Tips for Segmenting Stats by Geography

Published July 3, 2014
Many people are familiar with the location mapping functionality in Google Analytics that shows which countries traffic is originating from. But few realize what a powerful tool geographic segmentation can be or the opportunities that exist to leverage this information.
For example, did you know you can segment demographic data by geography to understand how the composition of your audience varies by country? Or, did you know that you can segment conversions by geography to find your top social media influencers?
This post provides an overview of the geographic data available in Google Analytics and how to use it to improve your digital marketing.

Geographic Analytics


Basic Geography in Google Analytics

The Location report within Google Analytics can give you a quick overview of what countries your traffic is coming from. Simply navigate to Audience > Geo > Location to view a report like the one below.

By default, this report shows you sessions by Country, but you can zoom in to particular countries to better see the traffic pattern for a particular area of interest.

Simply click on a country to see the detail.

Google Analytics Sessions by Country


But the insight to be gained doesn’t stop with simply measuring sessions.

Find the selector in the upper left corner of this report, and use the drop-down menu to find particularly useful engagement metrics like Avg Session Duration or Bounce Rate. By selecting these metrics, you can see where your site’s most engaged traffic is coming from.

Select Metric for Map in Google Analytics

Continent, Country, Region, City, Metro

Google Analytics provides a variety of dimensions that enable you to look at geographic data based on the visitor’s continent, country, region, city, or metro area.

When viewing data in map format (as shown above) you can simply click on an area to drill down from, say, country to region. In the United States, regions correspond to states, and in other countries they are aligned with the political administrative regions local to that nation (e.g., Rhone-Alpes in France).

In addition to viewing geographic data on a map, you can also see it in table format. Here, we are looking at sessions in France, and you can see that the map color-codes the regions (darker regions are where you are getting more traffic from), and the table beneath shows the detailed data by region.

Google Analytics Zoom in on France

Note, that not all the geographic dimensions provided by Google Analytics are defined in all countries. For example, the metro dimension does a good job in the US of segmenting visits by greater metropolitan area. However, in France, the metro dimension is not defined – so if you select it when looking at France, you will see a blank map, and the table will show all the visits as coming from “(not set)”.

Google Analytics no Metro Data in France

Now that you know some of the basics about how to use the Google Analytics geography dimensions, we’ll look at some more advance uses. One important use is to look at conversion rates by geography.

Conversion Rates by Geography

If you have set up goal tracking, you can look at conversion rates by geographic location. This will tell you if there are particular countries or cities where interest in your products or services are greater than others. If your business has local branches or retail outlets, this information can help you forecast demand and identify promising new locations.

In the image shown below, we are looking at the conversion rate for Megalytic trial accounts across the country dimension. You can pick which goal to display using the selector in the upper right corner (circled in red).

Google Analytics Conversion Rate by Country

To take this analysis a step further, look for regions where you have low traffic, but a high conversion rate. These places may represent opportunity for you to drive more business. Consider creating campaigns to target these specific geographies. This may involve creating content that appeals to the audience in those areas; or running targeted advertising.

A high conversion rate in a location with low traffic can be an indicator of untapped demand. These areas might be promising locations for new local branches or retail outlets. Or, if brick and mortar sales are slow in one of these locations, it may indicate that additional local advertising is needed to build awareness for the store.

In Adwords, for example, you can target search campaigns to run in specific locations. Facebook and Twitter offer similar capabilities to target advertising or sponsored content to country-specific audiences.

To find your low-traffic / high conversion rate countries, start with the report above and sort by the conversion rate column. You probably want to throw out countries with very small numbers of visits, as these are not statistically significant. To do so, use an advanced filter like the one shown below, which only includes countries with 100 or more visits.

Google Analytics Advanced Filter Select More than 100 Sessions

In this example, you can see that we have a significantly higher conversion rate in the Netherlands (3.57%) than in the United States (2.84%) - where most of our traffic comes from. Maybe it is time to start running some targeted search advertising in Dutch?

Google Analytics Netherlands vs USA

Demographics by Geography

It is also very useful to understand the demographics of your audience and how it varies across geographic location. This can help you tailor content to audiences in specific regions.

For example, below you will see a custom report that breaks down visits by Country and Age (click on a country to see the age break-down). When I drill down into this report, I can compare traffic from the USA vs United Kingdom, and see the 25-34 age group makes up a much higher percentage of the UK audience than the US audience (52% vs 37%). In fact, in the UK, those under 45 make up more than 90% of the audience, whereas in the US, it is only 68%.

As a result, this site might want to invest more in content for the UK that targets a younger audience.

