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Anna Lewis

The Benefits of Multiple Google Analytics Profiles and Filters

19th Apr 2011 Analytics | 3 Comments


This post takes you through some of the benefits of things that you may not have realised are possible in Google Analytics and is an introduction to future posts which will explain how to implement these suggestions. Hopefully by reading this post and some of my others, you will start to get to grips with more advanced Google Analytics functionality and get more from your data than you might currently be getting.

So, within your website’s Google Analytics account (one per domain please) you can add a large number of profiles to enable you to segment the data in different ways and gain a much better understanding of the traffic on your site. These are created by clicking ‘Add new profile’ on the right-hand side. On the majority of occasions you will be choosing to create a profile for an existing domain.

One of the benefits of profiles for existing domains is that they need no extra code to set them up as they all use the same UA number that you add to your site when you start. The only time that you would need to add more code to your site is if you are setting up a profile for a domain that is not tracked already, but as emphasised before, this will be done under a new account in most instances.

My Top Ten Profiles (and Filters):

1. A backup profile
2. Excluding internal visits
3. Collect organic ranks
4. Detailed PPC keywords
5. Country filter
6. Show domain name
7. Segment of site only
8. Traffic from specific sources
9. Traffic from new or returning visits
10. Profiles to tidy up your data

And to help you understand what I’m on about, here’s an explanation of the benefits of each of these:

1. A backup profile

This is simply to ensure that if anything goes wrong with your main set of data you have a full copy here. Do not use any filters here and if possible create this profile at the same time as you set up the account and first profile. More about this is explained in my post on setting up Google Analytics.

2. Excluding internal visits

To exclude internal visits from your Google Analytics data you can use a simple filter to stop these figures skewing the data you’re looking for. You can also use this type of filter to exclude or include visits from any number of IPs that you might like to exclude – we often add the IPs of ourselves and other people working on a website, in addition to the clients IP as exclusions.

3. Organic rank data

Setting up a profile with this filter enables you to see the rank of the organic keyword at the time that it was clicked. This can then show you which keywords are performing well from which positions, and ideally, how many visits you can get from a number one ranking. There is a slight downside; this data can only be extracted through certain browsers so you will still see a lot of organic keywords with no rank information.

4. Detailed PPC keywords

When you’re running a PPC campaign one of the biggest issues is understanding where all your clicks are coming from. With this profile, and a few handy filters, you can see the specific terms that send visits to your site via PPC even when AdWords doesn’t tell you. This will then help you decide what to target and what to add as negatives. We will shortly have a blog post telling you how to do this.

5. Country Filter

For websites that target a number of different countries and want to see how their site is used in each area, a quick and tidy way to see detailed information is to set up a new profile for each country targeted with a filter to include only visits from that country.

6. Show domain name

When you have multiple domains and sub domains to track visitors across, you can set up the Content Report to show you the full domain in addition to the folder or file name that is usually shown. This is done with a filter to display the host name.

7. Segment of site only

You can set a profile to only show activity within a certain area of your site, for example, here at Koozai we have a profile set up to show ‘Blog Traffic Only’, this is done with a filter that only includes traffic to the subdirectories that contain /blog/. You can do this with any particular area of your site, and even set up one for each category of your shop or store location to be able to analyse the traffic to those areas more closely.

8. Traffic Source Segmentation

To further analyse traffic from your key sources it can be beneficial to set up a profile with a filter to include traffic from each of these. For example, we have a Website Analyser App for iPhone etc; to see how traffic from this source varies from other sources we use an advanced segment within our main GA profile, but we also track these visits through a filter specifically for this traffic. Using a filter over a segment enables even more in depth analysis as segments can sometimes limit the amount of analysis and breakdown that you can do.

9. New vs. Returning Visitors

If you’re interested in how customers interact on their first visit and how this differs to the visits of returning visitors it can be handy to have a profile set up to track each of these on their own – one for new visitors and one for returning visitors.

10. Profiles to tidy up your data

Sometimes your data might want tidying up a little, perhaps if you have hard to understand URLs or each URL has a version with capital letters. On these occasions you may want to see the data more simply, some profiles with filters that I have benefited from include one to put the page title in the Top Content report as the URL did not state what the page was. Another handy one is to combine different case versions of a URL, but obviously this should not be used to hide the issue of duplicate pages, instead it can be used while the issue is being fixed to help you understand the value of the page with all versions combined.

So that’s my top ten reasons to use multiple profiles and filters. There are more reasons and filters to use than just those mentioned here, but hopefully these will give you a good idea of the benefits of expanding the number of profiles in your account and taking a closer look at your data. Please obey the first rule of Google Analytics though – always keep at least one profile filter free. This maintains a copy of your raw data and can help you identify problems that might be hidden by filters.

In the near future there will be a post for each of these methods, explaining how to create it yourself. Please add a comment if you have any feedback or questions about this and if you’re interested in our website analytics services for your website please contact us.

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Anna Lewis About the author

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.

The Practical Guide To Google Analytics

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