Marketing

30+ Expert Google Analytics Tips for Beginners

Want to be more proficient in everything Google Analytics? Here, 80 Google Analytics experts share their best tips for getting started.

Jessica Malnik Jessica Malnik on December 16, 2019 (last modified on January 7, 2020) • 31 minute read

You can’t manage what you don’t measure.

When it comes to an understanding of what’s happening on your website, Google Analytics is a free, robust resource.

If you are brand new to Google Analytics, it is easy to feel overwhelmed. There are so much information and data available that you may not know where to start.

  • What channel is bringing in the most traffic?
  • What’s my top referring site? 
  • What’s the busiest day and time? 
  • Which Google ads have the highest conversion rate? 

We reached out to 80 Google Analytics experts to share their top Google Analytics tips, including:

  1. How long does it take to learn Google Analytics?
  2. Define your main objectives and goals
  3. Watch Google Analytics tutorial videos
  4. Take the official Google Analytics training course
  5. Pay attention to session duration
  6. Set up UTM tracking
  7. Sync your Google Ads account with Google Analytics
  8. Connect your Google Search Console account with Google Analytics
  9. Create goals in Google Analytics
  10. Use segments, dimensions, and filters to remove excess noise
  11. Filter out inaccurate and spammy data
  12. Dive deeper with secondary dimensions
  13. Remember to filter out your IP address
  14. Sort by acquisition source and medium
  15. Learn to use Google Tag Manager
  16. Set up events to track conversions in Google Analytics
  17. Set up Site Search
  18. Start with channels
  19. Configure Google Analytics Demographics Reporting
  20. View the behavior flow report
  21. Use the compare to feature
  22. Pay attention to the real-time reporting dashboard
  23. View the Audience Behavior Report
  24. Create a custom dashboard
  25. Add Google Analytics insights to your WordPress dashboard
  26. Utilize the built-in annotation feature
  27. Create custom reports
  28. Automate your reporting notifications
  29. Hire an expert to teach you
  30. Be wary of analysis paralysis

How long does it take to learn Google Analytics?

While there is a learning curve, most people can teach themselves how to use Google Analytics without formal instruction.

While 55% of people surveyed said a course might be helpful, you can certainly get by without it. 

It takes most people between 1-6 months to feel proficient navigating Google Analytics. 

Define your main objectives and goals 

Sharon Jones of thedot says, “The first step towards your success with web analytics is to outline a comprehensive methodology of what you are looking to get from your data.

Jones recommends starting with: 

  • Defining your objectives (i.e. What do you want to get from your website?)
  • Defining your goals (i.e. Increase brand awareness, sales, etc)  

Joe Bailey of My Trading Skills adds, “Focus on your 5-10 KPIs to determine which reports are most relevant to your growth and your business. 

This will keep you from focusing on vanity metrics or other data that isn’t directly corrected to your main goals. 

“Go into Analytics with a purpose,” says Bill Sebald of Greenlane. “Know what storyline you’re trying to find the answer to. This way, as you’re exploring, you have more concentration on understanding what the data that can (or cannot) help you. In time, you’ll get more familiar with the key reports/data you really need to know.” 

Learn the main metrics first

Jonathan Aufray of Growth Hackers explains, “For a Google Analytics beginner, you first want to understand how the tool works, what you can track and where to find the information you’re looking for. As a beginner, start to understand the main metrics such as where your traffic comes from, how much traffic you’re getting, which pages get the most traffic, what’s your bounce rate, and how long people stay on your pages. Once you understand the basics, you can move to more advanced analytics.” 

Erica Eyerman of SyncShow says,” What helped me was going through each tab, taking the time to explore the functionalities and capabilities the platform offers. Much of the data represented uses graphics and tables to show you the highest trends in your data. Try to get in and explore the platform every day – you will begin to realize the robustness of the tool and see how it will benefit the accuracy of your reporting and work!” 

“If you’re just starting out with Google Analytics, I would first recommend examining your website performance week-over-week insights,” says Stan Mead of Summit Home Buyers. “These reports show you how many users visited your site, how long they stayed on your page, and how many pages were viewed each session. If you notice an uptick each week, then you are doing something right. If you notice a downward trend, then you need to reevaluate your website and try something different.” 

Watch Google Analytics tutorial videos 

Stuart Leung of Breazy says, “If you’re a visual learner and are still in the process of learning Google Analytics, watch their Youtube videos. 

