Google Analytics Basics – Views and Filters

How do you separate out your Google Analytics data for different users or different business processes? It is not uncommon for multiple users to get data from the same Google Analytics Account. It is also not uncommon for each of these users to need access to different information within that account. For example, if you are working with sales teams, one sales team might need only data from users in California, and another might need to see data from users in New York. While we can separate data in reports by using segments, for this purpose it is more efficient to use views and filters.

A view is the level in an Analytics account where you can access reports and analysis tools.

We can use filters to modify what goes in each view. There are two categories of filters:

  • Predefined Filters
  • Custom Filters

Predefined Filters

Predefined filters have four criteria that you can filter for:

  1. IP Address
  2. ISP Domain
  3. Subdirectory Traffic
  4. Hostname

Each of these predefined filters give you the option of either including or excluding traffic based on the supplied criteria. For example you can exclude any hits that come from a certain ISP domain.

Custom Filters

Custom filters give you much more flexibility as to what gets filtered in and out of your views. You can filter everything from geographic location to the web browser being used. You can also take one phrase and replace it with another one using the “search and replace” option. For example we could take a url subdirectory like “/books” and replace it with “novels”.

Recommended Views

I hope that by now you can see how it would be useful to create a set of views that have certain, unique filters attached.

When you first create a new property, Google Analytics automatically creates an unfiltered view. It is very important to note, that once you add any filters to the view, historical data cannot be reprocessed. This is why it is recommended that you have the following three views.

  1. Master View
  2. Unfiltered View
  3. Test View

Each of these views serves a specific purpose.

Master View

This is your main view that contains most of your information. In most cases you will add a few filters. At the minimum you may want to filter out visitors who come from your corporate IP address (if that is applicable).

Test View

If you want to add additional filters to your master view, this would be the place to test them to make sure that they do not have any unwanted consequences. If your data collection remains in tact and the filter does what it is intended to do, you can safely update your master view.

Unfiltered View

Since you do not have access to historical data in Google Analytics, it is important to have an unfiltered view. If something goes wrong or you add a filter that has unwanted consequences, you will still be able to view any data from this unfiltered view.

Creating a View with a Filter

There might be reasons to add additional views to your property. In this next example we will create a view that will only show traffic from the US State of California.

First, go to your dashboard and then find the admin area.

Next select the appropriate property, and find the view dropdown in the column all the way to the right. Select “Create new view”.

This will then take us to the “New Reporting View” screen.  From here we will select “Website” and give it a name.

From here we are taken back to the admin screen.  In the column to the far right, select the view you just made and then click “Filters”.

You will be taken to a new screen that will list your filters or give you the option to add a new one. There are currently no filters for this view.  Click the “+ADD FILTER” button.

On this next screen, make sure that the “Create new Filter” button is selected and give your filter a name.  For filter type, select custom.  Since we want to include only visitors from California, select region for the filter field and add “california” for the filter pattern.  We do not want this to be case sensitive, so leave the case sensitive checkbox unchecked.  Hit Save.

You should be sent back to the filters menu, and you should see your new filter in the list.  When you add a new filter, please keep in mind that it can take up to 24 hours before being applied to your data.

Views and filters as you can see are a very crucial part of optimizing your Google Analytics account. While you can use the account without setting up these tools, its not recommended. Without setting up your views and filters much more manual data wrangling is needed, which can be time consuming and complicated.