With a constant influx of data collected from your website, Google Analytics can often be an overwhelming space for business leaders. An unprecedented sea of raw data tends to feel like unorganized filing cabinets filled with years’ worth of information. There’s certainty that the data can provide some valuable insights, but the question is where these insights live and how to find them.
Google Analytics filters make it faster and easier for business leaders to find these answers. By segmenting their website data with these filters, businesses can control the data that appears in their Google Analytics reports and use customized metrics to simplify the analysis of their data.
Before we dive into the types of Google Analytics filters you can create — and their benefits — let’s run through a quick how-to on setting up these filters in Google Analytics.
You can create Google Analytics filters at one of two levels: at the account level or view level.
Filters created at the account level can be assigned to the respective views, while filters created at the view level can be created right from the reporting view.
(Note: While there are options to construct custom Google Analytics filters, we’ll focus on using predefined filters for the context of today’s conversation.)
When setting up any filters, one thing to always remember is to keep an unfiltered flow of traffic coming into Google Analytics for each of your property types (e.g., your website, your mobile app, your microsites, etc.). The reason is when you turn on filters, you’ll permanently include, exclude, and alter the data that hits that view — and you can’t go backwards to retrieve the raw data you may need to pull in the future. Having an unfiltered view of your data ensures you have access to your full data set at any time.
Often recognized as the most common and popular of Google Analytics filters, the exclusion of IP addresses can help businesses filter out internal traffic from website data results. In the light of the fact these individuals tend to be the biggest website users, removing these figures helps avoid artificially inflated metrics as well as improve the accuracy of conversion rate optimization.
Consider the case of a telehealth app that’s used by patients, doctors, and employees alike. With Google Analytics filters applied to this property type, you can segment out these specific audiences based on their IP address or how they first entered the app. This division enables you to analyze the behaviors of these specific audiences within the app and better understand if the app is meeting their needs.
Alongside looking at the sources of website traffic (e.g., organic search, email marketing, paid search, etc.), Google Analytics filters give you the option to segment properties so you can look at individual streams of website traffic. For instance, businesses could opt to filter out subfolders so they can look only at the careers page website on a domain, versus seeing all domain traffic. This makes it easier to understand how specific pages are performing and identify opportunities for improvement.
These subdomain and subdirectory filters can also support the needs of internal teams. For instance, you can create a report for HR that includes all of the traffic coming through the careers section of your website, so they can understand how individuals are consuming that content. Meanwhile, customer service can benefit from a report that includes all the traffic from your website’s learning library, so they can see where users are coming from and which articles they’re looking at.
The list shared above only scratches the surface of what’s possible with Google Analytics filters. Beyond the examples highlighted, you can also create filters based on country, search terms, Google AdWords, e-commerce traffic, different operating systems and browsers, and more — with a list that can only be anticipated to expand in the future.
Before you start to create Google Analytics filters, the first step is to assess your business properties and goals. As you map out your properties and the data you need to deliver on your business objectives, you’ll establish a roadmap to define the views (and subsequent filters) you need to support your demand generation efforts.