Leung adds. “Google Analytics has an official YouTube channel that dives into the features and capabilities that Google Analytics holds. There are also a variety of “tip” videos that new users can benefit from.” 

“For marketers just getting started with Google Analytics, I would recommend spending some time watching the free video tutorials offered at Google Analytics Academy,” says Tarun Gehani of Pure Visibility. “Once you’ve covered a few basic principles, integrating Google’s new WordPress plugin, Site Kit, is a great place to incorporate Analytics and Search Console data to see clearly where your visitors are coming from, and how they are interacting on your website.

Take the official Google Analytics training course 

In addition to Youtube videos, many experts recommended the official Google Analytics training course. 

Ahmad Dirani of Hovi says, “Google Analytics has an academy which has a free course, so my advice is to take the course.” 

Catherine Way of Prime Plus Mortgages adds, “Taking the Google Analytics Course is a must for any marketer. They really go as in-depth as you need, and base the course on the level. A bonus is that you can get certified in each level of Google Courses and learn features in a go-at-your-own-pace environment.” 

Zalán Tallér of Morningscore emphasized, “Remember the golden rule of “Learning by Doing.” Be passionate about exploring the data and researching the different areas in the software. Although the Google Analytics Academy courses are a good starting point, eventually, you can just log in and surf in the database, which will make you remember much better where you find what.” 

Keep an eye on bounce rate

Ezra Mikhel of Stafftimer App says, “My advice to beginners would always be careful to observe the overall bounce rate. A high bounce rate means that people are going back to their previous page after visiting your site. This is not a good look. Google pays close attention to this statistic, and so should you.” 

Rahul Khosla of Point & Quack recommends this resource for ways to reduce the bounce rate. 

Pay attention to session duration 

In addition to the bounce rate, Bryan Ng of Bryan Digital recommends looking at session duration. 

“Look at the session duration on your page to gauge if your users complete reading it,” says Ng. “Say if your content has a 5 minutes read and session duration only last 1 minute, I am pretty sure they did not cover all of your content. You need to investigate and make the necessary adjustment.” 

Set up UTM tracking 

“Always use UTM parameters when advertising anywhere,” says Ron Stefanski of Prison Insight. “Simply put, UTM parameters allow you to understand how many visitors came from a specific ad campaign and will allow you to measure the ROI of an ad campaign accurately. As an example, if you run a Facebook ad campaign, all of your users will be lumped into “Facebook” as the referring source, and this will include ANY traffic from Facebook. UTM Parameters allow you to tie visits back to the specific ad campaign instead.” 

“Utilizing Google’s URL Campaign Builder gives you a powerful, yet simple tool to track results of specific campaigns,” says Anthony Gaenzle. “Let’s say you’re promoting an ebook. You drop the link into the URL Builder form, add in some details about the medium, source, and other tracking insights, and then Google creates a URL that tracks traffic to your site from that specific campaign through Google Analytics. This is an invaluable tool for businesses to determine what specific campaign, or part of a campaign, was the most effective.” 

Pro Tip: Here is an easy UTM builder from Google to help. 

Sync your Google Ads account with Google Analytics 

“Connect your AdWords account to gain greater insight into how your campaigns are performing,” says Jacqueline Tihanyi of Fisher Unitech. “Once these are linked, you can also use your GA data for AdWords retargeting. The process of connecting the two platforms only takes a few minutes and is well worth it.”

Connect your Google Search Console account with Google Analytics 

Another tool that is worth connecting is Google Search Console. 

Alistair Dodds of Ever Increasing Circles says, “Make sure you connect your Google Search Console to your Google Analytics via Admin, Property Settings. This is absolutely vital in order to see the organic keywords that bring you traffic.” 

Dodds explains, “To see these results simply go to Acquisition – Search Console – Queries, and you’ll be able to see clicks, impressions, CTR and your average position for each term. If you prepared a keyword plan at launch and know which landing pages are optimized for which keywords, you can then use the landing pages report to cross-compare and see which pages correlate to which keywords.” 

Create goals in Google Analytics 

Many of the Google Analytics experts we reached out to all recommended starting with creating goals. 

