How to Backup & Visualize GA3 Data for Free

Will Rice
First published June 27th, 2024
Last updated July 15th, 2024
Learn how to easily backup & visualize GA3 data for free using Google Sheets and Looker Studio in this comprehensive step-by-step guide.
How to Backup & Visualize GA3 Data for Free

With Universal Analytics ending on July 1st, it’s vital to back up your data. In this guide, we’ll show how you can back up GA3 data in a few simple steps using free tools.

To follow these instructions, you must access Andre’s GA Nitro guide.

This is a webinar write-up of André Mafei’s talk at GA4ward V5. Watch the recording on YouTube below:

About the Google Sheet template

The link above provides a template for Google Sheets and Looker Studio. This splits up the process of using the Google Analytics extension for Google Sheets. It also comes with a ton of predefined settings.

Downloading your data

Let’s follow the step-by-step process for downloading your GA3 data.

Step 1 – Make a copy of the GA Nitro Sheet

To start, you need to make a copy of André’s UA backup template for Google Sheets. Once you’ve made a copy, the instructions are displayed within the sheet, but refer back to this article in case you need more information.

First 2 steps in GA Nitro backup

Step 2 – Add a start and end date (maximum of a year)

We can put only a limited amount of data into each Google Sheets file. That’s why we need to download data twelve months at a time.

Adding start & end date in the sheet

Step 3 – Add the URL of your GA property

Once you’ve inputted your chosen data into the template, you should add a link to your GA property. Simply head over to your GA account and copy the URL. Finally, paste the URL into the allocated spot on the guide.

Instruction on where to paste google analytics url in the sheet

Step 4 – Run your GA report in Google Sheets

Now, head to extensions> Google Analytics > Run reports. Depending on the size of your site, the creation of this report could take anywhere from 10-30 minutes.

Running reports from the extensions option in the sheet

Step 5 – Copy the URL of the spreadsheet and organise

Once the GA3 data has been populated in the sheet, copy the link from the Google Sheet and place it in the allocated spot. You may also wish to change the name of the sheet to keep things more organised.

Copy & pasting the url of the google sheet

Building your own Looker Studio dashboard

Follow the link to visualise your GA3 data with Looker Studio. You can also open Universal Analytics to compare the data between digital analytics tools.

Step 3 of the backing up ga3 data with sheet

You’ll notice an’ Edit and Share’ button from the top of the Looker Studio page. This is how we create new dashboards in Looker Studio, using a template from your data.

After clicking ‘Edit and share’ and selecting ‘Acknowledge and save’, you will have a copy of the dashboard. You can now play around with this in any way you wish.

Note: None of your data will leave Google. This template is simply a Google Sheets file and Looker Studio template.

Looker studio template

Comparing your data

In Looker Studio, your data should look something like this.

How backed up ga3 data shoud look like in Looker

In GA3, data should resemble the below image.

Audience overview report in a GA3 account

Look at any number in Looker Studio and see how it compares to the data reported in GA. For example, let’s compare the bounce rate.

Bounce rate indicated in a looker report

We can see that the bounce rate in Looker Studio matches with GA3.

Same bounce rate in ga3

Now, let’s head over to ‘Source/Medium’. In GA3, the ‘Users’ column cannot be exported due to the limitations of the API. Make sure you stick to comparing data from the chart.

‘Source/Medium’ report in ga3

From Looker Studio, you can click any of the table entries to change the chart.

Changing chart in looker studio

You can also change the metric displayed in the chart by choosing ‘optional metrics’.

Changing the metrics from ‘optional metrics’ in looker studio

In addition to this, you can filter by entering a value.

Now, let’s look at ‘All Pages’. You can see here that Looker Studio is trying to be smart and presenting data as a URL.

Filtering in Looker studion by entering a value

But what if we don’t want data presented in this way? To make this data clickable, we can head to the editor and choose ‘Properties’ > ‘Page’ > change the data type to ‘Text’. Lastly, let’s publish our changes.

Ways to make clickable in Looker

The data entries in the report should now be clickable.

Downloading goals

What if you want to download your goals? The API only provides us with IDs ‘Goal ID 1’, ‘Goal ID 2’, Goal ID 3’, etc.

Goals from UA shown in Looker

Luckily, there is a simple fix for this problem. Head to ‘Goals’ within your Google Analytics dashboard. Sort by ‘id’ and then copy the list.

Sorting goals id in GA3 & copying them

Now, open a new sheet in Google Sheets and paste in these values. Then, copy the first three rows from this table.

Pasting goals from GA3 in a sheet

Go back to the template spreadsheet, choose Goal Names>Edit>Paste Special> Values Only.

And there you have it. A list of the definitions of your goals. These will now show up in your Goals report.

In GA3 we were allowed up to 20 goals. This report splits our goals into three parts for both sourced medium and for campaigns.

Goals in GA3

Our goals can be further customised to our liking. We just need to head back into the editor, select the goal table, and choose the metric we’d like to edit. In this instance, let’s change the name of our goal to ‘Search Result View’.

Customising imported GA3 goals inside Looker

Now, instead of being named ‘Sample Goal Name 1’ our goal is more easily identifiable. 12

Using the Google Sheet

From the Google Sheet, you can quickly access all the data you need. From the toolbar at the bottom, we can view all result tables.

Toolbar of the sheet highlighted

By choosing ‘All Sheets’, you can also navigate to ‘Source Medium’. This page contains all the data that is being used by Looker Studio.
Souce Medium sheet

Utilizing these features in GA4

Last year André launched ‘GA4 Classic Mode’. Thanks to this, we can now not only visualise GA3 data but also GA4 data. Andre plans to launch a new extension to the Google Sheet that will also combine both GA3 and GA4 data.

GA4 classic mode

Back up now

There’s still time to back up GA3 data. Why not make the most of Andre’s free solution and try GA nitro for yourself?

Will Rice
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