Best Google Analytics Shortcuts: Tricks, Tools & APIs to save Time

I am going to give you some quick tips and shortcuts to use Google Analytics more efficiently.

Introduction to Analytics Intelligence Questions in Google Analytics

In order to use and benefit from Google Analytics there are two things that you need to know beforehand:

#1 The terminology used in various GA reports. For example you must know what ‘bounce rate’ is or how users are counted etc. Otherwise you will have hard time interpreting the data and extracting insight.

#2 You must know, how to drill down data in various GA reports and find the insight you want.

The advent of ‘Google Analytics Intelligence questions’ has made drilling down data much easier and faster.

You can ask any question about your data in plain english and GA machine learning algorithm will try to answer your question.

I used the word ‘try’ because getting an answer (let alone correct answer) is not always 100% guaranteed. The quality of the answer will depend upon the quality of data, you have collected.

So if your data collection is not accurate then the intelligence answers delivered by GA won’t be reliable either. Google Analytics uses historical data to answer your questions.

For example if your enhanced ecommerce tracking is not setup correctly then there is no guarantee that you will get an reliable answer from GA regarding your ecommerce data. So beware.

In order to ask questions from GA about your data, follow the steps below:

#1 Login to your Google Analytics account.

#2 Navigate to your main view. Make sure that the view you select has got historical data.

#3 Click on the ‘Intelligence’ icon (located on the top right of your screen):

#4 Type your question in the text box and then press enter key. For example, you can ask question like: ‘trend of new users last month’:

Once you press the enter key, you will see a report like the one below:

Click on the ‘Go to report’ button to see this report in great detail.

Following are the examples of questions you can ask via the GA Intelligence feature:

  • How many users we got last month
  • Where is my social media traffic coming from
  • What percentage of my traffic is from organic search
  • What is my conversion rate in united states

That’s how you can easily drill down data in GA by using the ‘Intelligence’ feature.

Note: GA can not answer questions related to ‘why’. For example, ‘why my bounce rate is so high’ or ‘why my traffic is so low’.

Introduction to Built-in Keyboard Shortcuts in Google Analytics

Do you know, Google Analytics provide a handy list of keyboard shortcuts which you can use to perform variety of tasks like: quickly change data range, date comparison mode or toggle the navigation menu?

To see the list of all available keyboard shortcuts in Google Analytics, follow the steps below:

Step-1: Login to your Google Analytics account and then open your main view (‘All Web Site Data’ view).

Step-2: Press SHIFT + ‘?’ keys on your keyboard. You will then see a screen similar to the one below:

Select the task you want to perform from the shortcuts list and then press the appropriate keys on your keyboard.

As you can see from the list above, there are two categories of keyboard shortcuts in GA:

#1 Application Keyboard Shortcuts

#2 Date Range Keyboard Shortcuts

Application Keyboard Shortcuts

Following are the examples of Application Keyboard Shortcuts:

? : Open keyboard shortcut help

h : Search help center (no longer works)

a : Open account panel (no longer works)

s or / : Search reports (no longer works)

<shift> + d : Go to the default dashboard of the current view

m : Toggle the navigation menu (no longer works)

Date Range Keyboard Shortcuts

All date range keyboard shortcuts are key combination.

A key combination is the use of two or more keys on a keyboard either at the same time or one after the other. 

In case of date range keyboard shortcuts, press one key after the other.

Following are the examples of Date Range Keyboard Shortcuts:

d t : Set date range to today

d y : Set date range to yesterday

d w : Set date range to last week

d m : Set date range to last month (no longer works)

d 7 : Set date range to last 7 days

d 3 0 : Set date range to last 30 days

d c : Toggle date comparison mode (previous period)

d x : Toggle date comparison mode (previous year)

Open several Google Analytics Reports at once

I have access to dozens of users’ accounts and hundred of website views in my GA account and accessing them every day, used to be quite frustrating.

Follow the steps below in order to open several Google Analytics reports at once.

Step-1: Open Google chrome browser and then right click on the bookmark toolbar.

Step-2: Click on ‘Add Folder’ option:

add folder

Step-3: Name your new folder (say ‘Analytics’) and then click on the ‘Save’ button.

Step-4: Login to Google Analytics and navigate to your main view.

Step-5: Open the Google Analytics report you want to bookmark.

Step-6: Press CTRL + D on your keyboard to bookmark the report:

Step-7: Repeat step 5 and 6 for each GA report you want to add to your new folder.

Step-8: Once you have added all the GA reports which you frequently access every day, right click on the bookmark folder (located on your bookmark toolbar) and then click on ‘Open all (..) in new window‘:

In this way you can access all the required GA reports with just one click (provided you are already logged into GA).

You can directly access any report (whether standard or custom report) and even access the dashboards with just one click.