John Colascione of Internet Marketing Services says, “Set up your first goal, which is simply the desired action you would like to see someone take on your website. This could be filling out a lead form (i.e. goal – arrival at the thank you page), or it could be simply reading a particular page, like your about us page (i.e. goal – person read specific content). Whatever it is that you consider an accomplishment on your site, set that as a goal by visiting “Admin —> View —> Goals —> New Goal,” define your goal, and learn to use and view the data by reviewing how your goal is accomplished by visitors, such as what path people take in order to make the goal take place.” 

Maureen McCabe of McCabe Marketing recommends, “Start by creating a “custom” goal for sales leads. Choose “destination” to track the thank you page for the form submitted. Make sure you test that it works by completing the form on your website.” 

“Destination goals are my favorite basic beginner’s tip,” says Megan Upperman of Augurian. “There are a ton of custom ways to create these goals, but destination (URL) based ones are really nice and simple. Even without Google Tag Manager implemented, you can track those meaningful actions and offer real value to clients by tracking lead generation conversions that have thank-you pages!” 

“A well set up goal for an eCommerce website will tell you exactly how much each page is worth,” adds Nick Leffler of WPHubSite. “For other goals, it’ll tell you which pages are performing the best if they are declining in effectiveness, and where you want to focus on improving your website.” 

Ricardo Velez of Fundera explains, “Goals allow you to track specific user interactions on your site. If goals aren’t set up, you’re looking at metrics such as page views and dwell time without any real connection to your funnel. Google provides easy to use goal templates along with the ability to create your own.” 

Ash Terry of Jaywing says, “Setting up and defining goals is an invaluable way to measure the quality of traffic you’re sending to your website. Once you have goals set up, Google Analytics is able to provide you with further crucial data such as conversion rate.” 

Use segments, dimensions, and filters to remove excess noise 

With so much information and data in Google Analytics, it is easy to get overwhelmed. Because of this, many marketers and data scientists recommend creating custom filters, segments, and dimensions. 

Alice Bedward of Flyparks says, “Try using Filters to keep data integrity and eliminate noise. The more you filter out irrelevant data, the less noise there is to distract your analysis.” 

“In Google Analytics, filters are used by Views to segment data into smaller groups,” adds Bedward. “You can use these to create a customized view for your website data by removing unnecessary or unwanted elements such as internal IPs, developer site traffic, query strings, lowercase search terms, and lowercase URLs. Filters can also be created at both the Account Level and the View Level. However, it’s best practice to create all filters in the Account Level and then assign them to different views.”

Adam Lumb of Cashcow adds, “The best thing beginners can do is identify their main target audience(s) beforehand, so you can filter the data for better results.” 

Lumb continues, “For example, regional businesses who sell locally will want to be able to see data from local users. Alternatively, you may want to see how different age groups behave on your site. Once you’ve identified your core targets, you can set up segments. These basically give you the option to view data from these relevant sources – so, for example, if you sell cars in New Jersey, then you can look at traffic which comes from a New Jersey IP address and therefore has higher value potential.” 

“Filters are your friend,” says Jesse Ringer of Method and Metric SEO Agency. “Removing as much spam as possible from your data really matters. Eliminating spam referrals and languages with filters was a game-changer for me.” 

In addition to custom filters, Stuart Cooke of Levity Digital adds, “Create your own custom segments. By creating custom segments, you can filter it down to show you the data that’s most important to you, such as visitors from a specific location, using a mobile device, and within your target demographic.” 

“Even some experienced users won’t have used all of what Google Analytics has to offer,” says Ellie-Paige Moore of The Bolt Way. “However, one tip I would definitely suggest that using straight away is the ability to segment users and sessions. This will help if you want to look specifically at users who are located in a particular geographic region or for sessions where a conversion has happened. I always segment. You are able to understand your business demographics in a more robust way.” 

“Take some time to really familiarize yourself with the dimensions and metrics available within the tool, as well as their relationships to one another,” adds Keith Moehring of PR 20/20. “By understanding what data is available, you can move beyond the standard reports that only answer what happened, and begin to uncover deeper insights by answering who, when, how, and the most important question, why. 

Filter out inaccurate and spammy data 

“My biggest tip to any beginner with GA, would be to ensure you have accurate data,” says Alex Ratynski of Ratynski Digital. “Be sure to set up filters that filter out all the data that you don’t want to be viewing. Especially if you are making strategic decisions based on that data.

