Google Analytics Advanced Segments: What they are and Why you need them

Ever wanted to see how much traffic you’re getting from your social media networks? Or your email newsletter? How about from a particular link – maybe a directory?

You can obviously filter this traffic using Google Analytics; but with Advanced Segments, spending a little time now will save you a lot of time filtering from now on.

In the top right of your dashboard, you’ll see “Advanced Segments”, with a default drop down of “All Visits”:

dashboard advanced segments

Basically, an Advanced Segment is simply a way to compare sets of Analytics data against each other – whether it’s traffic, referring sites, time on site, etc. These are many of the pre-set segments.

Let’s say I want to see my total visits compared to those from referring sites. By simply checking off those two boxes, I can then see the data:

vists vs referral traffic analytics advanced segment

vists vs referral traffic graph

Keep in mind that you can change the date range, as well as travel to any other page (bounce rate, for example) and still have the segment set.

Since Google Analytics couldn’t create every segment, you have the ability to create your own. Click the drop-down Advanced Segments menu, then choose to create a new advanced segment.

create advanced segment

You’ll be taken to this page:

new advanced segment

Let’s say I want to see how much traffic I get from Facebook. I click down within Dimensions > Traffic Sources > Source, and drag it to the Dimension or Metric box. In this case, I’m going to match the dimension with “Contains”, for the traffic that contains the domain Input the domain, name the segment, and you’re done!

facebook advanced segment

Notice you can add “or” and/or “and” statements depending on the segment you want to set. You’d use these if you were tracking traffic from multiple sources; for instance, all social media sources (,, and

Not sure you did it right? Click “Test Segment” to see if it worked.

Then, if I go back to my dashboard and set “All Visits” and my new “Facebook” segment, I can see the comparison:

visits vs facebook

visits vs facebook graph

Again, this process takes some time to set up, but once it is, you’ll be able to create seemingly customized reports in no time!

Nicki Hicks
Create custom reports with the click of a button

  • I’m just starting to mess around with Advanced Segmentation. What a wonderful tool. Thanks for the instructions…. looks good!

  • This is such a great post and explanation of a tool within Google Analytics that is far too underused by marketers. Great stuff 🙂

  • Maria, I absolutely agree. I think they’re a bit overwhelming, like many things, because of the initial time commitment. After segments are set, though, I’ve found them to be a huge time saver!