How to Annotate Your Google Analytics

Annotate Google Analytics

Remembering things is hard.  We’ve all likely scribbled something we felt was important on the side of our hand at some point in the not-too-distant past.

Well it turns out, when it comes to remembering important events in Google Analytics, there’s a better way than tattooing your hands.  You can make notes (called “annotations”) directly in Google Analytics to help you remember key events on particular dates that impact your data.  And, as another perk, your notes will still be legible after you wash your hands.

Here’s why you should annotate your Google Analytics and how to do it.

Why Use Annotations in Google Analytics?

Regardless of the tool you’re using to track the effectiveness of your website, you should be using annotations (assuming of course your tool allows you to do so).  Doing so helps bridge the gap between your online and offline presence.

Your website doesn’t exist in a vacuum.  The way visitors come to and interact with your website is influenced by factors totally outside of your site.  For instance, if you run a radio spot promoting an upcoming event, there’s a good chance you’ll see an uptick in traffic to that event’s page on your website.

Making annotations in Google Analytics will help you make sense of any fluctuations, good and bad, you see in your data.  And they can help you make better decisions about changes to make moving forward.

Here are a few annotations you’ll likely want to make in your Google Analytics:

  • Major events your organization holds throughout the year
  • Beginning and ending of fundraising campaigns
  • Significant website changes that could result in changes in your data
  • The launch of marketing campaigns, both online and offline
  • Anytime you get coverage in the press
  • When your email newsletter, direct mail pieces, or press releases are sent out
  • Major events on your social media channels that could lead to an influx in traffic (like a post going viral)
  • Publish dates for blog posts

How to Annotate Your Google Analytics

While the way you annotate will vary based on your analytics tool, we’re focusing on using Google Analytics since so many nonprofits are doing so.

Creating annotations in Google Analytics is actually pretty simple:

  1. Double click the date you’d like to annotate
  2. Type your annotation in the box that flies open

Annotate Google Analytics

  1. Select “Shared” visibility to share your annotation with others that will view your analytics
  2. Click the “Save” button

Seriously, it’s that easy.  You’ll see your annotation saved below the field you were just typing in.

Annotating Google Analytics

How to Look Back at Old Annotations

If you want to look back at your annotations later on, all you need to do is click the small tab with a downward arrow underneath the graph at the top of the analytics window.

Annotations Google Analytics

You’ll see the annotations window pop open with all of your annotations that fall within the date range you selected.

Pretty easy, right?  Now get annotating.  And save that scribbling on your hand for other things you need to remember.

Related Reads

Using Advanced Segments in Google Analytics

Using the Landing Pages Report in Google Analytics

Using Google Analytics to See If You Need a Mobile Website

Website Data Most Nonprofits Should Be Tracking

Nonprofit Website Analytics: Measuring What Matters

Image courtesy of Jason Rogers, Flickr