Google is cool, let’s get that out of the way. I love that Google shares all these beautifully-designed, well-documented resources for free. But wait, are they really free? The answer is no — Google is constantly collecting data. They have become the Federal Reserve of digital data. They have created their own ecosystem and all they ask for is data — which in turn is used to develop targeted advertising and build out applications to corner the market from email to navigation. All that being said, without that data I couldn’t do my job — nor could many businesses. There’s nothing more exciting than unveiling the power of data to a business and showing them how they can not only discover the type of users on their site, but target them across digital media, and even properly credit sales or leads to the sources from which those users originated.
Here is a walkthrough on how to recreate a Google Dashboard from your Analytics account, automate the data query, and publish that dashboard live onto a free site provided by Google.
Why Create a Dashboard?
I have had colleagues over the years that completely discredit dashboards in Google Analytics; however, many of my clients use dashboards very often to gain high-level visualizations of traffic and conversion data that allow them to briefly engage with site analytics and discover if there’s a need to dig deeper. No, dashboards are not the be-all end-all to digital analytics solutions; however, there are some great articles out there about building phenomenal dashboards within GA (credit to KissMetrics for compiling this list):
- Google Analytics Solutions Gallery from Google (select Dashboard from the first dropdown)
- 5 Custom Google Analytics Dashboards And How to Use Them from CrazyEgg
- 6 Google Analytics Custom Dashboards To Save You Time NOW! from State of Search
- 7 Google Analytics Examples Using Custom Dashboards from Online Media Masters
- 10 Useful Google Analytics Custom Dashboards from Econsultancy
- Custom Dashboards posted by users in Custom Reporting Sharing for Google Analytics Forum
- 5 Insightful Google Analytics Dashboards from Moz
- 20+ Custom Google Analytics Dashboards from 5StarNet
- 7 Free Google Analytics Dashboards from Koozai
- 5 Free Google Analytics Dashboards to Download Now from Yahoo Small Business
- 5 Custom Google Analytics Dashboards in 5 Minutes from Traffic Generation Cafe
- Lots of Dashboards from Dashboard Junkie
If you want to learn more about dashboards, check out this dashboard-specific course from Annielytics.
Using Google Sheets Google Analytics Plugin
The great thing about the Google ecosystem is that all of their products play together, very nicely. In this example, we’re going to use Google Sheets to query the Google Analytics API, access the data we need to build a report, then turn that raw data into charts and tables, and finally push those tables into a website that updates the queries systematically.
Here’s a great video from Google on the Google Analytics Spreadsheet Add-On:
And one on how to build dashboards using the API:
Once you've add the Google Analytics Spreadsheet Add-On, your report configuration should look something like this:button on the top right of the menu bar.
Head back to your Google Sheets doc with the report and visualizations and click on the arrow button at the top of a graph, like so:
Click “Publish Chart,” then switch the selector to “Embed” instead of “Link” and copy the iFrame code from the box. Don’t forget to update the “Published Content & Settings” menu beneath the blue “Publish” button.
Take this code from your clipboard and paste it into the HTML section of your edit menu on the site. Then, to keep things organized, insert a table and drag your visualizations into each of the panes.
And there you have it, scalable and organized with data directly from Google’s API.
Last thing — you’ll want to automate your reports so there’s no need to go back in and pull this data again. All it takes is a few clicks to schedule automatically and you’re done!