A Quick Guide to Google Analytics Real-Time Metrics

Posted by David Murton on Wed, Jul 25, 2012 @ 02:13 PM

google-analyticsIn case you weren't aware, Google Analytics has officially rolled out the BETA version of their real-time metrics for all Analytics users.

By clicking on the 'Home' tab on your Analytics page, you will then be able to see a new tab towards the top left of the screen titled "Real-Time". From this you can go onto view the current real-time metrics of any website you have tied to Analytics.


What features does Real-Time Analytics have?

When you click on the "Real-Time" tab, additional tabs will drop down revealing four different options for viewing the real-time metrics of the respective site you're currently viewing. These four options are:

1. Overview

Overview gives you a quick look at the metrics which will most likely matter to your business. The first metric you will probably notice is a large-font number which tells just how many people are currently on your site and what percentage of them are new and returning visitors. To the right you'll see a graph which gives you an immediate history of activity on your site.

Additionally there is a 'top active pages' to show which pages are currently be viewed and by how many. Top referrals and keywords are also listed showing you whether or not people arrived onto your site via a referring site or what keywords they put into a search engine to discover your site.

Last but not least there is also a map showing the general locations of where your visitors are currently viewing your site from. This allows you to assess with immediacy what geographic region the largest amount of visitors are coming from.


2. Locations

If you want to look more closely at the geography of your visitors, you can click on the Locations tab. On this page Analytics will break down how many visitors are coming from which countries. If you'd like to further define the location of your visitors, you can click on a respective country and get a summary of the city/localised region that a user is from.


3. Traffic sources

With traffic sources you can find out exactly where your traffic has come from, whether they're the result of a site referral, direct traffic, organic search, etc. You will be given an overall percentage of each as well as a table which breaks down each source.


4. Content

This section allows you to find out what pages of your site your visitors are currently viewing. Listed in a table, you can see the URL extension, how many people are on a page, and what percentage of your total active visitors are currently on any given page.


What Real-Time Analytics is good for

While Real-Time Analytics is a very neat feature, there have been critics who have wondered what the use of it is. This is because even without real-time metrics, you can still ultimately determine when your traffic peaks occur and which of your pages earn the most views, engagement, time on site, etc.

What Real-Time Analytics does bring is immediacy, making it a very ideal feature for when you want to track the success of certain marketing efforts in real-time. Perhaps you want to see how much traffic a certain competition or new marketing campaign brings. As an example, you could have TV or radio ads running for your company at night and you want to see if there is a sudden influx immediately after the advertisement plays.

Also, keeping an eye on your real-time metrics throughout the day allows you to more efficiently and accurately note down when your site really builds in traffic. When it does you can put up some new content. Or perhaps you can identify when your traffic is dwindling and try to entice people to your site (such as with links on your social media pages to a landing page on your site).

This is what Real-Time Analytics offers you - the ability to adapt your marketing efforts immediately as opposed to waiting a few hours or days to revise and then refine.


What do you think of the new Real-Time Analytics? A useful tool or a gimmick? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

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