Note: Use ALT + D + Enter (windows) to open same GA report in a different browser tab.

How to quickly jump to any GA Account, Property or View

If you have got access to several Google Analytics account and you want to quickly jump to another account, then follow the steps below:

Step-1: From within any GA report/view, click on the top drop down menu as shown below:

You will then see a dialog box like the one below:

You can now easily navigate to any GA account, property or view.

You can also use the ‘search’ functionality to quickly find any GA account, property or view:

The best way to quickly navigate to your desired GA view is by marking the view as ‘Favorite‘.

Click on the star icon next to the view you want to save as favorite:

Now next time when you want to quickly jump to your desired view, click on the ‘FAVORITES’ link and then your desired view:

How to quickly access any GA report from within a reporting view

Follow the steps below:

Step-1: From within your reporting view, click on the ‘Search reports and help‘ text box:

Step-2: Type the name of the report you want to access. As you type the name, you will several reports being listed in the drop down menu:

Step-3: Click on the desired report to access it.

How to find help articles from within a reporting view

Say you want to learn more about the ‘bounce rate’ metric.

You can do that by following the steps below:

Step-1: Type ‘bounce rate’ in the ‘Search reports and help‘ text box:

Step-2: Click on the blue link which reads ‘Search Analytics Help for: bounce rate‘.

Once you click on the link you will be automatically redirected to Google Analytics help center and shown all the help articles related to ‘bounce rate’:

How to quickly get help on a particular Google Analytics Report

There are situations in which you want to understand a particular GA report for better data interpretation.

Now instead of searching on Google or checking out the Google Analytics help center, you can get all the details about a particular report from within the reporting interface.

Follow the steps below:

Step-1: Navigate to the report which you want to know more about.

Step-2: Look for the following icon at the top right hand side (not available for all reports) and then click on it:

You will now see a section where you can get details about this report: what this report is about, how to interpret it. You may also see a short video tutorial:

How to quickly get help on a particular metric in a GA report

In order to understand various metrics used in a report, just hover your mouse cursor over a metric and you will see a small description of the metric:

metric description

The new Google Analytics Discover

Through GA discover report you can quick access various Google tools and resources like:

Use the Google Analytics Home Page

The GA home page is a great ready made dashboard provided by Google.

It provides good overview of the key aspects of your analytics data and is automatically configured based on your current tracking setup.

I almost always check the home page first before diving into other GA reports.

How to increase the viewing area of your Google Analytics Reports

You can increase the viewing area of a GA report by clicking on the arrow button:

If you want to revert this change then click on the arrow button again.

Use Saved reports to save customization applied to a report

If you see yourself applying a particular reporting filter, advanced segment, secondary dimension or any other customisation to a report over and over again then create a saved report.

Through Google Analytics Saved reports you can permanently save any customisation to almost any analytics report.

You can save a report along with: filters, advanced segments, dimensions and other customisation applied to it.

So next time when you access the report via ‘Saved Reports’ menu you can view the report along with your customisation.

To create a ‘Saved’ report, follow the steps below:

Step-1: Navigate to the report you want to save and then apply the customization (filters, advanced segments or secondary dimensions etc) you often apply to your report.

Step-2: Now in order to save your customization, click on the ‘Save’ button at the top navigation bar and then enter the name of the new saved report:


 Step-3: You can now access your saved report under the ‘Saved Reports’ menu:

Note: You can not save every type of report in Google Analytics. For example you can not save the ‘User Flow’ report.

Google Analytics Date Range Shortcuts

You can type start and end date while selecting date range for your GA report:

In this way you can select date range esp. the long one, much faster. However make sure that you type the date in following format:

month day, year

Here,

the ‘month‘ should be made up of three characters which represents a month. For example: Jan

the ‘day‘ should be made up of one or two digits which can be any number from 1 to 31 and which represents a particular day of a month.

the ‘year‘ should be made up of four digits which represents a year. For example: 2017.

First type the ‘start date’ then press the ‘Tab’ key and then type the ‘end date’.

A quick way to select a whole month is by clicking on the month name in the date selector:

So if you click on the month name say ‘September 2017, GA will select the entire month automatically.

Use REGEX to quickly filter data within reporting interface

Let us suppose you want to filter out all those referrals which are in the form of IP address.  Now how you will do that?  You need to use Regular expressions within the reporting interface like the one below:

regex

traffic from ips

Love it or hate it, REGEX (or regular expressions) is the way to quickly filter out any data in Ga reports.

You can filter the data without REGEX too but it is going to be very time consuming (and sometime impractical).

I find REGEX so useful that I had to write Regular Expressions Guide for SEO, Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager . Check out this article, to know all about REGEX.

