Use Advanced Segment to Chart 'Unique Keyphrases' – A Primer

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Unique keywords. We all need them, right? They send traffic to websites, among other things. The more unique keywords you get, the more trust search engines have placed in your website. It’s a win-win.

Google Analytics, among other things, can give you a glimpse into how many unique keyphrases you are garnering. Check it out on the Traffic Sources ? Keywords page. One tip. Be sure to select ‘non-paid’ to exclude any CPC campaigns.

So here comes the good stuff. In this post we are going to discuss how to make heads and tails out of this information, and to arrange it neatly in a table. See the example below.

unique keyphrase table

Basically, you want to drop traffic into three distinct categories: ‘branded’, ‘head terms’ and ‘mid-long tail terms’. We’ll worry about the first two and all that is left will be placed into the third.

Google Keywords is not going to let us export enough keywords to work offline, so head to the “Advanced Segments” page. This is going to make us group terms via AND and OR statements. Group the terms into ‘branded’ and ‘head’ and start searching. Here is how you do it.

Plan to create some advanced segments. This will allow you to begin the term grouping.

Use AND and OR statements to to describe where each keyword should go.

Apply these groups, being sure to take it month by month. This will help you accurately reveal each month’s keywords.

Now we are going into some specifics. This may all be a bit “techie” for your average user so feel free to skip to the end if your brain is feeling weird.

Create those ‘Branded terms’

If you haven’t used this feature before, start with Google Analytics’ help pages on the topic. Also take a few minutes to play around with the feature, to get a feel for it’s many nuances. Just get a bead on what the main buttons do and that will be good enough to begin.

Plan the Segment

First, let’s create a fictional company. Let’s call it TechNet and let’s call their main product the Vox9000. Don’t worry about what this product does, but people sure do want it. The ‘branded terms’ returned will include anything that mentions any of those terms.

Define the rules and create the segment

Ok. Here is how you create the segment for ‘branded terms.’ Start by clicking ‘Advanced Segments’ ? ‘Create new custom segment’.

In the first ‘dimension or metric’ space, add a ‘Medium’ block (this is found under ‘Dimensions’) and set Condition to ‘Matches exactly’ and Value to ‘organic’. Then hit ‘and‘ to add another section. Place a ‘Keywords’ block here, with Condition as ‘Matches regular expression’ and a value that is all your branded terms, separated by the pipe character: | This pipe acts as OR in this scenario.

Here is a quick example. Consider the faux company TechNet. Now, a lot of people are going to search for this as “Tech Net.” This must be taken into consideration.  Their product, then, coul be searched as “Vox 9000.” So use this string to make sure you get every search: technet|tech net|vox9000|vox 9000

Now give this segment a name and save it.

Create the ‘head terms’ segment

Now we are going to change the pace a bit and deal with ‘head terms.” These are a bit more complicated. Don’t worry though. They won’t break your brain or anything.There are, however, some rules that must be followed.

Now, this faux company TechNet. They sell laptops and notebooks in Philadelphia and Baltimore. The ‘head terms’ will include terms such as  ‘notebooks’ or ‘laptops in Philadelphia.”

Let’s go over an example. The rules here to define ‘head terms’ are:

* Don’t mention any brand terms. Stick to other terms.

* It has to mention a relevant product group. Laptops, etc.

* They can only feature two words of three characters or more. This will include linking words such as ‘and’ or ‘etc.’

* The maximum number of words that can be used is four.

Define rules. Create segment. Repeat.

The final duo of rules can be tricky to use successfully. The two following insights will help mae sense of these requirements.

Insight 1: Combining the two rules, and using S and L to indicate short words (1 or 2 characters) and long words (3+ characters) we see that the only twenty possible structures for keyphrases are: L, LS, SL, LL, LSS, SLS, SSL, LLS, LSL, SLL, LSSS, SLSS, SSLS, SSSL, LLSS, LSLS, LSSL, SLLS, SLSL, SSLL

Insight 2: The regular expression: b[^ ]{3,50}b matches a word of between 3 & 50 characters. It’s also necessary to know that ^ matches something at the beginning of an expression, and $ matches at the end. (Seriously, they do. Start by going through the examples at this site if you want to know why that’s the case.)

Following along so far? We can now take the list of combinations from ‘Insight 1’ and replace ‘S’ with b[^ ]{1,2}b (matching words with 1/2 characters) and ‘L’ with b[^ ]{3,50}b. Make sure to put spaces between and wrap everything in parentheses. If this seems confusing, here are some real-world examples.

L becomes ^(b[^ ]{3,50}b)$
SL becomes ^(b[^ ]{1,2}b b[^ ]{3,50}b)$
LSL becomes ^(b[^ ]{3,50}b b[^ ]{3,50}b b[^ ]{1,2}b)$

Use a pipe character to group together to join the twenty created expressions together. This will create one huge expression. Don’t worry about the specifics.

Google Analytics does place a limit to the number of parts you can put into an expression. Break it up into two parts to make ite easier. One will handle those matching three or less words. Also include those matching four and throw the whole thing under one large ‘OR’ umbrella.

Here is what this looks like.

full segment

Collect the Numbers

Now that we’ve defined the two Advanced Segments, let’s head to the ‘keywords’ page and put the date range to last month.


So here is the information we’ve collected from the month of September, as shown above.

* Total keyphrases: 64,278

* Branded keyphrases: 393

* Head keyphrases: 2,835

* Other keyphrases: 61,050

You can drop these in a spreadsheet and watch how things change month-t0-month.


So there you have it. You can see the appeal right? You can literally watch your website grow as the new keyword information comes in on a monthly basis. There are many other ways to group this stuff together. Experiment and have fun. Well about as much fun as you could have in Google Analytics.

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