Save Time and Dig Deeper Using Advanced Segments

By Susan Rust

If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve used Google Analytics to measure or report on a site’s performance. Analytics is a great tool that is almost necessary these days if you own a site, and is absolutely imperative if you work in SEO. Loaded with features and filters, you can get the big picture of a site’s performance or you can hone in for specific stats, but either way you should be using Advanced Segments if you’re not already.

Advanced Segments is a custom filter tool that can save hours of work and show you useful data you might not be able to replicate using the regular advanced filters. Say you create a report for a client’s site you manage every month. If this client wants to know what non-branded keywords are driving traffic to their site, you have to enter each branded word in the filter and exclude them…every month. Might not sound bad now, but when they start needing you to report on a dozen more similar stats this can easily compound and become time consuming.

With Advanced Segments, you can create a filter one time and just check the box every time you want to run that report. Let’s take a look at some of my favorite Advanced Segments using a fictitious company, OMG Puppies! – A Store for Everything Puppies.

One Word Keywords

Thanks to John Doherty for this tip. Let’s say you wanted to examine all the keywords driving traffic to your site separated into head, middle and long tail. Instead of downloading a CSV of all the keywords and wasting time in Excel, try these handy formulas for creating a report that will filter all of these for you with a click of the mouse.

Formula: ^s*[^s]+(s+[^s]+){0}s*$

In the new look of Google Analytics’ standard reporting tab, go to the top and click Advanced Segments >New Custom Segment. Choose “Include” and then “Keyword” as the subject of the filter. Drop down the next part to “Matching RegExp” (Regular Expression) and then paste in the formula above. Give this segment a name (Ex. 1 word puppy traffic) and save it. That’s it! Now if you want to view all of the one word keywords driving traffic, just go back up to Advanced Segments and check the box next to the name of your custom segment.

Note: Once the segment is applied, it will filter every tab or report you go to thereafter. So, if you’re looking at Landing Pages for the month of January, Analytics will only show the Landing Pages that came from one word search traffic.

Two to Three Word Keywords

Formula: ^s*[^s]+(s+[^s]+){1,2}s*$

Let’s try the same segment, but for all 2-3 word keywords this time. Enter the formula above, and keep everything else the same. Then, give it a new name and save the segment. Now we’re finding some important keyword searches since these are the ones you are most likely targeting. Going through my Organic search keywords, I see that “Pupz dog food” and “short leashes” are at the top right where I want them. But what if I wanted to take it a step further and find all of the 2-3 keyword searches that led people straight to my blog?

Go back to your custom segment you created and add the following “AND” statement.

Now when we apply this segment we will see only the traffic that came to the blog part of my site from searches with 2-3 keywords. This can be handy for when I’m targeting certain terms that I want people to search and land on my home page, not my blog. If “puppy shoes” is one of my targeted home page terms, but is leading 30% of searchers directly to my blog, I’ll want to stop cannibalizing myself and maybe discontinue my post series on how great puppy shoes are for Christmas gifts.

Note: For the above example to work, you need to have your URL structure be Also, if you’d like to view the long tail of your traffic with all of the searches done with 4 words or more, all you need to do is simply change the number value in the string to “3,” like so:

Formula: ^s*[^s]+(s+[^s]+){3,}s*$

Branded and Non-Branded Keywords

Let’s say you wanted to view all of the non-branded keywords that were driving traffic to your site as I mentioned in the top of this post. Normally, in the new look of GA, you would go to Traffic Sources > Sources > Search > Organic, and then click “Advanced” where you could add versions of your brand name and apply the filter. How about we save ourselves some time in the long run and create an Advanced Segment for this.

Using our pet store example, I would have something like the segment below with names for our store, owner and products just to make sure I filter out all branded keywords.

Now when I apply this and view any of my stats like Landing Pages or Demographics, I’ll see only the stats for people who weren’t looking specifically for my company. Pretty cool right? Well cool isn’t good enough! I want to take it to the next level and see only the non-branded traffic that led to a goal completion on my site.

OMG Puppies classifies a goal completion as a purchase form submission so I’m going to add an “AND” statement to the segment above.

Now we’re talking! With the segment above, I can see which terms are most likely to turn a new visitor into a new customer and spend a little more focus on these keywords.

There are many other advanced segments you can use to achieve some pretty useful statistics like these. Just play around with different combinations and think about what you’re trying to get out of them. If nothing else, create a few just to save yourself some time for next month that could be spent on puppy gifts.

Editor’s Note: This is our first post in a month long series about analytics tips and tricks! Make sure to check back throughout February to learn more about using analytics to measure your online marketing efforts.

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Susan Rust

By Susan Rust

I believe we hear and learn to say "no, it can't be done, that's too hard" rather than say "yes, let's do it now!" I have many mottos, mine for now is "Run fast, break things."