Depending on how you use it, Google Analytics is a tool that can offer either infinite knowledge on your user base or a well of incomprehensible numbers that offer nothing to your business. Ten years’ as an SEO agency has taught us that to get the most out of Google Analytics you should set up segments and content groups based on filters which mean something to your business. This will provide valuable insights you can action and most importantly do not leave you sifting through endless numbers with nothing to show at the end of it.

What are segments and content filters in Google Analytics?

Within Google Analytics there are two main ways to filter data outside of the left-hand menu – these are through content filters and through segments.

These work in different ways and can be paired together depending on what you want to understand.

Segments have a few pre-defined options; by traffic types and sources. These include paid traffic, organic traffic and direct for example, but can also be applied to user types (new/existing etc.). The default setting is ‘All Users’.

SEO Agency Analytics Segmentation Snippet

Using these segments will allow you to filter your entire Google Analytics account by set rules, this is most commonly used by an SEO or PPC agency to report at baseline level statistics.

These base filters are most useful for identifying trends by source channels, measuring the value of different channels in comparison with one another and piecing together conversion funnels.

Content filters are found throughout different report views in Google Analytics – for example in Site Content – All Pages:

SEO Agency Analytics Behavior Snippet

Content filters are setup based on your website and can include anything from page titles through to URL structures. There are no base content grouping filters as Google Analytics requires human input for the rules to be created and applied.

Using custom options

As mentioned, using the standard options for segments allows you to filter data with a broad stroke.

However, the real value in the system is creating and customising these filters yourself based on your target audience and buyers, therefore creating an understanding of how these users are interacting, converting and where and why they are leaving your website.

For comparison, a basic filter will tell you what organic traffic is doing broadly, but it won’t illustrate data for more focused campaigns. For example, data that you want to gather for campaigns you’re running locally within certain cities and those targeted at new users on mobile. However, it is possible use Google Analytics segments to target this.

To do this, simply head to the sector section and input data based on the needs of your business.

PPC Agency Analytics Custom Options

As shown above these segments can include:

Advanced options will allow you to include conditions and sequences based on campaign deliverables and steps within the sales funnel – these are of particular use when you have a multi-step route to conversion.

For example, if you set your location to London, device to Mobile, browser to Safari and session duration to under 30 seconds – you set your entire profile by iPhone users in London who spent fewer than 30 seconds on the website.

Why is working in this way valuable? Simply, it allows you to segment by target audience or your most valuable routes to conversion.

Furthermore, if you’re making changes and testing products or a new user experience on specific segments of the site (such as devices) it allows you to fully understand and dissect the results of these tests.

On top of this, it is a very clean way of understanding data on your website in an informed and structured manner, instead of looking site wide which can often skew or distort statistics if you’ve put focus on one area or user pool within marketing channels mix.

At a campaign level this method allows you to understand the value behind the different campaigns on the website and what they’re offering in terms of onsite user actions, conversions and behaviour.

Where do content filters sit in this?

Once you have the segments set up, content filters are the next stage.

These will allow you to filter the entire account by a page or group of pages you are targeting – ON TOP OF your segments.

For example, you can look directly at users on mobile, heading to a key group of products.

To set these up, use the content grouping tool within the Admin section of Google Analytics,

PPC Agency Analytics Content Grouping

Within this content grouping you’ll be able to set up groups by URL types, page titles and many more elements and in turn this feature will appear above page titles on the website data – so when the data is filtered you’ll see the paired data, filtering out the noise and allowing you to make decisions on data that matters to you, and ultimately achieve your business goals.