A couple weeks ago I attended the Advanced Google Analytics Seminar in Manchester, where Andrew Miles from Omega Digital Media was talking about Advanced features of Google Analytics. His presentation inspired me to think a little bit more about the limitations of Google Analytics, which were mentioned briefly on one of the slides.
Although Google Analytics is still probably the best free tracking tool there are some serious limitations that should be considered before you decide to use it as your main tracking solution.
What Google Analytics can’t do?
1. Data re-processing
e.g. if you change or add filters it will only affect data going forward and will not be applied retroactively.
2. Real time tracking
Google Analytics generally updates your reports every 24 hours. It is not a huge drawback but in some cases when you update your website daily that might be an issue. From my own experience I can see that Google Analytics usually updates the reports every few hours.
3. Import non AdWords data
Currently, Google Analytics only enables to import cost data for ROI analysis from Google AdWords.
4. Bid management
Only important when you spend a lot on PPC.
5. Ad hoc reporting
Need a bespoke report? Google Analytics can’t do it for you. This is a major limitation. In case you run a bigger site sooner or later you’ll be in a situation where you need to customize your reports.
Site overlay report is not entirely accurate and doesn’t provide heatmaps.
7. Not integrated into AdSense
8. Transfer account
Currently, it is not possible to transfer profiles or account ownership to another account.
9. Change time zone when linked with AdWords
If your Google Analytics account is linked with AdWords then Google Analytics will use time zone settings from AdWords. These cannot be changed though and you need to contact Google to unlink the account first, which might be a nuisance.
10. Attribute the first touch to a conversion
Google Analytics will attribute the most recent campaign information to a conversion. This behavior can be modified but requires addition of a tracking code and cannot be changed across the whole site. There are some hacks available but it should be a standard feature.
11. Lack of support
Yes there is Help center, however, if your question is not answered there chances that you get any information from Google are slim. You can either hire someone/train in-house, do it yourself or hire one of the GAACs (Google Analytics Authorized Consuntant).
I use Google Analytics almost every day and I’ll try to update this post in case there is something that is not on the list.