5 Google Analytics posts you don’t want to miss in August

Here’s again the last post of the month saved for the top 5 interesting Google Analytics related resources I found on other sites. Here are the five for August – you may want to bookmark those as they can be very useful:

Stop Ghost Spam in Google Analytics with One Filter

This post covers the types of spam and some common mistakes and offers a solution for the referral spam with a simple include filter of your hostname / related hostnames.

Google Search Console vs. Google Analytics – Why Clicks Don’t Match Sessions

The LunaMetrics guys explain why the count of clicks in the Search Analytics report in Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster Tools) doesn’t match the count of sessions in Google Analytics for the source Google and medium organic. They explain why they’re different, how both are measured and more.

Form Field Timing With Google Tag Manager

Simo Ahava continues his post on form abandonment tracking with an example how to track the time users spend on your form fields, using the User Timings hit type and sending the data for just one form.

User-ID: Measuring Real Users Instead of Devices

LunaMetrics post again, explaining how to identify your visitors with unique User-IDs, configure GTM to collect the User-ID and assign it to users, configure the User ID settings in Google Analytics and configure a User-ID View.

Understanding Tag Sequencing In Google Tag Manager

Another post by Simo Ahava about the recent update to Google Tag Manager, called Tag sequencing. It facilitates the sequential firing of tags and you can specify a setup and a cleanup for each tag in your container.

How I passed the GA Certification Exam (videos, 2015)

Interested in passing the Google Analytics Qualification exam? Sign up for my newsletter to see me go through it real time, explaining why I select the answers I do:

Few things changed with the new GA exam:

  • it’s free now at Google Partners site
  • no option to go back to review your answers
  • no option to pause

What’s the same?

  • 70 questions in 90 minutes
  • valid for 18 months

And my result:


Useful resources to prepare for the exam:

Good luck!

P.S. Can you guess which 4 questions were wrong? Share in the comments below.

Track phone number clicks on a mobile website with Google Tag Manager

Here’s a quick way to track clicks on your business phone number on your mobile website with Google Tag Manager. You can use the tracking to create a goal in GA, and also connect AdWords conversion tracking to this action, if you run AdWords ads and want to track clicks on your phone number on your mobile website. This feature only tracks clicks on your phone number, not actual phone calls.

For complete call tracking solution, take a look at CallRail and my article about 3 Reasons Why the Free AdWords Call Tracking is not Right for Your Business.

Open your website, right-click the phone number and select Inspect Element.


If you want your visitors to able to tab the number and automatically dial it when on a mobile device, the number should be wrapped in an <a href> tag with tel extension, like below:

Phone number inspect element

All we have to do in Google Tag Manager is create a simple Event tag with trigger link clicks on this element.

1. Start creating a new tag by clicking the New button.

2. Give it a name and select Google Analytics – Universal Analytics.

3. Type your tracking ID, or if you have a constant variable for your GA ID, select it and choose track type Event.

4. I’ve named the event category Phone calls, for Action I’d like to see the actual link being clicked (useful if you have different numbers) and as Label I want to see from which page the number was clicked.

Phone number clicks in GTM

5. Now it’s time to create our trigger. In the Fire On section select Click and start a new trigger. Give it a name and select Just links. Enable on all pages if you have the number in a common area like header or footer: Page URL matches RegEx .*
And for the Fire On section select the special tel link we want to track: Click URL contains tel:

Phone number trigger in GTM

6. Create your tag, enter Preview and Debug mode and test your tracking by clicking on the phone number.

7. If you want to add AdWords Phone calls tracking of type Clicks on your number on your mobile website, you can use the same trigger. First create your conversion tracking in the AdWords interface as described in Part 1 here.

Then create a new tag of type AdWords Conversion tracking, copy and paste your Conversion ID and Conversion Label, and for the Fire On section select the existing trigger for Phone call clicks.

Good luck!

5 Google Analytics posts you don’t want to miss in July

Here’s again the last post of the month saved for the top 5 interesting Google Analytics related resources I found on other sites. Here are the five for July – you may want to bookmark those as they can be very useful:

Track Forms Without Thank You Pages Using GTM

Here Alex Moore from LunaMetrics shows how to track forms that don’t have dedicated thank-you pages by dynamically rewriting the form’s action attribute. This tip works only if your form reloads the page, if you have an Ajax form, you’ll need to look for another solution.

