The Bottom Line Guide to Advanced Segmentation

There are many ways to use Advanced Segments. We cover a few you may or may not have seen and learn how they might be right for your reporting. Onward!

If you have never set up Advanced Segments or don’t know what they are, first check out this post and then come back here. If you’re really struggling and want a cool video tutorial on how to set these up yourself check out this video here.

Back? Great. Let’s roll up our sleeves.

There is literally an endless amount of ways to use Advanced Segments so we’ll try to cover a few you may or may not have seen and learn how they might be right for your reporting.

Long-tail Content

You started producing more content, or you are a UGC site and you want to see if deep pages are driving long-tail keyword (4+ words) traffic. Easy.

Click Me!

Is Long-tail converting?

Click Me!

If you’re concerned about the rise of (not provided) I’d say get over it, and the two segments above exclude it anyways. But, if it’s still a big deal for you, then go ahead and pull keyword data from Webmaster Tools instead and slice and dice in Excel.

Here’s a formula to count the number of words:
[code] =IF(LEN(TRIM(A1))=0,0,LEN(TRIM(A1))-LEN(SUBSTITUTE(A1,” “,””))+1)
[/code] If you want the advanced segments for head and mid, or 1-3 words, use this:

Click Here!

Basically the number inside the curly brackets { } will determine how many words are in the string we want to segment. 0 means 1, 1 means 2, etc. So we use {0,2} for 1-3 words and exclude (not provided). Feel free to mess with it as you see fit:


Local SEO Efforts

Image source: http://i993.photobucket.com/albums/af52/dopper0189/Money/1black_business_owner.jpg

If you’re a local business and you want to quickly look at traffic from all of your usual local suspects (google maps, yellowpages, merchantcircle, patch, etc.) use this:

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Battle of the Authors

This tip is from Anna Lewis of Koozai who has become one of my favorite go-to resources for all things Analytics and Advanced Segmentation.

If you have multiple authors on your site and you want to compare them side by side, Advanced Segmentation may be right for you.

Essentially you want to use custom variables in your GA Code to see pageviews per Author. If your site runs on WordPress this is very easy. First grab Yoast’s Google Analytics for WordPress. Then once you have it installed and activated click ‘Show Advanced Settings’:

Once you do that a new panel will open up for Custom Variables. Click the option to track by Author:

To check that it’s working, go to a post of yours and look in the source code where your usual Google Analytics tracking code is. You’ll see something like this:

If this is the first custom variable you have ever set up on your site chances are it will be in slot 1. That means that you will need to change the name from ‘john-doe’ to whatever the author’s name is you’re trying to segment. The plugin sets the author name to all lower case and joined with a hyphen, no space.

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Event Based Segmentation

Let’s say you only want to check out visitor segments for those who took a specific action on your site that you already track with ‘Events’. You can do that as well – just decide if you want to segment based on the ‘Action’ you specified, the ‘Category’, or the optional (but useful) ‘Label’:

Cohort Analysis Hacks

Remember my last post on SEO Metrics for Pirates? How about Will Critchlow’s post on Meaningful SEO Metrics? Well you may have noticed some talk about Cohort Analysis. That’s a fancy way of saying you’ll analyze performance of different groups of visitors/customer/users independently, versus looking at totals and cumulative which provides no useful or actionable data.

Fortunately Mixpanel and KISSMetrics do this fairly well.

Unfortunately this post is about using Google Analytics.

Luckily though, there are some hacks and they involve Custom Variables – yay!

I should mention that Cohorts are not just groups of people but rather groups people in relation to a specified time period. Keep that in mind.

You’ll need to use JavaScript to send the information to GA. Let’s say you want to track the date when someone creates an account on your site.
[code type=javascript] _gaq.push([‘_setCustomVar’, 1, ‘Join Date’, ‘**dynamically fill in account creation date**’, 1]);
[/code] The above code would go on your ‘Thank You’ page for instance, with the 1 representing that the information will be stored in Custom Variable (Value 01), ‘Join Date’ is the arbitrary name we’re calling it, and the 1 at the end means this will be tracked at the session level which basically means it will be saved to the users’ cookie and be persistent for 24 months.

The **dynamically fill in account creation date** basically means you’ll need to figure out where and how you’re storing this data from when users create an account, and dynamically populate this field in whatever language your site is written. A good model for populating this is YYYYMMDD.

From there head over to Google Analytics, go to Advanced Segments, New Segment and if you wanted to segment all users who created an account on January 2013, you’d use:

Save each Month Segment, or Quarterly Segment with a unique name and then activate a few of them within Google Analytics to see how they perform side by side. This is especially useful if you go over to the Goals tab and see how they convert.

You can of course export all of this to Excel and create a better visual using stacked area chart.

Here is a quick example explaining how to do this.

For an even more detailed breakdown of how to set up Google Analytics for Cohort Analysis using Custom Variables check out this post by Dan Hill, this post by Justin Cutroni here, and Jonathon Balogh’s post right over here..

Lastly, a few resources you ought to check out if this stuff interests you further:

How are you using advanced segments? Have you incorporated Cohort Analysis into your analytics yet? Let me know in the comments section.

responses to “The Bottom Line Guide to Advanced Segmentation”

  1. I didn’t see you talking about SEO metrics for pirates before I wrote my post – funny that we both referenced the same thing at about the same time. I enjoyed the tips here – nice work.

    • tharari says:

      Thanks for dropping by Will. Definitely enjoyed your post over on Moz. I guess what they say may be true – great minds think alike 😉

  2. sgsolutions says:

    Thanks for the long tail segment share! Saving this page for easy future integration.

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