These are 13 of the best tools (aka add-ons) that have made significant differences to how I work with Google Analytics. I have not attempted to list all possible add-ons that are available – I seem to come across a new one every day…! Rather, ones that I have used in real-world situations that have helped me do my job.

I would love to hear your experiences of tools/add-ons that have helped make your GA life easier. Please let me know via a comment at the end of this post.

My recommendations come in two flavors:

  • Browser add-ons that help you use or manage your reports — configuration aides, segmentation help, and so forth.
  • Those that help you perform a site-wide audit of your Google Analytics Tracking Code deployment.

Often these two scenarios overlap, and marketers frequently find themselves using the same toolset as webmasters and web developers. I also list two Windows desktop applications that have helped me over the years. Regardless of your job role, all these tools are straightforward to use. There are lots more useful information like this in the 3rd edition of the book (released March 2012).

Browser Add-Ons

Developed by third-parties, add-ons are installable enhancements to your browser. They are available for the Google Chrome and Firefox browsers because historically these browsers have encouraged third-party customization. The vast majority of add-ons are free to use.

The following add-ons work with the latest version of Google Analytics (v5) and help with your implementation and usage of it. I use all of them:

1. Analytics Helper (Chrome)

This simple add-on displays a green icon in the browser address bar whenever a GATC is detected on a page you browse. Clicking the icon shows the account number of the tracking code, the code type (asynchronous, traditional), and a note on the positioning of code. Developed by Oliver J Fields of Metronet, Norway.

2. GA Copy & Paste (Chrome)

An extremely powerful add-on that greatly simplifies the management and administration of goals and filters. Developed by Eduardo Cereto Carvalho of Cardinal Path.

3. Regular Expression Checker (Chrome)

Regular expressions are used throughout Google Analytics for filtering, creating advanced segments, defining goals, and configuring funnel steps. This useful add-on helps test your expressions for troubleshooting purposes. Developed by www.simon20.com.

4. Google Analytics Debugger (Chrome)

This official Google Analytics add-on prints useful information to the JavaScript console about any web page containing a GATC. When you enable the debug version of the GATC (ga_debug.js), the information shown includes error messages and warnings about your tracking code implementation and a detailed breakdown of each tracking beacon sent to Google Analytics. Developed by Google.

5. Annotations Manager (Firefox)

This Greasemonkey script allows you to copy, delete, and export your chart annotations. Developed by Vincent Giersch.

6. Stats Calculator (All browsers)

This clever bookmarklet takes a statistical approach for comparing two e-commerce conversion rates and your overall goal conversion rate. The bookmarklet performs a z-test to show the confidence interval of two selected dimensions. This shows if the differences you observe are statistically significant. Developed by Michael Wittaker.

7. Web Developer Toolkit (Firefox and Chrome)

This add-on adds a menu bar to your browser with a whole range of useful features for anyone who has an interest in creating web pages. It has an excellent browser error console and DOM inspector as well as quick lookup tools for cookies, source code, and so forth. Developed by chrispederick.com.

8. Firebug (Firefox)

Adds debug capabilities for JavaScript, CSS, and HTML live in your browser.

9. Live HTTP Headers (Firefox)

Similar to the Chrome add-on Google Analytics Debugger, this add-on enables you to view HTTP headers of a page while you are browsing. All the communication requests sent and received by your browser can be viewed. By filtering the URLs to show only Google Analytics requests (via regexp set to /__utm.gif.*), you can view all the information sent to Google Analytics.

 

GATC Plug-ins

These are scripts that make modifications to your GATC to automate tasks that can otherwise be laboriously manual. Use these, if you cannot achieve this in your Content Management System.

10. Autotrack file downloads and outbound links

Normally, to track file downloads and outbound links, you need to manually modify each link across your site—a painful process for all but the simplest of websites. This JavaScript plug-in scans all your page links for you in the background and automatically adjusts them accordingly for Google Analytics
by adding an onClick event handler. There is also the option to modify the bounce rate calculation.

11. Customizing the SEO list for Google Analytics

For digital marketers running SEO accounts where regional differences are important. For example, Americas, Europe, Middle East, Asia, Australia. This JavaScript plug-in, separates out 264 regional search engines—for example, google.co.uk, google.com, google.co.nz, and so forth—instead of just “google” as reported in Google Analytics by default.

 

Desktop Helper Applications

12. WebBug

WebBug is a Windows application that allows you to enter a URL and see exactly what is sent to the web server and what response is sent back. This is the information that your browser takes care of when rendering a page. I use this mainly to check a web server’s status code response. It is very useful for tracking redirection issues—a common problem that can result in the loss of campaign variables from your landing page URLs. WebBug is free to use but for Windows only.

13. The Regex Coach

Regular expressions (regex) are snippets of pseudo code that match pat- terns within text. In Google Analytics, regular expressions are used for filtering—for both filtering within a report (table filter) and for creating separate profile reports (profile filters), for defining advanced segments, and for configuring goal conversions and funnel steps. In other words, regular expressions are important, and I refer to them throughout this book. Going beyond the basics, things can rapidly appear complex because regular expression often appear like algebra. Therefore, before implementing your regular expression, validate it through the excellent Regex Coach application (Windows only). Regex Coach is free to use for Windows only.

 

Find More Apps…

Google Analytics maintains an App Gallery of third-party-developed add-ons that extend Google Analytics functionality. At my last count, there were over 140 apps listed at www.google.com/analytics/apps (the editor’s picks are certainly worth a look). Some of these apps are described in more detail of Chapter 12 of the book.

However, rather than listing all possible add-ons that are available, I would love to hear your real-world experiences of tools that have helped make your GA life easier. Please let me know via a comment.