Filters are a great option within your Google Analytics accounts. They allow you to exclude or include certain data so that your reports are more accurate. They also help decrease the amount of data shifting that needs to do after your reports are already produced.
To set up a filter in Google Analytics, you first need to go into the admin section of your account and on the right-hand side select the view you are looking to add a filter to. Remember to always leave a backup view that remains unfiltered, since you cannot recover data once it has been filtered. Once you have selected the correct view, you will see an area that says “Filters”. Click this and then select the red “+ Add Filter” button, you will now see the “Add Filter to View” screen.
1) Filters provide the accurate data solution.
Using Filters, you can create specialized Views to focus in on important portions of your website traffic, allowing you to filter or modify the data you are collecting.
2) Filters are applied to views.
Filters work together with Views, to isolate a subset of your data. Note that, here, the term “Filter” is short-hand for “View Filter,” which should not be confused with the filters that can be added to custom reports.
One advantage of using Filters (as opposed to Segments) is data security. Sometimes, you want to provide access to some, but not all, of your analytics data. For example, suppose you want to give the editorial team access to analytics reports about the company blog, but restrict access to data from the rest of the site (e.g, E-commerce data). In this situation, you would create a “Blog Only” View by applying a Filter that restricts data to only Blog Pageviews.
Another advantage is convenience. You can often achieve the same results in your reports by applying Segments. But, if you consistently need to look at a particular subset of the data (e.g., visits from China), then it is much easier to have a Filtered View that is dedicated to that data. It is also easier for users, who may not be completely fluent in Google Analytics, to simply tell them to look at a particular Filtered View, rather than teaching them how to work with Segments.
3) Filter helps your internal traffic
Unless you are testing your analytics tracking setup, you usually don’t want visits from your own company showing up in your reports. These internal visits, from developers, editors, testers, etc., can skew your numbers. For example, when testing your checkout process, you don’t want test purchases to show up in your E-commerce reports.
Typically, we set up an “External Only” view and exclude traffic from our internal company IP addresses. To do this, you first need to determine what your internal IP addresses are. You can ask your network administrator, or use a service like what’s my IP. If you work for a small company, you may only have one internal IP address. However, most companies use a range of internal IP addresses.
4) Filters for Sub-Domains or Directories
Another typical use of Filters is to create a View containing only data for traffic to a particular sub-domain or directory within your site. For example, you may want to have a View that contains only blog traffic.
Here is the Filter that we use to create our “Megalytic Blog Only” View.
5) Filter Traffic from Bots and Spiders
Bots and spiders (also known as crawlers) of various kinds visit your website on a regular basis. Without filtering, these visits can show up in your Google Analytics reports. For example, the Seamalt crawler is the 22nd largest source of data shown in this unfiltered view of the Megalytic website.
Luckily, Google has recently released a special filter that you can use to remove bot and spider traffic from your reports. To activate this filter, click on Admin and select the View that you want to filter. Click on “View Settings” and select “Bot Filtering.”
By filtering out these crawler visits, you will typically see an improvement in your Bounce Rate, Pages per Session, Avg Visit Duration and Conversion Rates. It’s a simple way to make your reports more accurately reflect the behavior of your real visitors.