Back-to-Basics: Non-Brand Keywords

The majority of search referrals to the Google Store come from brand related searches -- searches that include brand references like “google store”, “android t-shirt”, or “youtube jacket”. But, as I dug into the data, I was surprised to find that gets many non-brand related search referrals as well.

Take a look at the non-brand searches that send traffic to your own site -- I think you’ll find the data interesting. By isolating non-brand keywords, you take brand recognition out of the equation and focus on the products that people look for -- and click over to find on your site.

Here’s a quick way to see your non-brand keyword traffic. Under Traffic Sources, go to the Keywords report. Then, in the Filter Keyword box at the bottom of the table, select Excluding, and type in your brand name.

If you have multiple brands, type them all in separated by the | sign. Here’s how this looks for


You’ll notice that I also excluded the word “content”. This is because the report includes “content targeting” and I don’t want to include content targeting referrals.

Click Go to see the filtered keywords. If there’s anything else you’ve missed, just add it to your exclude list and click Go again. Here are the results for the Google Store.

That’s all there is to it. Try it on your own data and leave us a comment letting us know what you find!

Back To Basics: Part 3 - The Power of Exclusion

In Part 2, we saw that a store owner gained an unexpected lift in search traffic to his website after running a promotion on a referring site. The questions we left until this week to answer are these: How many extra searches resulted from the promotion? And, what keywords did people search on?

To answer these questions, we need to compare what usually happens versus what actually happened after the promotion. A good way to do this is to use the Compare to Past feature on the date range selector. If we compare the previous week with the promotion week, we can see how much of a lift there was after the promotion.

Notice that we use the exact same days, Monday through Sunday, so that the days of the week line up. Here is the resulting graph. The green line is the search traffic leading up to the promotion (what he would ordinarily expect without a promotion); the blue line is the search traffic during and after the promotion.

From the report below, you can see the specific increase for each keyword.

The promotion resulted in a 209.68% increase in searches on the first keyword and an increase of 1,242.86% in searches on the second keyword. That’s good to know. It looks like one day promotions are the way to go for this business.

This is good example of how to use Compare to Past. You might also want to check out this tip on how to line up your date ranges when using Compare to Past.

Back To Basics: The Power of Exclusion (Part 2)

Last week, we saw how a website owner removed traffic from his latest promotion to study the effects of that promotion on his data. The blue line represents all visits over a 2-week period. The spike in the middle is due to a 50%-off referral-based promotion.

The yellow line is where it gets interesting. This line represents all traffic except traffic from the promotional site. Since the yellow line excludes the promotional referrals, why does it show a spike in traffic?

To find out, the store owner de-selected the All Visits segment so that only the Exclude Promo Site segment was active.

Then, he looked at each of the reports in the Traffic Sources section -- the Direct Traffic report , Referring Sites report, and Search Engines report-- to find out where the non-promo traffic spike was coming from. Here’s the graph he saw when he looked at the Search Engines report.

It turns out the extra traffic was coming from search. Happily, the referral site promotion had been even more successful than expected. Because not only was there a big spike in traffic due to the referral, there was also a spike from search. As a result of the increased exposure, more people were searching for his store.

With that mystery solved, we’re ready for the next step. How can we find out how many extra searches resulted from the promotion? And, exactly which keywords were people searching on? We’ll take a look in Part 3, next week.

Back-To-Basics: The Power of Exclusion

I have a friend who owns a store in my neighborhood. He decided to run a 50%-off special on a site that specializes in one-day promotions to its members. His goal was to get wider exposure for his store and gain some new customers. If you look at the graph, you can see that the day that the promotion ran, traffic to his site spiked. Traffic then dropped off to normal the next day, but this was expected given the nature of this particular campaign.

The store owner was happy to see the spike in traffic, but he wanted to learn more. So he did something clever and created an advanced segment. But instead of creating an advanced segment for traffic from just the promotional site, he did the exact opposite. He created a segment that excluded all the promotional traffic.

