How To Make Google Analytics Data More Accurate: Custom Segments

Using Custom Segments to display accurate data on Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a pretty amazing thing, and most of us only really scratch the surface of what we can do with it. I never used to give a toss about data, but in recent years since using GA, I absolutely love it.

My blog may be small fry, and so I don’t have the most comprehensive figures to play with, but I like to experiment with some of the features of GA to see how I can find ways of delving deeper at the data I do have (bonus: I also get to play with it at work where we do have more interesting numbers!).

It was in fact at work where I really got to play around with Advanced Segments – and I thought I’d share my findings here on the blog so you can give them a go too!

If you’re new to Google Analytics, click here to read my beginner’s guide.

What are Advanced Segments?

Advanced Segments are basically ways of segmenting your traffic to view particular types of traffic.

For example, if you just want to view traffic which has come from a particular country, you can apply an Advanced Segment, which can then be applied to any reports within Google Analytics.

Why would I want to use them?

If you want to take a closer look at the way that particular types of traffic are navigating your blog, then Advanced Segments are a great way of doing this. You can include all sorts of different data types within your segments – more on this later!

How do I find them on Google Analytics?

Easy peasy! When you’re logged into Google Analytics and viewing reports, you can see the Add Segment button just above the report.

How to add an advanced segment on Google Analytics

When you click on this, you can pick from the list of standard custom segments such as Bounced Sessions, Mobile Traffic etc. These are really handy and a great starting point.

However, I’m a big fan of getting stuck in and trying out your own. If you want to give this a go, click on the + New Segment button.

New segment button
Here are some of the types of segments you can create:
  • Demographics – segment by age, gender, location, language.
  • Behavior – segment by number of visits, visit duration time etc.
  • Traffic Sources – segment by source, referral traffic etc.
There are a few other types that you can use as well, but these three are the most likely that you may want to segment by.

Creating Custom Advanced Segments

To create your segment, you will need to fill in the fields carefully. Here’s an example below to show you how it works:
Demographics advanced segment
So you can see here I have set up a Demographics segment to show data which matches the following criteria:
  • Aged between 18-24
  • Female only
  • Based in London
Once you’ve filled out your segment, simply click Save (but don’t forget to give it a name! I would call the example above ‘London Females 18-24 Only’).
When it’s saved, it will automatically show you the results of your segment. You can then click through to different reports (e.g. from Audience > Overview to Behavior > Site Content > All Pages). The segment will stay applied and show you only data that fulfils that segment of your traffic.
Want to revert back to All Sessions? Simply remove the segment (this doesn’t delete it, it simply removes it from the reports).

Comparing Segments

You can also compare data by adding multiple segments.

For example, you can apply All Sessions and the London Females 18-24 Only segment at the same time to show both sets of data. Simply click Add Segment and you can click on the check boxes next to each segment you want to include. The click Apply.
Comparing traffic segments Google Analytics

What else can you do?

There are plenty of opportunities available to you with Advanced Segments once you get used to the way they work. As well as creating and applying them to your own data, you can also share them with other people to apply to their own data.
As I’m in the sharing spirit, here’s the London Females 18-24 Only segment. To share a segment, you click on Share segments, select the one(s) you’d like to share, click Share and choose Shareable link. You’ll then get a link to share the segment.
When you click on the link for a shared segment, you’ll be presented with this screen:
Sharing segment configurations
Select which ‘view’ you’d like to apply the segment to, and click Create. You’ll be able to tweak it if you wish, or see it in action straight away.
Phew! I realise that’s all a lot to take in, but I hope it’s useful!

Interested in Google Analytics training? Email me now to find out more.

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