To get a clearer picture of how visitors interact with your website, you should filter your own visits from the data, along with those of any consultants or developers working on the site. After all, if you see a sudden spike in traffic, you want to be able to pinpoint its source and not be thrown off track by site-keeping issues. Also, since most in-house visits are direct, your ratio of direct to search visits will be skewed if you don’t filter your own visits out of the data. Good decisions rely on good data, and good web analytics data require filters.
Here’s how to filter your visits in Google Analytics.
Google Analytics settings are configured at three levels: Account, Property, and Views. (See the screenshot below.) Most small businesses will have one Account and then one Property for each website. A single View called “All Web Site Data” is automatically set up when you add the tracking code to your site. It includes complete unfiltered data, and it’s a good idea to keep this View intact in case you ever want to refer to the raw data. (FYI, “Views” used to be called “Profiles” in Google Analytics, so if you run across reference to either term, just know they refer to the same thing.)
We’re going to create a new View that only includes data for visitors that aren’t us or our cohorts. When should you think about doing this? Right now! Filters only apply to data from the day they are created forward. They cannot be applied to historical data.
To start, log in to Google Analytics and click on the Admin button in the orange bar at the top right. You should see something like the screen below.
Click on “Create new view” and in the new screen (shown below) add a name for the View (perhaps “External Site Visits”), select the appropriate time, and click “Create View.”
Click on Admin in the upper right area of the orange nav bar again and select “Filters” under the new view you created.
On the next screen click the “New Filter” button and you’ll see the screen below. I’ve added the data to filter visits from Concord Web Solutions. Click save, and you’re done.
Chances are good that you will need to add multiple filters to get a true picture of your external site visits.
In most cases, the best way to filter is by IP address. At Concord Web Solutions, we have a static IP address (one that never changes) and many office networks have them as well. Check with your IT person to find out if your address is static, or read on about dynamic addresses.
If any of the staff access the website from home, you can add filters for those IP addresses to this same View. Just go back to Filters “+New Filter” and add “Jim Home” or whatever is appropriate.
Home internet connections often don’t have static IP addresses, but with services like Comcast, the IP addresses rarely change. You can quickly find your own IP address simply by Googling “what’s my ip” from whichever computer you want to filter. Remember to check back from time to time, especially if you have a power outage or other interruption in service that could trigger a change in IP address.
Another heads up is that mobile devices don’t use IP addresses so this method won’t work for them. If your staff or helpers access the site heavily from mobile devices, you may wish to contact a Google Analytics consultant about helping filter those visits as well.
Keep these filters in mind if you hire a consultant who will be making lots of visits to your site. Filtering out their visits, and your own, will give you a clean set of data and a much clearer picture of how your “real” web site visitors interact with your site so that you can make more informed decisions about your online marketing.
One last note: When you log back in to Google Analytics after setting up a new View, make sure to select the new View from the dropdown menu in the upper left corner of the orange nav bar.
Note: Originally published in August 2012, this post was updated in January 2014 to reflect changes in the Google Analytics interface.