To filter or not to filter? That is the question. The answer is yes.
There are times when you want to filter and there are times when you don’t want to filter. There are a lot of theories about what you should be doing with your analytics profiles, but I thought I would provide you with some can’t go wrong guidelines to get started.
- Always create a profile that DOES NOT filter traffic.
Why? When you create a filter for a hosted analytics solution, it will not track the traffic. If you don’t capture it the first time, there is no going back. In most hosted analytics solutions, you can create multiple profiles under a single account, so always create a master account with full traffic being tracked.
- You want to see internal traffic.
Believe it or not, there are people at your company who use the website as a tool. Mainly, this group will be customer service, but the best website contains great corporate information that can serve as a repository for every last employee.
- Customers Only!
One of the great benefits of robust analytics is that you can set and measure goals. By creating a profile that does filter out internal IP addresses, you can count the conversions and measure for your customers and not dilute your numbers with internal users. Also, it gives you a place to examine customer behaviors online without being sideswiped by activity of power users from your company.
- Is It In or Is It Out?
There are multiple ways to define a filter. The most common ones are to either include or exclude specific traffic criteria. For example, you can exclude internal traffic or incoming traffic from a specific referring domain. Include filters do the opposite; they only track the criteria you set. Creating an include filter for your paid search or social media program is a great idea. It allows you to more closely track the user behavior of this group.
- Search and Replace
That last part of the puzzle is a filter that is used by Google Analytics. It allows you to make changes to dynamic URLs so that you can easily interpret the data in your reports. For example, you might have a URL that looks like www.optiem.com/products.aspx?id=200. The “id=200” might be a “white paper” or a specific product category. By creating a search and replace filter, you can change the display of the information, making it easier for the marketing team to interpret analytics reports.
There are a lot more things you can do in Google Analytics with filters, but these five will get you moving in the right direction.
One last note about filters. In Google Analytics, filters are applied to the data in the order they were added to the profile. This order can change the result data you get depending on what type of filters you are applying. It is worth doing a gut check to see if you are getting a result set that looks right based on a manual calculation. If it doesn’t seem to be working, don’t worry, you still have the Master Profile to use.