Whatterz


Segment your Google Analytics with Profiles and Filters

by Simon. Average Reading Time: about 5 minutes.

Google Analytics describes itself as an “enterprise-class web analytics solution that gives you rich insights into your website traffic and marketing effectiveness.” However, to really leverage the power of Analytics you need to set up profiles and filters to segment your data and create more meaningful reports. You’ll then be more prepared to write better-targeted adverts, strengthen your marketing initiatives and create higher converting websites.

In Analytics, as in general web terminology, a domain is the name of a website, such as simonwhatley.co.uk or google.com. You should create a separate Analytics account for each domain. A profile, on the other hand, is a set of specifications for tracking traffic on a single domain. You can think of a profile as a single set of rules for Analytics to use in processing the traffic on a domain. Since you can create 50 profiles in a Google Analytics account, multiple profiles are a good way to view your data through different lenses and isolate certain segments.

Profiles are closely associated with filters, which can be used to include, exclude or change the representation of certain information in a report. Filters aren’t necessarily required, but using them will help you define what data you see and how you see it. Since filters affect the way data is displayed in your profiles, it is important to get them set up as soon as possible. Filters added after your account begins collecting data will not affect your old data.

This is semi-advanced stuff, but just remember to leave at least one “real” profile where you don’t filter at all — I generally call this profile “No Filters”. That way, you can work on the others without making mistakes on the data that you are relying on to guide your website decisions.

Profiles and Filters

It doesn’t matter in which order you set up your profiles and filters, but you need to do them in the same sitting.

Here are some important filters I create by default:

  1. Banner Adverts — Track visitors who enter your site via your banner advertising campaigns. You can use this profile to compare analytics provided by the website on which your advert is displayed.
    • Filter Type: Custom include
    • Filter Field: Campaign Medium
    • Filter Pattern: banner
    • Case Sensitive: No
  2. Email Campaigns — Track visitors who click through to your site via one of your email campaigns. This is especially useful if you’re using email campaign managers such as Campaign Monitor and MailChimp that allow for Analytics tags to be automatically applied to email links.
    • Filter Type: Custom include
    • Filter Field: Campaign Medium
    • Filter Pattern: email
    • Case Sensitive: No
  3. Direct Visitors — What are the numbers of visitors who directly type your URL into the browser address bar to get to your website? This is an interesting profile since many users automatically use a Google Search as a way to navigate to your website, even if they know your URL.
    • Filter Type: Custom include
    • Filter Field: Campaign Source
    • Filter Pattern: direct
    • Case Sensitive: No
  4. New Visitors — How many visitors are new to your website is the first step to working out how to “convert” more visitors.
    • Filter Type: Custom include
    • Filter Field: Visitor Type
    • Filter Pattern: new
    • Case Sensitive: No
  5. Returning Visitors — An important segment, returning visitors like your website and the content or products it provides.
    • Filter Type: Custom include
    • Filter Field: Visitor Type
    • Filter Pattern: returning
    • Case Sensitive: No
  6. Referrals — Where have people come from and in what numbers? Knowing that 1000 visitors came from xyz.com is important for any marketing strategy.
    • Filter Type: Custom include
    • Filter Field: Campaign Medium
    • Filter Pattern: referral
    • Case Sensitive: No
  7. Internal Visitors — “Big Brother” is watching! This profile is not entirely necessary, but is useful for determining how people in your organisation are using your website.
    • Filter Type: Custom include
    • Filter Field: Visitor IP Address
    • Filter Pattern: (Use regular expressions to set rules for different IP exclusion and inclusion scenarios e.g. 192\.168\.0.*)
    • Case Sensitive: No
  8. Overall (External) Visitors — Similar to the “No Filters” default profile I have set up, this one serves as a sanity check for visitor numbers that are not part of your organisation.
    • Filter Type: Predefined, exclude, traffic form the IP addresses, match
    • IP Address: (Use regular expressions to set rules for different IP exclusion and inclusion scenarios e.g. 192\.168\.0.*)
  9. Organic Search — Organic search results are listings on search engine results pages (SERPs) that appear because of their relevance to the search terms. Understanding how many visitors find your via organic results as opposed to paid results will help you determine where to concentrate your advertising efforts.
    • Filter Type: Custom include
    • Filter Field: Campaign Medium
    • Filter Pattern: organic
    • Case Sensitive: No
  10. Paid Search — Commonly known as Pay Per Click (PPC) or Cost Per Click (CPC) advertising, popularised by Google AdWords and Google AdSense. Websites that utilise these will display an advertisement when a keyword query matches an advertiser’s keyword list, or when a content site displays relevant content. Such advertisements are called sponsored links or sponsored ads, and appear adjacent to or above organic results on search engine results pages, or anywhere on a content site.
    • Filter Type: Custom include
    • Filter Field: Campaign Medium
    • Filter Pattern: ppc|cpc
    • Case Sensitive: No
  11. Organic and Paid Search — This is a sanity check profile to include all search engine traffic.
    • Filter Type: Custom include
    • Filter Field: Campaign Medium
    • Filter Pattern: ppc|cpc|organic
    • Case Sensitive: No
  12. Social Networks — A late addition to my analytics profiles, but an important one nonetheless. The ubiquity of social networks as a communications medium and understanding traffic from such sources is as important as understanding visits from search engines. Social networks such as Facebook and more recently Twitter, include their own advertising platforms and as such understanding the traffic from these sources is important for marketing more effectively.
    • Filter Type: Custom include
    • Filter Field: Campaign Source
    • Filter Pattern: bebo|facebook|friendfeed|friendster|hi5|imeem|linkedin|meebo|myspace|orkut|plaxo|twitter
    • Case Sensitive: No
  13. Social Bookmarks — This is largely the same as the social network filter, albeit I have chosen to separate out social bookmarking sites specifically.
    • Filter Type: Custom include
    • Filter Field: Campaign Source
    • Filter Pattern: del\.icio\.us|delicious|digg|reddit|stumbleupon
    • Case Sensitive: No

If there are inaccuracies in the above list, just give me a shout, otherwise, I’m happy to hear your own tips and experiences.

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  • we are cloud

    Good post. If you're not sure whether to use profile filters or advanced segmentation, here are some resources that could help you decide: http://bit.ly/bPWpg6

  • http://twitter.com/ChrisOwens Chris Owens

    Hi Simon, great post.

    Have just started really getting into Analytics, and this makes a great start to a framework I intend to put in-place for all my analytics accounts.

    Many thanks for sharing.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=545058390 Mathias Valentin Nissen

    Hello Simon,
    This was just what I was looking for. Thank you for sharing!