Ratynski recommends: 

  • Removing and filtering referral spam
  • Automatically forcing URLs to be lowercase 

Dive deeper with secondary dimensions

Gae Gabor of Ivio Agency says, “Use secondary dimensions to be able to break down your metrics further. For example, when looking at your best-performing pages, it’s extremely helpful to use “secondary dimensions” + “default channel grouping” to see how users are reaching certain pages and how they got there.” 

Andy Crestodina of Orbit Media adds, “Don’t just click on the top-level reports in the left side navigation. Click on the right and set up segments and filters. Drill down into the reports. Use secondary dimensions.

To learn to really use the tools, you need to go deeper into the data. The only way to do this is to click on the right. (as seen in the screenshot below)” 

Remember to filter out your IP address 

“I suggest adding a filter to exclude traffic from your IP address (and the IP addresses of your team),” says Brandon Howard of All My Web Needs. “That way, you don’t impact the data collected when you look at your own website.”

Caleb Sylvest of Spacetime adds, “It’s crucial to set up IP address filters to filter out yourself, coworkers, etc. from the analytics data. Else your data will be skewed.”

Gwen Beren of Illuminous Marketing, Inc. says, “First, collect the IP addresses of your team members (home and office if they work from both locations) by simply typing a google query “what’s my IP?” Then in Analytics, go to Admin > Create View and name that view “Filtered.” Once that is created, go to Filters > Add Filter and add each computer to be filtered out one by one. For example, Filter Name = Gwen’s Computer; Select Filter Type = Exclude; Select source or destination = traffic from IP addresses; Select Expression = that is equal to; then paste the IP address in the field, click save, and repeat.” 

“The number one thing I do when setting up a GA for a website is to set up filtering for the traffic that is coming from my home and my office,” says Antti Alatalo. “I always create a new view and will exclude the traffic coming from the known IP-addresses. It’s important to create a new view. You want to keep the raw data available in GA, in case something goes wrong with filtering.” 

Lauren Gast of Truck Driver Institute adds, “Create a filtered view that blocks out traffic from you or your company’s IP address. This makes sure you’re not skewing your data with internal visits to your website and that you’re just focusing on customer behavior.” 

“The reason you want to make this adjustment right away is that whenever your beginning to test your website’s traffic, you want to be able to gather data as accurate as possible,” explains Patricio Quiroz of Code Authority. “Having data patterns from your own network could interfere with your report and will make it really hard to determine how your customers are actually interacting within your website. You can apply this change by using a filter to filter our traffic by IP address.” 

Sort by acquisition source and medium 

“For beginners, I think the most important feature to know in Google Analytics is the Source/Medium view under Acquisition,” says David Waiter of Direction Inc. “As a marketer, we need to know the sources that are driving the most amount of traffic. It’s a crucial jumping-off point for more informed decision-making.” 

Wes Marsh of eRep CPQ by BCA Technologies recommends, “Start off by reviewing the Source/Medium reports found by navigating to “Acquisition > All Traffic > Source/Medium.” This report helps you understand where your traffic is coming from, and when combined with the Behavior and Conversion Data, it gives you a great understanding of how users are getting to your site and then interacting with your site once they’re there.” 

Anand Iyer adds, “Create an audience on Google Analytics based on page visits, session duration, behavior, and source medium. Then, you can share this audience directly with Google Ads and use them for remarketing campaigns.” 

“The most informative report in Google Analytics for me – and which I treat as my ‘homepage’ for each analytics account I enter, has to be the Source/Medium report,” says Ben Carew of Webbuzz. “This report provides a broad but informative overview of where your traffic is coming from and how that traffic is performing. You will see the traffic split into the 3 key areas around which any website data analysis occurs: Acquisition, Behaviour, and Conversions.” 

Carew continues, “note the difference in user behavior between each traffic channel for some keen and fast insights. Are organic search visitors more engaged than those coming from Facebook referrals (ads)? The Pages / Session and Bounce Rate metrics may hold clues.” 

“It’s got everything you need,” adds Chloe Thomas of eCommerce MasterPlan. “Your website’s headline stats AND a breakdown of how each of your traffic sources is doing.” 

Alan Gruntz of BarkleyREI says, “It’s crucial to see which platforms and campaigns are driving the traffic, which helps us analyze our paid strategy.” 

Katie Pomeroy of 45/RPM adds, “First look at the attribution report with source/medium as a secondary dimension.” 

