Google Analytics - Custom Dashboards to Make Your Life Easier

Google Analytics is crucial for tracking web related traffic, data, and conversions, as most of you business owners know by now. Today, I want to take you beyond standard reporting and show you how you can use customized dashboards to obtain relevant information to measure your business goals.

For busy entrepreneurs who are already concerning themselves with a ton of other things, Google Analytics can seem a bit daunting. Creating funnels, adding tracking codes, analyzing acquisition behavior -- it’s pretty overwhelming to the average user-- which is why this post also includes a social media dashboard template download which can be imported directly to your analytics account so most of the work is done for you.

google analytics custom dashboard downloads

What Are Google Analytics Dashboards?

Google Analytics Dashboards are a collection of widgets that give you an overview of the metrics you care about the most. If you find that the default Dashboard fits the needs of your business, you can leave it as is. Otherwise you can easily create your own and focus on different areas of your traffic, which is highly recommended.

For anyone who has yet to explore Google Analytics, I'll go over some of the basics.

  • Sessions - A session is a group of interactions that take place on your website within a given time frame. A single session can contain multiple page views, interactions, and events. If I go to your site and check out all the pages in your navigation without closing the tab, that is considered one session.
  • Users - Users are unique people who come to visit your site. A single user can have multiple sessions over any given period of time. If I visit your site once in the morning and then again in the evening, then I am a single user with two sessions in a day. 
  • Pageviews - A pageview is an instance of a webpage being loaded in a browser. If I reload the browser, it is counted as another pageview.
  • Pages/Session - This is simply the average number of pages viewed during a single session.
  • Avg Session Duration - Analytics sums the duration of each session during a specified date range, and divides that sum by the total number of sessions.
  • Bounce Rate - The bouce rate is the percentage of single page views on your site. Meaning someone goes to a page on your site and doesn't navigate off the page before leaving. High bounce rates might tell you that you need to improve the quality of the content on your site, or perhaps make it more user-friendly.
  • % New Sessions - Percentage of sessions from new users.

Creating A New Dashboard

Below, you can see a quick run-through on how to create a new Dashboard:

From the sidebar menu: click on + New Dashboard and create a name for it. A popup will automatically appear asking you to add a Widget. From here you've got plenty of options for not only what metrics you want to show, but how you want to display them visually. The widgets can then be dragged and dropped into any order you want.

The interface is pretty intuitive but there are so many metrics you can track with Google Analytics, so I definitely recommend getting in there and playing around once you feel comfortable. If you are unhappy with your dashboard, you can delete individual widgets or the entire thing easily.

But now, let me show you what you'll be getting with this download.

Social Media Dashboard

I wanted to create a Social Media Dashboard so that I could measure the effects of promoting my content to various outlets. For content creators, this is a good way to visualize your reach, to see how your efforts are paying off, or to see which channels you need to focus on more.

custom social media dashboard in google analytics

Let's go through these, shall we?

  1. This tells you how many visitors are coming to your website from social media mediums, so this won't reflect any users who visit your site directly.
  2. This pie chart is a great way to see which social networks are pushing the most traffic your way. For example, if you notice that traffic from Twitter is lagging, that can tell you a few things. Perhaps your tweets aren't frequent or catchy enough to reach your audience.
  3. Again, website traffic as a percentage. 
  4. Top socially referred pages - These are the pages that users are reaching from various social media outlets. Knowing how many times a page is visited is super valuable because it shows you where potential opportunities may exist. Adding a call to action on your most popular pages (newsletter, freebie downloads, etc.) will increase conversions.
  5. Pageviews per Session - This will show you which social channel sent the traffic, how many sessions came from that channel, and the number of pageviews per session. In the screen shot above you'll see that the information isn't being displayed. The reason for this is because once you've created a Custom Table, it can take up to two days for unsampled data to appear in the reports. So if you see that there is no data for a particular view, give it a couple days.
  6. This is just a US map of where your visitors are located. Knowing the time zones of your audience can help you determine optimal posting times. 
  7. And finally, simple charts to help you visualize where your traffic is coming from. As you can see, I don't utilize all the various social channels (yet, obviously something I will focus on soon), but I've included them in the template for those of you who do. You could easily swap out LinkedIn for another medium such as Bloglovin' to best suit your needs.

Do you have your own dashboards that help you visualize your data? I'd love to see more examples of what others are using.