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Traffic Segments for Google Analytics
Written by Anthony Verre
Tuesday, 07 September 2010 16:00

A Crash Course getting creative

Any SEM or SEO professional has to be using analytics to measure progress, specific initiatives, and ROI. Google is kind enough to provided you preloaded reports (i.e. dashboard, traffic sources, content, etc), but often that’s only giving you a small chapter of the data story.

Last year, Dave and the Trail provided you with Content Overview Analysis in Google Analytics. A really nice high-level overview how to create some useful, high level segments. Earlier this year I wrote a post on SEM Reporting for Pros, which carved out some geeky, data-driven reports.

Instead of going back to reports, and identifying some other data-driven SEM reports, I thought I’d follow with a segments piece, as they are integral and quick way to see targeted slices of data without having to generate an entire report. Furthermore, GA segments allow for comparison against other segments and the data population as a whole, so it can be very useful.

Creating Search Engine Traffic Segments

Sure, you can always use the traffic sources report. But creating your traffic segments allows you to get your data right off the dashboard. I recommend creating traffic segments for The Big 3. Below we’ll go through step by step in setting up your Google, Yahoo!, and Bing segments.

Step 1

Creating a new segment

Go to the profile that you want to create a segment for and select “Advanced Segments” from the left-hand navigation. From there you can “Create New Custom Segment”

Step 2 -5: Create Your Google Traffic Segment

Segments for Google Analytics

Creating your Yahoo! Segment is exactly the same creating your Google segment, only changing the “VALUE” from Google to “Yahoo”.

Bing Search Engine Traffic Segment

BIng traffic segment

The Bing segment requires that you use the “or” statement to build this traffic segment. Since the Microsoft family consists of several ways a user can engage Bing, I built this query to cover all the bases, as a CYA more or less, in case the “bing” value wasn’t enough.

Blog Traffic Sources Segments

Blog segments

Need to find out quantitative value of blog traffic to your website, and how it compares other segments, say Google? This segment gives you that ability. Please note however, that this segment may require some “pre-digging” through your traffic sources to find those blogs you care about enough to compare what that traffic does for you.

Advanced Segment: New Visits  Page  Goal

New visits segment

Let’s say you’re running a new promotion to a particular page of your site. You want to know how many new visits to that particular page convert. Now you can. And you can compare this segment against other segments you set up as well.

Advanced Segment: Mobile Visits from Location(s)

Mobile traffic segments

What if you just feel like being a data geek for a bit. Snooping around, looking for a breakthrough stat that could push your client or your own company in a new direction. Something they hadn’t thought of? Here’s one of those segments that could do just that.

Mobile visits. We’re all hearing it’s the next wave; everyone is going there. You’re client doesn’t buy it and won’t budge (especially since they serve two states). This segment will show those numbers and how they interact w/ the site at a level of detail that you, the SEM, can make a judgment call if it’s worth it or not. Match this against conversion data or traffic data, and you’ve got a winning segment, awesome data, and harnessing numbers you can make decisions against.


Proof is in the Pudding

It’s not enough to tell you these segments can provide actionable data; I think it’s best to show you.

In this report we’re looking at All Visits, Google Traffic, and Social Media Traffic coming into a site. What do I want out of this report? Since we’re looking at Top Content on a site, I want to know how users interact with a site when they get there, but more than that, this allows me to find out if I’ve been doing a good job spreading links through social media to top content. Not just linking to the home page or a services page, but getting people deeper into the site and hoping to hit a conversion or bookmark.

Examples of segments in action

This is definitely NOT a report I’d give to any client, unless of course she/he is a verified data-nerd like you. The details are there, but it takes some inference to associate the data to bottom-line, hence, not a client report (IMO)


Endless Combinations of Segments

Google Analytics allows your creativity to explode in how you want to slice your data. Bottom line: if it’s important to you, and you want to know about it, then GA makes it as easy as possible for you to find out about it. As you can see from above, there’s multitude of ways to massage and slice your data. The real question is: what do you want to know?


Anthony Verre -

Anthony Verre is the founder and CEO of Silver Arc Search Marketing. Known at-large as "The Milwaukee SEO" . He has worked in search engine optimization and search marketing for over 5 years. He also writes a blog on search marketing, search engine optimization, and social media marketing news and opinion called The Milwaukee SEO.

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