We received this question recently from Kevin Churchill, who manages an AYSO chapter website:
New to Google Analytics and I was wondering if there is an easy way to rename a title page to make it easier to understand the metrics. How can I change a code url string into a simple name?
What seems like a simple question can be complex depending on the actual URL. URL rewriting needs to be handled with care and caution. There are a few preliminaries you should cover before jumping into rewriting your URLs.
Step 1: What’ll be Affected? The first thing you need to do before jumping in to rewrite your URLs is to make note of what this might affect. Two must do’s:
- Protect your data – Make sure you do all rewriting first in a separate test profile. Why? If you make a mistake on your live data, it’s a permanent mistake. There is no ‘undo’ or ‘revert’.
- Goals, Advanced Segments, Filters… – If the original URLs are used in any Google Analytics goals, remember to modify these. If you don’t modify these, your goals will be inaccurate. Ditto for Advanced Segments, Filters, etc.
- Learn how Profiles work. Create a profile in which you’ll test your rewritten URL. An easy way to create your test profile, is by using the feature that allows you to copy a Google Analytics profile into a new one.
- Learn how Profile Data Filters work and determine which type(s) of filters to use. Search and Replace and Advanced Filters are the most common types used to accomplish this task. Here’s an example using the Search and Replace filter type:
Step 3: Put your knowledge to work and rewrite those URLs:
- Create and test your filter. Did you get the results you expected?
- If you are using URLs as goals, set these up to use your new URLs.
Be aware that there will be some tradeoffs, mainly inconveniences. Goal management is more complicated, for one. And the rather handy ability to launch the page being analyzed from the All Pages report will no longer work. Clicking on the ‘view’ icon (in the image below) will result in a 404/page-not-found error.
Depending on your specific situation, there may be additional complexities or inconveniences. Weigh the pros and cons. Choose what best fits your situation.