Advanced Segments - Filtering Google Analytics Data to Evaluate Organic Search Traffic

By Melanie Phung, Director of New Media, PBS Digital

When digging into Google Analytics to determine which of your traffic generation tactics are driving the best results, filtering the reports to include only specific kinds of traffic can help you find actionable data much faster.

The Advanced Segments feature is the simplest and most consistent way to isolate different types of traffic. For example, you can filter your analytics data so it shows only visits that came from organic search by taking these quick steps:

                            1.      Click on “Advanced Segments” in the horizontal menu bar.
                            2.      Select “Non-paid Search Traffic” from the list on the left.
                            3.      Hit the “Apply” button.

Other default segments include filters to show only new visitors, only returning visitors, only those visits with conversions, and more. 

You can also create “custom” segments if what you’re interested in tracking isn’t included in the default list. Potential custom segments you can create include “only visitors from my state” or “visits that include video pages.” 

These segments help you hone in on the behavior of different kinds of visitors and isolate which of your different marketing efforts are resulting in which gains.

To see which pages on your site are doing a good job of attracting search engine traffic, follow these steps:

                            1.      Select “Non-paid Search Traffic” from the list of default segments.
                            2.      Visit the Landing Page report (under Content  > Site Content > Landing pages) to
                            see the first page that visitors landed on when they came from Google or Bing
                            (or another  search engine).

Without the filter applied, the list of pages will include landing pages from social media and other traffic sources as well, which would not give me a good sense of what pages had high visibility in the search results.

On this Landing Pages report, you can see which pages are already doing well in organic search and determine if there are opportunities for incremental SEO improvements. Conversely, if an important page is getting a lot of engaged traffic in general, but not showing up at all as a landing page for non-paid search traffic, that tells you it’s a popular page but that visitors aren’t finding it in search results. You can then decide if it’s worth putting SEO effort into trying to get this page ranked to drive even more sustainable traffic. Follow up by tracking organic search performance of this page over time.

By default, when you select and apply an Advanced Segment, it stays selected for any other report you browse to.  Be sure to clear your filters and advanced segments once you’re ready to look at your overall traffic again.
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