Why? It’s a great example of what I call the power of exclusion. More about that in a minute, but first let’s look at how you would create a segment that excludes traffic from a specific site.

First, click the Advanced Segments drop down and click “Create a new advanced segment”.

From the menu on the left, drag Source into the working area. Select the condition “Does not contain”. Enter the name of the site from which you want to exclude traffic, for example “”. Then name and save the segment.

To apply the segment, click the Advanced Segments drop down again and select your newly created segment. (You’ll see it under Custom Segments.) In this case, I named this segment “exclude promo site”.

Take a look at the graph below and you’ll see why this was a smart idea. The blue line is all traffic. The orange line is all traffic except traffic from the promotional site. Notice something interesting? That’s right. The orange line also shows a spike, even though it doesn’t include any referrals from the promo site.

This is the power of exclusion: If you want to find out how effective something is -- whether it’s a traffic source, a promo, or a campaign -- try excluding its influence from your data. You might be surprised at what you find.

So, why is there a traffic spike in the “exclude promo site” segment? Tune in next week and find out. In the meantime, watch this short video tutorial to re-acquaint yourself with advanced segments.

Back to Basics: Fast Segments with Analytics Intelligence

Did you know that there’s a quick way to create advanced segments from automatic alerts? This is one of those “I can’t believe how powerful this is and yet so easy to do” features. Let me illustrate with an example from the Google Store site. A few months ago, on February 5, the Google Store received a surge of traffic from We would not have noticed this extra traffic were it not for Analytics Intelligence. In the following screenshot, you can see that the store ordinarily receives between 0 and 221 visits from TechCrunch, but on this day, it received 1,918 visits.

What happened was that TechCrunch ran an article about Google scarves that were being sold in the store. But, here’s the tip I want to share with you. First, you can graph just the
relevant traffic simply by clicking the button on the alert.

And, you can create an advanced segment just by clicking the Create Segment link at the far right of the alert.

Now you can compare this traffic side by side with overall site traffic or with traffic from other segments. Check out this video to see how this works and to learn more automatic alert tips.

Posted by Alden DeSoto, Google Analytics Team

Back to Basics: Filtering Keywords

Let’s say you’re only interested in keywords that brought in visitors who spent at least 2 minutes on your site.

When you enter the condition for Avg Time on Site, you’ll need to use seconds. So, here, we’ve entered 120 seconds (=2 minutes).

Or, perhaps you only want the keywords with a bounce rate of less than 30%. (Make sure you use .3 for 30%. So, for example, .05 is 5%, .25 is 25%, and 1 is 100%.)

You can even enter multiple conditions. In this case, we want to weed out all the low traffic keywords as well.

Advanced Filters are a great way to focus on your most important keywords. To see this example in action, watch this short video.

Back to Basics: Keyword/Landing Page Combinations

Starting today, we’re reinstating the Back To Basics series. Each Wednesday, we’ll share a Google Analytics tip, usually something that you can try right away with your own data to gain new insights. This week, we’ll illustrate a quick way to see how many visits you get from different keyword/landing page combinations.

A friend of mine recently created several new landing pages that she hoped would attract traffic. She wanted to see at a glance whether people who searched on her top keywords were seeing the new pages. While she knew that she could use the Top Landing Pages report to analyze each individual landing page, she wanted to see keyword/landing page combinations in a single report.

There’s an easy way to do this. Go to the Keywords report under Traffic Sources. Look over to the right above the table and you’ll see Views: followed by a set of buttons. Click the Pivot view (5th button from the left). Now, look to the left, above the table, and you’ll see a Pivot by dropdown menu. Select Landing Page from this menu.

VoilĂ ! The keywords will be listed down the side and landing pages will be listed across the top. You can now see how many visits you received for each keyword/landing page combination.

You can see up to five landing pages listed across the top of the report. You can scroll horizontally (across the landing pages) using the arrow buttons at the top right of the table.

