educational

Making the Most of Google Analytics

Stephen Yagielowicz

Google’s popular website visitor analytics tools provide a raft of insights to owners, operators, traffic managers and other website stakeholders — but the depth, breadth and complexity of the data involved might make mastering Google Analytics a full time job.

Fortunately, the system’s architecture makes it easy for users to customize reports and to share various views, known as dashboards, with other users. These dashboards allow a focus on a specific set of metrics; providing a clearer view of the information that matters most to you, without being burdened by less vital data or data used by other departments.

Fortunately, the system’s architecture makes it easy for users to customize reports and to share various views, known as dashboards, with other users.

For example, a custom dashboard designed for brand name monitoring could contain widgets revealing the number of visitors arriving via a search on your brand name, along with those coming from social media sites and other targeted venues tied to the business; while a quality focused dashboard could focus on bounce rate, segregated by browser and screen size as well as metrics for page views, top content and exit pages, putting the most relevant data right at your fingertips.

According to Google, dashboards give users an overview of how their properties are performing by displaying summaries of different reports as widgets on a single page. Google Analytics profiles display default dashboards, pre-populated with popular widgets that can be added to or replaced. Up to 20 dashboards, containing up to 12 widgets each can be added to a profile.

“With a dashboard, you can monitor many metrics at once, so you can quickly check the health of your accounts or see correlations between different reports,” explains an Analytics rep. “To get the most out of your dashboards, we recommend leveraging the customization options to create dashboards that are best suited to your needs.”

The company actively aids users, with information on how to create, edit and delete dashboards, as well as how to add reports to them, and offers a gallery of solutions to make life easier for operators (www.google.com/analytics/learn/solutionsgallery.html).

“We’ve done all the work of pre-formatting these for the most common types of business needs,” the rep added. “Whether you’re a newbie or guru, they will help you learn more about your data through the power of Google Analytics.”

Sites such as Dashboard Junkie (www.dashboardjunkie.com) offer a gallery of user generated dashboard presets, which can be added to your Google Analytics account with a single click. Dashboards are available covering basic visitor facts, social media metrics, AdWords and SEO performance, mobile vs. non-mobile and other user analysis. Simply click the “Add it ... “ button to save the dashboard to your own Google Analytics profile.

Koozai (www.Koozai.com) offers a useful “tech” dashboard with widgets covering browser type and operating system, screen resolution, Flash version, Java usage, among other tools.

Custom Report Sharing (www.customreportsharing.com) goes beyond dashboards to include custom reports, advanced segments and a user community where forum members share insights and tips for better ways to use Google Analytics. The site presents custom reports and dashboards for organic SEO, paid search, social media, e-commerce, targeted conversions and more, along with forums for filter developers, event tracking and more.

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