Google Analytics Spotlight: Search & Replace Filtersby Anvil on April 20, 2009Website Analytics
Google Analytics gives you a lot of data. In an effort to make some of that data more user friendly and approachable, here are some steps to clean up your reports and let others spend some more time with your reports, because now we can actually read the data we’re seeing!
Most large sites, and particularly e-commerce sites have domains that at some point become unruly. Your URL’s may not always be descriptive, which means you need to frequently translate categories or directories into something that makes sense to anyone in your marketing department, not just the IT folks who built your site.
Knowing how people interact once they are on the site is critical for making any informed decisions about navigation, content, forms, etc. If you can’t easily read your content reports, you’ll never look at them.
The current directory structure is not particularly intuitive when trying to decipher anything about these pages. By setting up search and replace filters for any non-descriptive domains, you can immediately see what pages are not performing well, and decide if changes need to be made.
Creating a new Filter
- Name your filter. Pick something easy, like whatever category you are changing, for this example we will use c-8-shoes
- Select Custom Filter > Search and Replace. Basically what this does is tell Google Analytics to find any piece of information in your reports and change that with something else (pretty self explanatory really)
- In this example our Filter Field is the Request URI – in “Analytics for dummies” terms – the subdirectory of your URL.
- Search String: Here is where you enter whatever gobbley gook your URL’s are made of that you can’t read/remember what page that really is on your site. Again in our case: /c-8-shoes.aspx
- Replace String: Enter something descriptive. For example: mens shoes
Viola! You are done. Now you will look at your report and say “Wow, the Men’s Shoes page has a high bounce rate, we should look into that further”. If you’re using this filter for a request URI field, you may want to start with your top pages at first if you have a lot of filters to put into place. This can also be used for combining any tracking string parameters that may not all be the same case – easily combine your data that way.
Remember to always keep one analytics profile completely unfiltered unless some of your experimenting inadvertently causes you to stop reporting significant amounts of traffic.