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Google Analytics Real-Time Widgets to Try in 2015

Real-time widgets were added to Google Analytics back in 2013, but many companies still shy away from this option or have missed it altogether. Google Analytics can be overwhelming enough when you’re first getting started, but once you’re ready to get more advanced, custom widgets should be one of the first places you look. Fortunately, they’re pretty easy to understand and this feature gives you a lot of room to be creative. It’s all about trial and error, but it’s a great way to dig deep (particularly into your real-time data) if you’re willing to put in the effort.

What are Google Analytics Widgets and Custom Dashboards?

To understand Google Analytics widgets you have to first understand custom dashboards. Creating a custom dashboard is a way for you to setup different reports that you look at frequently as well as customize reports with the data that you want to see. Widgets are the different pieces of data, or reports, that you can add.

A few sample widgets include everything basic from top traffic sources by visits, to average pageviews per visit, bounce rate, top pages by visitors and more, as well as a few more advanced metrics such as goal value, top revenue by item, pageviews by source, and more. I recommend checking out this page for a full list of different widget options. Below is a screenshot of a sample custom dashboard. If you were to scroll down, you’d see several more reports, or widgets, to look over:

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A Few Sample Google Analytics Real-Time Widgets

As discussed above in the introduction, real-time widgets were first announced back in 2013 here, but our choices have come a long way since then. Below are a few real-time widgets that you may want to try if you’re looking to get more advanced with your data this New Year:

The Source of Articles

As a writer, this is one of my favorites. This custom widget will help tell you some of the top stories that are being read with a real-time count. This can then be sorted by the source of the article and the type of traffic that article is getting (ex: social media sites, blogs, organic links, etc.). To get this widget, choose Active Visitors and then Page Title and Source, Traffic Type. More on setting up widgets in the next section.

Top Active Pages

This is a pretty basic widget, but it’s a great option if you’re curious about which pages on your site are bringing you the most traffic (and as discussed above, you can see exactly what type of traffic, from where, etc.). You can get as advanced as you want to get.

Keywords and Traffic

Keywords are becoming less important, but many (myself included) agree that keywords will always be important when it comes to rankings in Google. This information is of course available on your typical Google Analytics, but having it in real-time is a great way to see more keywords (up to 20) and is ideal if you have a campaign running for a short amount of time or there is a big launch, holiday, etc. happening that may affect your keywords.

I highly recommend checking out this article if you’re interested in learning more about widgets that are not necessarily real-time. The article offers great examples of custom dashboards for paid search data, SEO data, real-time paid data, etc.

How to Get Started

To get started creating a widget, you can either create a new dashboard or click on the +Add Widget menu option of a dashboard you’ve already created. Below is a screenshot from the announcement that shows you where you can find both options:

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If real-time widgets are what you’re after, you can navigate to the real-time section and then customize the widget. You get to name the widget, determine how you want the results shown, and then finally tell Analytics which metrics to follow, group by, and how to filter. Below is a screenshot of what you see/ your choices when you go to add a widget:

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Once again, widgets are a part of custom dashboards, which means you have up to 5 widgets in one dashboard and can look at the dashboard in a quick glance (just as you do with your default dashboard). You may want to include a few non real-time widgets to your custom dashboard as well, so don’t limit yourself. Try a few different custom dashboards to see which metrics are most important to you and which metrics work well together. It’s all about trial and error.

Do you have any great custom dashboards or specific widgets that you can share with us? Let us know in the comments below!

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