In the previous lesson, you learned about Google Analytics and how to configure it and set it up on your website. In this lesson, you will learn how to explore the Google Analytics user interface so that you can navigate the tool and access its various components easily.
The main topics covered in this lesson include:
Overview of the Google Analytics Interface
When you login to Google Analytics, you’ll find yourself in the Reporting tab. At the top of every screen you’ll see that there are a few navigation links. These links provide access to the 4 main areas of the site.
- The Home tab lists all of your accounts and properties with a quick overview of all of each of their key performance stats.
- The Reporting Tab takes you to the Audience Overview screen from where you can access all your reports and dashboards.
- The Customization tab gives you access to any custom reports you’re creating.
- The Admin tab is where you manage your Google Analytics accounts such as creating new properties changing user permissions, adding integration and so on.
At the far right of the screen you will see the currently active account. Clicking on it will give you quick access to all your accounts.
The Gear icon lets you change your user settings and get help while the bell icon lets you view and respond to diagnostic messages and notifications.
Next up we have the Reporting navigation. On the left side of the screen are the links to all your reports. You can click on a category such as Audience or Behavior to view all the sub reports within that category and get in-depth information on various components such as traffic sources, goals and so on.
At the top of the left pane is the search box. You can use it to quickly find a report as well as access your recently viewed reports. If you are constantly viewing the same reports, this is a great way to get it access it quickly.
You’ll use the Dashboard section to see subsets of data at a glance saving you the trouble of going through your standard reports every time.
You’ll use the Shortcut section for quick access to the reports you use most often.
In the Intelligence events section you’ll see alerts that you set up within analytics to notify you when a specific event occurs. For instance you may set up alerts to notify you when there is a sudden increase in traffic or decline in page views.
As the name suggests the real time section displays real time stats on the number of people who are visiting your website. You can see what pages they are viewing from which location they are viewing and so on.
If you want to hide the navigation section, so you have a little more room to view your reports you can click the little arrow at the top of the panel to hide it. Click the arrow again to bring it back.
The Audience, Acquisition, behavior and Conversion sections are the main reports in Google Analytics.
We’ll check them out later in the course.
Overview of Report Headers
In this topic, we examine the different components of the headers in the Reports in Google Analytics.
Now lets go a little deeper into the UI elements of the main reporting categories that you can see on the left pane of the screen namely the Audience, Acquisition, Behavior and Conversions reports. Before I jump in let me quickly summarize what these different reports can do for you.
- The Audience reports gives insights into your audience – who they are, what devices they are using, their interests, location and so on.
- The Acquisition reports gives insights on how your visitors are behaving on your site and shows you conversion patterns such as how they navigated around your site before making a sale or a goal conversion.
- The Behavior reports indicate how your visitors are interacting with your website and shows the flow between the different pages they visited.
- The Conversions reports shows you all of the channels in Google Analytics that helped you achieve your goals.
If you look into any report, you’ll see the name of the report at the top in big bold letters. Below each report name you'll see controls that help you modify the report. In this report, which is the Language report, you can see Customize, Email, Export, Add to Dashboard and Shortcut links.
- Customize is used to modify a standard report to fit your requirements.
- Email lets you share a report with people even if they don’t have a Google Analytics account.
- Export lets you export a copy of the report in a number of file formats.
- Add to Dashboard lets you embed a copy of the report to the dashboard.
- Shortcut lets you add the current report to the Shortcuts view.
At the top right hand corner of the screen is the Date Selector. This lets you view your website on a specific day, week, month or year or compare the performance of your website for a range of days. The Graduation cap icon opens up the Google Analytics Academy where you can learn more about how each report works. Below the Graduation cap, you’ll notice a couple of segment sections. A segment is basically a subset of your analytics data that is used to compare and contrast information.
The first segment is already setup for you and it is the All Segments segment. This displays the data for your whole web property. The second section allows you to create your own segments for certain specific criteria such as bounced sessions, direct traffic, mobile traffic and so on.
