GA’s ‘Site Overlay’ Creating Opaque Unlinkable Site

google analytics settings image

The issue: Your website doesn't load properly after opting for a Click Pattern ‘Site Overlay' on your Google Analytics Dashboard, instead rendering opaque.

Links don't work, you can't see a way to disable the overlay and you may worry that your site visitors are leaving in their droves 😕

On the last point, fear not, it's entirely local, to the point the symptoms appear only in the browser with which you visited GA. Quite possibly the issue is limited to Firefox, and stems from a problem div, ga_shade.

Setup Unmanaged VPS (4 Noobs!) ... with vpsBible
Secure WordPress. Properly. ... with wpCop, the platform's dedicated security website
Olly 'the_guv' Connelly's site and 'WordPress 3 Ultimate Security' book.

Site Overlay: the Problem.

Dunno, exactly. Some cookie bug.

I can say, this happens when, in GA, you elect Dashboard > Content > Overview > Click Patterns > Site Overlay.

Somehow, GA's Site Overlay module doesn't load properly, and the CSS gets messed up…

… That last bit in the ‘ga_shade' div, display: block should be display: none. And another div, ‘ga_control', doesn't seem to load, and it should.

Site Overlay: the Solution.

Actually, there are two, maybe more, but I've got two. The first is best.

A  If you've got FireFox and the Web Developer toolbar, both of which you probably do if you use GA, then do this:-

Cookies > Disable Cookies, then check All Cookies, refresh the page and go back to re-enable by unchecking All Cookies.

B  Delete the offending cookie in your Google cookie folder. The folder may be, else if you went to GA, say, in Spain, then it may be The cookie is called AnalyticsOverlaySession. It's really set to expire at the end of your web session, but it doesn't always seem to.

C  Aah, OK, here's a third, rather drastic solution, if the above is gobbledegeek.

Purge your cookies.

I said it was drastic.

Read this – How to Surf Anonymously & Hide Your PC: Part 3 – How to Set Cookies – for everything you'll ever need to know about cookies, including settings for all major browsers.

But, hey, don't purge your cookies just over this, but do read that post ‘cos it's great, part of a whopper Anonymity Series, and will help you to surf safe 🙂

But if you're using Firefox, a tip-off, off the cuff: you can find & search your cookies here:-

Tools > Options > Privacy Tab > Show Cookies

If you're using anything else, I can't remember off-hand, but like I say it's spelt out here.

Site Overlay: the Future. Because We Care.

Strangly enough, this only seems to happen once. Thereafter, for me at least, the problem doesn't occur.

My oh my! We do lead exciting lives.


Useful?  Wrong?  Q's?  Tips?  Your comment is valued ..


About the Author:

Olly Connelly (yeah, that's me) blogs at, polices WordPress security at and helps noobs build web servers at, so if you've got sleeping problems you know where to come.


  1. the_guv  February 9, 2010

    @Cara .. spiffypress .. like that.

    took a quick look.

    first up, I barely use google for stats anymore. Try “Woopra” .. it’s brilliant, gives you instant stats to your desktop and is free for up to 30,000 pageviews per month.

    I wrote up something about it:-

    WOOPRA Ends Beta & Starts Realtime Web Statistics Charging – GUVNR

    .. and since starting to pay for their service (when they left beta) I’ve written a comparison of it and GA, plus a whole bunch of other analyis services, but haven’t had time to wrap that in code and publish it yet .. won’t be long so grab a feed!

    Re your site, it’s beautiful, all that, but it isn’t too well optimized for SEO, and that is key. I say to my clients: (unless it’s an online biz card) no point having a site unless people can search and find it. Check out my keywords “setup unmanaged VPS” and you’ll get an idea.

    IMHO, SEO is the most important part of site development. For instance, I consider keywords before code or design.

    In a nutshell, you need:-

    – one h1 tag per page with your page-unique keyword-rich page title .. google “SEO h1”
    – one page-unique keyword-rich (bolded) description per page
    – then use a good keyword density in your content .. you have already, very nicely.

    Then get backlinks .. something I never seem to find time to do for guv!

    If you were using WordPress as your CMS, I’d recommend HeadSpace2 to help optimize, but you’re not I can see (they don’t use tables but you do .. not in itself an SEO problem) .. it may be that you’ll have to cut into the code itself to optimise that code. Where’s that template from?

    Hope that helps, and good luck. Lemme know any queries.

  2. Cara  February 9, 2010

    hi. i am trying to get my site overlay to work…tried all three ideas you posted (even deleting all cookies) and none worked. got any other suggestions? i use firefox 3.5.7 on a mac. i’m not a techie person, so am in a bit of a foreign land here. but i really want to see my site overlay to check my hits.
    also, any other suggestions you have for optimizing my site from a developer’s point of view would be appreciated.thanks cara

  3. John  November 30, 2009

    Thank you very much! This had been bugging me for a while!

  4. Ezra  August 7, 2009

    Perfect. Thanks. So happy to learn it’s only a local phenom.

  5. the_guv  July 15, 2009

    @Andrew – cheers for the feedback. Aye, Berry’s right! But I think I am too!! I dunno, but from what I understand, either method may work, depending on your setup.

    SO FOLKS .. TRY BOTH BERRY’S AND MY METHOD, and hopefully one or other will sort you out.

    I’ll try to get round to updating this post, but am in the middle of a 21 part VPS Admin series, following up on the VPS Bible.

  6. Andrew  July 15, 2009

    Thanks – I tried deleting the cookie AnalyticsOverlaySession (Tools > Options > Privacy > Show Cookies) but that didn’t work, so I then searched for my URL within the list of cookies and deleted the cookie from my URL which had the name GASO as Berry said. That did the trick.

  7. the_guv  June 26, 2009

    @Berry – most welcome. & tx for the tip-off.

  8. Berry  June 26, 2009

    Thanks for this post… you can also delete the single cookie: GASO.

  9. the_guv  June 16, 2009

    @anon – pleased to help

  10. anon  June 16, 2009

    Just spent the whole night looking for a solution to this problem. Since I had just upgraded to Firefox 3 and also just re-designed my site leaving old files in place to avert a drop in SERPs, I thought my site was being blocked by some Google / Firefox conspiracy. i.e. Google reporting to Firefox that my site was a phising/malware site since I hadn’t got round to 301 redirection. I wouldn’t have thought of the GA clicks overlay and didn’t relate it to the problem at all. Clearing all cookies worked instantly. Thanks a million.

Add a Comment