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Google Analytics' New "Change History" Feature
Posted on February 24th 2013
If you've logged into Google Analytics recently, you've probably seen this message:
"Analytics will soon include Change History, a log of account changes."
Some people are reporting that they already have access to Change History, which is basically a log of changes made to your Analytics account's settings - but how do you get to it, and what does it do?
Finding Change History
Change History is an administrator-level feature, and like other 'nuts and bolts' parts of the Analytics platform, it takes quite a few clicks to get there.
While you're logged into Google Analytics, look for the Admin button at the top-right, on the orange navigation bar - it should be visible on almost any report page, or on your dashboard.
Click Admin, and then click on your account name in the 'breadcrumbs' navigation that appears below the orange bar - it should say 'Account list >' followed by your account name.
From the account page that loads, look for the 'Change History' tab, which should appear between 'Data Sources' and 'Account Settings.'
Some users have already been given the Account Settings feature; others may be yet to see it rolled out, so don't worry if it's not available to you yet. Remember also that this is an admin-level feature, so if you have not been granted that level of access, you won't be able to see Change History anyway.
Using Change History
The idea of 'using' Change History is a bit of a misnomer - it is, ultimately, a static log of account changes, and not really an interactive report in the style of other Google Analytics features. In essence, it is this lack of interactivity that makes Change History useful though; unlike Annotations, there is no need to create new 'change' events in the log, as they are automatically detected, documented and added to the list.
That means any change that is covered by Change History will be listed for up to 180 days, including the date on which the change occurred, the email address of the administrator who made that change, and a brief description of what the change actually was.
What you should consider, in light of the introduction of this feature, is whether the way you use Google Analytics as a whole is as good as it could be. It could be time to adopt some new best practices - like making sure every admin has their own login, rather than sharing a single email address between them all.
Make sure, as well, that admins can be contacted via the email address that appears in Change History, making it a joined-up part of your real-world Analytics activity. If the address is used only as a login for Analytics and other Google products, consider setting up an automatic redirect, to send any emails onwards to the user's active email account.
Once you have your administrators using Analytics in a traceable way, Change History should do the rest automatically, helping you to track the changes made to your Analytics settings and user base without introducing any further administrative burden.
In particular, Google's support page for Change History says that it will detect changes to:
and will list specific changes including:
- users, goals and filters added to the account
- new events and profiles created
- deletions from the account
Beyond Change History
If Change History is a little too static for your needs, make sure you are also using Annotations to add custom information to report pages.
On any report page, click the small 'down' arrow beneath the line graph to expand the Annotations box. You can add, edit and delete Annotations directly from there - and can even adjust the date on existing notes, if you wish to do so. Annotations can be starred, and filtered to show only those that have been starred, and the email address of the person who created the note is also displayed, for traceability.
Combine this with the automatic tracking of Change History, and Google Analytics now offers a comprehensive means of keeping your account or clients account (if you’re an SEO Company) under control, however many admins have access to it.