Customizing Search Results in Google Universal Analytics


Photo by Jeffrey Beall

As good as Google Analytics was at giving you mountains of data about your site, a few quirks made it more frustrating to use than it needed to be. For example, when you were trying to figure out who visited your site, too much of your data was polluted by links from paid sources, your own site, and even Google itself. With Google Universal Analytics, you can define how your search traffic is sorted and limited, giving you more useful information about who is visiting your site. Here is a brief guide to search features in Google UA.

Customize organic search sources

As its name suggests, organic search traffic is search traffic that comes to you naturally, without your having to pay out advertising or rely on a link from someone else’s page. While organic search traffic isn’t necessarily the best traffic to get, it’s a good measure of how visible your site is on the web.

With Google UA, you can customize which sites count as “organic search sources,” so you can add social media sites like Facebook in order to see how many users are finding your site from places that are not traditionally thought of as search engines. You can also segment out search engines, so you can see how many people get to your site from Google Images vs. Google News. Or you can delete search engines, in case you’re not interested in traffic from search engines that are mostly used outside of North America.

Referral Exclusions

While some traffic comes to your site from search engines, other traffic comes from links, or referrals. If you’re a reseller, you’re probably particularly reliant on this kind of traffic, so it’s very important that you track it accurately. With Google UA, you can exclude certain types of referrals, whether they’re from your own site (for example, if someone clicks on the buy button from your blog page), or a site connected to your own (like the third-party shopping cart you use). By excluding these referrals, you’ll keep your own site data cleaner and more accurate.

Search Term Exclusions

Google UA also gives you the flexibility to eliminate or reclassify certain keywords, so if someone enters your domain name or company name into the search engine it will count as a direct visit, not a search.

With improved search analytics, you can focus your efforts where it matters most—finding new ways to attract visitors to your site.

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