Are you wondering in which order does Google Analytics filter data?

Getting the most out of Google Analytics means delving down into the data. You’ll want to sort, adjust, review, and, yes, filter the data to understand what’s going on. So, you start to add filters and work through the data. Only this time it’s not at all what you expected. The data isn’t right (if it appears at all).

In Which Order Does Google Analytics Filter Data?

What’s going on?

Well, the problem may be to do with the filter order. If you don’t get it right, it can change how your data appears. That’s why it’s critical to ask in which order does Google Analytics filter data.

This article will explain in which order does Google Analytics filter data. And it’ll also delve into how to filter your data, as well as a few insider tips to get the most from your Google Analytics.

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In Which Order Does Google Analytics Filter Data?

What is Google Analytics filter order? Does it matter?

The filter order is nothing more than the order in which you apply filters. As you apply each filter, certain data is removed from view. Then when you apply a second or third filter, you’re not applying it to the original data set. Rather, you’re applying it to the filtered data set from the last step.

Most of the time, filter order doesn’t matter, as the filter is altering different aspects of the data. But if two filters are working on the same type of data, that’s where problems occur.

Google Analytics Filter Data Example:

Google Analytics Filter Data – Example 1: A single page or section.

You’ll filter all data that doesn’t apply to a specific page or section of your data set, e.g., /sectionA or /sectionA/page1

Google Analytics Filter Data – Example 2: Full URL

You’ll filter to include the hostname. So, /sectionA becomes www.website1.com/sectionA or www.website1.com/sectionA/page1.

So, what’s the problem?

Well, if you flip around the filters, you’ll end up with no search results. Why? Because you’re no longer filtering by your domain name for the URL. The first filter now produces www.website1.com/sectionA, but the second filter won’t match anything.

That doesn’t mean the filter order always matters. For instance, if you’ve got views set-up for cities and want to exclude office/home IP addresses from these views, it wouldn’t matter the order. Because the end result is always traffic from a particular city excluding internal office/home IP addresses.

You’re working on two separate data fields.

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In which order does Google Analytics filter data?

Filter order is critical. So, in which order does Google Analytics filter data?

Here are your Google Analytics filter data options:

  • Alphabetical order by filter name
  • The order in which the filters were last edited
  • The order in which the filters are applied
  • Randomized order

The correct answer? You guessed it; it’s C. The order in which the filters are applied. That’s why understanding how the order is changing your data set is essential. Otherwise, you might be missing critical data insights without even realizing it.

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How do you change the filter order?

You can apply filters to one (or more) of your reporting views inside Google Analytics. However, you need to have Editor permissions to go in and start creating and applying filters.

Go to ‘Admin’ and select ‘Filters’ under the ‘View’ column to create a filter. You can filter traffic based on numerous categories, including:

  • ISP domain. Mostly useful for bigger organizations which have their own dedicated internet, such as an ISP or company network, e.g., business.com
  • IP addresses. Use the filter to exclude or include clicks from a certain source IP address.
  • Subdirectories. Filter to exclude or include only traffic from a specific subdirectory, e.g., help/content/faq or /hairproducts.
  • Hostname. Filter to exclude or include traffic to a particular hostname, e.g., sales.business.com or support.business.com.

Once you start assigning filters, you’ll be able to ‘Assign Filter Order’. You’ll see the option on your filter screen, next to the ‘+ Add Filter’ button. After clicking on it, you’ll see all your filters in a list. You can rearrange your filters using the ‘↑Move up’ or ‘↓Move down’ buttons.

The display also shows the order number of your filter and the filter type (see below). The higher up your filter is in the list, the earlier it will be applied to your data set.

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What are the Google Analytics filter types?

There are five types of custom Google Analytics filter data types:

  • Exclude will filter out all log file lines that match the Filter Pattern. It’ll also remove all other information in that logline.
  • Include will filter in all log file lines that match the Filter Pattern. Anything that doesn’t match the filter pattern is ignored.
  • Lowercase/Uppercase converts a field’s content into either all uppercase or all lowercase characters – it will not affect numbers or special characters.
  • Search & Replace lets you search for a pattern within a field and replace the pattern with an alternate input.
  • Advanced allows you to build a field from one or two other fields. For more information on Advanced Filters, see the following guide.

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The takeaway on Google Analytics Filter Order

Filters are an incredible tool for understanding your Google Analytics. You don’t need to worry about filter orders most of the time. But, if you apply more than one filter to the same data field, the filter order becomes important.

Filter order determines how the information is processed. Play around with the different options to better understand how it works, seeing which data appears or disappears depending on your filter order. Otherwise, you might accidentally start filtering out a lot of data critical to the insights you want to gain.

So, in which order does Google Analytics filter data? That’s up to you.

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