August 8, 2016

Google Quick Search Box in GA – Important Note

Oh Android, you've done it again.

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Since this spring, many of us have seen a spike in referrals from Plenty of sites have since discussed this. It’s the search box at the top of the default browser in Android. For some sites, we’ve found a surprising number of people use that browser to search (to be fair, there’s a TON of low-cost Android phones out there that may not have an option to use any other browser).

The standard fix has been to add that string as a filter in GA, replacing the campaign medium of referral with organic. But that’s not quite right…

An issue you may find relates to the default channel grouping reports.

If you use any report that is using medium as a dimension (e.g. Acquisition > All Traffic > Source/Medium or Acquisition > All Traffic > Referrals) you’ll see your filter working just fine. Example:


But if you go to Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels then click the Referrals grouping, it’s back!


This is because, while we’ve successfully used a filter to edit the traffic medium (note the secondary dimension in screenshot #2 above), it’s not recognized as an organic search engine.

There’s a few ways we could fix this. You could add this source as a search engine, but it appears this source is not 100% consistent on how it uses referral strings. You could filter further, but you’d have to change the source to be simply “google” which will lump this in with all other Google/Organic traffic. That may be totally fine, I just would rather keep a closer eye on it.

My preference is to modify the default channel groupings. This is done at the view level, just like a filter, so it’s certainly preferable to adding the Quick Search Box as a new organic search engine source, which would be at the Property level. And it still allows us to see this as a separate source within the organic channel reports, which filtering does not allow.

To do this, simply go to Admin > View > Channel Settings > Channel Grouping. Click into your grouping and go to Organic Search and hit edit. We just need to add another option for classifying organic, by using the “or” option. Select “source” from the dropdown, “matches regex” from the next box, and add the same thing from your filter into the last area. That would be: ^com\.google\.android\.googlequicksearchbox$


Save and you’re good going forward. Like everything else in settings, this doesn’t impact historical data.

What do you think?

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