Using Google Analytics Advanced Segments

Smaller businesses don’t always have the budget for a Google Analytics expert to review their site, or for a full internet marketing agency to watch over them. Therefore, knowing a few tricks about Google Analytics can give you an opportunity to get value from your website data without costing a fortune.

When you first login to Google Analytics, there’s a lot to get your head around. Google Analytics will gather a huge amount of data from your site visitors, including entry pages, search keywords, which browser they’re using and much, much more. For those that aren’t used to data mining, it’s easy to get lost and miss those key insights that can drive your website forward.

Therefore, you need to be able to quickly and easily slice your data into reports that create insight and drive improvement. So, how do you do that? With Advanced Segments.

So, what are advanced segments anyways?

Advanced segments are a tool to segment and slice your data into reports with even more depth. You can merge multiple dimensions and metrics together and then apply these to individual reports to obtain more useful information.

Let’s use an example to explain the usefulness of advanced segments.

Your website is receiving a lot of mobile visitors and you’re interested in what keywords they are using. By default, Google Analytics doesn’t have a report for this. You have a report for mobile visits and a report for keywords, but not one for keywords used by mobile visitors. So you may think this information isn’t available.

However, if you know how to use advanced segments, you can apply a ‘mobile visitors’ segment to your keyword report – and suddenly this data becomes available! That’s the beauty of advanced segments, you can cut up your data and really dig deep to find more precise and specific information to base decisions on.

How to use advanced segments

Google Analytics is kind enough to supply you with some default advanced segments for more basic methods of segmenting your data. These are accessible by clicking on the ‘advanced segments’ button just under the home tab in the new layout. (It’s on the top right of the old layout).

This will open a new tab with two columns; one for default and one for custom (more on custom in a minute). To use a segment, simply check one from the default list and click ‘apply’. All done! Whatever report you’re on will now have that segment applied and the data has probably changed a little for you to see.

The default advanced segments are extremely useful on their own. However, you also have the option to create custom segments, which is where the real fun begins…

Custom advanced segments

Clicking the ‘new custom segment’ button will open up a new screen for you to build your own custom segments. This is great for when you need to segment your data in your own way. This is especially useful if you’re running external campaigns and want to monitor the visits they generate.

To explain what’s possible here would take a website of its own and Google have already supplied a fantastic help section. But basically, to build a segment you need to select which metric / dimension to track, which could include keywords, landing pages or just about anything Google Analytics reports on.

Next, you choose which operator to apply. This is a filter that will define what data the segment will display, and you have options like ‘contains’, ‘matches exactly’ and ‘matches regular expression’.

Finally, you then need to specify the value you’re segmenting. If you’re looking for a particular keyword, then the value would be that keyword. Or, if you wanted to measure how the visitors from a particular referring site interact with yours, then the value would be that site.

The possibilities with advanced segments are almost endless, so it’s worth experimenting. Below, I’ve supplied some great advanced segments you can apply to your reports in order to extract useful and actionable information.

Track social media traffic

Metric / Dimension
Operators
Value
Source
Contains
Facebook.com
Source
Contains
Twitter.com
Source
Contains
Other-social-network

This will allow you to track your social media visits throughout your site, which is useful for gauging how these visitors interact. You can track goals and eCommerce sales using a segment like this.

Track Adwords traffic by campaign

Metric / Dimension
Operators
Value
Campaign
Matches exactly
Your-campaign-name

You can use a segment like this to compare and track how each of your Adwords campaigns are performing across the site. This is useful for determining where to increase / reduce spend and budget more effectively.

Find specific page entry keywords

Metric / Dimension
Operators
Value
Landing page
Matches exactly
Your-page-url

This is extremely useful to track which keywords are sending visitors to which page. While it’s hard to scale this appropriately, you can check that your newly added landing page is working well. Alternatively, I use this to track how new blog posts work and what sort of keywords they’re being found for.

Filtering by location

Metric / Dimension
Operators
Value
Town/City
Matches exactly
London
Town/City
Matches exactly
Other-location

This will filter your reports down so you can track users by their location. This is insanely helpful if you’re a local business and want to track how local visitors are interacting with your site.

Grouping search terms by the length of keywords

Metric / Dimension
Operators
Value
Keyword
Matches regular expression
^\s*[^\s]+(\s+[^\s]+){2}\s*$

This will filter your keywords down those that are three words in length (which may be considered the start of your long tail, depending on how big your site is). Simply changing the number in the curly brackets will increase the word count (so 3 for four word length keywords, and so on).

Have fun with advanced segments

These are some brief, but highly useful and effective advanced segments for you to try out. Do you know of any useful segments too? Let us know in the comments!

About Author
Nick Kipling works in SEO at Spiderscope, offering full website optimisation , development and design. We are an agency based in theUK and specialise in helping small and medium sized business achieve great results.

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