The pivot view is also really useful for seeing at a glance how many visits you get from each keyword and search engine combination. To do this, you’d use the same Keywords report and pivot by Source.

That’s this week’s tip. We’ll be back next Wednesday for another Back to Basics post.

Back To Basics: Save Clicks, Save Time

Did you know that you can save clicks and jump directly to a deep-level report from your dashboard? Let's say that you want to see which cities in California you get traffic from. Ordinarily, you'd need to click Visitors, then Map Overlay in the report navigation. Then, you'd need to click United States, then California. But, you can save 3 of these 4 clicks by simply adding this report to your dashboard.

Try it now. Go to one of your favorite reports that requires several clicks to access. Once you've arrived at the report you want --and at the level you want it -- click Add to Dashboard. (The Add to Dashboard button is at the top of your report on the left, next to the Export and Email buttons.)

You'll now see the report on your dashboard. The next time you log in to your Analytics account, you'll be able to see the top cities from California on your dashboard and jump right to the report with a single click.

Back to Basics: Troubleshooting goals

One of the easiest ways to make sense of your data and measure business objectives for your website (and even assign a monetary value to them) is to create goals. However, once you've correctly implemented your tracking code and identified the pages you want to create goals for, you may run into some common goal set-up problems. Below are some tips to help you solve some common issues first-time Analytics users run into so that you can get going on the road to taking useful action with your Analytics goals.

Incorrect goal URL
One of the most common goal set-up errors is to enter the incorrect URL. To confirm that you're entering the URL correctly, try reaching the goal page on your own site and copying and pasting the URL into the 'Goal URL' field.

You can remove the domain name entirely from the field and Google Analytics will still track the page as a goal. For example, if your goal is, you can safely use '/1/thanks.html' as your Goal URL.

Duplicate final goal step
When you have steps leading up to your goal, the last step you specify in the Goal Funnel Settings should be the final step prior to reaching your goal. The goal itself should be placed in the 'Goal URL' field and does not need to also be included as a last step.

Goal value error
It is possible that the Goal value entered includes non-numerical characters. If the goal value is set to $2,560, the error message is displayed because the value contains the characters "$" and ",". In this case, only the value 2560 will suffice.

Historical data not relevant
If you've recently applied a new goal, it will only apply to data processed after the goal was implemented, and not to historical data in your account. This is why you might not see data for your website if you haven't had anyone convert on a goal after you created one.

To read the full list of reasons why your goal creation failed, read this Google Analytics Help Article. For an in-depth explanation about goals and how to set them up, please read this previous post.

Back to Basics: Direct, referral or organic - definitions straight from the source

In your Analytics reports, you'll see some of the same entries come up again and again in your data tables. In the last Back to Basics post, we learned about 'not set' entries -- this week we'll learn what it means when you see 'direct,' 'referral' and 'organic' under the Sources column in your reports.

  • (direct)[(none)] - Visitors who visited the site by typing the URL directly into their browser. 'Direct' can also refer to the visitors who clicked on the links from their bookmarks/favorites, untagged links within emails, or links from documents that don't include tracking variables (such as PDFs or Word documents).

  • [referral] - Visitors referred by links on other websites. (Links that have been tagged with campaign variables won't show up as [referral] unless they happen to have been tagged with utm_medium=referral. )

  • [organic] - Visitors referred by an unpaid search engine listing, e.g. a search.

Once you learn where the traffic to your site is coming from, you can start analyzing the information to make intelligent decisions for your website. For example, the Referring Sites report shows you which websites have been most effective at driving people to your site -- and which ones haven't been effective. Furthermore, if you have defined as goals the key pages you want visitors to see, you can see the percentage of visits from each referral during which the visitor saw these pages. (Just click Goals tab to see your conversion rates for each goal.)

To learn more about how to spot quality traffic from your Goals tab, please refer to this earlier Back to Basics post.