“I remember that it was an eye-opener for me when I found out that I could add a ‘Secondary Dimension’ in Google Analytics,” adds Raul Tiru of GlobalOwls. “I think it’s the first easy thing to do to get more insights with two clicks of a button. For instance, go to ‘Acquisition,’ ‘All Traffic,’ ‘Source/Medium.’ Click ‘Secondary Dimension’ and select ‘Landing Page.’ Now, you can not only see where traffic is coming from but also, per source/medium, on which page they landed.” 

Ty Belknap of Tacoma SEO Company says, “My favorite report is the Acquisition Overview. It gives a good overview of how marketing is doing. For instance, if you recently did a social media campaign, you should see better social media results here. If you don’t, your campaign may not have done as well as you thought.” 

Editor’s Note: Download our dashboard template to monitor traffic by acquisition source. 

Learn to use Google Tag Manager

“Learn to use Google Tag Manager while studying up on Google Analytics,” says Glenn Allen of The Glenn Allen Show. “It will save you a lot of time down the road, simplify your analytics activities, and make you more valuable as a marketing analyst.” 

Farasat Khan of IsItWP adds, “I will highly advise anyone starting with Google Analytics to set up GA using Google Tag Manager. This allows us to set up events, tags, variables, and a lot more to enable advanced tracking using JavaScript such as Dwell Time tracking.” 

“If you are new to Google Analytics, you better pay attention to the different implementation methods out there and choose the one that fits your needs best,” cautions Olivian Stoica of 123FormBuilder. “Most experts will recommend that you use the standard method, which is implementing the tracking code directly in the source code of your website pages (head and body). On the other hand, if you intend to use other tracking tools, besides Google Analytics (e.g. HotJar or InnerTrends), you’re better off with implementing GA through Google Tag Manager. It will be easier this way, and you can rest assured that all tracking codes are working on the site.” 

Stoica also shares the importance of understanding the difference in traffic metrics. 

“When it comes to “traffic,” it’s important to know the differences between “sessions,” “users,”`new users,” and “returning users,” says Stoica. “In the old days of GA, these metrics had different and more logical names: “visits” (sessions), “unique visitors”(users). If you run an eCommerce business, your most trusted traffic metric would be “sessions,” since your customers would most likely buy more than once (sessions = repeated visits, even from the same IP). But for a SaaS, “users” (unique visitors) or “new users” is a better choice if your goal is to track signups in your platform.

Veronica De Borba of OnPoint Internet Marketing says, “One super important tip is don’t forget to add Google Tag Manager to your website so you can actually get data from your site to Google Analytics. This was a mistake that I did when I first started, so to save time, add that right way.” 

Make sure to set up conversion tracking in Google Analytics 

“One tip would be to ensure that you properly configure Google Analytics,” says Umarah Hussain of Colewood. “Beginners must ensure that they have set up their account to measure the crucial parts of their business. Configuring a Google Analytics account should then include: setting up events, setting up eCommerce, setting up and tracking keywords, setting up goals, enabling demographics, and finally, utilizing the multi-channel funnels. When these factors have been configured, beginners will be on their way to successful reporting and analyzing all aspects of their business.” 

“Not all traffic is created equally. Learn how to identify the traffic that is helping you achieve your goals,” says Phil Caines of 1UP Digital Marketing. “Once you know this, learn to set up conversion tracking, and you will be on your way to optimizing your site to help achieve your goals online.” 

David Silverman of Solution Loans adds, “Set up conversion tracking (with sales values if appropriate) as soon as possible. In the early days, you will be interested in the number of visits to your site etc. as sales/leads will be low. However, after using the platform, you will start to become interested in conversions and unless you set this up at the start, you won’t have any data to go by from the past and will have to start from scratch. Set it up, forget about it and revisit the incredibly useful data once you have some.” 

David Zhao of Wowa Leads adds, “Plan out and implement a Google Analytics Event layout that allows you to measure user activity and interaction on your webpages more precisely. Capturing user metrics such as time spent on your pages, amount of scroll activity, and button hovering can create a depth to your data, which you can use to create more effective landing pages and conversion funnels.”

Set up Site Search 

“Google Analytics is a bit like a Ferrari,” says Dallin Hatch of Womply. “It’s filled with all sorts of bells and whistles that can intimate someone who’s just learning how to drive.”

