To set up an advanced segment in Google Analytics, click on your website’s profile from your Google Analytics home page, and then click on the “Advanced Segments” tab. Next, click on the “New Custom Segment” button to begin creating your segment.
Name your segment based on the specific metrics you would like to view. Next, use the dropdown to “Include” or “Exclude” data. In the next dropdown, which begins with “Ad Content,” you can choose from any of the detailed Google Analytics metrics, including (but not limited to) the following:
- Browser: Enter a browser name (Firefox, Chrome, Internet Explorer, Safari, Opera, and Mozilla are the popular ones) to see your analytics data based on visitors using a particular browser.
- Continent: Enter a continent name (Americas, Asia, Europe, Oceana, and Africa) to see analytics data based on visitors from a particular continent.
- Keyword: Enter a keyword to see analytics data based on visitors who searched for that particular keyword.
- Source: Enter a referral domain to see analytics data based on visitors from that particular referral source.
In the next dropdown, which begins with “Containing,” you can filter your chosen metric with parameters like “exactly matching,” “begins with,” “ends with,” “less than,” “greater than”, or “number.” Type a qualifier in the text entry field. For a keyword, you might set up your segment as “containing designer,” so you will see data based on any keyword phrase containing designer. Alternately, you might set up a container as “exactly matching designer” so you can see data based on that specific keyword.
You can include or exclude as many metrics as you would like by clicking on the “Add ‘OR’ statement” or “Add ‘AND’ statement” links after you enter a metric. Once you have finished adding metrics, you can test your segment by clicking on the “Preview Segment” button.
If you do not see the amount of data you expected, you may want to look at the metrics you have configured and remove some parameters to make it less specific. Conversely, if there is too much information, you may want to add more metrics to narrow the data down further. After you have customized your segment to your liking, click on the “Save Segment” button to save your changes.
Examples of Useful Advanced Segments
Even though this process may seem tedious at first, it can help you discover very valuable information about your website. Here are some examples of advanced segments you can use to dig deeper into your analytics data.
- Social Media: If you have been wondering how much traffic you really receive from social media referring sites, but do not want to go into your “Traffic Sources” and spot check through all of your referral sources, then create an advanced segment for social media. Set up your segment to “Include” the “Source” metric “Containing” and enter “facebook.com” in the first box. Continue adding additional “OR” statements with “twitter.com,” “stumbleupon.com,” “sproutsocial.com,” or any other social media sites you would like to include in this segment.
- Email: While Google Analytics cannot always trace the source of an email if someone uses an application like Microsoft Outlook or Mozilla Thunderbird, it can trace email from webmail applications like Hotmail or Yahoo. This information can be useful if you are conducting an email marketing campaign. To set up an advanced segment for email, select “Include” the “Source” metric “Containing” and enter “mail.yahoo.com.” Continue adding additional “OR” statements with “mail.aol.com,” “mail.live.com,” or other online email sites you’d like to include in this segment.
- Local Visitors: Does your business operate locally? If so, you might only be interested in the behavior of visitors from your region. To set up an advanced segment for local visitors, “Include” the “City” metric “Containing,” then enter your city. Continue adding additional “OR” statements with other cities that your business serves, or other cities that you’d like to include in this segment. Note that Google Analytics only captures major cities. You might want to go through the location demographics information under “Visitors” first, to see what information Google Analytics pulls in for your region.
As you can see from these examples, there are a lot of ways you can use advanced segments to learn more about your website visitors. The data-mining possibilities are endless!
How to View Your Advanced Segments
When you are ready to view your advanced segments, you can select them by clicking on the “Advanced Segments” tab. Next, check the box next to the custom segment you want to view, and then click on the “Apply” button. Now you can go through any part of your analytics, from the visitors to conversions sections, and view data based on the specific metrics you chose for that segment.
If you want to compare your segment data — like your social media referrals vs. your email referrals — you can check more than one segment from your custom segments list. The data (as shown in the above image) will be shown for both segments, so you can easily see the differences.
Editor’s note: This article uses screenshots and data from the new Google Analytics Beta, Version 5.