Getting the Most out of Google Analytics: Part One

This is the opening part of getting the most out of google analytics, where we look at the latest developments from google and what we can gather from this valuable analytical tool.

Google Analytics is truly a phenomenal tool for delving beneath the surface of your website’s performance and wider digital marketing efforts. However, it can look a little confusing when you first encounter it, to get the benefit of any search engine optimisation you need to be sure you are getting the most out of Google Analytics.

This two-part article highlights a few of the most useful tricks that GA can perform for you. While the details were correct at the time of writing, Google do like to change up the dashboard layouts and menu names every now and then so you may need to spend some time playing around to find out where everything is.

First Things First: Customising Your Dashboard

When you first log into your GA account you will be presented with the default dashboard. This contains a host of useful reports from general traffic tracking to specific metrics showing where your customers come from, which pages they visit, what time of the day they favour and which type of device they use.

While you may be happy to use this default dashboard at first, you will probably want to eventually customise your own dashboard for efficiency. Here is how you do that.

  1. Under the ‘Customization’ tab click ‘Dashboards’
  2. In the main panel, click the red ‘Create’ button.
  3. Select either the ‘Blank Canvas’ or ‘Starter Dashboard’ button. The starter dashboard includes six starter widgets.
  4. Enter a name for your new dashboard in the text box and click ‘Create Dashboard’
  5. If you have chosen blank canvas, you will be immediately prompted to add a widget. Widgets are customised panels, each dedicated to one metric (or group of metrics).
  6. There are six types of widget, with ‘Standard’ and ‘Real-time’ display options. These are raw numbers, timelines, geomaps, tables, pie charts and bar charts.

Once you’ve selected a widget type, you can choose the actual metric you want to include (from a dropdown list) and, if relevant, a filter. Some widget types will give you further options to choose from.

For example, you might want to create a pie chart showing what proportion of your traffic is from a direct link compared to traffic arriving via a search engine (organic). In this case you would choose ‘Users’ as your metric and ‘Traffic Type’ as your grouping. To get rid of referral traffic from the chart, you can add a filter, select ‘Traffic Type’ again and type in ‘Referral’ into the text box.

After you’ve saved your choices, you will be taken to your dashboard. Don’t worry, each widget can be edited or deleted at any time so feel free to play around – you really can’t break anything.

Once you’ve familiarised yourself with the creation process, it’s time to build and refine a master dashboard to suit your business. You might also want to create individual departmental dashboards.

All dashboards will then be available to select from under the ‘Customisation/Dashboard’ menu.

In Part Two, we will look at how to use GA to slice up your audience (not literally) into segments. We will also show you how to take advantage of some super-useful features to find out exactly where your visitors are coming from, what they are looking for, what they love (and hate) about your site and even what they are doing in real-time!

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