It's a problem avid internet marketers, Google Analytics enthusiasts and bloggers face all the time when viewing reports. Which visits to your website are from your visitors and which visits are from you yourself? And despite excellent guides on identifying your own traffic by using techniques like blocking your IP address, filtering out your service provider or even trying to ignore your browser cookies, there remains no bullet-proof process to block or ignore your own visits within Google Analytics. Until now.
Ok, technically we're not going to filter out your traffic completely. We're going to go a step further and create segments, letting you measure all of your activity separate from your visitors' traffic. Doing so will not only prevent your traffic from muddying your web analytics waters, but it will also enable you to develop insights into your own traffic (and work) patterns.
The process will require you to dabble in Google Analytics' advanced segments and one of my favorite tools for tracking campaigns, Google's URL builder. Finally, it's going to take a minor commitment on your part. Here's the basic plan:
- Create a special bookmark using the Google Analytics URL Builder tool that only you will use to access your website - your "Google Analytics Traffic Bookmark"
- Set your Traffic Boomark in every browser and every PC from which you normally access your website
- Start your browser session for your website by using your Work Bookmark any time you visit site,.
- Create two new Google Analytics Advanced Segments to separate your traffic from your visitors' traffic
Creating the Google Analytics Traffic Bookmark
The first step to measure, not blog/ignore your traffic is to create the Google Analytics Traffic Bookmark. Visit the Google Analytics campaign url builder and follow these steps:
- Enter your Website URL in Step 1
- For Step 2, enter your company name as your Campaign Source
- Enter your name as the Campaign Medium
- Enter "Work" as the Campaign Name
- In Step 3, generate your URL and copy the resulting link to your clipboard
- Add your new Traffic Bookmark to every browser from which you access your website
Making Your Google Analytics Traffic Bookmark a Habit
Every successful solution is the perfect mix of people, process and tools. This one will require some diligence on your part. Once you've set your Google Analytics Traffic Bookmark, make sure you use it consistently. Every time you access your website, use your Traffic Bookmark. Make sure you use it after each break too as Google Analytics' default session length is 30 minutes. After you've built up some of your own traffic to the site, crack open Google Analytics to perform the final task, creating Google Analytics Advanced Segments.
Segment, Segment, Segment
Seeing how certain types of visitors behaved on your site relative to others - like you and your co-workers' traffic vs. your customers' traffic - is a critical part of success with Google Analytics. If you've never used their Advanced Segments, today's the day learn.
Access the Dashboard for any Google Analytics profile. Click on All Visits on the right side of the dashboard, just above the date range selector. Then Create a new advanced segment.
Next, follow these steps to create an advanced segment to filter our your Google Analytics Traffic Bookmark:
- From the menu on the left, click on Dimensions, then Traffic Sources
- Click and drag the Source dimension into the "dimension or metric" area in the main report section on the right
- In the Value field, be sure to enter your company name exactly as you typed it in your Campaign Source field from the Google Analytics Traffic Bookmark creation process above
- Click on Test Segment to ensure everything went OK. Your new segment should filter out a handful visits from the total.
- Once you're happy with your new segment, enter a name and click on Create Segment
- Optional: You can repeat this process with one exception to create a segment for every visit that wasn't a result of your Google Analytics Traffic Bookmark. Just make sure you change the Condition to "Does not match exactly"
Measure to Succeed
Now that you've created your Google Analytics Traffic Bookmark, adopted your new process of using it religiously and created advanced segments to filter your Traffic Bookmark, it's time to enjoy the fruits of your efforts. Data. Simply apply your new advanced segment to any report in your Google Analytics profile to distill the insights you seek. You'd be surprised what you can learn by measuring, not blocking or ignoring your own traffic in your Google Analytics reports.
What else could you learn by measuring your own traffic? Are there productivity or community engagement patterns to be analyzed? Something else? What will you look at in Google Analytics or your web analytics tool when you stop blocking or ignoring your own traffic? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.