To create a segment, you click the +New Segment button.
Below the segments are the Report tabs. Google Analytics displays all your reporting data in different views through these tabs.
The Explorer tab is one of the most common tabs you’ll see throughout the various reports. When you select a tab you'll see that the data is usually displayed in a graphical view at the top while the bottom half displays data in a tabular format. Immediately below the report tab is the Metrics group which contains links to different types of metrics such as summary, site usage, goals, eCommerce, AdSense and so on.
The Summary view is the default view in the Explorer tab. It shows the Acquisition, Behavior and Conversions data for specific dimensions such as age or language.
The Site Usage view displays data related to the number of sessions, pages per session, average session duration, percent of new sessions and bounce rate.
The Goals section displays the overall goal conversion rate for goals within a set, per session goal value and individual goal conversion rates for each goal in a set. We’ll learn more about goals later on in this course. For now just know that you’ll find related data here.
If you have setup your web property for ecommerce at the time of creating your Google Analytics account, you’ll see the revenue, transactions, order value, ecommerce conversion rates and per session value for data here.
If you have a website running Google AdSense, you can find data related to AdSense revenue, ads clicked, page impressions, CTR and eCPM here. For this data to show up though, you must link your Google AdSense account to your Analytics account.
Below the Metrics group,you’ll see a couple of dropdown buttons – Sessions versus Select a Metric. You can use the options in these dropdowns to see different data comparisons within your report such as sessions versus bounce rate.
To the right of the dropdown options are the timeline options. You can choose to see the hourly, daily, weekly, or monthly view of your data by selecting one of these options. If you scroll further down to the table you can see options to add a secondary dimension.
A secondary dimension is applied when you want to dig in further into your data to view specific criteria. For example, if you are in the Language report, you can dig deeper to learn the top traffic sources for a particular audience. To do this you click on Secondary Dimension, select Acquisition and then choose Source.
You can also filter the table data further by clicking the Advanced link and selecting an option. For example you can further filter by bounce rate to see which languages from specific countries are having the highest bounce rates.
These are some of the fundamental things you need to be aware of when you are navigating the Google Analytics reports. Take some time to explore it on your own. Click around the different tabs, select some metrics, change some dropdowns and see what happens to your data.
Configuring Dates and Date Ranges
As you interact with different reports, one of the first things you'll do is tweak the dates to view and compare data based on different dates and date ranges. Every report in Google Analytics offers the option to adjust your date and date range.
You can change the date range by selecting from the box in the top right hand corner of the screen. When you select a date range, Google will display data related to that time period so you can see exactly what happened during that time in your website.
Once you set a date range, it will continue to stay that way even if you navigate to other reports on the Analytics dashboard. To adjust the date range, click the date range drop down to open up the calendar.To select an entire month you can select a month or click the name of the month on the calendar. If you click Apply you can see the month you selected is now displayed and the data below has changed to reflect that.
If you go back to the Calendar view, you'll notice arrows at both ends. You can click them to scroll through the calendar to the left or right. If you want to select custom dates, just make sure that the starting date is highlighted in blue.You can then select your new custom start date and Google will replace the existing date with your selection.
In this example, let's choose May 5th. The date now changes to May 5th. You'll notice the date selector shows the blue highlight in the second end date text box. You can now select an end date. In this case let's select May 25th and click Apply. Now you can see that May 5th to May 25th is selected.
Again you can see that the data has changed to reflect the custom time period. Let's now look at what else we can do with dates. Let's go back to the date selector and this time take a look at this drop down menu.
This currently displays Custom because we selected a custom range previously.Click the dropdown and notice that you have a few preset options available. You have Today, Yesterday, Last Week and so on.
If you need to see the data for last week, you just click Last Week on the menu and hit Apply. The date selector also lets you compare data over date ranges such as week on week or month on month to see how you’ve been faring over periods of time.
