In order to diagnose SEO performance issues, you normally need to dig deeper to find out what’s going on. This is when it is beneficial to use Google Advanced Segments.
What Are Advanced Segments?
An advanced segment is a slice of your website traffic. Advanced Segmentation is a tool you can use to slice and dice your Analytics data with great precision. Advanced segments allow you to choose what types of visits you want to be considered when generating the data for a report. If you find that you have a large amount of data but you’re having a hard time filtering the information into a report, you can easily create your own segments or use our default segments and apply them to any report instead of creating different filters for each profile. It helps with understanding the performance of various traffic sources, campaigns, categories of keywords, etc. You can use advanced segments to further understand, anticipate, and react to your customers by identifying key trends and common behaviors.
There are predefined segments such as Direct Traffic, Paid Search Traffic, Returning Visitors, etc. When you create an advanced segment, you have access to a number of metrics and dimensions that allow you to target very specific types of visitors. For instance, you have access to ecommerce transactions, event tracking, traffic sources, campaigns, keyword data, geographic information, and campaign data. You can combine metrics and dimensions to slice up your traffic to give you a view of each visitor segment.
Focused Reporting in Google Analytics
Once you create and select an advanced segment in Google Analytics, you have access to many of the reports within GA, but just for that visitor segment. You can browse around your reporting and just view data for that specific segment. You won’t need to continually filter reporting to get at what you want because your reports won’t contain unrelated data from keywords, visitors, etc. that fall outside of your segment. Advanced segments are available immediately, and can be run on data collected prior to creating the segment. You can use a number of criteria when creating segments to isolate traffic. For instance, you can find out about visitors that searched for a certain category of keyword and made a purchase.
Advanced Segments for SEO
Advanced segments can be very helpful when you see a drop in SEO performance. For instance, you can isolate the keywords that saw a drop in traffic, along with the content that used to receive that traffic. One use of advanced segmentation is to exclude branded SEO traffic in order to see how non-branded keywords are performing.
Searches for a brand name drive a lot of traffic and convert at high levels. That traffic could very well be masking real SEO problems. As you view reporting for non-branded traffic, you delve deeper by creating additional advanced segments for various categories, and then subcategories, of keywords within non-branded traffic. This would give a more detailed view of each segment of organic search traffic, and by major keyword theme. The more SEO layers that are uncovered, the more chance there is to discover problems impacting their SEO performance. It is as simple as creating a segment, activating it, and running reporting.
Creating Your Own Advanced Segments
To begin creating advanced segments, you can either navigate to the ‘Advanced Segments’ pulldown menu at the top of your reports and select ‘Create a new custom segment,’ or click ‘Advanced Segments’ from the Settings section of your reports. Click ‘Create new advanced segment’ from there.
Follow the steps below to customize your advanced segments.
1. Think about the segment that you want to design and what kind of visits it will include. Identify the appropriate dimensions or metrics for your segment. For example, if you only want to see visits with two or more unique purchases in your reports, you would choose the ‘Unique Purchases’ metric.
2. Drag the dimension or metric into the field bordered by the dotted lines. Note that the new fields Condition and Value now become available.
3. Choose the Condition appropriate to your segment. Visits with two or more unique purchases will require a ‘Greater than’ condition.
4. Enter the comparison Value for your segment. For example, example, enter ’2′ as the Value.
Make sure that you test each segment to ensure you have conditions that make sense for your segment. An example of a pair that will return a ’0′ value is Condition: URL, Value: Less than 2. Take a look at the valid conditions.
5. You can add “and” or “or” statements to your segment if you want to make the segment more inclusive or more restrictive. “Or” means “Include in this advanced segment all visits that meet Condition A or Condition B.” “And” means “Include in this segment all visits that meet condition A and Condition B.” You should typically see a greater number for “Or” results than the “And” results when you click ‘Test segment.’ Remember, the ‘Test segment’ button always returns results for each condition and for the segment as a whole.
6. Click ‘Test Segment.’ You will see how total visits to your site are filtered down once you apply the conditions you’ve just defined.
7. Name your segment, and then click ‘Create Segment’ to finish.
8. Click the “Save Segment” button at the bottom of the screen.
9. In order to apply it to a report, you can select ‘apply to report’ from the menu of Manage Advanced Segments page, or select the segment you just created from the Advanced Segments pull-down menu found at the top of all your Analytics reports.
When creating your segment, add any variations of your brand name separated by pipe characters and make sure the segment does not contain any branded keywords. Click Add “And” Statement again and then drag the “Keyword” dimension from the left side to the dotted “Dimension or Metric” box on the right. Now select “Does not match regular expression”, since you don’t want the branded keywords to be included in our advanced segment. Click “Test Segment” again.
When you return to your reporting, you can select the advanced segment from the “Advanced Segments” dropdown in the upper right-hand corner of the GA interface. Just uncheck all other segments to isolate your new segment and then prepare to browse your reporting just for non-branded organic search traffic. Now you can gain insights from reporting that’s focused on a specific slice of your traffic.