If you track your site with Google Analytics ( if you don’t, ask your web designer to set it up for you) here is a way to set up your dashboard so it contains the essential information you need to make informed decisions.
The dashboard is a summary of all the key statistics on how your visitors find you and what they are looking for. You can find a link to it on top of the left-hand menu on your Google Analytics page. There is a default dashboard but you can modify it to your liking. You can have this dashboard emailed to you on a regular basis—weekly or monthly—so you can easily stay on top of any changes to your site statistics.
Here is a recommendation of what is most useful to have on your dashboard and how to set it up.
This is the first question everyone asks: How many people visit my site? There are two type of visitors you want to track:
- Total number of visits for your selected time period. If the same person visits the page two times, they are counted twice.
- Total number of unique visitors. Each visitor is only counted once.
If there is a large discrepancy between the two, that may mean that you have a core loyal audience that comes back to the site again and again but also that you may be missing out on new visitors. Here is another interesting metric to track:
- Percentage New Visits: How many people have come to your site for the first time since you started tracking it
To add these widget, click on “Add widget” under the Dashboard title. This opens up this dialog box:
Choose what type of statistic format you want to show under “Standard” (Ignore “real-time” for now which shows are many visitors are on your site right now). Then replace the “Add a…” boxes. Here is how you can set up the Visitor boxes described above:
Add widget > Timeline > Add a metric: Visits (this shows the visitor variation from day to day)
Add widget > Metric > Add a metric: Visitors (this shows the total visitor number for the time period)
Add widget > Metric > Add a metric: Unique Visitors
Add widget >Metric > Add a metric: % New Visits
You will also want to know where your traffic comes from. There are four basic types of traffic:
- Referral: Came from a link from another site
- Direct: Entered your site URL in a browser window or clicked a link in an email
- Organic: Found your site on a web search
- Paid: Clicked on a link on a Google ad, etc.
It is good to know how your visitors find you. Are others sites linking to yours? Are you turning up in search engines results? That shows that your site is beginning to be found valuable by people outside of your own direct referrals. This widget will show you this at a glance:
Add widget > Pie Chart > Add a metric: Pageviews > Add a Dimension: Traffic
Average Visitor Duration
How long are people staying on your site? Are they spending time exploring your content or grabbing what they want and then leaving? Comparing this with the number of pages visited on each visit will show if people are hopping around from page to page or sticking with one page they are really engaging with it.
Timeline > Add a metric: Avg. Visit Duration > (Compare with) Add a metric: Pages/Visit
Find out which pages on the site are popular with your visitors. This is where creating good, descriptive page titles are useful, so you know at a glance which pages are referred to.
Add a widget: Table > Add a dimension: Page Title > Add a metric: Pageviews
The bounce rate represents the percentage of visitors who enter the site and “bounce” (leave the site) rather than continue viewing other pages within the same site.The average bounce rate according to Google is about 40% but it varies a lot by the type of site. A high bounce rate is not necessarily a bad thing. For a blog site, the rate is often 70% and above but that could mean that someone came to your blog, read your post, and left satisfied. But a rate that high for a company website might mean that you are getting a lot of traffic that didn’t plan on being be there.
Add Widget > Metric > Add a metric: Bounce Rate
What keywords did people search on that led to your site? (Unfortunately this measurement used to be more useful but now that many Google searches are done in a secure environment—i.e., URLs that start with https:—this data cannot be reported and you will see many of your keywords listed as “Not Provided”)
Add widget > Table > Add Dimension: Keyword > Add Metric: Visits
Browsers and Devices
You will want to consider the design ramifications of people viewing your site on older versions of Internet Explorer or on mobile phones and tablets.
Add widget > Pie Chart > Add Dimension: Browser > Add Metric: Visits
Add widget > Table > Add Dimension: Browser Version > Add Metric: Visits > Add Metric: Pageview > Filter this data: Only show Browser containing Internet Explorer
Add widget > Table > Add Dimension: Mobile > Add Metric: Visits > Add Metric: Pageview
The Final Result
The above recommendations will give you a dashboard of 12 widgets, the maximum that Google will allow. It looks like this:
Hmm, really have to work on those page titles…