Hatch adds, “Professionals who are just getting started should focus on features that have the greatest potential to be useful for their business function. For example, if you manage e-commerce, you can start by learning how to collect and analyze purchase and transaction data with GA’s e-commerce functionality. Are you a UX pro? You could start with Site Search to understand how visitors use your site’s search function (which terms they entered, how effectively the search results created deeper engagement, etc.). Identify what you hope to extract from Google Analytics before deciding which path to start down on.” 

Nicole Wolfe of TopSpot adds, “Site Search is one that can be set up very quickly and provide much insight into what is important to your visitors.” 

Phil Gregory of Peak District SEO explains, “Go to Admin, Click View Settings, Scroll down to Site Search Settings, Enable. Set your query parameter (different for different types of sites, WordPress is usually ‘s’, Magento usually ‘q’) and then tick the ‘strip query parameters out of URL checkbox. From now on, you’ll get site search data in analytics, which can be really useful in better understanding customer intent. You can also use that search data well on eCommerce sites to redirect searches to specific category pages.” 

Start with channels 

Luke Wester of Miva, Inc. encourages newbies to start with channel reporting. 

“This will show you traffic segmented by default traffic groupings,” says Wester. “The benefit here is getting used to thinking about visitors based on the origin of their session. It will help newcomers link marketing decisions, like paid ads and content creation, to traffic volume, and serve as the starting point for data-driven decision making.” 

Configure Google Analytics Demographics Reporting 

David Miles of The PPC Machine says, “Make sure you enable demographic reports so as you can see data about the age, gender, and interests of the people who visit your website.” 

View the behavior flow report 

Brooklin Nash says, “When I first started with Google Analytics, my favorite report was Behavior Flow. All the other metrics are helpful for big-picture metrics (“how is traffic growing?”) and specific measures (“would a CTA improve bounce rate?”), but the Behavior Flow gave me a clear map of how users interact with the site. As a content marketer, this expanded my focus from landing pages to treating the entire site as a cohesive resource.” 

“The Behavior Flow report shows how visitors engage with the site and if your funnels are working as expected,” adds Vishal Srivastava of Trainedge Consulting.   

Jacob Landis-Eigsti says, “Behavior flow report is one of the most powerful features in Google Analytics. It’s located under “Behavior”->”Behavior flow.” I don’t see many beginners using it properly. Behavior flow not only shows what page people visit but also where they click and how they navigate your site. You can see where people go from your homepage and where people are leaving your site. I’ve worked with many people who were able to increase their conversion rates and revenue by making some small adjustments based on the behavior flow.”

“It’s your best ally if you wonder how people actually use your website and what improvements you can make to increase your conversion rate,” says Caroline Scholten of Chocolate Films.  

Use the compare to feature 

Kuri Khailo of Elite Nutrition says, “One of the best tips I can give out is using the ‘compare to’ feature. This allows you to compare days, weeks, months, etc to your current so you can see your progress. I usually do it for organic traffic.” 

Thena Franssen of Hodgepodge Hippie adds, “I love that I can compare current traffic to previous traffic periods or years. It’s a quick way to show myself where I’m growing and where I lack to redirect my attention.” 

Pay attention to the real-time reporting dashboard 

Yoann Bierling of International consulting says, “Studying the real-time report and having a regular look at it will help you understand better what your audience is like: what they have a look at, when they visit, how long they stay, and how it can help you grow. All this data is available in separate reports, but only real-time report will show it all in a combined manner.” 

View the Audience Behavior Report 

“The Audience Behavior Report is one of the most valuable reports I check daily,” says Frank Spear of RafflePress. “This section is so important because it gives you a general overview of the health of your website and shows you how consumers engage with your content. You can see new visitors vs. return visitors, learn about how long customers spend on your site and learn what your target audience wants to see when they visit your page.” 

Create a custom dashboard 

“I recommend setting up a custom dashboard which you can look at to easily view all of your favorite and most important statistics since you’ll find yourself looking back at Google Analytics on a regular basis,” says David Sandy of David Sandy Official. “By setting up a custom dashboard, you’ll be able to view everything all at once quickly. The four stats I recommend to include in the custom dashboard would be a timeline of your page views, the timeline of your users, bounce rate metric, and a table of pageviews by landing page.” 

