Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Google Analytics: Creating Advanced Segments and an Issue

Last month Google Analytics released Advanced Segmentation functionality. I am very impressed with it so far, however this functionality is still in beta, which means it could potentially have some issues. In this post I will show you how to create an advanced segment and one issue that I found with it.

Business Problem: I want to see all the data for visits that originate from Google.

Solution: Create an Advanced Segment that will have all the visits that has the source as google.

Let’s see how to create such a segment. (Not this is a very simple segment but the same steps can be used to create more complex segments).

Creating an "Advanced Segment"

  1. Click on the "Advanced Segments" link on the left navigation bar under the “Settings” section.

  2. In the next screen you will see all the "Advanced Segments". In this screen you manage all the advanced segments. Google Analytics has predefined some of the segments and they are grouped under "Default Segments". The segments that you create will be listed under "Custom Segments". To create a new segment, click on the “Create new custom segment” link on the top right hand corner.

  3. The next screen is where you create the segment. The segments can be created by using one or more dimensions and metrics. On the left hand side you have 2 sections "Dimensions" and "Metrics". I chose a dimension of "Source" listed under "Traffic Source" as I wanted to see all the visits which originated from Google (i.e. the source was Google). I chose "contains" as the condition as I wanted to get all the visits that originated from anything that contained Google in the source. Finally I entered the word "google" in the value.

  4. Click on “Test Segment” button to do a sanity check and see if the segment size is as expected. Once you are satisfied with the segment, give it a name in "New Segment" filed and click "Save Segment" to Save the segment.

  5. Once you the save the segment you will be taken back to "Mange Segments" where your new segment will appear. See below, a new segment called "Google Visits" show up. The new segment is now ready to be applied to various reports.

So far so good. However, I found one potential issue with the data.

The Issue

I applied this segment to one of the pages in my Content Report (see below) and chose the date as Nov 3rd.

As you can see my "Google Visit" segment is reporting 328 pageviews while my "All Segments" is reporting only 175 pageviews. That does not seem right. Similarly Unique Views is 112 for "All Visits" while 201 for "Google Visits". As you can also see from the graph, "Google Visits" are higher than "All Visits" on several dates not just November 3rd. Has anyone else seen something similar? Am I not reading these reports correctly?

Site: AnilBatra.com
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  1. Did you get a note saying that sampling was applied? That usually causes funny numbers to come up.

  2. Hello Mr. Batra,

    Though I can't answer your question, this certainly helps me learn how to work on advance segments on GA (as a newbie).

    Ashish Kothari

  3. keemo,

    No I did not get a note saying that sampling was applied. The traffic on this site is so low that sampling won't make sense and should not have been applied.

  4. Darrin11:20 AM

    Hey Anil,

    I can dupe this issue in my account. I noticed though that this seems to only happen at the "content detail" level. At the "Top Content" level the numbers for the all visits segment are always higher.


  5. Darrin,

    You are correct, that's what I noticed too. However, now I wonder if I can trust any of those numbers.



I would like to hear your comments and questions.