Google Analytics Dashboard: What It Is and How to Get Started

Written by Coursera • Updated on

Learn about the key insights a Google Analytics dashboard can track, and how to use this important data-driven tool.

[Featured Image]: Analytics consultant, working on a desktop computer, using data from google dashboards to evaluate the progress of a project.

In today's business environment, data is currency, and that is especially true when it comes to website traffic and user behavior. Businesses that know who visits their sites, where they come from, how long they stay, and what pages especially attract them can leverage that information to make more informed—and successful—decisions.

Google Analytics is an important tool used to track many key metrics, including page views, bounce rate, user location, and more, and a Google Analytics dashboard houses customizable widgets that track real-time data. If you appreciate understanding what's happening on your website or your company's website, Google Analytics can be a valuable addition to your data toolbox.

In this article, we'll dive deeper into Google Analytics, including what they help track, how to set one up, and jobs that rely on using them.

What is Google Analytics?

Google Analytics dashboards use graphs, charts, and other forms of data visualization to tell you how a website is performing with users. It's a customizable digital interface that allows you to choose from up to 12 widgets (per dashboard) to track an array of metrics.

Using a dashboard on Google Analytics, you can quickly gauge your website's performance, compare reports, and monitor your business in a single location.

What kinds of data does a Google Analytics dashboard track?

The dashboard itself does not track anything. Instead, it's the widgets you can choose from and build into a dashboard that track a variety of metrics.

Popular metrics that you can track via Google Analytics include:

  • Conversions

  • Engagement by device

  • Keyword traffic

  • Location

  • Order value

  • Referring domains and social sources

  • Sessions by channel

  • Time on site

  • Traffic sources

  • Unique visitors

Read more: What Is Predictive Analytics? Definition, Examples, and More

Both Google Dashboards and Google Reports provide data, but they serve different purposes. While Dashboards track and display data in real time, monitoring an array of metrics and key performance indicatos (KPIs), Reports are static documents that pull data from specific sets. Data contained in a report is not live data.


Why is Google Analytics useful?

Google Analytics is an important marketing analytics tool. It can be especially helpful for marketing teams, especially content marketing, SEO marketing, and digital marketing teams, to track relevant website data because these marketing groups tend to have a vested interest in site performance, visibility, and user engagement.

Google Analytics provides information about the users who visit your site and the type of engagement taking place.

  • Users refer the people who visit your website

  • Sessions refer to the time they spend on your site

By collecting information about these two components, Google Analytics can help you better understand what's working well and what might need to be improved. For example, if you see that users don't spend a lot of time on a particular page, it could suggest that the content isn't meeting their needs or the design isn't as functional as it could be.

How to build a Google Analytics dashboard

Setting up a Google Analytics account and dashboard is a relatively streamlined process. Follow the steps below to get started.

1. Create the necessary Google accounts.

You'll need to create a Google account and then a Google Analytics account to set up a Google Analytics dashboard. Both accounts are free.

2. Create a property.

A property refers to the website you'd like to track. In order to create one for Google Analytics, you'll need to follow the Property Setup Assistant's prompts.

Often, this means adding in the name of your site, the time zone, and the currency (if you're involved in e-commerce or wish to use advertising). You may also need to specify whether you want to track a website, an app, or both.

3. Install a tracking ID.

Once you create your property, Google Analytics will generate a tracking ID. This should be readily available upon completion, but you can also find it by clicking on "Admin" in the lower left-hand menu, then "tracking info."

This step is important because you'll need to add your tracking ID to your website in order to complete the monitoring process. Website building and hosting companies, like Squarespace, WordPress, and Wix, among others, have an option under their respective administrative function to add your tracking ID. Follow their support guides for more information.

4. Customize your dashboard with widgets.

On a Google Analytics dashboard, you can add up to 12 widgets to track the data that's most useful for you. At the Google Analytics home screen, click on "Customization" in the upper left-hand menu. You should now see the option to create a dashboard.

You have the option of building a dashboard from scratch or going with options that Google Analytics deems important, such as new users, average session duration, and bounce rate. You can add new widgets by clicking "+Add Widget" under the name of your dashboard to select from different options and develop the best dashboard for your needs.

5. Wait 24-48 hours.

Your site's data won't be available right away—it will take some time to populate. Give it 24-48 hours and then check back to see the data Google Analytics has started pulling from your site.

Build key analytics skills

Enroll in the Google Data Analytics Professional Certificate to develop key data skills, including monitoring website traffic, using data to evaluate website content, and setting goals.

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