Introduction to Reports in Google Analytics

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Introduction to Reports in Google Analytics

Introduction to Reports in Google Analytics

Reports in Google Analytics convert raw data into presentable information. In addition, links and options within reports provide interactive segmentation which enables you to reorganize the data on the fly. There are two fundamental building blocks to any report in Google Analytics: metrics and dimensions.

Metrics and Dimensions in Google Analytics

Here is how the basic report structure works in Google Analytics:

A metric is defined as a numerical measure of the user interaction on your website. Metrics have the following characteristics:

  1. Metrics will always be expressed in the form of a number.
  2. Metrics are standalone entities. When you look at a metric in a standalone fashion it provides you with information about the site-wide performance.
  3. Metrics will form the columns of a report structure in Google Analytics.

Some of the common metrics you will find in Google Analytics are visits, pageviews, bounce rate, etc.

Dimensions, on the other hand, have the following characteristics:

  1. Dimensions are non-numerical data fields.
  2. Unlike metrics, dimensions are not standalone entities, i.e., dimensions are not generally meaningful when viewed individually.
  3. Dimensions, when coupled with metrics, provide meaningful context to the data.
  4. Dimensions can be used to segment a metric.

The following example should help you understand the above concepts:

Metric Dimensions

Overview of Report Structure

Google Analytics provides five main report categories. The following table provides an overview of the available reports along with their definitions and significance.

Report Category Explanation
Audience This category provides information about your visitors such as location and language. Also allows you to drill down and view the characteristics of different visitor segments and examine the different factors that make up visit quality.
Advertising If you are using Adwords reporting, the reports in this category help you analyze the effectiveness of your AdWords campaigns.
Traffic Sources Reports in this category provide an overview of the different kinds of sources that send traffic to your site including natural (organic) and paid sources.
Content These reports provide information about your content including an overview of pageview volume and lists the pages viewed.
Conversions Reports in this category provide information about conversion rates and goal paths. (Important for non e-commerce sites). For e-commerce sites, this category also provides commerce tracking such as revenue generated and revenue sources (only available when enabled).

Understanding the Dashboard

The dashboard module, as seen in the screenshot below, allows users to create ways to look at their data in a quick, concise way. Please note that in the previous version of Google Analytics, the dashboard was the "homescreen" for your reports. Now, it's separate from the reporting tab, and is found under the Home tab.


The dashboard module has the following main elements:

The dashboard is where you get to review the most relevant summary information about your site that you want to see at a glance.

The dashboard is completely customizable. You get to choose your desired widgets to add to your dashboard.

You get to develop multiple dashboards, and then share with others, as needed.

Customizing the Dashboard

You also have the ability to show any relevant widgets right within your custom dashboard. Again, this is a great opportunity to have the most relevant analytics information available at a quick glance.

To customize, you first need to choose + New Dashboard.

As seen in the screenshot below, you will the notice an option to start with a Blank Canvas, or a Starter Dashboard. With a Blank Canvas, the options are almost endless to do what you'd like. With a Starter Dashboard, Google automatically filles in some of the most poplar widgets:

  1. Daily Visits
  2. Avg. Time on Site
  3. Total Goal Conversion Rate
  4. Traffic Types
  5. Time on Site by Country
  6. Conversion Rate by Source
  7. Mobile Visits

With either option, you can add in your own widgets. When you choose to Add a Widget, you will choose your Metric, any desired Filters, and then whether you want this data displayed in a Pie, Timeline, or Table format. Look at the following widget settings based on the desire to quickly compare the bounce rate on all search terms that contained the word 'training.'

And to get rid of any of your widgets within a dashboard, simply click the gear button on the top right of the widget. You will then be brought to the settings screen and you can delete from there.