Creating custom Profiles for membership sites

Posted by bkloss | Google Analytics | Sunday 14 October 2007 6:25 pm

This post is all about separating traffic on a membership site. Typically, membership sites will have public facing pages that anyone can view and private pages that require membership permissions.

In order to understand activity on public vs. private pages concerning such metrics as unique visitors, browser capability and organic referrals, we need generate reports on one group at a time.

You can accomplish this in Google Analytics by setting up custom filters that segment reporting to a defined set of pages.

*NOTE: Whenever you are modifying the way Google reports traffic, always set up a duplicate profile for your site. I like to call my duplicate example site sandbox. Apply the new filter to your duplicate profile and collect reports for a couple days. This will ensure that your filter is configured correctly before you apply it to your original site profile.(Learn how to create duplicate profiles )

Let’s focus on creating a profile that reports only on the public pages of our site.

Open up the filter manager at the bottom of the analytics settings page of Google analytics and click "create new filter":

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Name your filter, choose custom filter from the drop down menu and click exclude.

Here’s where things get a little tricky…

Choose Request URI in the filter field box. Request URI is just a fancy way of saying use filter by a specific url requested by a site user.

If you only have one page in your public site, enter it as www\.examplesite\.com in the filter pattern box. We have to put \ before each period to tell Google "it’s just a period, not a regular expression"- more on this in a moment.

If you have multiple pages on the public part of your site we’ll have to use regular expressions to tell Google what to do. Don’t get scared, all those funky symbols are saying to Google is, "include all these URLs".

We’ll construct our expression like so (url1)|(url2)|(url3). The | symbols between our URLs operate as the modifier (or). Right now your probably saying "wouldn’t we want to tell Google to include url1 and url2. No, we wouldn’t. Google understands (and) to mean the request uri must be url1 and url2 at the same time and that’s impossible. I could ask you to bring me a beer and a chair but you’d be hard pressed to find a beerchair- unless of course I was refering to a bar stool :) . That’s why we have to use regular expressions (regex as the cool kids say) instead of creating multiple include filters for each page.

The ^ and $ symbols tell google where our url starts and stops. We don’t need to enter www.examplesite.com before each sub-domain because Google is smart enough to assume it’s there. So our complete example would look like (^url1$)|(^url2$)|(^url3$).

*NOTE: your homepage would be written as (^/$)

Regular expressions are a slippery slope so you’ll either have to take my recommendations at blind faith or learn about them yourself .

Once that’s set up, chose your test profile and click apply, then save changes. Wait a day and you should see only the designated pages showing up in your sandbox profile.

To create a private members only profile simply repeat this process but choose the exclude radio button.

Happy filtering everyone :)

1 Comment »

  1. Comment by fpinto — October 15, 2007 @ 9:44 pm

    This is great information. I think that is absolutely essential to know more about your most special users.

    I will for sure be testing this!

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