I’m kicking off a new series of posts where I highlight different dimensions in Google Analytics. And I thought of no better way to start than to share my go-to tool any time I’m stuck on which dimension or metric to use.
It’s actually published by Google in their resource for developers. I know what you’re thinking … Stab me repeatedly before sending me to documentation files. Developer documentation for any tool is usually a painful mire of geekery and difficult to digest. But this one is definitely the exception, especially since Google spruced it up a few months back and made it all Ajaxy.
I use it so much I created a bitly for it: bit.ly/api-help.
So here’s a screenshot of the brains of the tool:
My favorite uses for it are:
- Find out the API names for different dimensions and metrics. (They’re sometimes very different as you’ll see in the video, e.g., Service Provider is networkLocation.)
- Filter to see a category of dimensions and metric (e.g., enter social in the filter to just see all social dimensions and metrics).
- See which dimensions and metrics have been deprecated. (They’re in italics, and there are a ton of them out there.)
- Find out valid combinations of dimensions and metrics. The list of available dimension and metric options is filtered depending on what you choose, but this isn’t 100%. So you still need to be mindful of your intent.
- Look to see what default values are for something, e.g., the hasSocialSourceReferral dimension in the API (called Social Source Referral in the web view) returns a boolean of Yes or No.
You can check out a walkthrough I did of the tool in the short video below.
Learning How to Use the API
I wish this tool had been as useful as it is now when I was first learning how to use the API. BTW, the API is good for bringing Google Analytics data right into Excel or a Google Spreadsheet, in case you’ve ever wondered why you hear people talk about the API so much.
There reaches a point in a marketer’s life where it just doesn’t satisfy anymore to have to go into the web interface to find the reports you’re looking for. This means having to export to Excel (or Google Spreadsheets) and do the same repetitive tasks each time. The API allows you to shave off a lot of time hunting for your data.
If you want to learn more about how to use the Google Analytics API, here are some good starting points:
Dipping Your Toe In
How To Make Google Analytics And Excel Talk To Each Other In Plain English: I wrote this post for the Search Engine Land site as an intro to a free API tool called Excellent Analytics. It’s not quite that excellent anymore as it’s quickly becoming the equivalence of Detroit in the marketing tool space. It hasn’t been updated in years and is missing some really key dimensions and metrics. But it has a user-friendly interface.
Google Analytics Magic Script: Google released a cool little utility to help you bring Google Analytics data into Google Spreadsheets. One serious disadvantage for newbies is you don’t have an interface like you do with tools like Excellent Analytics and (my fave) Analytics Canvas. It also doesn’t include Multi-Channel Funnels. Plus, Google Spreadsheets visualizations leave a lot to be desired. But if you just want to set up a simple dashboard and be off to the races, you should check it out.
The Annielytics Dashboard Course: This is a comprehensive only course that teaches you how to use Google Analytics, the API, and Excel all together to create sexy reporting dashboards.