(not provided): Using R and the Google Analytics API

(not provided) terms from Google average 35%-60% of all organic search terms

(not provided) terms from Google average 35%-60% of all Google organic search terms

For power users of Google Analytics, there is a heavy dose of spreadsheet work that accompanies any decent analysis.  But even with Excel in tow, it’s often difficult to get the data just right without resorting to formula hacks and manual table formatting.  This is where the Google Analytics API and R can come very much in handy.

Connecting to the Google Analytics API using R

I’m not going to say that connecting to the Google Analytics API is easy per se, but with the rga package written by “skardhamar” on GitHub, it’s easier than if you had to develop the connection code yourself!  However, before you can get started making calls to the Google Analytics API, you need to register within the Google Analytics API console.  There you can define a new project and then you’ll be able to make your API calls via R.

After you have your API access straightened out, the GitHub page for the rga package has all the details in how to authenticate using the rga.open function.  I chose to use the where argument so that I can continuously hit the API across many sessions without having to do browser authentication each time.

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rga.open(instance = "ga", where = "~/Documents/R/ga-api")

Analyzing (not provided) as a Google Analytics organic search term

Once connected to the Google Analytics API, now it’s time to submit our API calls.  I used two API calls to create the graph at the top of the post, which shows the percentage of all Google organic search terms that are listed as “(not provided)” for the entire history of this blog.  The two API calls were to download the number of total organic search term visits by date from Google and the number of “(not provided)” visits by date, also from Google.  Here’s the API call for the “(not provided)” data (replace XXXXXXXX with your profile ID):

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visits_notprovided.df <- ga$getData(XXXXXXXX,
start.date = "2011-01-01",
end.date = "2013-01-10",
metrics = "ga:visits",
filters = "ga:keyword==(not provided);ga:source==google;ga:medium==organic",
dimensions = "ga:date",
max = 1500,
sort = "ga:date")

The result of this API call provides an R data frame containing two columns: date and number of visits where the search term was “(not provided)”.

Munging the data using R

After pulling the data into R, all that’s left is to merge the data frames, do a few calculations, then make the boxplot.  Because the default object returned by the rga package is a data frame, it’s trivial to use the merge function in R to join the data frames, then use a few calculated columns to create the percentage of visits that are “(not provided)”

What was that Google, only 10% of searches are supposed to be (not provided)?

By now, it’s beating a dead horse that the percentage of “(not provided)” search results from Google FAR exceeds what they said it would.  This blog gets about 5,000 visits a month, and due to the technical nature of the blog many of the users are using Chrome (which does secure search automatically) or from iOS (which also does secure search).  But at minimum, this graph illustrates the power of using the Google Analytics API via R; I can update this graph at my leisure by running my script, and I can create a graphic that’s not possible within Excel.

Full code:

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#### Connecting to Google Analytics API via R
#### Uses OAuth 2.0
#### https://developers.google.com/analytics/devguides/reporting/core/v3/ for documentation

# Install devtools package & rga - This is only done one time
install.packages("devtools")
library(devtools)
install_github("rga", "skardhamar")


# Load rga package - requires bitops, RCurl, rjson
# Load lubridate to handle dates
library(rga)
library(lubridate)

# Authenticating to GA API. Go to https://code.google.com/apis/console/ and create
# an API application.  Don't need to worry about the client id and shared secret for
# this R code, it is not needed

# If file listed in "where" location doesn't exist, browser window will open.
# Allow access, copy code into R console where prompted
# Once file located in "where" directory created, you will have continous access to
# API without needing to do browser authentication
rga.open(instance = "ga", where = "~/Documents/R/ga-api")


# Get (not provided) Search results.  Replace XXXXXXXX with your profile ID from GA
visits_notprovided.df <- ga$getData(XXXXXXXX,
                                  start.date = "2011-01-01",
                                  end.date = "2013-01-10",
                                  metrics = "ga:visits",
                                  filters = "ga:keyword==(not provided);ga:source==google;ga:medium==organic",
                                  dimensions = "ga:date",
                                  max = 1500,
                                  sort = "ga:date")

names(visits_notprovided.df)<- c("hit_date", "np_visits")

