A Guide To Advanced Segments In Google Analytics

Are you using Advanced Segments in Google Analytics?  If your answer is no, you’ve been missing out, massively! Here’s why…

  1. The amount of data provided by Google via their Analytics platform is enormous.  Knowing how to segment it will help you make sense out of it and arrive at better actionable insights.
  2. Creating advanced custom reports allows you to evaluate specific campaigns and measure their ROI against one another for smarter budget allocations.
  3. Advanced segments helps you understand your audience better and allows you to cater to their needs more efficiently.
  4. Advanced segments can provide you with valuable user experience data to improve your site design and navigation for better usability.

I can go on and on but the bottom line… you need to set-up your advanced segments today!

Here’s our quick guide to setting up Advanced Segments…

Below I’ll discuss 3 important segments we use for analysing keywords during the research stage of a client engagement. I’ll also explain how set them up.

Keyword Segmentation to Understand User Intent

longtailSegmenting keywords is essential to a thorough understanding of the language used by your users to find you product or service.  It helps you better understand searcher intent, an essential pre-requisite to improving conversions). Without this understanding, you’re flying blind.

A typical search curve has a head,  and a long tail, as demonstrated in the graph on the right…

The head of the curve constitutes most of your single, 2-keyword broad search mostly branded traffic.  While the tail compromises more specific search queries with multiple keywords within a phrase.

Long Tail traffic can be very targeted so understanding it will greatly improve your chances of finding opportunities to optimize your site for better conversion and roi.

The ideal scenario is to set-up 3 segments for your keywords as follows:

  • Single word search queries (i.e. all traffic arriving from searches conducted using only 1 keyword).
  • 2 and 3 keyword phrases
  • 4 or more keyword phrases.

Here’s how you set these up…

After you’ve logged in to your Analytics account,  click on the advanced segments tab in the top left hand corner..

Advanced Segments

This will open up an options tab below …  Click the create new segment button…

Custom Segments Options

Now name your segment, I called the first one “Search Head” for the purpose of this illustration.

From the first drop down , select “Keyword” and the second one, select Matching “RegExp” which stands for Regular Expression


Now paste the following RegExp to create your 1 word phrase


for 2-3 word phrases, add this RegExp:


and for 4+ keyword phrases, use the following:


Other Useful Advanced segments…

You can also add other segments such as ..  Facebook , Twitter traffic by choosing include “source” excacltly matching domain (facebook.com and m.facebook.com) … and other campaign traffic as per your needs..

Comparing Segments

Once you’ve set-up segments, you can compare them by choosing 2 or more from your list… for instance you can choose to compare 1 vs 2 and 3 keyword traffic, 4+, etc…

Comparing Custom Segments

Further Segmentation of The Segments

Once you have the segments, you can further segment them by the usual advanced search functions of Analytics.  So for instance you can search for URLs only containing a certain folder, direct traffic, and various other filters as per you analysis requirements.

Segmenting The Segments - Analytics

That’s it, very simple and very effective technique to further understand your data for better reporting insights..

Good luck and if you have any questions, please do ask in the comments below…

About Omar Kattan
Omar is MD & Chief Strategy Officer at Sandstorm Digital. His experience includes 10 years in traditional marketing and advertising in the Middle East and a further 10 years at two of the largest media agencies in the UK. Follow Omar on Twitter for updates on the latest in digital, branding, advertising and marketing.

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