Most of my clients know that I love Google Analytics (which exists in order to tell you WHO-WHAT-WHEN-WHERE-HOW people use your website. But I hate the standard, out-of-the-box-off-the-shelf-one-size-fits-all reports that come with Google Analytics. If you want to use Google Analytics like a pro, and actually get REAL value out of it (which all website owners SHOULD want), you need to setup custom reports. But that said, for anyone who is just learning about Google Analytics, I wanted to give you the quick rundown of what the standard reports are.
Here are the facts:
- Google Analytics comes with 78 standard reports that each fall in to five categories.
- The five categories of standard reports include: real time reports, audience reports, traffic source reports, content reports, and conversion reports.
- Real-Time Reports: these four reports give you information about what is happening on your website RIGHT NOW. Where people are located in the world who are on your website right now, how they got to your website, etc. This is a fun report to look at, especially if your website has lots of traffic.
- Audience Reports: these 13 reports give you the details about who is coming to your website (that is, the your audience), what languages they speak, where are they located in the world, are they NEW visitors to your site, or are they return visitors, what devices they use to visit (iPhone, iPad?), etc.
- Traffic Sources Report: this is the biggest category (25) of standard reports, and it covers all the different paths that people took to find your website. This is the category that tells you the following: did people type your URL directly into their browser, what words did they type into Google/Yahoo/Bing in order to find your website? What landing page appeared after they typed the phrases into a search engine? Are people visiting your website because of your monthly E-Newsletter or your daily Tweets and Facebook updates? You can learn it all. (Some of the reports here can only be activated by linking your Google Analytics account to a Google Webmaster Tools account.)
- Content Report: With 21 reports, this is the second biggest category, and it tells you all about your website’s content: what content is most popular? Where do people spend the most time? Which is the biggest entrance page, and which is the biggest exit page? What links are people clicking on? What PDFs are people downloading?
- Conversion Reports: the 15 reports in this category are both very useful, and the hardest to activate and use of all the standard reports. Each one typically requires consulting to activate — but once activated, these reports show you the “outcomes” of your website. Basically, the idea is that you should ask yourself the following question: why does my website exist? Some of the answers to that question can be addressed in this section. For instance, if you sell a wide variety of products on your website, then you should enable e-commerce tracking so that you can see where your best customers are coming from, and how they behave. If you need people to download whitepapers or eBooks, you should have conversion tracking installed by setting up Goals to make sure that you can see which visits resulted in a PDF download. And for some websites that have a structured “conversion path,” you’ll want to define a sales funnel that you can measure against.
So there you have it. These are the 78 standard reports that are found in every instance of Google Analytics, and even though I typically recommend ignoring almost all of them in favor of three to four carefully created custom reports, these standard reports do a good job of illustrating the type of information you can extract from Google Analytics.