An important step in configuring a Google Analytics account is to clean up page names. Users should be able to identify a page based on the page name and be able to group pages in a logical manner. The tools for doing this are excluding URL Query Parameters and renaming pages using Profile Filters.
The purpose behind excluding URL Query Parameters is so each page on the website has a unique page name within Google Analytics. Some URL Query Parameters may actually be useful, maybe they differentiate between product detail pages for different products or contain the article name on a content website. But in my experience, most add zero value to the page name and the analysis. This post on the Google Analytics blog provides some more information on why and how to make content reports more useful.
Identifying the complete list of URL Query Parameters can take a while. I seem to find the first few very quickly but then miss others and have to go back a couple of days later and so on. So I had an idea the other day to automate the process.
The outcome is this simple Excel tool. It is not pretty (sorry about that) but it is effective. Simply paste in a list of GA page names that contain URL Query Parameters and run a macro. It may take a minute or two to run but the output is a list of all URL Query Parameters, the number of page names in which they appeared and even a string containing all URL Query Parameters which can be copied straight into the Google Analytics configuration. More complete instructions can be found within the tool itself. Note that macros need to be enabled for the tool to work.
The tool does not recommend which URL Query Parameters should be removed. That is down to the web analyst to decide, remembering that web analytics is at least as much an art as a science. A big step towards this would be to work with the IT team to identify each parameter and its purpose in the URL.
Please let me know any questions and I would appreciate any feedback if you have found this tool useful.
The formula in column B on the Processed Data worksheet has been altered to account for the case where the URL Query Parameter name is blank e.g. =56372 so that a blank cell is not generated.
I have discovered that a URL Query Parameter of ?? will cause an inflated count of occurrences, no fix has been made for this.