[dropcap]Google[/dropcap] Analytics is hierarchically organized by Accounts, Properties, and Views. Within an account, you can create and manage several properties – typically used for distinct websites or apps – that independently collect traffic data. Each property can then be split into different views, which are useful for applying different filters and accessing sets of customized reports (note: each property may have a maximum of 25 views).
In this guide, we’ll first cover how to create new views in a Google Analytics property and then we’ll discuss the function and importance of the 3 essential Google Analytics views.
How to set up Google Analytics views
When you create a property in your account, Google Analytics automatically creates one unfiltered view called “All website data”. However, it’s recommended you to have at least 3 views:
- All website data (default, unfiltered)
- Test view
- Master view
Setting up a new view is very simple. After you log in to Google Analytics:
- Go to the “Admin” tab
- In the “Account” column, select the account to which you want to add the view
- In the “Property” column, select the property to which you want to add the view
- In the “View” column, click on “Create new view”
- Select the appropriate settings (time zone, etc.)
You can then rename the view to whatever you want, but we suggest you create an additional “Test view” and a “Master view”.
Tip: Start your views with a number to organize them for easy access. It’s a good idea to put “1” in front of your Master View so it appears at the top of your view list, as it will likely be the one you access most often.
The Importance of Filters and Views in Google Analytics
Setting up filters in Google Analytics’ views allows you to process and clean up your data to give you the most accurate picture of your traffic for your website or app. You can use filters to exclude/include data or to process and clean your data before it’s added and analyzed.
Examples of filters include:
- Exclude all internal traffic; that is, remove traffic data from you and your organization.
- Treat all uppercase and lowercase characters in URLs equally. For instance, example.com, Example.com, and EXAMPLE.COM are all counted separately by default in Google Analytics, so you need a filter that makes all cases uniform to aggregate the data for this page
- Filter by geographic locations: country, state/province, city.
While that sounds relatively straightforward, filters are not applied retroactively. So, if you create a filter but it doesn’t process your data the way you thought it would, you’ll never be able to retrieve all the data that was handled incorrectly.
Creating these 3 essential Google Analytics views — and unfiltered view (backup), a test view, and a master view — is a good way to eliminate that risk. Let’s look at the function of each one.
All website data (unfiltered view)
In order to protect your data, you should avoid applying filters to the default view. This will act as a backup of your data. Again, once the data are processed by Google Analytics and any filters you apply, they can never be changed. Similarly, once you delete a view, all of the data associated with it will be gone forever. So, basically, just leave this view alone.
If you need to apply new filters or make changes to your configuration, use this view first to test them out. This way, you will know how your filters impact your data without the risk of losing any important information. If all goes well, you can then apply the same changes to your Master View.
The master view will be the main Google Analytics view that you’re going to use to transform your data into useful information. Here you will see the data which have been processed by you Google Analytics filters.
So, before applying filters to the Master View, check how it will affect your data in your Test View; and, if something goes wrong, you can always rely on your backup, unfiltered view, All website data.