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Tracking Google Analytics traffic sources with custom Advanced Segments

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Google Analytics is one of the most important tools you possess as a webmaster. With thousands of user metrics at your disposal, sorting the useful data from the piles of pointless figures can often drive one to distraction.

In this post, we are going to set up 6 advanced segments in your Google Analytics. These are not only guaranteed to make your analytic and reporting life easier, but also help you to see the figures that you as a webmaster should be acting on.

1. Branded Search Visits

Tracking the visitors who have arrived at your website from branded search terms is an important metric used to measure your brand awareness over time, or any PR activity you may be involved in.

To set up this segment, follow these steps:

· From your GA overview, select Advanced Segments above the visitor graph

· Select +New Custom Segment

· Copy the setup below. You can add as many ‘exact’ or ‘containing’ conditions as you need to ensure you have your entire branded search terms covered.

Figure1

· Select ‘Test’. You will now see the volume of traffic which has been filtered, click ‘Save’

To apply the segment to your overview graph simply select advanced segment from the overview again, and tick the box next to your new ‘Branded Search’ advanced segment. Select apply and you can now see all of the data for branded search visitors only.

2. Non-Branded Search Visits

This segment is the exact opposite to above. Rather than showing branded search term visitors on the overview graph, with this segment we can show all visits that have not used a branded term to find the site.

Setting up this segment is very similar to setting up the Branded segment:

· From your GA overview, select Advanced Segments above the visitor graph

· Select +New Custom Segment

· Copy the setup below. Again you can add as many ‘exact’ or ‘containing’ conditions as you need to ensure you have your entire branded search terms covered. The only different this time is the condition is now ‘exclude’ rather than ‘include’

Figure2

· Select ‘Test’. You will now see the volume of traffic which has been filtered, click ‘Save’

Applying the segment to your overview is again the same. Using this segment can be very useful to see the visitors your website is receiving who are not necessarily aware of your brand.

3. 1 Word Keyword Visits

Setting a 1 word keyword advanced segment can be particularly useful to find out how well your website is performing in very broad search results. Using a regular expression the data can be filtered to show only traffic which has arrived through 1 word search.

Setting this segment up is pretty easy:

· From your GA overview, select Advanced Segments above the visitor graph

· Select +New Custom Segment

· Copy the setup below – The expression which you need to copy and paste into the condition is : ^\s*[^\s]+(\s+[^\s]+){0}\s*$

Figure3

You do not need to add anything else to the segment. Now select ‘Test’ and ‘Save’.

You have now filtered the traffic to show only 1 word searches. This can also be useful when carrying out keyword research for your website, as you will always find a couple of keywords you didn’t even know you were ranking for.

4. Long Tail Visitors

Most websites receive a proportion of the traffic they are getting from long tail searches. Long tail searches are usually defined as visitors who arrive at your website using phrases containing 4 words or more.

To setup and advanced segment for this we use another expression:

· From your GA overview, select Advanced Segments above the visitor graph

· Select +New Custom Segment

· Copy the setup below. The expression which you need to copy and paste into the condition is : ^\s*[^\s]+(\s+[^\s]+){3}\s*$

· The 3 which is highlighted in the segment is telling analytics to only include keywords with more than 3 words. You can increase this as you see fit.

Figure4

· Select ‘Test’. You will now see the volume of traffic which has been filtered, click ‘Save’

This segment can also help with keyword research, and is always sure to throw up some surprises for you as you will often find your website ranking for the strangest of long tail phrases.

5. Social Media Visitors

Tracking the visitors your website is receiving from social media sources is a great way to gauge the effectiveness of your current activity. This can also be critical in measuring the success or a social media campaign you may be running.

You can select as many social media platforms to track as you with:

· From your GA overview, select Advanced Segments above the visitor graph

· Select +New Custom Segment

· Copy the setup below, adding as many networks as you see fit.

Figure5

· Select ‘Test’. You will now see the volume of traffic which has been filtered, click ‘Save’

The great thing with this segment is that you are able to track specific platforms if you wish. So by only adding for example ‘Facebook.com’ you are able to see all of the visitors arriving at Facebook. You could set up a segment for each social media network should you want to split them all.

6. Blog Visitors

This segment is a particular favourite of mine and should be set up by everyone who has a blog bolted on to their website.

Determining the percentage of your traffic you are receiving from your blog should help you to determine the size of your target group, and also how much time you should be spending on keeping thing fresh.

· From your GA overview, select Advanced Segments above the visitor graph

· Select +New Custom Segment

· Copy the setup below, changing the /blog where you URL may differ.

Figure6

· Select ‘Test’. You will now see the volume of traffic which has been filtered, click ‘Save’

It is worth pointing out this segment is only useful for the websites who employ a domain.com/blog URL structure. You can however change the /blog to the relevant area of your website.

This is a great way of seeing how well your blog is performing and whether it is having the desired effect.

We have now set up 6 new advanced segments. These segments will help you not only to see where your website is receiving the most traffic, but also how you are receiving it.

Always remember when carrying out keyword research, Google Analytics is one of the best tools you have at your disposal, and the information you can pull from it can help determine your new target areas. So many people forget this, and end up going to long way around to get to the same conclusion.

If you have any questions please feel free to comment below and I will do my best to answer them.

About the author: Anthony Fitches is a Director at SEOptics, a search engine optimisation consultancy in London & Newcastle upon Tyne, UK. SEOptics work with a range of businesses on campaigns of all sizes, primarily increasing online presence.

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