As we’ve discussed in previous Metrics Monday blog posts, Google Analytics is one of the most powerful free tools out there. It’s also slightly intimidating because of how much information it provides. I previously discussed the top three metrics every marketer should track. Now I’m going to walk you through how to set up a Google Analytics Dashboard so all this information is in one place.
What’s a Google Analytics Dashboard and why should I use it?
Every Google Analytics account comes with a basic Dashboard.
While this gives a good overview of what’s happening with your website, the real power of the Dashboard lies in customizing it to fit your needs. Dashboards contain widgets (up to 12 per Dashboard) that give you an overview of the metrics you care about most.
How to create a Google Analytics Dashboard
1) Navigate to your main reporting tab.
2) Select Dashboards.
3) Select + New Dashboard.
4) In the Create dashboard dialog box that pops up, select either Blank Canvas (no widgets) or Starter Dashboard (default set of widgets including new users, users, sessions by geography, sessions by browser, average session duration and pages/session, and bounce rate). For the sake of this blog, we’re going to choose Blank Canvas.
5) Give your Dashboard a name and select Create Dashboard.
6) After selecting Blank Canvas, this dialog box will appear and you’re ready to start adding widgets to your Dashboard.
A brief background on widgets
Dashboards can have up to 12 widgets from six standard types or four real-time types. Standard widgets update when you refresh the page and you can set the time frame for the data. Real-time widgets, as the name suggests, display live data. They update selected metrics automatically and display only the Active Users or Pageviews metrics, depending on the widget. These are the various types, both standard and real-time:
- Metric: displays a simple numeric representation of a single metric
- Timeline: displays a graph of the selected metric over time
- Geomap: displays a map of the selected region, with the specified metric plotted on the map and shows exact metric values when you hover over the map
- Table: displays up to two metrics describing the selected dimension, laid out in tabular format
- Pie: displays a pie chart of the selected metric grouped by a dimension and shows exact metric values when you hover over each slice (standard only)
- Bar: displays a bar chart of the selected metric grouped by up to two dimensions and shows exact metric values when you hover over each bar (standard only)
- Counter: displays a count of the active users on your site and can be grouped by a selected dimension (real-time only)
Now, let’s start setting our widgets.
How to add widgets to your Dashboard
1) Select + Add Widget in your top navigation.
2) Give your widget a name in the widget title field. Make sure it’s descriptive.
3) Choose which type of widget you want from either the standard types or the real-time types.
4) Configure the widget’s dimensions, metrics, and other options. These vary based on the type of widget you choose. Use the dropbox search boxes to locate the specific metric or dimension you want.
For example, to track overall site bounce rate over time:
1) Name your widget something about bounce rate.
2) Select Timeline from the standard widget types.
3) Select Bounce Rate from the drop-down menu labeled “Graph the following metric over time.”
4) Click Save.
And this is what you’ll get:
Continue this step-by-step process of configuring the widget’s dimensions, metrics, and other options for each metric you want to track in this Dashboard.
To edit or delete a widget at any time, hover over the widget and click either the pencil to edit or the “x” to delete.
Custom Dashboards for specific metrics
From here, you can customize up to 20 Dashboards. You can create an SEO Dashboard that shows organic search volume and keywords; a user behavior Dashboard that shows bounce rate, new vs. returning users, and device type; or a blog Dashboard showing how people got to your blog, time on page, and how many people are reading the blog. Custom Dashboards for each metric group allow you to keep your data separate and to quickly reference certain types of data.
Long story short: Dashboards make it easier for you to see the information you care about — all in one place. You’re able to access the most important information within Google Analytics without having to go digging for it each time. Now, get to creating your Dashboards and start saving time.