Following are examples of REGEX you may find useful and handy while filtering data from within the reporting interface:

SNO. Action Solution
1 Filter 1 word keyword phrase ^[^\.\s\-]+([\.\s\-]+[^\.\s\-]+){0}$
2 Filter 2 words keyword phrase ^[^\.\s\-]+([\.\s\-]+[^\.\s\-]+){1}$
3 Filter 3 words keyword phrase ^[^\.\s\-]+([\.\s\-]+[^\.\s\-]+){2}$
4 Filter 4 words keyword phrase ^[^\.\s\-]+([\.\s\-]+[^\.\s\-]+){3}$
5 Filter 5 words keyword phrase ^[^\.\s\-]+([\.\s\-]+[^\.\s\-]+){4}$
6 Filter 6 words keyword phrase ^[^\.\s\-]+([\.\s\-]+[^\.\s\-]+){5}$
7 Filter 7 words keyword phrase ^[^\.\s\-]+([\.\s\-]+[^\.\s\-]+){6}$
8 Filter 8 words keyword phrase ^[^\.\s\-]+([\.\s\-]+[^\.\s\-]+){7}$
9 Filter 9 words keyword phrase ^[^\.\s\-]+([\.\s\-]+[^\.\s\-]+){8}$
10 Filter 10 words keyword phrase ^[^\.\s\-]+([\.\s\-]+[^\.\s\-]+){9}$
11 Include/exclude branded keywords (v?irgin ?atlantic)|virgin|atlantic

Replace ‘virgin atlantic’ by your domain name in the format as specified above.

12 Include/exclude Social Media Traffic (facebook|twitter|stumbleupon|linkedin|t\.co|goo\.gl|plus\.google)\.com

How to quickly remove Advanced Segments in Google Analytics

The fastest way to remove an advanced segment is by clicking on it and then dragging it away from the advanced segment bar:

If you want to remove multiple advanced segments at the same time then click on any one advanced segment on the segment bar and then uncheck the segments you want to remove:

Use Custom Reports to quickly access the desired data

Google Analytics custom report is a quick way to get the desired data.

The Standard Reports provided by GA, may not always show you, what you want to see, in your reports. You may have to do lot of tweaking/customisation within the reporting interface to get the data in the desired format.

So it is imperative that you use custom reports. The biggest advantage of using custom reports is that they let you tie conversions/revenue with your desired metric and dimension.

For example,

Through custom reports you can easily determine the traffic source which has highest goal conversion volume.

Check the Google Analytics custom report help guide to learn more about custom reports in Google Analytics.

Note: Just like standard reports, you can also save custom reports in GA.

Google Analytics Tools to boost your productivity

#1 Analytics Canvas – paid tool for GA report automation.
#2 GA Checker – tool to crawl a website to find missing Google Analytics tracking code, GTM code etc.
#3 GAConfig – tool to quickly generate event tracking code.

#4 Google Analytics Account Setup Checklist – interactive tool for configuring your Google Analytics account.
#5 Google Analytics Solutions Gallery – tool to import ready made dashboards, custom reports and advanced segments into Google Analytics.
#6 Google Analytics Training Resources Tutorials – quickly access various resources and tutorials on GA.

Note: To get the complete list of web analytics tools, check out the Optimize Smart Web Analytics Tool Box

Use Google Analytics APIs for fast Information Retrieval

If you are an analyst of a big organization and/or you have to manage hundreds of analytics accounts/views then you have no choice but to use the APIs provided by Google Analytics to quickly retrieve the information you want.

Otherwise you  may find yourself spending majority of your time creating and downloading reports through Google Analytics Interface instead of carrying out any meaningful analysis.

Other advantage of using Google Analytics APIs is the flexibility it provides in terms of information retrieval. You can access the information in any format you want.

You can easily integrate GA data with your business data and automate complex tasks. Google Custom reports have got limitations when it comes to information retrieval but Analytics APIs have got (almost) none.

Google Analytics provide two types of APIs:

  1. Management API
  2. Core Reporting API

The management API provides read only access to the Google Analytics configuration data like information related to analytics account and views. It does not provide access to the actual report data (data collected by Google Analytics via the tracking code).

You would need to use the Core Reporting API to access the report data.

Related Article: How to use Google Analytics API without any coding

Announcement about my books

Maths and Stats for Web Analytics and Conversion Optimization
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Himanshu Sharma

Certified web analyst and founder of OptimizeSmart.com

My name is Himanshu Sharma and I help businesses find and fix their Google Analytics and conversion issues. If you have any questions or comments please contact me.

  • Over eleven years' experience in SEO, PPC and web analytics
  • Google Analytics certified
  • Google AdWords certified
  • Nominated for Digital Analytics Association Award for Excellence
  • Bachelors degree in Internet Science
  • Founder of OptimizeSmart.com and EventEducation.com

I am also the author of three books:

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