Google Analytics through HTTPS or not? Loadtimes per device and more

More and more sites are moving towards HTTPS in the past months. Google claimed it can be used as an SEO ranking signal and privacy organizations advice it so you give your visitors more privacy.

Google Analytics works fine on both HTTP and HTTPS sites. In the basic tracking script you see this line:

(window,document,'script','//www.google-analytics.com/analytics.js','ga');

It's a protocol independent URL that will fetch the analytics.js file from HTTP or HTTPS based on the site's protocol where the script is loaded. But Google Analytics offers an extra option to do the tracking in HTTPS also. Take your basic tracking code and add the forceSSL line:

ga('create', 'UA-XXXXX-X');
ga('set', 'anonymizeIp', true);
ga('set', 'forceSSL', true); 
ga('send', 'pageview');

(I also add the anonymizeIp line by default to give my visitors just a little bit more privacy).

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Exclude all hits from known bots and spiders

Google recently launched a new function called "Exclude all hits from known bots and spiders". You can find, and turn it on, in your "view settings":

botfiltering

After you turn it on Google will exclude all the known bots from the IAB/ABC International Spiders & Bots List. So it's not some sort of smart bot-detecting algorithm, but a simple list. Note that Google was already ignoring a lot of bots simply because of the fact most bots don't execute javascript. Nowadays more and more bots do execute javascript to render a site to get a screenshot or to do some page load time measurements, so I think it's a good thing Google created this.

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Google Sheets + Google Analytics = Powerful dashboard tool

Last week I did a tweet with this image in it:

tweetgooglesheet

It shows a Google Sheet with some data per AdWords campaign and a little sparkline next to the numbers. It got much attention, and I got many requests to explain what I did there. So here it goes, I will explain some things about the Google Analytics API, how you use it in a Google Sheet and how to extract and query data from it. And last but not least: how to create the little sparklines.

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