Mastering the Shortcut in Google Analytics

Theo Bennett - March 27, 2013

As an analyst, one of my favorite mantras is: “Keep Digging”. Actually it’s probably “Always be Segmenting” or “If you are not Segmenting, you are wrong!” but for the purpose of this post we’ll stick with “Keep Digging”. Whatever it is that drives you to keep drilling through reports and looking at every facet of your data is unimportant. What’s important is that you do it.

So how do Shortcuts help you as a user of Google Analytics (Ga)? Let’s walk through a scenario to illustrate when you may want to use GA Shortcuts. Let’s imagine that you are using GA to optimize the performance of a new campaign. Inevitably you’ll find yourself three levels deep in a report with an alternate view (something other than what GA presents for you), and a filter and segment applied — and there it is — the data nugget you’ve been looking for, the key to optimizing said campaigns! You share the data with the rest of your team and your boss is amazed by your ability to squeeze so much from Google Analytics. Now they ask you to show them how you got the data. You pour back into the reports and … well … you get lost and can’t recreate what you’ve reported. Don’t be embarrassed, it happens to everyone — until now.

Enter Google Analytics Shortcuts. Now as you drill deep into reports you can simply save a shortcut and once applied, it will take you right back to the view, segment and report as if you’d never left! It’s like Hansel and Gretel’s breadcrumbs, but faster.

So let’s use one of my favorite reports — Landing Pages – as an example.

This is how the landing page report is presented in GA (with page names redacted):

As you can see by the red box above, we are in the view that GA presented to us, which is known as Data (Table) view. By itself, a nice report with some useful data; however, with a little customization, this report is more powerful.

Let’s change views, add a filter and a segment for paid traffic:

As you can see in the red boxes above, we’ve filtered for pages containing “index”, changed our view to comparison and selected bounce rate as the metric we’d like to compare. Now we can see the index pages’ bounce rate as they compare to the site average for paid traffic (in this view you are not able to see that the paid traffic segment is applied).

Let’s just say that this is reporting nirvana for you and its how you always want to use the Landing Pages report. In the past, to recreate this you’d have to make a note of what you did and then follow these steps:

  1. Go to Landing Pages Report
  2. Change Views to comparison
  3. Select Bounce Rate for your comparison metric
  4. Add a filter for “index”
  5. Add an advanced segment for Paid Traffic

Wow that’s a lot of steps! Google Analytics Shortcuts makes this so much easier. To save your Shortcut:

1. Click on Shortcuts

2. Name your Shortcut (something relevant)

And that’s it! Now when you want to apply those same settings, go to Shortcuts in the left-hand report navigation:

Click on the name of the Shortcut that you want to apply and GA will revert to the report, view, filter column selection and segment that you had applied when you created the Shortcut! (Date ranges do not change.)

I’m sure you can think of many more uses for Shortcuts. For now Shortcuts can not be shared with other users, but they are still one of my favorite new features in Google Analytics.

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