Google Analytics Demographics by Geography

Geography in Real Time

You can also use Google Analytics to see what countries your traffic is coming from in real time. This can be useful, for example, when you publish new content, or a story about your company is getting picked up on social media, and you want to see where the most interest is coming from.

To see real time traffic by country, open Real-Time > Locations. As shown below, the dashboard includes a map highlighting where traffic is coming from, as well as a list of countries on the left side.

Google Analytics Real Time by Geography

You can drill down on a specific country to see the traffic pattern locally in that region. Just click on the country from the list or in the map directly. For example, when I click on the United Kingdom, I was able to zoom in and see that we have 3 visitors from London.

Google Analytics Real Time Drill Down to London

Finding Influencers

You can also segment by Geography to find influencers, particularly when combined with social media data. For example, Facebook sharing initiated by your fans tends to have a relatively local reach. That is because most people tend to have a high concentration of Facebook friends in their local community. When one of your fans shares your content, or advocates for your business on Facebook, their shares may generate traffic to your site that is concentrated in a local community.

You can use this to find Facebook influencers by looking for concentrations of traffic or conversions in specific local geographies. To do this, first create a segment that isolates uses who find your content via Facebook. If you want, you can also include conversions in the segment, as we have done below. See Google’s documentation on how to Create a new segment for detailed instructions on how to create these kinds of segments.

Here is how we defined this segment.

Google Analytics User Segment from Facebook Visits

Next, we opened the Audience > Geography > Location report, applied this segment, and drilled down to look at the United States. The map showed an interesting pattern – a high concentration of users in Tennessee who found us via Facebook, and created accounts.

Google Analytics Shows Concentrated Activity in Tenessee

Investigating further, we clicked on Tennessee, and noticed that 14 users from Nashville had opened new accounts. For us, that is an unusually high number of conversions for a mid-size city. Based on this, we looked at our trial account database to see who was the first person to open an account with an address in Nashville. We reached out to this person, and sure enough, she had shared something on FB about how much she liked Megalytic.

Google Analytics Shows a Cluster of Conversions in Nashville

As you can see from this example, segmenting by geography can be a great way to find Facebook influencers. It’s invaluable to know who is spreading the word about your company or product to their friends and colleagues. First, you want to be able to thank them. Second, you want to make sure they continue to have a great experience. And third, you might be able to convince them to talk about you in other mediums – like being quoted in the industry press.


Segmenting traffic by geography can provide great insight into where your engaged audience is coming from and how to best reach them. You can use this information to target content and advertising, as well as finding where your social media influencers are located.


When the client first came to you, you talked up the value of Google Analytics. You emphasized the importance of seeing where your traffic was coming from. You went on and on about how Google Analytics can show traffic sources to pinpoint whether people came from search, social media or a specific site referral, and how valuable this data was. You sold them on it, so much so that your client looked forward to receiving that first report, the magical day when they would finally understand where visitors were coming from.
But then the report came, and it looked like this:



It showed that 10% of your client’s traffic came from “(direct)/(none)”. What does this label mean? How do you explain Direct traffic to your client? Better yet, how do you explain “none”?
Let’s take a closer look at understanding Direct traffic in Google Analytics and how we can address it with clients.
Digital marketers spend a lot of time focused on PPC and SEO campaigns in order to drive desirable traffic to a website. The phrases we’re ranking for and bidding on get meticulous attention, so much so that we often forget about some of the other ways that visitors find us.

We put a tremendous amount of the effort we put into reviewing organic search data and PPC campaign performance in analytics. But how closely do we monitor referral reports?

If that’s not a channel you review regularly, you may be missing out on seeing traffic that is coming directly from links you’ve obtained around the web, local business listings, news mentions, and more. Many times, links are only considered as a means to an end, a metric that Google uses in determining how to rank sites in the SERPs (search engine results pages). But the fact is, many of a site’s links may be directly contributing to its traffic.

In this article, we’ll review how to look at referral reports in Google Analytics, and some of the many ways to use that data to better inform your web marketing decisions.


Remember how your mom told you not to stand too close to the television because it might hurt your eyes?

The same rules can apply to data. If you’re too close, you may miss the patterns and trends that are crucial to understanding your website’s performance. You can’t judge a site’s performance looking at data in the bubble of a single day, you must consider any day’s traffic compared to the days before and after.

Google Analytics makes it fairly easy to analyze trends over long periods of time. But it also allows you to stand right in front of that TV, to look at more granular levels of time, right down to the hour.
There’s a better way to get that close to the data, without burning your retinas. We’ll cover how to analyze traffic effectively in today’s post.