If your business is one of the millions that use Google Analytics (GA) to track and measure your website traffic, it makes sense to customize it to the specific pieces you’re reporting on. Creating a custom dashboard built around your KPIs just makes sense. Everyone has access to a default “My Dashboard” but it doesn’t take much to customize one.

To create a custom dashboard in Google Analytics, do the following in your GA account under the Reporting tab:

  1. Select Dashboards.
  2. Click +New Dashboard.
  3. In the Create Dashboard dialog, select either Blank Canvas (blank slate) or Starter Dashboard (default set of widgets).
  4. Give your Dashboard a descriptive title, and then click Create Dashboard.

So now you have your blank slate. The key here is which widgets to include? GA offers different types of displays that you can add. Most of these are included in the standard dashboard, but GA offers this list of explanation to help:

  • Metric—displays a simple numeric representation of a single selected metric.
  • Timeline—displays a graph of the selected metric over time. You can compare this to a secondary metric.
  • Geomap—displays a map of the selected region, with the specified metric plotted on the map. Hover over the map to see the actual metric values.
  • Table—displays up to 2 metrics describing the selected dimension, laid out in tabular format.
  • Pie—displays a pie chart of the selected metric grouped by a dimension. Mouse over a slice to see the specific metric values.
  • Bar—displays a bar chart of the selected metric grouped by up to 2 dimensions. Mouse over a slice to see the specific metric values.

You can create dashboards with different themes that help focus your Widget choices, for example an SEO dashboard would focus on Organic Search, Keywords, Landing Pages, and Source e.g. Google. It can take a bit of playing to get the combination of Metric and Group that best fits the data you’re tracking, but once it’s been set up you can easily access it through your custom dashboard.

I renamed some of my widgets with names that more closely connect to why I’m looking at them. As I don’t check in daily it can be easy to forget what all the widgets actually mean. You can rename the individual widgets by mouse-ing over the widget title and then clicking the Edit (pencil) icon.

Google Analytics offers a lot of documentation on setting this up, some of the basics can be found here.  You can also do a search for free templates as there are several you can try out, like these. Sometimes you may luck out and get something that works perfectly for you. Sometimes it may give you ideas on how to set up your own. Either way, it’s a smart idea to know what Google Analytics can do for you – for free.

Good luck and have fun!

Carolyn is the founder of WindWater Marketing, a small business B2B marketing firm based in Toronto. WindWater Marketing uses Google Analytics and other tracking software to track and measure client performance. Visit www.windwatermarketing.ca or email hello@windwater.ca for more information.