The majority of business people I meet have some form of Web analytics tool on their websites. Most tend to throw Google Analytics up there and then…nothing. They may occasionally sign in and look at the dashboard results, but that’s only helpful if the data is correctly interpreted and acted upon. I’m not saying everyone does this, but many small to medium business owners feel they are performing significant testing and reports by simply copying a snippet of code onto their sites. Few peak under the hood of Google Analytics. I’m going to discuss four important Google Analytics filters you’re probably not using on your site.
You Said Something About a Filter?
Filters help you to manage what kind of data flows through to your Google Analytics report. Filters are similar to the gold rush days of panning. They eliminate dirt and debris until all you’re left with is gold, or in this case more accurate results. Why is filtering your data important? With unfiltered, or raw, data you won’t get an accurate view of how your site is performing. By setting up these simple filters below you’ll start to see a more accurate picture of how well your site is functioning.
To set up these filters log into your Google Analytics and click the account in which you want to set a filter. Don’t actually go in and view the report.
In the lower right corner will be a link titled “Filter Manager”. Clicking on that will lead you to where you can set up your filters.
Simply click on “Add Filter” and you’ll be ready to set up the below described filters.
1. Excluding Internal Traffic:
If you have any reason to go to your site and you don’t have this filter applied you are actively skewing your results. Now imagine if you have a large amount of employees all going to your site every day. You can see how this can affect results drastically. Luckily there is a filter that you can apply to exclude by IP (Internet Protocol) address:
Enter your filter name: Exclude Internal Traffic
Filter Type: Exclude and in the drop down choose “Traffic from the IP addresses that are equal to”
IP address: In older versions of Google Analytics you had to use regular expression but they have since made it easier as you just have to input your IP address in the brackets.
2. Forcing URL Reports to lowercase only:
The problem with Google Analytics is that it will display two different reports for both lower case and upper case URL’s.
These would be perceived and reported as two different unique views when in reality they are not. We can eliminate sifting through maddening amounts of data by applying the filter below.
Enter your filter name: Force lowercase URL
Filter Type: Go to custom then click on the lowercase radial.
Filter Field: In the drop down choose Request URL
3. Full Referral URL
If you’re trying to do link building and look at the referring sites in Google Analytics, you’ll find the data only shows you the main domain instead of the actual referring URL. With this filter you’ll be able to know exactly what page has offered up a link to you without nearly as much snooping around.
Enter your filter name: Full Referral URL
Filter Type: Custom, then clicked the Advanced radial, you’ll be presented with three fields below you.
Field A -> Extract A: Referral (.*)
Field B -> Extract B: Do nothing here
Output to -> Constructer: User Defined $A1
Field A required: Yes
Field B required: No
Output override: Yes
Case sensitive: No
4. Include Only Your Site Traffic:
Remember that cool little snippet that was so easy to throw up into your code to install Google Analytics? Well, it’s really easy for another company to grab your snippet and put it into their site. Now instead of receiving data for only your site you’ll have another site mucking up all your great data. Let’s stop that:
On the Edit Screen:
Enter your filter Name: Include only your Site Traffic (you can name your title anything)
Filter Type: You have the ability of some pre defined terms, but you’ll want to click on Custom field for this filter.
Choose Custom Type: You’ll see an array of radial buttons, choose Include for now.
Filter Field: From the drop down box choose HOSTNAME.
Filter Pattern: Here is where you have to do a little regular expression work, but just input
^(?:www\.)?\example\.com$ and replace “example” with your domain name.
With these your data should be a whole lot easier to evaluate, and you’ll also see more accurate traffic results. Are there any filters you always put on a new profile that i did not mention above? Let me know what other filters you use (and why) in the comments section below.