Keeping our analytics in order can be quite problematic. Inbound links from social media appear in different forms depending on the device, the same tool in mobile and app versions shows different data… The solution to all such problems is simple – group your channels in Google Analytics. I invite you to my post where we will explore this topic together!

NOTE: this article is about channel grouping in Universal Analytics, which stopped working on 1.07.2023. Check out channel grouping in Google Analytics 4.

Default channel grouping

The most convenient method is to let the default grouping of channels show us what to pay attention to. I absolutely do not deny this model because it is sufficient for a beginner site, small e-commerce store, or personal blog. In case of complex websites with many subpages and links, it’s worth taking care of grouping according to your own criteria, much more advanced than the basic ones.

The screen below shows the simplest grouping, which can be found on your Google Analytics account in Administration -> Channel settings -> Channel group.

Missing from the list below are branded channels, which I’ll write about in more detail later in this article. This is probably the most exciting type of channel that many marketers face.

default chanel grouping
Default chanel grouping

Direct – this is where all visits that come from searches of the website typed directly into the search engine fall in. Users coming from this channel usually know what they are looking for, know our brand and are often the most loyal customers.

  • In case of large e-commercials as well as stores relying on customer relations, the key is an easy and catchy name, which can be easily typed into a browser. One of the most interesting practices for direct entry is Zalando, whose website can be reached by entering URLs with the words “zolando” and “zelando”. Checkmate!

Organic search – phrases related to your website fall into organic searches. The higher up in the search engine position you are, the more traffic you get to your site. Organic words usually relate to specific needs or services searched for by users such as “long black winter women’s coat size S”.

  • In this case, there is specific purchase intent, the user identifies and defines their need, providing the brand with information about the type of customers interested in their service. A great way to capture as many user queries as possible is through a dynamic Google Ads campaign.

Social – the social tab shows traffic coming from all pages that Google defines as social media. What is important and significant for analytics – here there is no division into paid search and social, which means that an ad from Facebook will go to a different place than a person coming from organic posts.

Email – by “email” we mean newsletters coming from the site to users who have opted-in to receive such information from the brand. It works well as a “hot lead” to users who sign up to receive a discount, but an email sent to a user with a reminder about an abandoned cart would also be a nice gesture. Two birds with one stone, both of which Google classifies in the same group of channels.

Affiliates – Google includes in affiliate links all sites that belong to affiliate programs. It is worth keeping track of this tab especially if you run a blog that provides its space for affiliate purposes. It collects interesting data with detailed grouping from the referral site.

Referral – a group of channels revered by seers. This is where all the hard earned links that directed and brought users to the site fall in. A good place to analyze, especially when building your personal brand and announcing contests and giving guest posts.

  • Attention, it is worth to pay special attention to this channel in case of e-commerce, because this is where our conversions may accidentally end up because of referrals e.g. to a page with PayU payments.

Paid search – anything that is paid and owned by Google falls into the paid search results. For other channels, it’s a good idea to create separate manual channels and group them as paid social media, paid Linkedin, etc.

Other advertising – all mysteriously called “other advertising”, i.e. ads from Bing Ads or Yandex Direct fall here. Usually empty and not very interesting, so nobody remembers about this tab.

Display – giving every Google Ads specialist a headache, a separate independent and completely unnecessary channel dedicated to display advertising. Hard to explain to the client, disconnected from the rest of Google Ads channels, this channel informs about users coming from banner ads.

grupowanie kanałów brandowych

The above screen the revealed truth of all big and recognizable brands called brand campaigns. These keywords include all the phrases containing the name of the brand, which in most e-commerce seize the largest part of the cake.

Going back to the Zalando example quoted above, in order to separate all the phrases containing this word such as “women’s shoes on Zalando pole” or “Zalando sales” it is worth grouping them as separate phrases. It’s important to note that the above screen talks about grouping in the case of paid SERPs, i.e. searches coming from ads. Generic searches are all other phrases, which do not include the branded one.

How do you create branded channels?

Administration -> Channel settings -> Manage branded passwords -> Enter all branded phrases -> Configure

Customized channel grouping

Finally, I leave the essence of the whole article, which is the ability to group channels according to your needs. This is used to display and compare data by channel name and traffic source, medium or campaign name

Channels can be based on target URL, campaign, medium, format and many other guidelines. There are rules to choose from for the most important places to get traffic. Below I’ve provided some examples of custom channels that I think are important when working with a Google Ads channel.

własne grupowanie kanału

Grouping by custom criteria is worth thinking twice. Changed settings affect whole Google Analytics account and the way our feeds are read. Wondering how to split your complex account structure? I leave one idea for the very end, maybe you will like it:

  • Paid search (brand)
  • Paid search (organic)
  • GDN new
  • GDN remarketing
  • Referral Ceneo
  • Referral Allegro

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