Filters are an important function in Google Analytics, because they allow you to filter data to make your analysis more qualitative.
In this post I’ll show you what filters are and how to apply them.
All data collected by your Google Analytics are processed at the Property level, but you also have the possibility to apply filters in each View, so that you can better adapt the data collected with your activity.
Filters: what you need to know before go on
Before going into detail on how to use GA Filters, it is really important to know a few things about filters.
Without being aware of these elements, creating a filter can do more damage than advantage.
- Filters do NOT work RETROACTIVELY: this means that if I create a filter today that, for example, excludes my IP address 12345678, all data collected before the filter creation will not be modified. The data collected in GA Reports from IP 12345678 will be visible until I create the filter;
- The EFFECTS, generated by creating a filter within a View, can NOT be changed anymore. If I have created a filter and after two days I decide to delete it, the data collected during the period of presence of the Filter, can no longer be changed;
- The ORDER in which the filters are applied has effects. It is important to consider the order in which the filters appear, as this may affect the processing of your data. The data is processed by the first filter, then by the second one, then by the third one, etc.
Where can I find the “Filters” in Google Analytics?
Filters can be applied in every View, but I can also create filters at a higher level.
To do this, it is important to remember that I need Google Analytics account admin access.
In the official Google Analytics guide you will find a breakdown of all available user permissions.
Once I have verified that I have all the necessary permissions, going to the Google Analytics Account, I can find two different Filter entries, as you can see in the image below:
1) In this part, by entering Filters, you can manage all the filters created and you can also add a filter to every single View.
2) Here you have the possibility to manage all the Filters related to the specific View.
That’s why it’s important to have the necessary User Permissions, because in this way (point 1) ) I can more quickly create and manage filters for each single View.
How to create a Filter in Google Analytics
Let’s go now to see which are the most common filters you can encounter and. above all. let’s find out why I should create a filter.
There is no list of filters you can find, as everything depends on your business and therefore on your needs.
However, there are a number of filters that are widespread, because they meet everyone’s needs. The most important one is the IP Addresses filter: it is a useful filter if we want to clean our data, eliminating all the company IP addresses or accounts that constantly work on the website we monitor.
In this way, Google Anlytics will not collect navigation data from these users and the Reports will show us cleaner data, i.e. the data of our real Users. Creating an IP filter is very simple:
- get the list of IP addresses you want to exclude. There are several tools that show you what your IP address is, including WhatIsMyIpAdress;
- Add a new filter: you can create the filter by clicking on All Filters under Account (point 1) above), or by clicking on Filters under View (point 2) above).
- Selects whether the Filter type should be Predefined or Custom
Creating the Filter
The Filter can be Predefined or Custom.
Give your filter a recognizable name, using numbering to find your filter more easily.
Select Predefined, then exclude, then click on traffic from the IP addresses and then enter the IP address you want to exclude.
To make sure you apply the filter to the View you want, remember to select the View, then click the Add button to move it to the box on the right.
After creating a new Filter and giving it a name, you can select the custom entry under “Filter Type”.
This option gives you more possibilities. Let’s take a concrete example: I want to create a filter that excludes all company IP addresses.
To do this, I need to have the list of IPs in my hand, which in our case is supposed to be all of them ranging from 126.96.36.199 to 188.8.131.52.
Under “Filter type” I find the Filter Field part where I have to select IP Address. In the Filter Pattern field I can enter all company IP addresses that I want to exclude.
Thanks to the regular expressions I can enter in one line all the IP addresses that will appear in this way (if you want to learn more about what regular expressions are, read here):
as you can see in the image below.
The custom filter offers me, combined with regular expressions, the possibility to add a list of IP addresses, without creating many filters.
In this article I don’t go into details about regular expressions, but I share a useful link from the AnalyticsMarket that creates the regular expression that includes all the IP addresses you want to exclude, simply going to enter the first IP and the last IP of the series.
I share with you what are the most common Filters you should have or may encounter:
- Exclusion of IP addresses
- Lowercase Filter for the Field “Campaigns
- Lowercase Filter for the Field “Search Terms”
- Search and Replace Hostname filter
Filters are a very powerful and useful tool to analyze data, but if we don’t create the right filters or don’t give them the right order, they can also be the tool that leads to wrong analysis.
The advice is to think of Filters as a data segmentation tool or, even better, as a long-term data cleaning tool.
For short term analysis use Segments instead, with which there is no risk of changing the data at source.