With as many visits as my site gets – and by that, I mean very, very few, actually – any visit that I make to the site can really skew the analytics.
On the one hand, I'm my best visitor: I've been to every page on the site. But on the other hand, look at all of these visits from Chrome! doesn't mean very much if I think that most of them are me.
Basically, I need a way to exclude myself from Analytics.
After a bit of searching, I settled on an approach that involved creating a custom dimension in Google Analytics, and figuring out how to set its value only when I visit my own site. Once I had that data, I could properly filter based on that custom dimension.
A custom variable would also be an option, but when I signed up for Google Analytics, I apparently signed up for Universal Analytics, so a custom dimension it is.
Step 1: A custom dimension
First, I needed to create the custom dimension. From Analytics' admin panel, under my Property, there is a Custom Definition option. And under that, a Custom Dimensions screen. So, I hit "New Custom Dimension". And I created one.
[Editor's note: That might have been the most boring paragraph ever.]
Every custom dimension has a scope. There are three options. "Hit" only applies the custom dimension to the current page view. "Session" applies the custom dimension to a user's entire visit. "User" applies the custom dimension to a user across visits. Since I always want to exclude myself, I set this to "User".
Step 2: Operation batcave
The custom dimension only matters if it's actually tracking me. So I needed to figure out a way to track myself without inadvertantly tagging anybody else as myself. Because that would be weird. I'm only one person.
It'd be great if there was a page that only I went to. If my site was run by a CMS, then I'd just put the code on some logged-in page.
But it's not.
So I created a super-secret page that only I know about. Like a batcave. I always wanted a batcave.
And if a visitor goes to that super-secret batcave page, I'll know, for sure, that visitor is me.
Step 3: Script it
I now have a super-secret page that only I will ever go to. Now comes the easy part. I just had to update the analytics code on that page.
ga('create', 'UA-12345678-1', 'burgers.io'); // This user is me! ga('set', 'dimension1', 'me'); ga('send', 'pageview');
That's it. I'm all set up.
Step 4: Segment
Now, with every visit, Google Analytics knows whether the visitor is me or not.
Good for Google Analytics.
But I want to know whether each visitor is me or not.
There's probably a better way to do this – I'm no Google Analytics expert – but I just created a new segment in my usual profile. On the little segment dropdown, I used that fancy "Create New Segment" button.
The goal was to exclude myself out of analytics so that I could see a more true represenation of my visitors.
By creating a custom dimension in Google Analytics, I was able to do this. And so far, I'm quite happy with this system.
And now I can track you all the better. But not in a creepy way – I promise.