Creating Annotations in Google Analytics

by Jason Lipton on 15 March 2015

Google Analytics has lots of great functionality and features. However, one of the simplest (and maybe one of the most helpful) is the ability to create annotations, or notes. These help you to keep track of significant things affecting your website's performance and can prove to be an invaluable source of information over time.

Can't remember when you redesigned your checkout? You would if you created an annotation. Can't remember when you blocked those spammy sites and your conversion rate went up. You would if you created an annotation. Can't remember when you launched your last 20% off sale? You get the idea!

So, How Do You Create Annotations in Google Analytics?

Creating an annotation in Google Analytics is easy. It’s just a question of remembering to do it!

Here's one way to do it in Universal Analytics:

Select Admin (top navigation) and under Personal Tools & Assets (bottom right) click on Annotations. Then click on New Annotation. You can now create an annotation up to 160 characters long which can be shared or private – and crucially, you get to select a date for it. You can also flag your most important annotations using the star icon.

When you select Reporting (top navigation), at the bottom of the graph you can then see a small note icon on the date you created your annotation (provided that date falls within the dates you have selected to display). Click on this icon and your note will be shown. Alternatively there is a down facing arrow at the bottom of the graph which also displays any annotations you have for the selected period. You can also use this as an alternative way to create new annotations as well (press the down arrow and there is a 'Create new annotation' link on the right-hand side).

How to create annotations in Google Analytics

If you want to see all the annotations you have created go back to Admin > Personal Tools & Assets > Annotations

Get into the habit of creating annotations now and you'll wonder how you ever managed without them! And just in case you need any more convincing here are three good reasons to do it:

  1. With all that goes on with a fast-moving e-commerce site (or any other website for that matter!), you will find it hard to remember what caused particular traffic peaks and troughs unless you keep notes. That means you may repeat past mistakes, you may duplicate efforts and you certainly won't benefit from all of your past learnings.
  2. If someone takes over your role or your business, then Google Analytics annotations can really help them understand what the contributors were to your website's performance (or lack of it!). And they will definitely thank you for the information.
  3. If your boss asks you to explain something that happened on the website last year, you might just stand a chance of being able to answer!

Lastly, here are some things you might consider making annotations for in your Analytics account:

So, how are you getting on with your Google Analytics annotations? What kind of things are you making notes about? Or are you still struggling to remember why your website performed the way it did when you look back at your Analytics reporting?

To get the most out of Google Analytics and to ensure you have the right set-up, get in touch with me today!

If you found this post useful, please share it: