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3.2 Reporting tab: An overview

The Reporting tab gives you access to your Google Analytics reports and summary displays called Dashboards. It’s probably the most important tab, because it’s where you’ll look for detailed metrics and reports to help make sense of them. You can view different reports using the navigation panel down the left-hand side. Here’s a comprehensive look at how it works.

What is the Google Analytics Dashboard?

A Dashboard is a collection of “widgets”, which can be thought of in a similar way to the Live Tiles found on a Windows Phone or Windows 8 Start screen. They’re basically mini-reports, which can display data numerically or in the form of tables, pie charts, maps and timelines. Some can even give you a constantly updated real-time display of metrics like the number of users on your site, a map of their locations, and so on.

You can select and customize the widgets you want in a Dashboard to see the information you decide is most important – in other words, create customized views of your data. This enables you to pull out and view specific subsets of your data without having to navigate through a lot of standard reports – but if you do want to see more detail, you can click a widget title to open the complete underlying report.

The default Dashboard, named “My Dashboard”, includes a timeline showing number of users, a geo-map of sessions, a table of sessions by browser, and timelines for bounce rate and goal conversions. You can customize it by rearranging the widgets, adding new ones, removing unwanted ones or filtering the data displayed. You can also create additional Dashboards by clicking “+New Dashboard”.

How to manage the Analytics Dashboard

  • To change the name of a Dashboard, simply click its title.
  • To adjust the date range or compare two date ranges, click the date range displayed at the right-hand side to open the date picker.
  • To add widgets, share, export, customize or remove the Dashboard, click the appropriate pop-up in the action bar beneath the name of the Dashboard.
  • Add or remove segments by clicking the pop-up beneath “All Sessions” (the default).
  • To open a linked report, click the widget’s title. Note, this works only if the widget is linked to a report.
  • To rearrange widgets on the page, drag them by their title bars to wherever you want. If you want to edit or delete a widget, mouse over its title bar without clicking and a set of controls will appear – click the edit icon (the pencil) to configure it, or click the X to delete it. This latter action can’t be undone, so use with caution.
  • To refresh the Dashboard’s data, click “Refresh Dashboard” at the bottom-right. This updates the display of “standard” widgets; real-time widgets constantly update themselves automatically.

How to add widgets to the Google Analytics dashboard

There are several ways to add widgets to a Dashboard. The first – and most obvious – method is to simply click the “+Add Widget” button, select a type of widget, configure it and click Save.

Alternatively, click “Add to Dashboard” beneath a report title when you’re viewing your standard reports – select the Dashboard to add it to. This can be an existing one or a new one – to base a new widget on an existing one click “Clone widget” (bottom right of the Add a Widget window), then edit it.

You can also download ready-to-go Dashboards from the Google Analytics Solutions Gallery: click Dashboards in the panel at the left-hand side to see what’s available. Or simply take one of a Google Analytics online course to further discover about widgets.

How to add shortcuts to the GA dashboard

Shortcuts work in much the same way as those you find on your PC or Mac, giving you direct access to customized reports you’ve previously saved shortcuts to. Their main benefit is that they open the exact configuration that you saved of a report, so you can return to a customized view displaying specific Segments and so on with a single click. Note that one setting isn’t saved with a shortcut: the date range.

To create a shortcut, open the report you want, configure it as desired, then click Shortcut in the menu bar above the report. To edit an existing shortcut, click Shortcuts to view your list of shortcuts, click the report you want to open, make any changes you want, then click Save in the menu bar to save the new configuration. Finally, to remove a shortcut, click Shortcuts, then click Overview, open the Actions menu for the relevant shortcut, click Delete and then confirm when prompted.

What are Google Analytics intelligence events?

Google Analytics Intelligence constantly monitors your site and generates an alert whenever it detects statistically significant variations in usage or traffic metrics. If you’ve linked Google Analytics to AdWords and have auto-tagging enabled, it will also generate alerts whenever there’s a significant change in traffic from AdWords.

You can also set up custom alerts for more specific events – traffic from Paris-based visitors dropping by more than 20% over a day, say – and even opt to receive an email alert automatically when a specified event occurs. In any of these cases, you can click Intelligence Events to view the relevant reports.

There’s an Overview summary of all automatic and custom alerts that occurred within the active date range: click the Automatic Alerts or Custom Alerts tab to filter for one or the other; click Details to see a graph of the data over time; click “Go to Report” to view the full report for a specific dimension.

In addition, you can view Daily, Weekly and Monthly events reports. Tick the box below the bar graph for each type of alert you want to see: Custom, Web Analytics (automatic) or AdWords (automatic). If there are many alerts, use the Alert Importance slider to adjust how many are displayed: drag it towards High and the report will display only big variations; move it towards Low to view alerts representing smaller variations. Click a bar in the graph to see the alerts for that day, week or month. Click the graph button for a specific dimension in an alert to see a graph of that data over time; as before, click “Go to Report” to see the full report for that dimension.

To create a custom alert, click Reporting > Intelligence Events and navigate to any of the reports we’ve just mentioned (Overview, Daily, Weekly or Monthly). Below the bar graph, under Custom Alerts, click “Create a Custom Alert”. Enter a name for the alert, select which reporting Views you want the alert to be visible in, then set the period you want to monitor (a day, a week or a month). If you want to receive an email when the alert is triggered, tick the box; you can optionally specify other people to receive emails as well. Next, specify the Alert Conditions by selecting a dimension and setting the “alert me when” parameters – for example, “alert me when Landing Page bounce rate increases by more than 20% compared to previous day”. When you’re happy, click “Create Alert” and you’re done.

To edit a custom alert at any later point, click “Manage Custom Alerts” instead of “Create”, click the alert name in the list of custom alerts, make the changes you want, and click Save Alert. To delete a custom alert, find it in the list of custom alerts and click Delete instead.

What are real-time events in Google Analytics?

Click Real-Time for an up-to-the-minute, constantly updated overview of what’s happening on your site or app. This can be invaluable for seeing the immediate impact of changes to site content, assessing the effect of some social media marketing or a specific promotion, or just getting a snapshot of how the site or app is performing.


What can Google Analytics report in real-time?

There are six reports, all of which display the current number of active users, number of hits in each of the last 30 minutes, and number of hits in each of the last 60 seconds:

  • Overview: shows the referral sources for active users, the pages through which these users entered your site and their geographical locations.
  • Locations: shows the geographic locations of your current active users, plus how many pages/screens were viewed from each city in the past 30 minutes.
  • Traffic Sources: shows the sites or campaigns that referred your currently active users. (This isn’t displayed for apps.)
  • Content: (or Screens in the case of apps) displays which pages or screens have been viewed in the last 30 minutes. Click “Pageviews/Screen Views (Last 30 min)” above the table to see the total number of views for each page or screen over that period.
  • Events: displays the top 20 categories of events, such as clicks, video plays, downloads or other forms of interaction, if they don’t result in a new pageview, that have taken place on your site over the last 30 minutes. These are sorted by number of users for each one, with the percentage of total users also shown for each. Click an event category to see just the activity in that category; click “Events (Last 30 min)” above the table to see the total number of events in each category over that period.
  • Conversions: this section displays a table of the top 20 Destination and Event Goals achieved by current active users during their current session, sorted by number of users for each, with the percentage of total users also shown for each. Click a Goal in the table to see just the activity for that Goal; click “Goal Hits (Last 30 min)” above the table to see the number of conversions per Goal over that period.


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