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Anna Lewis

How to Use Advanced Segments To Analyse Your Website Traffic

28th Jun 2011 Analytics, Analytics, Conversion Rate Optimisation, SEO 3 minutes to read

Google Analytics have a nifty little feature called Advanced Segments that, simply put, allows you to group your data based on a wide variety of factors. By grouping the data you can analyse different segments more closely.

This post is going to take us through the kinds of segments you can use and how to get the most out of the advanced segments. There is so much scope with advanced segments that if you haven’t used them before you will hopefully be brimming with ideas by the time you’ve read this post.

The following methods are very useful examples of segments you can look at:

Default Segments (already set up for you)

  • Visits from paid traffic
  • Visits direct to your site
  • New visitors only
  • Visits that did not bounce
  • Visits with conversions
  • Traffic from mobile devices

Custom Segments (See, How to Set up Custom Segments in Google Analytics)

  • Visits landing on a specific page
  • Visits via target keywords
  • Visits from Twitter
  • Visits from all social media
  • Visits on specific browsers
  • Visitor location
  • Tracking custom URL sources (having built campaign urls here)
  • Search term used on site

Combining Segments

One segment alone can’t always tell the whole story, so it’s very beneficial to also combine a number of segments to narrow your data down further and to compare against different segments, for example:

  • Visit source + Landing Page
  • Non paid search + Keyword contains core term + Goal Completed
  • Target Keyword + Goal not completed
  • A group of referring sites
  • Mobile visits + Social Media visits
  • Viewed specific page + Spent X minutes on site
  • Location + Conversions

Or you could combine a number of factors to see a very specific segment, for example:

  • Non paid search + Keyword contains core term + Goal Completed

What to look for using Advanced Segments

This would then allow you to see useful information about different types of users, including the volume, interaction, conversions and pages viewed. Once you know how different users interact with the site you can then optimise the website based on what you’ve learnt works for those that convert.

It’s also very beneficial to compared segments against each other for certain data, for example:

  • PPC Vs SEO
  • One referring site Vs Another referring site
  • One keyword Vs Another keyword
  • One browser Vs Another browser

What to do with Advanced Segment Data?

Taking this further, here are some examples of the kinds of data you can find to influence your website decisions:

  • What percentage of your visits are on mobiles? Do you need a mobile site?
  • What percentage of mobile visits are compatible with apps? Could you increase mobile profit by creating an app?
  • Do visitors on one particular browser interact differently to another browser? Should you test browser compatibility more thoroughly?
  • Which keyword groups see a higher bounce rate on target pages? Do you need to optimise the content?
  • Which of your custom campaign URLs is performing better as a landing page? How can you optimise for better performance?

Advanced Segments for Error Handling

Another good use of segments is to see data when errors have happened in your account. Use this post to check for errors in Google Analytics and then you may need to use the following:

  • Segment by hostname if more than one domain has your code
  • Segment by internal referral

Most Common Use of Advanced Segments

If you don’t use any of the ideas above, the least you can do is try this one. It’s my most frequently used Advanced Segment and shows which segment on the graph goes up and which goes down:


Find out using Advanced Segments:


This shows how useful they are on a day to day basis, as well as being essential for in depth analysis. If you have any questions or feedback please drop a comment below.

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Anna Lewis
About the author

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.

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