I see local site owners burn a lot of valuable time poking around in Google Analytics, especially when they’re first starting out with a site.
I get it. It’s kind of a rush to see validation that people are coming to your site and consuming the content you’ve created.
I’m definitely guilty of it too.
To help overcome this massive time suck, I came up with an analytics dashboard that contains just the stats you need to see at a glance to know how your site is performing and what you can do to make it better.
I recently set a few consulting clients up with this dashboard and it seems to have helped them get more out of the analytics data already available to them, so I wanted to share it with you too.
I’ll go a little further into detail on each widget below, but if you want to save time and just get the dashboard for yourself, click here, then choose which of your analytics accounts to add it to.
Meet the Widgets
The first few widgets you’ll see in the dashboard are what most would call vanity metrics. They’re good to know, and fun to look at when the numbers start to get big, but, its not really what you’d call actionable data.
You’ve got Total Visitors, Unique Visitors by Day, Total Active Visitors and Top Active Pages on the site right now.
Like I said you can’t really do much with this data other than look at it, but most people check these metrics first, so I placed them at the top of the dashboard so you don’t have to hunt for them.
Next you’ll see the Top Organic Landing Pages, Which Search Terms are Used to Find You, and How Did People Find Your Site widgets.
Let’s dig a little deeper into each of these and find out why they’re important and what you can deduce from the data in each.
Top Organic Landing Pages
These are the pages that are bringing in the most search engine traffic. It doesn’t necessarily mean these pages rank high, but it could. For instance you could be ranked #9 for a particular term, but still get a lot of traffic because of the sheer volume of searches being performed for that term.
But this information is important to have so that you can sort of do that detective work to figure out the why and how these pages are performing well, and hopefully use that information to replicate the effect across other pages on your site.
Which Search Terms are Used to Find You?
These days Google is keeping a lot more of your website data, particularly what terms people searched for to find you hidden. For most people the top two line items in the “search terms used to find you” report are (not set) and (not provided). For more on this particular topic check out the posts here and here.
So for the purposes of this widget, you’ll see I’ve edited those two out, so you’re just seeing actual keywords people searched for to find you.
How Did People Find Your Site?
This widget shows which sources drive the most traffic to your site.
It shows the amount of visitors as well as the “% New Visits” which tells you what percentage of those visitors have never been to your site before.
Which posts are most popular?
This differs from “Top Organic Landing Pages” in that it encompasses all traffic, not just search traffic. But, if search is your predominate traffic source, these two widgets might look very similar.
What Are People Searching For at Your Site?
This widget provides a great way to figure out what kind of information your readers are looking for and hoping to find at your site. In order for this widget to work, you need to have the ability to track site search set-up. Here’s a handy tutorial if you don’t yet have that set up.
More so than anything else what I like to pay attention to here are the items that start with “no-results”. These are terms readers searched for on your site that didn’t return any search results. These are gold as far as coming up with new topics to write about is concerned.
Where are your readers located?
I like this widget because it gives you an “at a glance” look at the geographic make-up of your audience. This is useful data in many ways.
Are you trying to attract people from outside of your area that might be moving to your area soon?
Or is your site strictly for the locals?
This widget helps you figure out how well you are reaching those desired audiences.
It’s also good if you are running any kind of paid promotion, be it search or social, because you can get a good idea of where the highest concentrations of your audience are, and thus, where to target your ads geographically.
Grab this Dashboard
Again, if you’d like to add this dashboard to your analytics account all you have to do is click this link, choose the profile you’d like to add it to, and that’s it. You should be all set.
Modify it to fit your exact needs. This might not suit your needs forever, but as your site and analytics needs grow you can add to it over time.
There’s so much more you can do using Google Analytics dashboards. If you’re interested in learning more, here are a few other resources for you to explore:
Dashboard Junkie – Many of the widgets in the dashboard I’ve provided here were inspired by widgets I learned about from Dashboard Junkie.
Going Beyond Standard Reporting with Google Analytics Filters, Segments, Reports, and Dashboards – This is a great post from KISSmetrics with some great tips on getting the most out of GA.