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Top 15 Most Useful Advanced Segments in Google Analytics

2nd Jul 2012 Analytics | 25 Comments


Google LogoAdvanced segments in Google Analytics are one of the most valuable tools to anyone looking to understand their website performance better. If you’ve not used them before I recommend you check out my how to set up advanced segments guide first. This post includes some of my favourite segments, why they’re useful and a link so that you can use them in your Google Analytics account too.

Mobile Traffic Excluding Tablets

It’s useful to know how many people visiting your site are on their mobile phones and how many are using tablets. This helps you ascertain just how important it is to have mobile and tablet friendly sites and work out how performance and conversions differ across the devices.

This has been made slightly harder by an update at the end of May that grouped iPad and iPhone traffic in to one group: Operating System = iOS. Phone and tablet performance are very different and websites behave very differently so it’s good to separate these. I’ve looked at the screen resolution of iPads in Google Analytics and excluded them from this segment, meaning it should only show you mobile traffic, excluding tablets:

Keyword Length

Knowing what type of keywords are bringing the most traffic, the best interactions and the best conversion rate on your site is really insightful. I like to use the following four segments at the same time to compare the different keyword lengths alongside each other. Hat tip to Avinash for providing the code for these on his blog.

Not Provided

Losing keyword data has been a challenge for most Analytics users. There are ways to get round it, by looking at landing pages and guessing or by using Webmaster Tools data but the first thing I’d recommend doing when you want to see the impact of the lost data is to use these two segments:

Compare the two against each other to see whether they contain keywords you don’t know are actually valuable to your business, then think about using the other methods of analysis. Remember to check the content report, conversion report and even the audience information in order to understand the difference between these two types of users.

And think of it as a free custom variable from Google, telling you which of your users are logged in to Google’s services when coming to your site.

Author Stats

If you have a website or blog with multiple authors, you will sometimes want to know which authors posts have been read the most, or generated the most conversions. If you are using WordPress for your site then there is a nice easy way to do this, using Yoast’s Google Analytics plugin. This plugin easily sets up custom variables for you to measure author stats, just by ticking a few boxes, it’s probably the easiest way to get started with custom variables as it doesn’t require you to add any extra code.

The way I have this set up (using the above plugin) pulls the author stats in to custom variable Value 02 (found under Key 2). This segment here includes the authors name, so you will have to edit it to use your name instead of mine!

Converting Traffic Source Analysis

We all like to know where conversions have come from – how else can we increase the amount otherwise?! So here are some advanced segments that look at the converting visits from specific traffic sources:

For this social media traffic segment I have used the following regular expression match to catch the majority of social sites that send traffic:

facebook\.com|twitter\.com|linkedin|del\.icio\.us|delicious\.com|technorati|digg\.com| hootsuite|stumbleupon|netvibes|bloglines|faves\.com|aim\.com|friendfeed|blinklist|fark|furl|newsgator|prweb|msplinks|myspace|bit\.ly|tr\.im|cli\.gs|zi\.ma|poprl|tinyurl|ow\.ly|reddit|plus\.url\.google\.com|t\.co|m\.facebook\.com|tweetdeck|youtube|ycombinator|flickr|popurls|myspace|pinterest\.com

On Page Interaction Segments

Analysing on page interaction can really help you understand how users get on with your site and where you could make improvements to increase interactivity, user experience and conversions. Here are segments that use on page interaction metrics:

Traffic From…

Every website has multiple entrance methods, from as simple as direct, organic and referral only, to having multiple campaigns across paid ads, social media sites and email marketing. When analysing the performance of these, rather than sticking to the traffic source report the whole time, or relying on secondary dimensions and lots of extra clicking to see this data in the other reports, it’s often easiest to create an advanced segment for the traffic you want to measure or compare and then browse the reports at your leisure.

You can also add another requirement to the segments to only show visits from these sources that have converted (as above).

As everyone will be labelling their campaigns differently, I can’t provide you with the templates for this. It’s time for you to learn how to build your own and work out how best you can group your campaigns to analyse them effectively.

Extra Bonus Advanced Segments FTW!

Here are some traffic segments you might want to consider creating, depending on what makes a difference on your website:

  • Google+ Traffic (yes there might be some!!)
  • Y Combinator traffic
  • Email campaign traffic (group bad labelling)
  • Paid listings you have with sites like yell.com
  • Segment for target keywords
  • Desktop PC users – compare to phones – compare to tablets
  • Segment by subdomain / sub folder
  • Views of a particular page
  • Views of a particular page from a specific location (to highlight unnatural traffic)

I thinks the list of possible advanced segments you could use is endless, so you will have to decide what is most valuable to you.

Also, it is very important to use the data wisely; try and compare the data to another segment so you can judge performance against something else and make informed decisions about your most successful activities.

Any other favourites?

What other segments do you like to use? Please leave your ideas and links to your segment templates in the comments below to help others find inspiration and delve deeper into their data! Alternatively visit our Website Analytics Consulting page to learn more about our services.

Image source: Pernillarydmark

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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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