Filtering Google Analytics Reports

Filters allow us to control what we see in our Google Analytics reports. It’s a permanent change to how a report is viewed and they can become very handy. The most common filter to apply to reports is the internal traffic filter which basically removes our own visits from appearing in reports, this is a must if we want accurate traffic reports for our website.

Views and Reports

As mentioned filters will permanently change how our reports look like so it’s good practice to create a backup of our report views before we make a filtered version of one. To do this we need to go to the admin panel select the view we wish to copy, go to ‘View Settings’ and click ‘Copy View’, we’re now good to go. We can create multiple views with different filters to get more specific reports. An example of using different views with different filters would be to set different ones up for each section you have on your website, a view for sports news, a view for technology news etc. now we can see which sections of our website are the most popular and revamp the poorer performing ones if needed.

using Multiple filters

Multiple filters can be applied to a view but the order in which you arrange these filters matters! Google Analytics applies the top filter first and then moves down to the next time which can cause problems if we haven’t arranged our filters properly.

Say we want to make a filter that only focuses on 2 of our web pages, you might think we add one filter on to include the first page and another to include the second but Google will not read it like that. Instead, Google will first filter to include our first page and after it will then attempt to filter the first filter with our second filter which wouldn’t be possible meaning we wouldn’t get any results. Below is graphic that hopefully explains this a little better, at first I struggled to understand this but it’s quite simple.

For this example we’ve used a filter to only include the Sports page and the News page above. Googles first step is to filter to include the Sports page which is does successfully, on the next step it is then asked to filter to include News, here’s where it fails. Google will want to apply the filter onto the results it’s already got from the other filters so it attempts to find the News page within the Sports page which doesn’t exist so therefore it returns no results.

The fix is easy though, all we need to do is combine the Sports page filter with the New Page filter so we have one filter that tells Google what pages we want to show results for! Simple but an easy mistake to make. We can then go on to add another filter that will affect the results we get.

What filters will I be using?

Currently the only filter I’d be interested in adding would be a filter to block all internal traffic appearing in my results. I don’t want every time I access my website to count towards my visits as much as it would boost my results up! Luckily the Monster Insight plugin I’m using to install Google Analytics onto my WordPress website automatically stops Google from counting these visits. I think for now I probably won’t touch filters just yet but I’ll make another post when I start getting more visitors and have some data to play around with. I think filters are most likely a very important part of a companies business so it would be a really good thing to get a grasp of!

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