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The Locations Report in Google Analytics

As a followup to my post on interpreting Language data in Google Analytics, here’s some insight into locations as well.

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You can find the Locations report under Demographics in the Audience section. Google Analytics determines locations from a visitor’s IP addresses and where internet service providers assign those ranges. (If you remember the dark old days of web analytics when you could look at a report like this and you saw that 80% of US web traffic came from Virginia — because that’s where AOL was located — you can rejoice that these reports are much more accurate.)

Data at the country level is pretty accurate worldwide; Google says that mobile devices may show inaccurate cities. Also keep in mind that a VPN can fool this sort of tracking (if you’re connecting back through the office mothership when you’re elsewhere, your location looks like the office).

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You get a number of choices for levels of detail. At a high level, theres Continents (kind of overly broad), Sub-Continent Regions (much better), Country/Territory (the default). Within some countries, you can also see Regions. These are the states in the US, provinces in Canada, etc. Some countries have internal region data in Google Analytics, others don’t.

Worldwide, you can also see City data. Within the US only, you also have the option of “Metros”, which are basically Designated Marketing Areas (DMAs). This is a useful level of detail between states and cities.

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Location data can be useful for targeting your marketing and advertising and understanding who you are reaching. What level of detail is of interest to you depends on your organization: maybe you care about an audience all across the world, maybe in specific countries where you do business, or maybe only in a handful of cities where you have bricks-and-mortar locations.

Lastly, what does it mean when a location is (not set)? As in any field in Google Analytics, (not set) means the information wasn’t captured for some reason. In this instance, GA could not determine where someone was located from their IP address. We looked at a large set of data from a recent 30-day period for a large site with worldwide reach, and we found about 4% of visits had a location that couldn’t be determined. More than half of these were from mobile devices, which isn’t surprising. Many of those were due to usage of Opera Mini as the browser, which actually fetches web pages to an Opera server and then sends a compressed version on to the mobile device (in which case your website never has a direct connection with the device to determine its IP address).

Jonathan Weber

About Jonathan Weber

Jonathan Weber is the Data Evangelist at LunaMetrics. He spreads the principles of analytics through our training seminars all over the East coast. The next seminar he'll be leading will be a Google Analytics training in Boston. Before he caught the analytics bug, he worked in information architecture. He holds a Master’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh School of Information Sciences. Jonathan’s breadth of knowledge – from statistics to analysis to library science – is somewhat overwhelming.


17 Responses to “The Locations Report in Google Analytics”

Craig Bailey says:

Thank you! Was wondering what the (not set) in my location reports was due to. I didn’t have the same mobile trend as you, although the 4% figure is about right – but interestingly I’ve noticed the (not set) traffic really fall off in the last month. Prior to that it was increasing each month.

Ellen says:

In our clients’ demographics, the city New York is at the top. Is there any way to break this data out into more actionable data?

Our guess is New York means New York City, but is there any way to verify that or expound upon that?

Tyler says:

- Ellen

If you look into the secondary dimension – Metro – in the visitors section when you have selected ‘New York’ it will give you the nearest metro area.

ie: Buffalo, Ithaca, or New York City.

Hope that helps!

David Orloff says:

How many countries are counted in Google Analytics? In other words if a website was accessed by every country in the world, how many would Google show?

Is there a way to tell on what day where each of the hits/states/cities are coming from? Thank you.

David Hosei says:

Hi David, I’m showing 206 countries on my Google Analytics account that have traffic. I’m showing the following with no traffic:

1. Country/Territory of EH
2. Country/Territory of TD
3. Country/Territory of CF
4. Country/Territory of CG
5. Country/Territory of GL

So if you add them together – I’m showing 211 for Google Analytics.

Hope that helps!

I’m actually trying to figure out the number of cities/towns that have Internet access. Any help figuring that out would be greatly appreciated…:)

Stacey says:

How does this relate to mobile devices. For example. If I use my cellphone. Does it show the tower that my signal is coming from? does the city show as my home city set with the provider?

The Opera browser makes sense.
Are other browsers reporting (not set) for a very similar reason as well?
For instance- Android, chrome, IE, Blackberry, (and a collection on versions) all show large amounts of (not set) in my mobile report.

Jason says:

I’m interested in running a locations report for just a subset of pages within my website. Is there a way to run a cross-tabs between location and content?

Jason — sure, a couple of ways to go about that. The easiest way is probably to create an Advanced Segment that shows only visitors who viewed certain pages, and apply that to the Locations report. You can also create a custom report (the map type is available in custom reports), and filter for a certain pattern of page URLs.

Debu Shah says:

In my location-city tab, majority of traffic showing (not set ) why we cannot track such important attribute?

Stephen G. says:

It appears that bots also cause the country to be “not set.”

We’ve seen an increase of the country “not set” since July. In June “not set” accounted for .23% of traffic, rising to 6.5% in October. It looks like 97% of that traffic is by Firefox on Linux OS and the traffic is daily.

This appears to be constant daily bot/spider traffic from network domain amazonaws.com. 100% of the visits are new, the bounce rate is 99%, the pages/visit is only 1, and the average visit duration is less than a second.

Interestingly, I applied a smart bot filter (^(microsoft corp|inktomi corporation|yahoo! inc\.|google inc\.|stumbleupon inc\.)$|gomez) and still see this traffic.

Has anyone else seen bots like this?


BTW, I found this blog post by searching for “not set country in google analytics.”

Rachit says:

My GA location report shows 40% visits from a (not set) location. The number is visitors under this category is 150k+.
Can you please suggest what might be happening here?

Ronnie Jones says:

Thank you, I was looking all over for it even though it was right in front of me

bhawin says:

hello , i want to know whether we can fetch data from google analytics on the basis of the country code eg -> i have ‘AU’ for australia , so can i use ‘AU’ to get the data from cities of australia

Rakesh Shah says:

Hi Jonathen,

I hav doubts which is already asked in your comments section asked by stacey and Debu and i am bit satisfy with answer too given by Arron and Stephen.


bd info says:

Thanks a lot for your informative post. Can you please tell me how to determine my website ranking in the search engine against a particular keywords that audience applied to visit my site.