Analytics Canvas Tool — Analytics Canvas - analytics canvas tool

By: Analytics Canvas  09-12-2011

If you have to do reporting of your website traffic sources, you’ll notice that the raw data from Google Analytics is often somewhat, well, raw.

For example, you might want to report how many visitors came to your website via Twitter- but google analytics will have multiple sources for this- “”, “”, as well as other clients- “” or “”. You know that these are all twitter- but in the raw data, they are multiple groups.

Analytics Canvas provides easy to use, and very powerful tools to tame this raw data all in one place.

Don’t make the mistake of ignoring the long tail and focusing only on the “main” sources. Just because Google Analytics doesn’t group things together doesn’t mean there isn’t a big group in there.

Making simple rules to group visits in meaningful categories

Our goal for this blog post is to show how we can define simple rules that will categorize all our visits into a smaller number of meaningful categories.

If we can do this, we’ll be able to see where our traffic is coming from- and trends in time, that we just can’t see in the raw data as first presented.

Getting the data from Google Analytics

In Analytics Canvas you go to the “Add data” toolbar menu, then select Google Analytics, and pick which of the profiles (or multiple profiles if you like) you want to do the analysis on.

You will then be able to select the dimensions and metrics to be included- for this example we’ll use the following:

  • Dimensions: Date, Source, Medium, Referral Path
  • Metrics: Visits, Bounces, Goal1completions

After you pick all those dimensions and metrics, Analytics Canvas will create a block on the canvas, that holds the raw data extracted from Google Analytics. We are going to add a segmentation block to the canvas and connect it to the output- as you can see to the right.

Now, what we want to do is organize this data into more meaninful groups by defining the rules for that segmentation block.

Selecting meaningful groups for visits

Actually deciding what categories you want is the key- I’ll show some examples of groups that I find useful- but this is bound to vary depending on who you are, what your website does, and specific types of traffic/referrals etc. that you see.

When we use a segmentation block, we define rules using excel like expressions, and Analytics Canvas checks each incoming raw data row with the rules in order, and the first rule that returns TRUE defines the group that that row will be in. If none of our rules results in true, we have default, fall through category (very often called “Other”). The goal is to make a series of rules that group all the visits in a meaningful way.

First, I’ll define some rules that will organize the organic search. I like to see Google, Google Image, Bing, Yahoo and “Other Search”.

So the rule for Google Search is :

AND ( [Original.medium]=”organic” , [Original.source]=”google” )

After this rule, I create a series of rules, some are easy- but one right away is an interesting one.

For some reason, when google sends image search visits, they get marked as referrals, not organic- and the referral path is set to “/imgres”. This can be frustrating in Google Analytics, as it means that using standard reports will not include this search traffic. There is also in my experience from time to time traffic from “”

We can simply make a rule that detects this traffic, and calls it Google Image Search;

OR ( AND ([Original.medium]=”referral”,[Original.referralPath]=”/imgres”) , [Original.source]=”” )

But we are not limited to simple operators within a segmentation block (or all blocks in Analytics Canvas)- we can use more complex functions, and even Regular expressions if we want to define what we need.

For example, notice the rule that uses the Contains function to resolve the Twitter duplicates we discussed earlier.

So the final ruleset I have built looks like this:

These are meaningful categories, that you had complete control over defining- and can edit if the data requires it, for example if new data sources arise that you want to track, you simply have to add a rule, and put it in the appropriate order location.

Another advantage of this approach is that you can now save the segmentation block definition you created to a file, and reuse it- even share it with others on your team also using Analytics Canvas. You can use different segmentations for different profiles, or different types of Analysis.

Other products and services from Analytics Canvas


Google Analytics Premium — Analytics Canvas

The service guarantees in the form of SLAs, the more formalised arrangements with certified partners for support, attribution analytics, but perhaps most importantly, more data and less sampling. Google Analytics, for a very long time, as been a remarkably powerful tool, particularly for its price. Google Analytics premium offers a number of key advantages.


Automation — Analytics Canvas

ETL is a key process in the business intelligence and data warehousing arena- it’s all about automating data movement and building repeatable, robust processes that take raw data, clean it, fix it, enrich it, and then load it into a location where it can be easily queried and analyzed.


Analytics Canvas Tool — Analytics Canvas

In a more sophisticated scenario, you can cross reference each page to a given member of a product hierarchy, so that pages that are overviews, or dealing with an entire product group, are accurately mapped. The higher end editions will be capable of pulling hundreds of thousands of rows of data from multiple accounts and profiles, as well as data from multiple databases and files.


Keyword Analysis — Analytics Canvas

Because you can pull huge amounts of data from Google Analytics easily, you can include ALL your keywords, and calculate segmentation across the enter data set, with a day by day breakdown, if you like. There are lots of keyword tools available to help you pick which keywords to target, and who is searching for what, but what is actually happening on your site- which keywords are converting.


Google Analytics API — Analytics Canvas

If you have significant search from, and if that traffic is different than your existing search traffic, all your metrics could have a step change for the search category. The next time you see a step change in your data, it doesn’t hurt to consider the possibility that your traffic hasn’t changed, but the way that Google Analytics is reporting it has.