Understanding the Limits of Google Analytics

Google Analytics – it’s arguably the world’s most popular digital analytics tool.  And why wouldn’t it be?  It’s powerful, easier to use than most other tools, and available free of charge (for the Standard Edition – Premium GA is another story).  However, did you know that there is a Terms of Service limit on the free version?  If you didn’t, you should, because you agree to be bound by those Terms of Service when signing up and continuing to use Google Analytics.

Introducing HitCheck for Google Analytics

image of hitcheck tool showing 9.3 million hits out of 10 million
our tool checks how much data usage you generate on Google Analytics over the last month

We’ve had a number of customers who recently ran into issues around the volume of their GA usage, so we decided to create a tool that makes it easy to get a rough estimate of your monthly GA usage.  This simple tool lets you quickly check the number of hits a View has processed within it.  It’s not a perfect scientific solution since things like filters can reduce the number of hits reported in a given view, so don’t take the results as 100% truth.

The tool is intended to give you a quick estimation and raise visibility into how you’re using Google Analytics so that you can make more informed business decisions about it.  

Note that our tool simply checks a given View under a property, while the Terms of Service state the limit applies to the sum of hits across all properties under one account. So, even if the tool states you’re under the limit, your combined volume across all properties in your account may be over – currently the tool can’t check at that aggregate level.

Check your Data Today – click here!  We’d love your feedback on the tool as well, so contact us via email or on Twitter @analyticspros to let us know your thoughts.

FAQ’s about Google Analytics Limits

What is the data collection limit in Google Analytics?

What’s the big deal here?  The GA Terms of Service limits the volume of data that Google offers to collect, analyze, and report for your Standard Edition account.  That limit is 10 million “hits” per month, per account according to section 2 of the Terms.  That’s actually quite a generous amount of data collection, and it’s far more than many sites need.  However, some sites send more data.  If you’re one of those sites, you should re-read that ToS and consider the implications of exceeding it.

How is it calculated?

Hits is a term that most digital analysts are quick to loathe.  A hit in Google Analytics simply refers to sending data to GA.  Each pageview, event, transaction, item, site speed timing, social interaction, and user timing interaction reported produces a “hit.”  New Universal Analytics Measurement Protocol requests are also hits.

Our HitCheck tool isn’t a perfect source of truth on this since only Google itself can authoritatively say how many hits they log for your account.  However, the tool is a good gauge for estimating approximate volume.  When HitCheck runs we extract the totals for:

  • pageviews
  • screenviews
  • events
  • social interactions
  • transactions
  • items
  • site speed hits

The sum of all these hits equates to your approximate total hits in the view.  Actual hits collected in your property could be higher depending on whether you have any filters active.

What can you do if you are exceeding the limit?

If you’re exceeding the data collection limit in Google Analytics standard edition, you have a few options to bring your usage under Google’s terms, or, you can ignore it and hope nothing bad happens.  I wouldn’t recommend ignoring a Terms of Service violation though – I don’t know many businesses that are comfortable with blatantly violating the terms of a service provider, because the risks aren’t worth it.

Please note, if the HitCheck tool indicates you’re above the limit, then you’re certainly over it, possibly by more than our tool indicates. If our tool indicates you’re under the limit, you may still exceed it across all properties in your account.  Being mindful of this is important and taking action is something we would recommend.  There are a few options available to you if you are collecting data beyond the stated 10 million hits per month limit.

Option 1: Prune Your Data

First, you can reduce data collection.  Auditing your implementation is a good starting point to see if you’re collecting excess or unnecessary data.  Many times you can reduce volume simply by tuning up your data model and collection.  In HitCheck, you can see what types of hits make up your volume which is a good starting point for reducing volume by pruning unneeded data.

Option 2: Sample Collection

Second, if you can’t prune, you can reduce collection by activating the data collection sampling method.  This really is a bad idea, but sometimes it’s just what you have to do.  Learn more about the collection sampling method on the GA developer code site for ga.js and analytics.js.

Option 3: Go Premium

Last, if you’re over the limit of 10 million monthly hits and can’t prune or can’t/don’t want to sample, then your option is to upgrade to Google Analytics Premium. The price point for Premium can be very intimidating, especially when considered for only data volume reasons. However there are many more reasons that Premium is well worth its price given the services, support, training, and enhanced features included when you purchase through us.  The best place to start is with a discussion and we’d be happy to answer any questions you have.

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