Before you start creating or testing things with Filters in Google Analytics, it’s important to take some steps to keep your data safe.
What’s the danger?
Whenever you make changes to your GA settings for things like Goals, Filters, Content Groupings etc. — all the things I describe in my articles — the changes to your data are permanent. You need a backup without any of these changes, just in case you get something wrong…
Like accidentally creating a filter that removes ALL your traffic and you don’t notice for a week… right during a big ad campaign!
A Testing area takes it one step further to let you test out these settings first, then apply them to your main set of data only when you’re sure they’re working correctly. It’s up to you to decide how risky you think a change is and whether you should test it out first.
How do we do this in Google Analytics?
In Analytics, you can have multiple ways of viewing the same data. These are called, appropriately, Views.
In this guide, we’ll create a backup “Raw Data” view to preserve everything with the default settings, and a “Test” view for trialing more complicated Filters before applying them to your main View (normally called “All Web Site Data”).
1. Create a new View called “Raw Data”
We’re going to create this View as a “backup” and we’ll never make any changes to its settings, ever.
Here are the steps to do that once you’re logged in to Google Analytics:
- Go to the “Admin” section of Google Analytics
- Make sure you’ve selected the right Account and Property for your shop. Then select [+ Create View] over on the View column.
- Called it “Raw Data” and set your time zone.
- Save it and never touch it again! It’s your backup and fail-safe in case your other data ever gets corrupted.
2. Copy your main View to make a “Test View”
I recommend making a new View to test everything out on first, before copying settings and Filters to your main one. You might have already tweaked settings and added Filters before reading this, so you can copy everything to the test one. Here’s how:
- In the “View” drop-down, make sure you have “All Web Site Data” selected (or whatever your main View is named).
- Click into “View Settings” and “Copy view”.
- Name it “Test View” and click “Copy view” to save.
Ok, now you’re set. Carry on with whatever changes you were about to make!