytics’ servers compile data on your site.
  • About every 3 hours, Google Analytics processes your data using your settings. Filters are applied, conversions counted, and site search is processed.
  • Each day, Google Analytics dumps the data from the previous day.
  • Once all the data is processed, it’s stored in a database where you can access it through your Google Analytics account.

Important to note here is that the data you have access to isn’t raw— it’s data that has been processed using the settings you have applied to your view(s). And unfortunately, once data in Google Analytics has been processed, there’s no going back.

Google Analytics processes data one day at a time, meaning that the settings you have applied to your view(s) will permanently change your data each day they are active. So if you have a typo in an exclude filter, you could irreversibly exclude a portion of your data.

To combat these potential issues, we recommend setting up a couple additional views.

Unfiltered View

As the name suggests, this view will contain all the raw, unfiltered data for your property. This view should contain no goals, no custom reports, no filters, no segmentation at all. The purpose of this view is to serve as a backup or archive of your data.

This way, if something were to go wrong in another view, you have access to the uncorrupted data.

Test View

This view allows you to test your settings and filters, while simultaneously avoiding any accidental data corruptions.

Before applying goals, filters, or anything else to your other views, test them here first. You can watch the data for several days and see how your reports are impacted. Once you’re sure that your settings are working correctly, you can apply them to the desired view.

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