Let's say I want to know my month on month performance for the last two months. I first select the first month range. Then I check the box that says Compare. You'll notice that the dropdown activated and displays Previous period. If you go ahead with this option Google will automatically highlight the month prior to the month you've selected. Just choose Apply.
Now you'll see that the graph displays 2 lines - an orange line and a blue line to highlight your website performance over the 2 date ranges. The blue line is for the month you selected and the orange line indicates performance for the previous month. If you hover over the graph lines you can see the change % between these dates. You can also compare custom dates by selecting a date range in the date selector.
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Date customization in Google Analytics is pretty easy so you can go ahead and try these different options to see how your website has been performing over different periods of time.
Taking Notes with Annotations
A lot of activity takes place on your website over a period of time. You may have been hit by an algo update like Panda and noticed a huge drop in traffic or you may have launched a new ebook causing a spike in traffic. Over a period of time you are not going to remember those key events.
That’s why Google Analytics offers a feature called Annotations that lets you take quick short notes on specific dates so that you can go back in time to know exactly what happened during that point of time.
To get started with Annotations go to the bottom of the graph section and click the little drop down arrow that appears just below the center of the graph.
At the bottom right of this panel click Create new annotation.
Select a date and then add a note.
You can share this annotation with someone in your team or you can keep it private.
Then click Save and close the panel.
You’ll see a small speech bubble over the date you created the annotation.
Anytime you want to see the annotation, you just have to select the speech bubble.
If you have created a lot of annotations you can star important ones so that you can filter them out later.
Annotations are totally great and I suggest you use them to log all your marketing campaigns, design changes and other significant web activities that can have a possible impact on your website performance.
Using Graphs to Analyze Data
In the previous topic, we saw how to use annotations to mark key events on your graph. Now lets take a look at other aspects of using graphs in Google Analytics.
I’m on the Reporting section of the website and I’m viewing the Devices report which you can access by going to the Audience category on the left pane, and selecting Mobile Devices. On the center of the screen, you can see a graph showing a line chart. This chart is displaying the number of sessions over time and you know that because the label on the report clearly indicates that.
You can change the graph to display other information as well. To do that you click the Session dropdown and select another label. For example, lets select Site Usage and Pages per session. The graph automatically displays the pages per session views over time instead of sessions. At the top right corner of the graph you can see a timeline view.
The graph on the screen currently shows the Daily view. But you can select Week or Month to display the weekly or monthly view. When you are changing the timeline view you also have to take into account the date range you selected at the top of the screen.
If the date selector is only showing one month and you select Month in the timeline view, you are only going to get a dot on the graph which is not going to add any value to your analysis. So use this option when you have a Quarter or Yearly date range selected at the top.
Let’s go back to the Day view and to the timeline. At the far right corner of the timeline lets select the 3 circles icon. This will turn your line graph into what’s called a motion chart. A motion chart is a pretty cool feature that offers an interactive view of your data. You’ll notice some colorful dots on the graph indicating the mobile devices on which your pages were viewed. At the bottom left of your screen you’ll see a Play button and a scroll bar.
You can drag the scroll bar to see an interactive view of your chart on a daily basis or you can click the Play button and run through the data. Also at the far right of the screen, you’ll see a list box that lets you select one or more devices to display on the chart. You can also make use of the unique colors and size options to display relevant information on your chart.
If you want to change the chart type you can select from the options available on the top right corner of the graph. The bar chart looks fairly easy to read while the line chart looks a bit crazy so maybe you can skip using this one. Just know that the option to change the chart type is readily available.
Now lets go back to the line chart and select Sessions. Now lets compare this to another metric. We can do that by clicking the Select a metric dropdown and choosing an option. Let’s select Bounce rate here.
So now we are looking at our sessions and the bounce rate for those sessions. The legend at the top of the chart indicates which line belongs to which metric. We can see that the light blue color is the bounce rate and the dark blue one is the sessions.
