Making The Most Of Your Google Analytics Website Traffic Data; Setting Up a Simple Report Dashboard

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A lot of us who have blogs and websites have Google Analytics set-up to track our website traffic but very few of us use the information it provides to measure the health of our website and have a deeper knowledge of user behaviour on website.

In today's post I will be explaining the main activities Google Analytics help you track and how you can build a simple dashboard to generate an insightful report that you just need to set the date period to use another time.

First, here is the explanation of the main activities to watch for on your website:
  1. Users. This is the number of people who have been visiting the blog. It is often measured
    over a standard period of time, usually monthly or weekly.
  2. Visits. Also known as Sessions. It is a record of every unique browsing session a user
    generates on the blog. So users generate visits and because they might come back tomorrow
    or another time, there are usually more visits than users.
  3. Pageviews. For every visit a user makes he might go to one or more pages on the blog. This
    is tracked as pageviews. So users generate visits where they view one or more pages on the
  4. Bounce Rate. When we visit an amazing house we often checkout all the rooms and corners of the house but when we visit an unpleasant house we try to leave as soon as we can without visiting the rooms in the house. In the social media world the way to know if people consider your house an amazing home is by tracking the bounce rate. It tracks the percentage of people who leave without visiting another page on your website. It can be caused by either the design of the website or the content of the website. It is one of the metrics most vital to making strategic plans in optimizing a blog.
  5. Page Speed. This is a measure of how fast the website loads on a typical internet connection. It is believed that a relatively slow to load website will not be considered amazing to users and they might not even wait for it to load completely before they leave (causing high bounce rate).
  6. Session Duration. This measures how long people stay on the website before leaving for another website. It reflects the level of connection the blog has with the users. The more intimately affected by the users the more time they spend reading a lot of content on the website and visiting as many pages as they can. This is another strategically vital metric.
  7. Source of Visits. This reports where people come from – from clicking a link about the website on Twitter, or clicking a Facebook post about the blog or from LinkedIn, or from an email campaign, or by clicking on a Google search result that links to the blog, or by typing the website address into their browser (same as having the blog bookmarked). This helps to measure the impact of any campaign to increase the website traffic. It also helps to identify major sources of visits that should be focused on for improved results.
  8. Location of Users. This reports the countries and cities people visit the blog from. It shows where the most attention to the blog is coming from – users in Lagos, Abuja or New York. It can also help drive strategic plans and event promotion to users.
  9. Top Keywords. This shows what people search for on Google that returns results the link to the blog. It shows the top search terms. It reflects the words and phrases people associate with the website.
  10. Top Pages. This reports the most visited pages on the website, the pages that are most popular. It is a very important metric as it shows what type of contents generate great results. And it shows the pages that you can put more adverts in and make announcements on.
  11. Inbound Links. This shows a listing of the websites that link back to the website. It shows the websites that have interest in what you share on your blog and are referring people back to your blog. The more inbound links a website have the better its online ranking.
So how do you set up a simple dashboard on Google Analytics to track all these?

Not hard at all. Log in to your Google Analytics account. Click on the website or blog you want to analyze.

Click on Dashboard and New Dashboard

A new dashboard setup page will come on. Set the dashboard name and select Starter Dashboard.

This will give you the simple dashboard that is useful from the start.

The great thing about is that you can set the time period to report for and you can also export the report as a PDF file.

Finally, you can add more activities (metrics) to measure. Just click on Add Widget.

Select the type of widget and set the metric/activity you want to measure.

I have found this a very convenient way to analyse websites from their Google Analytics page rather than exporting the raw data to Excel and making charts in Excel. I can have everything done right there on Google Analytics and just refresh to update for a new period/month.

Now adding widgets can be a little confusing with the many metrics listed and the widget display type options. I can help you with some general tips.
  • The most important metrics you can add to the basic ones the dashboard has done for you if you are not selling an item on your blog are pageviews by location, pageviews by keyword and pageviews by source/medium. Select either a Pie or Bar. Set the first metric to Pageviews and the second to keyword or location or source.
  • Geomap is also good. Try it with pageviews and users.
  • Timeline is like a line chart. It's the way most of the default charts on Google Analytics are displayed.


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