Organize important data in one place with Google Analytics’ custom dashboards.
Editor's Note: This blog was originally published in July 2012 and has since been updated for accuracy.
With a platform as robust as Google Analytics, there can be a lot of information to swim through to get the metrics you need. How do you get to that important data, so you spend more time analyzing the numbers instead of searching for them? Well, Google has the answer.
Meet custom dashboards, a simple way to organize key data into one place for easy access. Dashboards consist of widgets that display the data you need, giving you access to various metrics at once. They are also simple to customize, so you can pull data important to your goals and waste no time searching for key metrics. Let’s get started!
Determine Your Goals
How does your business measure success? Your answer will determine what kind of goals to set and key performance indicators (KPIs) to track in Google Analytics.
Goals are intended results of your efforts, whereas KPIs reflect your progress toward reaching those goals. For example, do you want to raise more awareness about your products through SEO and a paid search marketing campaign? To track your progress, your KPIs should include measuring impressions for clicks to your website.
Write down your goals and KPIs for them before diving into Google Analytics, so you know what to look for.
Know Your Widgets
Widgets display the data you choose to track. Choosing your widgets depends on the KPIs you want to track. In Google Analytics, there are six different widgets you can use:
- Metric: This displays the exact value of a given metric. For example, the total number of visits.
- Timeline: This compares any metric over a specific period of time, like goal completions over time.
- Geomap: This displays any metric over a region, such as sessions by country.
- Table: This displays a maximum of 10 rows from two metrics for a specific dimension. For example, clicks and impressions by paid search campaign.
- Pie: This breaks down a metric by another variable, like visits by traffic source.
- Bar: This groups a metric based on selected dimensions, such as sessions by browser.
In addition, widgets are divided by standard and real-time. Standard widgets pull data each time you load or refresh the dashboard. Real-time widgets, however, pull data automatically.
Only four out of the six widgets are available in real-time. Keep that in mind when you set up your dashboard.
Set Up a Dashboard
Log in to your Google Analytics account and navigate to the Dashboards section, located under Customization. Click on “Create” to start a new dashboard and give it a relevant name to your report (for example, Basic Website Dashboard).
Once your dashboard is made, it’s time to add widgets. Click on “Add Widget,” and choose what type of widget you want, including the metrics you want to track and the dimensions, if necessary. A generic name will populate based on the metric you use, so change the name if you want and click “Save.”
In this example, we’re going to create a metric widget that tracks sessions. You can use this to answer the question: How many sessions are completed by users visiting my website?
You can either choose to edit the widget you just made, or you can clone it, so you have two widgets to compare. Click on the pencil icon in the top right corner of the widget, then edit the metrics or click “Clone Widget” in the bottom right corner.
Let’s say you want to take things one step further and also ask: how are they finding my website? You could either use a pie chart or a table for this. Just add “Source” as a dimension and save the widget, which will look something like this:
Use Only Relevant Data
Before you get Analytics-happy, build out simple dashboards that display only information related to tracking goals. A basic site performance dashboard is a great place to start.
You can customize your dashboard by moving around the widgets where you see fit, or you can click “Customize Dashboard” in the top right corner to change the size of the widgets.
The biggest limitation of dashboards is you can only use 12 widgets per dashboard, so pick your widgets wisely. Check out this glossary on Google Analytics definitions to see what metrics you need to track.
Develop Custom Solutions
With any new lesson learned comes practice. Customized dashboards are no exception, so play around with different widgets to see which ones track your goals best.
You may even find that your goals change as you learn which metrics give you the best insight. Try out how various metrics look on different widgets, including dimensions and filters. Once you start getting the hang of it, add more than one dashboard to track different goals—one for your ad campaign, one for your blog, and so on.
Still not sure where to begin with digital marketing? Have no fear!
Establishing your goals and how to track them can be tricky. At Adpearance, we are a Google Premier Partner with the industry experience to develop custom solutions that help your business drive more sales. With our free digital analysis, it’s easy to get started. Get in touch with us today!