Filters are a great addition to the views within your Google Analytics accounts. They allow you to exclude or include certain data so that your reports are more accurate. They also help decrease the amount of data sifting that need to do after your reports are already produced.
For example, maybe you want to filter out internal traffic or maybe you want to only see traffic to specific subdirectories on your site in individual views. Filters can make this easy!
To set up a filter in Google Analytics, you first need to go into the admin section of your account and on the right-hand side select the view you are looking to add a filter to. Remember to always leave a backup view that remains unfiltered, since you cannot recover data once it has been filtered. Once you have selected the correct view, you will see an area that says "Filters". Click this and then select the red "+ Add Filter" button, you will now see the "Add Filter to View" screen.
Here you can choose whether you want to add a new filter to your view or use an existing one. The "Apply Existing Filter " option allows you to add the same filter across views. For example, you may want to filter out your internal traffic on all of your views, so only relevant traffic shows up in your reports.
You also have the option to add a new filter to the view. You will want to name your filter something descriptive so you know what it is, like "only traffic from subdirectory A" or "excluding internal traffic". You will then specify whether you want to use a predefined filter or a custom filter. Predefined filters give you the option to include or exclude traffic from specific domains, IP addresses, subdirectories or hostnames. You will then choose whether you want the data you filter to be equal to, begin with, end with, or to contain the information you enter. Then you have to fill in the domain, subdirectory, IP addresses or hostnames that you want to include or exclude traffic from.
These options allow you to be flexible with how you include or exclude data. For example, if you want to include traffic to a specific subdirectory, but it has a dynamic URL for a sub directory, "/mydir/", you can choose the option "that begins with" and it will include all traffic where the URI begins with "/mydir/". Any visit where the URI begins with "/mydir/" will be included in your traffic reports. So visits to "/mydir/31", "mydir/221", "/mydir/3984" and so on, would all be either included in your traffic reports moving forward.
Even the most basic of filters that are simple to set up are still wildly effective. There are many options for setting up filters, ranging from basic examples like those outlined above to much more complex.Using filters is a great way to get more specific, accurate data, which in turn can lead to better data for decision making.