Ellie McNeil of citrusHR adds, “If you’ve never used Google Analytics before, it can often seem like a daunting tool, however, it doesn’t have to be and what I’d recommend doing is look into importing a prebuilt dashboard, so that you have all the data you want to track in one handy place. There are many of these prebuilt datasets out there that can be beneficial for a multitude of areas within your business. For example, you can download a SEO dashboard that allows you to track the metrics that matter for your organic efforts such as what keywords are used to search for your business on Google or if you’re a business owner there is an executive dashboard that allows you to track conversions to see how much money your website is making.” 

Editor’s Note: If you are looking to see a snapshot of your website traffic at any given time, check out our Google Analytics traffic dashboard template.  

Axel DeAngelis of NameBounce says, “By creating a custom dashboard, you’ll have a chance to take a look at each metric that Google Analytics tracks, and will get more familiar with the tool than you would by just looking at your Google Analytics home page.” 

“Use custom dashboards to save time,” adds Atanas Valchev of Pixus. “Custom dashboards give you the opportunity to see the things that matter the most to you at a glance. For instance, you can have Bounce Rate, Conversions, Revenue, Sessions, and more all on the same dashboard, whereas normally you’d have to open 4 different pages in Analytics. You can also import dashboards created by other people using the Google Analytics Solutions Gallery. This can give you some great ideas if you’re not sure where to start.” 

Harry Gandia of Igniting Movement says, “Create a customized dashboard. It will allow you to get a snapshot of metrics that are important to your business.” 

Add Google Analytics insights to your WordPress dashboard

If you use WordPress, Debashri Dutta of Blog Tyrant recommends adding your Google Analytics insights into your WordPress dashboard through a third-party plugin.  

“Using a plugin like MonsterInsights creates an analytics setup in minutes,” says Dutta. “It also displays all the information you need on a single dashboard. There’s no need to spend days trying to figure out how to use Analytics when a plugin can do the work for you.” 

Utilize the built-in annotation feature 

“The Annotation section is super helpful for beginners and something that not many utilize,” says Brooke Logan of Sagefrog Marketing Group. “I love using it to make a note of when changes are made to the website like content updates, and title and description revisions to be able to easily correlate those changes with any fluctuations that you may show in traffic.” 

Create custom reports 

Ayesha Ambreen says, “If you are just starting up with Google Analytics, create customized reports to focus attention on things that are important. Customized reports can help you keep statistics under control. For example, if your focus is traffic monitoring from specific locations or through specific platforms, instead of navigating through all the reports, you can create a customized interface where all these statistics can be viewed with a single click. Also, these customized reports can be downloaded for instant sharing within or outside the team.” 

Automate your reporting notifications 

“It is also a good idea to set up alerts so that the data is brought to you, meaning you don’t need to refer back to the site constantly,” says James Nuttall of It Works. “This will bring the information to you as quickly and efficiently as possible.” 

Nuttall also cautions against spending too much time each day within Google Analytics. 

“Don’t become addicted to checking the charts available at Google Analytics as this can mean you spend the whole of your working day looking for patterns and trends,” adds Nuttall. “Instead, make a schedule of times throughout the day when you should review the data Google Analytics provides you; this will help you to spot significant changes and patterns as they will be easier to spot.” 

Hire an expert to teach you 

Jeremy Cross of Team Building Seattle says, “Hire an expert to show you the basics. Google Analytics is a large and powerful platform. However, it can also be difficult to navigate and understand. If you hire an expert for even one hour, you can quickly learn the ins and outs of the tools available to you, which will yield dividends in traffic and business insights for years to come. You can find experts on platforms like Upwork and Clarity.” 

Be wary of analysis paralysis 

Caroline Ahlquist of Cleverfunnel Digital cautions, “Worry less about the mechanics and the tech and more about the interpretation of the data. For most small to medium-sized businesses, the standard template will get you pretty far if you know how to interpret the data. It is really easy to go down a rabbit hole of collecting mass amounts of data and then find yourself in analysis paralysis.”  

***

In sum, Google Analytics is a robust platform. It is easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of data and metrics. These tips can help you spot trends as well as filter out the noise. 

About the author
Jessica Malnik
Jessica Malnik Jessica Malnik is a content strategist and copywriter for SaaS and productized service businesses. Her writing has appeared on The Next Web, Social Media Examiner, SEMRush, CMX, Help Scout, Convince & Convert, and many other sites.
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