How to set up your Google Analytics dashboard

By Al  |  29 March 2016

Set up your Google Analytics dashboard strategically, and you can have targeted reporting that will allow you to see key metrics quickly and easily.

This means you can have an agile approach and do more of what is working, and less of what is not - saving you time and making you money. You can edit your standard dashboard or create up to 20 new dashboards. Each dashboard can contain up to 12 widgets to give you an overview of the stats that are most important to you.

There are six widget types available to add to your dashboards:

  1. Metric widget - displays a single metric without charts. This is useful to highlight an important number such as revenue or bounce rates.
  2. Timeline widget - displays a timeline of data that is useful to view trends such as views or sessions. The widget can also include a second timeline to compare against the first metric. This is useful to compare data such as sessions against conversions or revenue.
  3. GEO map widget - displays a map (or maps if comparing data) of where your users are coming from.
  4. Table widget - useful for monitoring landing pages, content and campaign performance. You will see a list of the dimension chosen along with two metrics of your choice. So, for example, you can use traffic source (for example, pay per click ad, or email) as your dimension and show how each compares for sessions and conversions. This would give a good overview of how each channel is performing from a click-through-rate and conversion perspective.
  5. Pie widget - displays one metric and one dimension in a pie (or donut) chart. This is great for quick information and adds colour to the report.
  6. Bar widget - this widget has the most customisation options and can be useful for displaying data grouped together to tell a story. Like the table widget, it allows a dimension and two other metrics to be displayed, but it also allows the metrics to be grouped. So, for example, you could see conversions by traffic source (for example, pay per click ad, or email) but have them grouped together by region or overall campaign.

All widgets (except bar and pie) can display real time or standard data, and all allow data filtering so you can narrow down to subsets of data such as mobile users only.

Exporting and emailing reports

Reports and dashboard can be exported in a number of formats including Excel and PDF. The same exports can also be emailed as a one-off or setup to automatically email daily, weekly, monthly, etc. This can be an effective way of keeping on top of the site trends.

Selecting the reporting period and comparing periods

At the top right of most pages, the reporting period can be changed to suit. Periods can be compared as well; for example, you can view the same month last year to see the change in the number of mobile visitors, or how well keywords are performing.

How often should I look at my data?

We recommend viewing your dashboards on a regular basis and making a habit of it. At the minimum, you should be viewing them weekly, but definitely more often if you are running paid campaigns or relying on the conversions and revenue from your website. Regardless of how often you do it, it is important to view at the same time and day each time.

This means you will be seeing the same data and getting the benefit of consistency; for example, what you see Monday morning for the previous week should be very different from what you see Monday afternoon. If you have daily or weekly task planning sessions (either personally or as a team), then you should view the data before this session to allow you to action any hunches or issues you see in the data.

For more on what to do with your Google Analytics, read our posts What is data science and why does it matter and A simple approach to getting the most from your website statistics.

Written by Al  |  29 March 2016

Al is our technical director, and one of the best problem solvers in the industry.