What are Advanced Segments in Google Analytics and Why Should You Use Them?

January 22, 2012
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I’ll never forget the words of

I’ll never forget the words of Avinash Kaushik, speaking at a recent SEO conference: “If you show me these reports, I will tell you that you suck.” What he was referring to was standard reports and default segments in Google Analytics. That statement coming from one of the brightest minds in Web Analytics received an auditorium full of laughter, but it also rings very true.

Google Analytics Advanced Segmentation is a great way to get in-depth analysis on the performance of your website across different channels. This level of data takes you deeper than the generic default level data that Google Analytics provides on your website. A good Web analyst or SEO  knows that while default data can be somewhat useful, it does not drive insights that will create meaningful action on your website.

Default Segments
Advanced Segments also provides Default Segments that can be quickly added to your reporting. This level of data is good for top-level information and reporting and can also be accessed by filtering your tree of options on the left of your analytics profile screen. If you want to quickly perform different analyses on these segments, selecting from your Default Segments list is a good idea. You can quickly analyze historical trends, behavior and conversion funnels using these segments.




Advanced Segments
Advanced Segments can help you analyze and move quickly on several aspects of your website and web strategy, including:

  • SEO efforts
  • Link building campaigns
  • Social media strategy
  • Keyword performance
  • Conversion optimization


Web analysts and SEOs often have their own particular sets of segments depending on their web strategy. Some are fairly standard despite being called “Custom Segments” and some are completely unique to the client. Here are a few that may help get you started:

1. Non-Brand Organic Search
One of the most common Custom Segments is a Non-Brand Keyword segment. This returns all visitors to your site through keywords other than brand terms. You can also easily add a medium inclusion of “organic” to gauge your SEO efforts as I’ve done below. If I worked for Apple and wanted to set up a Non-Brand Organic Search segment, I would exclude words like [Apple] and [iPhone]. This allows you to measure the results of organic keywords that are driving new customers to my site such [Smartphone] and [Cell Phone].




2. Social Media
A social media custom segment is also very useful to gain insights into your social media efforts. This segment can help you derive important data from social traffic to social conversion, often putting quantifiable data into the hands of your clients about their social media campaigns.


RegEx
facebook.com|twitter.com|digg.com|stumbleupon|del\.icio\.us|netvibes|bloglines|linkedin|technorati|faves.com|aim.com|friendfeed|blinklist|fark|furl|newsgator|prweb|msplinks|myspace|bit.ly|tr.im|cli.gs|zi.ma|poprl|tinyurl|hootsuite|ow\.ly|delicious\.com|reddit|ht\.ly|bit\.ly|owl\.ly|

3. Twitter
Twitter has become one of the most important forms of social media due to the ease of content sharing and ability to drive traffic to specific content. So many Twitter users are now using applications other than the Twitter UI to share content as well as shorten URLs that it may be worth your while to drill down and create an entirely different segment for this social media tool. HootSuite, TweetDeck, t.co, Bit.ly and Ow.ly are just a few examples of referral source traffic that you will get that won’t come from twitter.com.

4. Targeted Keywords
Advanced Segments are a great and simple way to track specific keywords from click to potential conversion. See how your keywords are performing and if the keywords you are targeting are creating the amount of traffic and type of conversions you need.


5. Landing Pages
Just like keyword segmenting, Landing Page segments can be a valuable way to analyze page performance from click to conversion as well. Use this data to optimize your landing pages to make them as user friendly as possible. If your landing pages aren’t converting the visitors that you need, use this data to optimize and conduct page tests.



Take the time to get familiar with Google Analytics Advanced Segments and create custom segments that makes sense for your web strategy. I promise you will find actionable data that ensures as a Web Analyst or a SEO, YOU won’t suck!


About the Author:  Dominick Frasso is the SEO/SEM Specialist at Vistage.com, an executive coaching organization that helps those with CEO jobs build better companies.  After a successful enlistment in the United States Marine Corps, Dominick began his career in marketing.  He has spent time in traditional marketing roles such as advertising and media buys, direct mail, email, and marketing analytics.  Over the last 3 years, Dominick took those marketing skills online to concentrate solely on SEO and SEM projects for Vistage as well as his consulting clients.