Once you’ve developed a working knowledge of GA to know where to look for data, it’s time to make the data work for you. Employing Google Analytics dashboards are a simple, easy way to get powerful insights into your website’s performance. In this blog, I lay out 5 GA hacks to help you surface your websites most important data at the click of a button.
Example website used throughout blog: www.beertannica.com, a website which allows people to peruse beer menus, order beers to their house, and gives them recommendations based on their palate (this specific website doesn’t exist, but we wish it did).
Hint #1 – Get hierarchical
Use a dashboard hierarchy to always put the right information in front of the right person
Tier 1 — Start with your highest-level metrics. Are sales up or down? How is traffic trending? What are your major site sections and how are they converting? If something major over or under performs, that data should be visible here, and should tell you where to look next.
Tier 2 – Now you can split your dashboards down into site sections. If something is under or over performing, this is where you do your exploration. Was it mobile or desktop that caused traffic to spike? Is there a group of pages that aren’t working?
Tier 3 – depending on the size of your site, a third tier may be necessary. I’ve sketched out an example of what that could look like using beertannica as the example.
Hack #2 — Nothing compares to the compare feature
Activating Google’s compare feature gives you instant looks at how your site is trending
The ability to compare data week-to-week, month-to-month, and year-to-year is essential to understand how your site is performing and how your users are changing. Google Analytics makes comparison across custom date ranges easy to do, and will even calculate the % change between the two periods.
Check the “compare to” box, which pops up along with the date selection box. Google will automatically take the length of the period you have selected and apply it back to create a congruent previous period. Settings allow you to define the compare period to any custom date range which is useful to you.
Hack #3 — #nofilter is not for you
If Google won’t let you stack the metrics you want, get creative with filters to carve out the right data
Going no filter on your instagram may garner you a rush of social capital, but when it comes to google analytics dashboards, the filter is thy friend. If you’re struggling to create the right data view, a well-crafted filter can likely sparse out the data you need. For example, while you might not have a metric for desktop conversions, you can effectively do the same thing by looking at overall conversions and filtering out mobile and tablet traffic.
Hack #4 – It aint trickin’ if GASG got it
Google Analytics Solutions Gallery has hundreds of crowd-sourced pre-built dashboards
I’m not saying you’re not special, but chances are that somebody has already done what you’re trying to do. The good news is they want you to copy them. And unlike high school spanish, you’re allowed to copy them!
The share feature on google analytics allows you to take your dashboards and share with specific coworkers or with the general public in Google’s Solutions Gallery. It’s important to know that when dashboards are shared, Google will never export your personal information or your analytics data. The only thing that gets exported is the structure of the dashboard, which in turn ingests the data from the property to which you add it.
*If you have defined additional data through GTM, importing a dashboard may come with some additional assembly required. For all data that GA automatically collects however, it’s a godsend.
Hack #5 – URLs crave structure
Using a logical, hierarchical system for naming URLs can make segments and filters extraordinarily powerful
Remember earlier when we talked about getting creative with filters? Creating a structured URL hierarchy to track specific regions of your website allows you to take that to the next level.
Let’s use beertannica.com as an example. Creating a URL structure for the beer menu that calls out each level of the menu that a user is at would allow you to create a dashboard that instantly displays which beers are the most searched for each style of beer. An example URL for this could be: www.beertannica.com/beer-menu/IPA/Fulton-batch300, which would link to the page for Fulton’s Batch 300 IPA (an office favorite at Ovative).
Once you structure URLs like this for every page, you can see how well certain beer styles or breweries are performing over other breweries.
To get a view on which beers are the hottest IPAs, you could use this widget:
Bonus hack – the shortcut to achievement
Use Google’s shortcut feature to come back to GA reports you’ve already looked at
Google has a number of pre-built reports (e.g. mobile vs. desktop funnel, user engagement report) which provide better looks at data than you can build in a dashboard. Rather than reconstructing a dashboard to show the same thing, they created the shortcut feature to let you navigate to any of their reports at a click of a button. The best thing? If you want to continually show the same report with a recurring segment or filter, GA will save that along with the shortcut.
How to activate
Step 1: open the exact report you would like to save
Step 2: add any custom filters, metrics, or segments you would like to save with it
Step 3: click “shortcut,” give it an appropriate name, and save it
Hopefully, this blog gets you thinking about harnessing the power of Google Analytics dashboards. If you have lingering questions, here are two mores sites that consistently publish quality GA content:
1) Lunametrics (sign up for their GA blog!)