If you hover over the line you can see the contextual menu displaying information about the data and by the look of things you can see that the bounce rates here are extremely high and needs fixing. Lets check another metric. This time I'm simply going to type what I want to see in the Search box.
Lets say I want to know how many of my readers are new to the site. I’ll type new and I can see new users at the bottom of the search results so I’ll go ahead and click that. Now I can see how many of those total sessions were new users.
This graph shows that a lot of my readers are new to the site so I might want to work on my content to bring in returning visitors. If you want to remove a selection, simply click the X button to the right of the metric to go back to the default view.
Now that you know a little bit more about how to use graphical data take time to explore the different metrics and understand how your visitors are interacting and relating to your content.
Using Data Tables in Analytics
In the previous topic, you learned how to make use of graphs to view your performance. Now lets take a look at data tables which you will find below every graph in your reports. The information in the data table will vary depending on the type of report and metric you are selecting. If you look at the top of this table you will see Primary dimension displays mobile device information such as mobile service branding, service provider, mobile input selector and so on.
If you go to the Location report and select the Explorer tab, you can see that the primary dimensions are different here. In this case the Primary dimension is set to country and you can see the country list on the first column of the table.
If you select city you can see the list of cities from which people are visiting your site. Now at the far right of the table, you’ll see some check boxes. These boxes allow you to select certain options to view on the chart. So if you select United States and United Kingdom and then choose Plot Rows you can see the graph displaying sessions from the U.S as compared to the UK.
You can hover over the chart to view the information in the contextual menu. If you want to deselect these options you simply select the check box next to the country label.
If you want to drill down further to understand more about your website visitors you can make use of secondary dimensions. You can select a secondary dimension by clicking the secondary dimension dropdown. Google Analytics will usually offer you a recommendation based on the report you are viewing and in this case it is Users so lets click on it.
Now lets say I want to know which operating systems my readers are using. I’ll scroll down and select operating system. Google Analytics will pull up the secondary dimension next to the first column. Now on the right side you’ll see a umber of columns. The first one is Sessions and this is the primary column by which your data is sorted. That means the U.S and Windows users make up about 39% of your total sessions. This is followed by iOS users in the US and Windows users in the UK.
If you look further down you’ll see that Windows is also the number one OS for Canadian and Australian visitors. This sort of information will help you focus on writing content tailored to these types of readers.
To remove the secondary dimension click the X button next to its label.
Now lets look at some more things you can do on your data tables. Lets say you want to sort a view. Just click on the column name to see the change. In this case clicking on sessions will show up the least popular view.
If you want to see more than 10 rows of data, you can click the Show Rows dropdown at the bottom of the screen and select an option. At the top right hand corner of the data table, you also have a Search option. This will help you do some basic search so lets say you want to view data related only to the U.K. You just type in the keyword and hit Search and Goggle Analytics will pull up only that search term for you.
To the right of the advanced link you’ll see some buttons. These buttons change the way the data is displayed on the table. We are currently on the Data view so lets select the next option, the percentage view. Now we have the country info on the left followed by sessions which we can change to other metrics if we want to.
If you hover over the different colors you can see the different countries. As you can see here, U.S is the biggest market for this website. Lets click the performance button. This displays the horizontal bar chart and shows the performance for the selected metric.
Next is the comparison button. This displays a bar chart showing the performance of the selected metrics relative to the site average. The middle line here is the base. If you have a negative value, it will be displayed in red to the left indicating a very poor performance.
The numbers on the right indicate performances that are better than the site average. Finally the last option is the pivot button. This option will pivot your data based on a secondary dimension. So if you go to your pivot metrics and select a metric say bounce rate, the pivot table will plot the data according to that metric. Lets go back to the standard view now.
Before I finish up this topic, I want you to take a look at the bottom of your report screen. Here you’ll see an option to refresh your report. If it has been a while since you refreshed your data and you want to see the latest information you can click on this button. That basically covers everything you need to know about navigating the data tables. Again feel free to check out the various filters and options available here.