Custom Reports & Other Awesome Steroids For Google Analytics

Analytics Sep 10, 2013

We’ve already discussed Custom Dashboards in a previous post — I hope you’ve been able to implement some of them in your own Google Analytics account?

Good! I bet you’re a pro by now.

We’re going to talk a bit about maximizing your use of GA with Custom Reports.

There’s some overlap between Custom Dashboards and Custom Reports but the main difference lies with dashboards giving you a snapshot, whereas a custom report are more useful for analyzing results and making decisions on course of action.

I know we all like to sit in dark basements, looking at numbers all day, so this is like candy.

Use these Custom Report examples as a starting point. I’ve included some links to pre-made reports that you can easily add to your own Analytics account. However, there’s nothing like getting your own hands dirty and setting some up yourself, tweaking, and adding additional fields.

Getting Started With Custom Reports In Google Analytics

You can find Custom Reports under the “Customization” tab in your GA account.

If you’re an organization freak, then you probably want to set up categories for your Custom Reports. Personally, I would create a category specifically for SEO reports but much like productivity being a subjective thing, you’ll likely have your own system.


How To Create A Custom Report

There are 3 types of Custom Reports that you can set up:

  1. Flat Table — Gives you ability to compare dimensions side-by-side (there is no timeline).
  2. Explorer — You can go deeper into sub-dimensions, along with a timeline that allows you to compare metrics.
  3. Map Overlay — Organize metrics and data into geographical areas (country, city, and so on).

In every Custom Report, there are 2 main elements:

  1. Dimension — A description of events, pages, visitors, visits, and products.
  2. Metric — A measurement (numeric).

And creating one is ridiculously easy:


You can also add tabs (to keep it organized), share Custom Reports and use them cross-profile (for other Analytic profiles in your account).

Custom Report Examples For SEO

Let’s go through a few examples of Custom Reports you can use for your SEO analyzing, shall we?

Audience Custom Report


While many have, in the past, ignored important factors such as geographics and demographics, anyone taking SEO seriously and paying attention to how Google is personalizing search results knows that where you audience is coming from will only matter more and more.

The City and Language, along with Keyword lets you see what keywords are used by what country, city, and language. You should be able to tell what keywords are profitable pretty quickly.

Also, it could uncover opportunities you might have otherwise missed — translating content into languages you didn’t even know you had visitors speaking, which could help improve conversion rates.

Content Custom Report

The point is to identify which content is performing best (with, for example, organic traffic). One way to check if you’re targeting the right keywords on the right pages is to set it up as an Explorer Custom Report.


From here, you could also add additional filters for your blog content to see which posts performs the best. Also, you could add event goals in relation to content for tracking comments.

Keyword Analysis Custom Report

This one is valuable to run and has three components: revenue, targeting, and engagement.


  • Targeting — A Flat Table with Page Title and Keyword that’s sending traffic. The other metrics are to check if you’re targeting the right keywords on the right pages. Helpful for optimization decisions.
  • Revenue — Are your keywords making you money? Use this to determine ROI.
  • Engagement — How engaged your visitors are, via a specific keyword. You want to focus on the keywords that sends engaged visitors, not duds.

Link Analysis Custom Report

Find out which one of your referrals (that would usually be links) are sending you the best quality traffic (engagement and conversions, usually).

Any SEO professional will want to see which inbound links they’ve spent hours, days, and weeks to build are sending the best kind of traffic.


Social Media Custom Report

This is another traffic source that can be useful for making SEO decisions if you segment and create a Custom Report for it. That way, you have a clearer picture of what your social media activity is doing for your site.

Perhaps you’ll find that visitors from social media are more or less engaged, and more or less prone to completing goals. You won’t know until you track and figure out a Custom Report.


You can go into more detail here.

Here Are Some Ready-Made Custom Reports For Your Pleasure

While I recommend that you go through and set these up for yourself (learn by doing, get familiar with Google Analytics, and so on), here are some links to Custom Reports that you can easily add to your Analytics account.

Simply click the link and follow the prompts.

Implement Custom Reports For Content Analysis

I’m going to talk briefly about content analysis with the assumption that you have Custom Reports and Custom Dashboards to refer back to for actual metrics and dimensions.

This is made a little more convoluted if a lot of your visitors are logged in to their Google accounts (loss of data) and, sooner or later, as Chrome encrypts searches, that will certainly throw a monkey wrench into the machinery.

Different Levels Turns This Into, Like, A Video Game Or Something

Let’s take a look at 3 different levels when analyzing content: Keyword, Site Section, And Traffic Source.

Keyword: This might not be the easiest or most useful report, as Google will often simply give you the dreaded (not provided) in your data.

To, sort of, get around this, look at keyword data from the landing pages part of a Custom Report (or in your general Analytics dashboards). Your keywords will be grouped by landing pages. Combine this with information from Google Webmaster Tools.

Worth keeping in mind is to not get too caught up on single keywords or pages. Think of making adjustments (if you detect an opportunity to do so) in terms of site section and content types. Grouping related and relevant long-tails together is a good idea that will help you make decisions on content and what rankings to pursue.

Site Section: This is where Custom Reports that incorporate landing pages are very useful. This obviously reveals where (organic) visitors are landing. Consider assessing landing pages by source segmentation (again, Custom Reports can show you this quickly).

Also, you can divide up the content into various sections of your site — think categories for content and also content type (whitepapers, podcast, article, infographics, and so on).

While you can identify high-traffic and high-converting sections of your site, you should also look for those pages and content that are under-performing.

Traffic Source: Get a broad, birds eye view of organic search engine traffic. This is where you have only one segment applied for a medium and source or just medium. Use this for keeping your eyes on your general search performance and broad trends.

Keep in mind though that the data is seen as aggregate at the source level — a traffic increase in one section of your site can cover up a drop in other places.

Custom Reports Are Just That: Custom

So, you’re all set now with a bunch of Custom Reports, right?

I strongly recommend that you try to create some of your own that are more customized and applicable to your sites, needs, and goals.

Those I’ve talked about and shared are a bit general but enough to get you started and going.

The whole point of gathering and organizing data is to enable you to understand where you are right now, how your SEO is performing, and make decisions on how to move forward.

Custom Reports will give you the necessary details and comparisons (between metrics and dimensions) to help you see the details of the bigger picture.

How are you using Custom Reports and do you find them useful for SEO purposes?

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