Google Analytics tip: shortcuts for excluding multiple keywords

Gummy Bear CircleWhen we do our company reporting each month, we exclude branded keywords, in order to better understand how the people who don’t already know about us are finding our company. Rather than putting more effort into attracting those who are already interested, we need to make sure we capture the traffic that “doesn’t realize they need us.”

To do so, we have to clear out all of that branded noise in order to see what these people are actually searching. We wrote about how to do this a few years back (see Google Analytics tip: how are prospects finding your site? filtering out branded keywords.), but the method we mentioned then involves typing in keywords one by one to create an advanced filter.

Excluding branded keywords one at a time can be a long, arduous process. However, there is a much more efficient method, one that relies on Regular Expressions rather than a simple search.

Regular Expressions

What are Regular Expressions?

If you’ve ever taken a course on logic, you’ve likely come across the idea of AND/OR statements. The idea is simple: essentially, if we’re working with the category ‘fruit,’ we could exclude fruits that are both blue AND round, which would get rid of blueberries, or we could exclude fruits that are blue OR round, thereby knocking out blueberries, blackberries, oranges, grapes, and more. This is because OR statements will treat the two criteria as separate from each other, even if you enter them at the same time. Conversely, AND statements require both criteria to be met before a result is considered a ‘match.’

Let’s look at this in the context of Whereoware reporting.

How to

GA-adv-searchIn order to exclude branded keywords, we needed to go into the ‘Advanced’ search bar on a keyword screen (specifically, the Traffic Source > Search > Organic page).

We know from experience that our top branded keyword is, in fact, our official company name, “Whereoware,” so we need to exclude this from our search. To do so:


  1. Click on advanced next to the search bar/magnifying glass
  2. Choose “Exclude”
  3. Ensure “Keyword” is selected as your variable
  4. Choose “Containing” or “Exactly matching” if you know the exact keyword you’re looking for
  5. Type “whereoware” in the search bar
  6. Click Apply

We’ve now excluded the keyword “Whereoware.” Easy enough, right? However, our brand name is easily misspelled, so we’re going to have to exclude as many of those variations as we can (remember our blue OR round fruit example, above?) in order to get an accurate look at non-branded traffic. We can do this one at a time, by repeating the same process as above, or we can simply use Regular Expressions and complete this task all at once. To use Regular Expressions:

  1. Click on advanced next to the search bar/magnifying glass
  2. Choose “Exclude”
  3. Ensure “Keyword” is selected as your variable
  4. Choose “Matching RegExp” (Matching Regular Expressions)
  5. Type all misspellings into the search bar, separated by the pipe/vertical bar symbol (|), with no spaces before or after each keyword

GA-RegExp (1)

You can use your current keyword list for ideas of how searchers may misspell keywords. For example, our Regular Expressions list might look something like this, based on common ‘branded’ keywords we see that are driving people to our site:

Whereoware|where o ware|whereowhere||wheroware|whareoware

When you’ve finished doing entering all of these in the search bar, make sure to click Apply. Now, all of your chosen misspellings will be excluded:


The result? A much cleaner keyword list that allows you to see the forest despite the trees. Regular Expressions are crucial tools in your arsenal that allow you to easily to identify non-branded keywords. This way, you can spend more of your time analyzing results and less time cleaning your data.

The takeaways

Without all of the clutter, you’ll be able to get an idea of which non-branded keywords are driving the majority of your traffic, and which need to be brought up to speed. Getting a clearer picture can make all of the difference as you move ahead with your SEO + paid search strategies! Stop excluding keywords one by one and use this simple trick to help kick-start your analysis.