An overlooked tool in Google Analytics – Real time data

Google Real-Time data found in analytics is often an overlooked and underused tool that can benefit many sites, in particular sites that are just beginning out and has lower traffic.

When it comes optimizing for SEO on all our websites, we may  find that we can become buried with all the data mining that one has to do. This data can be in the form of page views, sessions, bounce rate, landing pages and other critical data that can help us look for trends and critical areas that need optimizing. The post shows how to make use of the real-time stats available from Google analytics account holders for your site.

Google Analytics

One tool that is often overlooked is the real-time stats and many SEO technicians use it to simply look at the concurrent users that are currently on the site and skim through the other features such as organic, referral, direct etc. However, you can get very useful information if you pay more attention to the other stats available through this section.

Having done analysis for many clients, I have found that this tool can offer a snapshot of how users interact with the pages on the site and hence some indications to how to optimize the site. However, the process requires you to view this page for over a period of time ie. hour or more. This is obviously tedious and you can use tools to  ‘record’ the data so you can fast forward or rewind to the bits you are interested in. The benefits of this tool is great for a site with low traffic as you can clearly segregate the users and their interaction with the pages on the site. This can give you meaningful information to make your site more engaging.

Here is the information that can be gleaned from this section:

  1. Users origination – Here you can check the source of the user, ie. what landing page and how was it referred to ie. organic or referral. In addition, you can check how users have landed on the page with specific ‘keywords’ that they have typed in order to come to your site.
  2. Users interaction – Here you should already be familiar with your pages and in particular the top urls that you are trying to optimize. The real-time data allows you to see how the top pages are being served with respect to the users.
  3. Users engagement – If you track the data long enough, you will see how users are flowing through the pages. Again, you should have good familiarity with your site and know what the links on the pages are. For example, if you have users logging into your site, you can easily track their login and the subsequent pages they visit. Of course you can see this in the user flow, but sometimes you want to see it in real-time to get a sense of timing of each of the steps.
  4. Conversions – This is a section where you will be able to track users who have fulfilled goals that you have setup on the site. For example, if they have completed a sign-up form. Naturally, this is very powerful as you will be able to gauge user activity and the conversions it leads to.

I have listed the most important data-mining work that you can do using this powerful analytical tool. There are more useful data that can be derived from the other sections such as Locations, Content and Events in the Real-Time menu.

One note of warning when using this online tool. When you drill through some of the data ie. by clicking on them, for example, country, state city etc, Google adds these filters to the top of the page and keeps it there. Basically this is to allow you to filter by a specific region and you may think by accident as I have done several times that traffic to the site has stopped. You will need to clear those filters which unknowingly without warning appears in blue at the top if you want to see the complete data.

Google real times stats data in Analytics

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