Google Tag Manager Fundamentals: Q&A Session #1 & #2

Here are 2-part videos of Krista Seiden and Lukas Bergstrom answering Google Tag Manager questions as part of the GTM training course in the GA academy. Here’s a list of the questions:

Part 1
1. Migration from V1 to V2 update (1:00)
2. What’s the benefit of using GTM? (2:40)
3. What’s the best way to upgrade from Classic GA to Universal Analytics? (4:20)
4. What’s the best place to add GTM? (6:25)
5. Are there plans for supporting a/b testing asynchronous tags? (7:35)
6. Is there anything for Content Experiments in GTM? (8:35)
7. How should agencies use GTM? (9:20)
8. How should agencies set up accounts in GTM? (10:35)
9. What’s the main difference between GTM for web and GTM for mobile? (12:05)
10. Is GTM developing some kind of official plugin for things like Cordova or PhoneGap and also what’s the best way to test mobile apps? (13:47)
11. How much development experience people need to get started with GTM? (15:50)
12. Great GTM resources (17:25)

Part 2
1. How was GTM set on the GA Academy site? (0:59)
2. What are variables and when you should use them? (2:10)
3. What’s the difference between a trigger and a variable? (3:07)
4. What’s the best practice when you already have GA tags on the website? (5:25)
5. What’s the advantage of using a single GTM container across domains (cross-domain tracking)? (7:00)
6. How to implement cross-domain tracking on more than 2 domains? Are subdomains taken into account? (8:56)
7. What happens when you need more than 255 characters in a cross-domain variable? (10:00)
8. Using custom dimension vs. enhanced ecommerce features (10:29)
9. How to track form abandonment? (11:45)
10. What’s the difference between “enable when” and “fire on” trigger sections? (13:50)
11. Course completion certificate questions (15:13)
12. Great GTM resources (16:25)

The Art of the Double Negative – Using Trigger Exceptions in GTM

This one is from LunaMetrics again, explaining how to use the trigger exceptions in Google Tag Manager and providing 13 sample blocking triggers, like sessions in debug mode, sessions on live site / dev site, not first page, mobile or desktop sessions and more.

Understanding Users in Google Analytics

In this post from Optimize Smart Himanshu Sharma explains what’s Client ID in Universal Analytics and how the _ga cookie is constructed. You’ll also learn how New and Returning users are counted and what happened to the Unique Visitors metric.

Track Form Abandonment With Google Tag Manager

Here are 4 ways from Simo Ahava to track form abandonment using Google Tag Manager: using advanced segments in GA, sending event on simple interaction, track last field the user interacted with, and send full interaction history. His tip about transport beacon which allows GA to collect hits when the user closes the browser is quite valuable for measuring drop-off points!

Track selected drop-down in form submission with Google Tag Manager

On a recent project I wanted to capture what visitors selected in a drop-down field when submitting a form. I tried using the JS variable suggested by Simo Ahava in this must-read guide to form tracking:

function() {
var selectId = document.getElementById("YOUR_SELECT_ID_HERE");
try {
var options = document.getElementById(selectId).options;
for (var i = 0;i &lt; options.length;i++){
if(options[i].selected) {
return options[i].value;
} catch(e) {}
return "";

In my form however, the select field doesn’t get a select attribute, so nothing happened.

Here’s how to do it in another way:

1. Create a form tracking tag (if you don’t already have one) and go to the page with your form. In my example here I want to capture what department users select.

2. Hit F12 to open Developer Tools in Chrome. Fill in your form and submit it so its data populates the GTM data layer.

3. In Console tab type dataLayer and hit Enter. You’ll see multiple Objects – 3 main ones for gtm.js, gtm.dom and gtm.load and probably some more depending how many tags you have eligible to fire on this page. We’re looking for the object on event gtm.formSubmit:


4. Click the triangle next to gtm.element for this object to see what it consists of. We’re interested in the select field and its index which is 5 in our case:


5. Go to Google Tag Manager – Variables and click New. I’m calling mine Department and its type will be Data Layer Variable. In the Configure Variable section type gtm.element.5.value for name which means we’ll get the value of the field in index 5 as we saw above:


6. Save the variable and update your Form tag:


Now we should be ready to test it. Click Publish – Preview to enter debug mode, refresh your page with the form and make a test submission:


We can see our variable is populating correctly. You can also check it in GA Real-Time Events report:


Is this working for you? Leave a comment with your questions.