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How to use Google Analytics to set up a regular website “health check”

matt-willson
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How can you avoid getting lost in the mass of Analytics data, and instead just look at what you’re interested in? In this article we’ll explore how to create streamlined reports, known as Dashboards, suitable for a weekly health check.

To save you time navigating Analytics, the best method is to create Analytics Dashboards. At Aubergine, we have two routines for looking at Analytics:

– A weekly “health check”. This gives an early warning if there are any problems with our website and/or the sources of visits.

– A quarterly “in-depth analysis”. This helps us to spot trends (both positive and negative) which either validate our ongoing marketing efforts or alert us to changes we should make.

In this article we’ll show you how to create a weekly health check in Analytics – next month, we’ll show you how to set up an in-depth analysis.

To begin, log into Analytics, go to Customisation > Dashboards, and click the Create Dashboard button:

Dash-create

Give it a name, choose Blank Canvas, and off we go (make sure to set your date range to the last seven days, and compare it to the previous seven days).

Knowing the topline source of valuable website visits is a good starting place for regular reviews of Google Analytics data – typically, a weekly review of your key stats (in comparison to the previous week) will identify if there’s something gone wrong and allow you to address it immediately.

a) In the Add A Widget box, choose a Standard Table, set the Dimension to Source, then add a metric of Users and a metric of the key conversion (here, we’ve shown Goal Completions). We set this to 5 rows only – it’s a quick check-up, and your most important visitor sources will show up:

GA-Dash-source

b) Next, it’s worth checking if the visits the business gets via links on other websites are OK – this gives an early warning if an important link to the site has been removed, or isn’t working. Add a new widget, choose a Standard Table, set the Dimension to Source and add metrics of Users and the key conversion metric again. We set this to 5 rows only again, and Add a Filter of Source contains “Referrer”:

c) For the third widget, there are two choices:

1. If the site runs AdWords, create a widget of  Campaigns (or Ad Groups, if there is just the one Campaign) – choose a Standard Table, set the Dimension to Campaign and add metrics of Users and the main conversion. We set this to 5 rows only, and Add a Filter of Source contains “Paid”:

Dash-AdW

2. If the site doesn’t run AdWords, keep an eye on the most important pages for receiving visits. Add a Widget, choose a Standard Table, set the Dimension to Landing Page and add metrics of Users and the main conversion. We set this to 5 rows only again:

Dash-Landing

With a dashboard now set up, you’ve got the ability to perform a website “health check” in minutes. A good idea is to diarise it and set a reminder. Remember the aim isn’t to spot trends – the dataset you’re working with is too small – instead it’s to spot any immediate issues and tackle them quickly. Big drops in the week-on-week numbers in the widgets you’ve created will highlight these issues.

(Want to save time setting up your dashboard? OK – here’s a link to the dashboard template).