fun with google analytics

Two cool things some folks don’t know about

  1. You can have Google Analytics email you when you have odd patterns in your analytics
  2. You can create advanced segments to look at specific groups of site visitors.


First.  Creating custom email alerts.

Ever had a day when your traffic went crazy?  Someone linked to you from a high traffic site, or an influential person retweeted your link?  Or maybe something bad happened, and all of a sudden, you have no one on your site?

You can set up Google Analytics to email you when those kinds of things happen.  Which is cool.  I don’t look at my analytics every day, but I’d certainly like to know sooner rather than later when something out of the ordinary happens, whether good or bad.

So.  In your analytics, there’s a beta section called "Intelligence" over on the left hand side navigation.  When you click on that, it looks at the history of your traffic and identifies any days (or weeks or months) where something out of pattern happened.  Maybe your bounce rate went way up, or you had crazy referral traffic, or a whole bunch of new visitors.

Spend a little time looking at what triggered those automatic alerts.  It’s kinda cool to go back and see where the anomalies happened.

Now.  Click on "Create a Custom Alert," on the right hand side underneath the two charts.

You can create any number of custom alerts, use nearly any parameter.  I’d like to know when the number of visitors to my site either goes way up or way down. 

So now I can create a couple more alerts, and anytime something goes wonky with my site, I get an email.  Super convenient.

Now.  Let’s talk about advanced segments.

Go back to your analytics dashboard.  See in the upper right hand corner, it says "Advanced Segments" and there’s a drop down?  It probably says "All Visits" for you if you’ve never touched it.

Now’s the time to touch it.  If you click on the drop down, you’ll see you can select different options.  And you can select more than one segment, by the way.  Go ahead and play with it for a bit.

An advanced segment basically filters your analytics.  So you can look at only analytics for new visitors, or returning visitors, or mobile traffic, or search engine traffic.  Instead of looking at everyone, it filters to only those kinds of visitors you select. 

This is kinda cool.  You can look at just your mobile traffic, see how much you have, what kinds of content they’re looking at.  If you select both new and returning visitors, you can compare and contrast how new peeps to your site behave compared to those that have been there before.

Now then.  I’m trying to target local people – people in Tucson.  So often, I want to just look at their behavior on my site.  I want to make sure my local people are finding the information they need, they’re spending some time there, various whatnot.  So I created an advanced segment just for Tucson visitors.

Over on the left hand side navigation, down near the bottom, click on "Advanced Segments" and then click "Create new custom segment" up in the upper right hand corner.

You drag and drop the dimensions and metrics from the left hand side into the center to make your segment. 

So now, when I look at my analytics, there’s a "Tucson Visits" option in my Advanced Segments drop down.  So I can look at just my local traffic and see how they behave.

You can create all kinds of advanced segments and combine several parameters.  So you could just have new site visitors from Tucson as a segment.  Or people that looked at more than 5 pages.  Or you could just look at the people who visited a specific page on your site, or that found your site using one or more certain keywords.  The possibilities are endless.



  1. Kelley!

    That is some really great stuff! I have played very minimally with Google analytics just because of lack of time. But I do like the fact that I can set up some email alerts. I will definitely be setting some of those up as well as doing some filtering in the very new future.

    You are one smart cookie & thanks for sharing this!


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