By Dan Jennings

A brief introduction to Safe Browsing, notifications in Google Analytics and how they can work together to keep your website and users safe.

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“It's dangerous to go alone! Take this.” – Elderly man, The Legend of Zelda

If you’re reading this, chances are you use the internet. A digital world capable of some extraordinary things, some of these things are good and constructive, but some can be harmful to its inhabitants. Unfortunately browsing the web is not 100% risk free. Websites can be compromised, delivering malware or obtaining user information such as credit card details.

Malware is malicious software, designed specifically to disrupt or damage computer systems and if you run your own website you’re probably familiar with it. You’re also probably familiar with Google Webmaster Tools and how it lets you know if Safe Browsing finds something problematic on your website. You’ll be happy to hear that Google are extending these Safe Browsing protections to automatically display notifications to all Google Analytics users:

Notification in GA from Google safe browsing, warning of detected malware.

(Image source: http://analytics.blogspot.co.uk/2015/02/safe-browsing-and-google-analytics.html )

If you find yourself with one of these notifications follow these steps provided by Google.

“I need a weapon.” – Master Chief , Halo

The weapon in question? GA notifications. These are triggered when GA detects anything unusual; these anomalies fall into one of three categories:

Suggested action: This highlights any unused features of GA that may be of use to you.
Medium Priority: Investigate this when possible
High Priority: Address this as soon as possible

You are given a selection of options when shown a notification:

“Check again” – By clicking this you request that GA re-run the test that determined this error. A result is usually available after 24 hours. Use this once you’ve debugged the problem and found a potential solution
“Ignore” – This dismisses the notification. Though not recommended for the high priority notifications, this can be useful if the suggested actions are not of interest to you.
“Learn more” – This will link you to Google’s relevant support pages.
“Details” – This give a specific break down of what has occurred e.g. given a Self-Referrals notification, details will include which hostname needs to have its tagging checked.

Below is a diagnostic table containing the default notifications available in GA, provided by our very own Chris Woods.

Urgent

Requires Attention

Suggested Actions

“War, war never changes” – Narrator, Fallout

Quotes from great games aside, keeping an eye on your notifications can be extremely important to your analytics solution, whether it be for small things that could improve your GA experience, or huge problems that can potentially make your data suffer. Not only that but now it can help diagnose the state of your website’s security. To be extra safe, don't forget to enable the bot filtering option in your View settings - this automatically removes any traffic Google deems as untrustworthy, just another step towards improving the security of your data. So for the love of all that is good, look after your GA!

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