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Getting Started with Advanced Segments – Default and Custom

Anna Lewis

by Anna Lewis on 21st June 2011

Advanced Segments have so much more to give you in Google Analytics, if you’ve never used them you really should try to make the effort to do so. But before you can start playing around with and making the most of the advantages of using different Advanced Segments, you’re going to need to know how to implement them.

Luckily this is nice and simple and in addition to this basic guide, I have also written posts on using Advanced Segments to track social mediatrack mobile visits and check visitors can view your site and will also be outlining some examples to improve your website analysis in a future blog post.

Getting Started with Advanced Segments

To use Advanced Segments just log in to your account and from the data you want to view (Traffic Sources, Top Content etc) click the Advanced Segments button from the bar along the top of the data:

In the drop down area that appears you will notice a section for Default Segments and a section for Custom Segments. If you’ve not accessed Custom Segments before, this area is likely to be empty:

Have a play with the default segments – click a couple and compare the results. See how the graph changes? You can use up to four segments, but if you use more than 2 in Google Analytics version 4 you have to also have the All Visits segment selected too. They’ve been nice enough to remove this for version 5 so if you haven’t already moved to version 5 I would recommend it (More information about Google Analytics version 5).

Custom Segments

Once you’ve got used to the Default Segments you’ll want to expand out and find more segments using Custom Segments. These are ones you set up yourself from on a wide range of options relating to the visitors, content, traffic, conversions, interaction and more. You can choose more than one and set these as ‘and’ or ‘or’, or a combination of these.

To set up a custom segment open the Advanced Segments drop down, as above, and click the link that says ‘Create a new advanced segment’ (v4) or ‘+ New Custom Segment’ (v5):

Setting Up Custom Segments in Google Analytics Version 4

One plus side for Google Analytics version 4 is that it has easy to navigate menus for choosing your segments. Use the menus on the left-hand side to find which dimensions or metrics you would like to use then drag them across to the empty box. You can also use the box above the menus to search for the segmentation you’re looking for.

Once you’ve chosen your item you need to set options for it such as matching, containing etc. This example states that I want to only see results for organic traffic that lands on a bookshop page:

The final step is to give the segment a name in the box at the bottom and choose if you want to apply the segment to any other profiles. Once you’ve done this just hit the Create button and you can then use your custom segment!

Setting Up Custom Segments in Google Analytics Version 5

This is very similar to setting segments up in version 4, but the menu system has been removed, instead you just get the box and once you click on it you can find the segments to use. It also uses ‘Contains’ as the default selection compared to ‘Matches Exactly’ in version 4. Furthermore, they have realised that the name box was rather hidden at the bottom of the page and moved it to the top. You can also preview the results before you save it:

So there you have it, a nice simple way to gain a lot more insight to your data. I would recommend also having a look at my post on How to Use Advanced Segments to Analyse Your Website Traffic, due to go live shortly!

Anna Lewis

Anna Lewis

Our resident analytics specialist is Anna Lewis. Anna is unbelievably attuned to anything analytical and can fill you in on all the latest news, tips and advice to get ahead in this evolving market.


  • Ahsen 5th April 2012

    Hi Anna,

    Thanks for a very useful article.

    Is it possible to combine two or more custom segments which I’ve already defined and possibly create a new custom segment based on that combination?

    When I choose two custom segments in Google Analytics, it shows them both separately. I don’t want to compare but combine by choosing two or more custom segments from my already defined custom segments in the list and see the combined result.

    How can I do that?

    I’d really appreciate your help!

    Reply to this comment

  • Anna Lewis

    Anna 5th April 2012

    Hi Ahsen,

    Thanks for your comment.

    There is no simple way to combine custom segments unfortunately, you will have to create a new custom segment and put the information from both in to it.

    I hope that you can get it working.


    Reply to this comment

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