# Get sum of all Google Organic Search results.  Replace XXXXXXXX with your profile ID from GA
visits_orgsearch.df <- ga$getData(XXXXXXXX,
                                    start.date = "2011-01-01",
                                    end.date = "2013-01-10",
                                    metrics = "ga:visits",
                                    filters = "ga:source==google;ga:medium==organic",
                                    dimensions = "ga:date",
                                    max = 1500,
                                    sort = "ga:date")

names(visits_orgsearch.df)<- c("hit_date", "total_visits")

# Merge files, create metrics, limit dataset to just days when tags firing
merged.df <- merge(visits_notprovided.df, visits_orgsearch.df, all=TRUE)
merged.df$search_term_provided <- merged.df$total_visits - merged.df$np_visits
merged.df$pct_np <- merged.df$np_visits / merged.df$total_visits
merged.df$yearmo <- year(merged.df$hit_date)*100 + month(merged.df$hit_date)

final_dataset = subset(merged.df, total_visits > 0)


# Visualization - boxplot by month
# Main plot, minus y axis tick labels
boxplot(pct_np~yearmo,data=final_dataset, main="Google (not provided)\nPercentage of Total Organic Searches",
        xlab="Year-Month", ylab="Percent (not provided)", col= "orange", ylim=c(0,.8), yaxt="n")

#Create tick sequence and format axis labels
ticks <- seq(0, .8, .2)
label_ticks <- sprintf("%1.f%%", 100*ticks)
axis(2, at=ticks, labels=label_ticks)

Video: SQL Queries in R using sqldf

This video covers how to run SQL queries using the ‘sqldf’ package within R. This sqldf tutorial was part of a Keystone Solutions podcast discussion about data science and what skills beginning analysts should be learning to improve their skill set.

The example files from this tutorial can be downloaded from this link:

Example Data files


Adding a "Back to Top" Link on WordPress

In a previous post, I discussed how to remove “Powered By WordPress” from the footer of the Scrappy theme.  You might also want to add a “Back to Top” link in the footer, especially if your blog has a lot of vertical distance from the top to the bottom.  Here’s how to do it…

Step 1:  Modifying the Scrappy header.php file

The first step in creating our ‘Back to Top’ link is to modify the header.php file in our WordPress child theme by adding an empty HTML link using the <a> tag.  Although you can place an “anchor” like this anywhere you want on your site, we’ll add this empty link to the very top of the page for this tutorial.

Find the line of code in your header.php file that says <div id=page class="hfeed site">.  Here we’ll add our extra line of code with the tag (line 5 of the code snippet):

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</head>

<body <?php body_class(); ?>>
<div id="page" class="hfeed site">
<a name= "TopOfPage"/a>
        <?php do_action( 'before' ); ?>
        <div class="wrapper">
                <header id="masthead" class="site-header" role="banner">

Normally when using an '<a>' tag, we would also use an href in order to create a link.  However, in this case we’re just defining an empty element in the page that we can refer to later using our ‘Back to Top’ link.

Step 2: Modifying the Scrappy footer.php file

With our anchor in place, we can now add our link.  For this tutorial, we’re going to place the link right above the widget area in the Scrappy footer.

Opening up our footer.php file, we need to look for the code <div class = "footer-sidebars">.  Underneath this line, we’ll add another <a> tag, but this time, we’ll add an href tag in order to have a link to send the page back to the top (line 5 of the code snippet):

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                       </div><!-- #main -->
       </div><!-- .wrapper -->
       <footer id="colophon" class="site-footer" role="contentinfo">
               <div class="footer-sidebars">
                       <a href=#TopOfPage> Your Text Goes Here </a>
                       <?php get_sidebar( 'footer1' );
                                 get_sidebar( 'footer2' );
                                 get_sidebar( 'footer3' ); ?>
                       <div class="stripes">&nbsp;</div>
               </div>

Notice that the link we have here uses the same “TopOfPage” reference as we did in Step 1, this time with a # sign in front of the word. This lets the page code that we want to point to the “TopOfPage” anchor elsewhere on site. Note also that we don’t need to make any domain-specific references like we would do with a “normal” http://www.-type of link.

Obviously, feel free to change the reference to “Your Text Goes Here” to be whatever message you’d like the link to say 🙂

Success!

Once you are done with these two changes, the bottom of your Scrappy WordPress theme should look similar to this:

scrappy-wordpress-theme-back-to-top

'Back to Top' link added to the bottom of the Scrappy WordPress theme

The styling of the link should be right-aligned to your main article width and the link styling will be handled automatically based on the rules set in your CSS file.


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