My Top 5 Most Used Custom Reports in Google Analytics

Well over a year ago now, I found myself in a bit of a situation. A new client who had been on Webtrends had decided to switch to Google Analytics and had lost all their previous data. That, in and of itself would be bad enough, but I was faced with taking the data that was available (about eight months worth) and figuring out what the top pages were and what keywords brought those visitors in through Google's organic listings.

No problem, right? That's what I thought, too – until I started diving down into Google Analytics standard data sets and realized that what I needed to see just wasn't there.

The only related metrics I was able to view were pageviews. Those are a far cry from visitor numbers, so I learned that one way you circumvent this is through Google Analytics Custom Reporting.

Below are five of my most used Google Analytics Custom Reports. If you're signed in to the Google Analytics account of your choosing, you can click the “Get Report” links in each section below for each of the reports. They will be automatically saved into your Analytics account and can easily be found in the custom reports section inside your profile.

Unique Visitors by Page

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This custom report gives you the data I was looking for above. Installing it shows you the Unique Visitors by Page. Clicking on any URL shown to view that page's source (i.e., Google, referral) and you can also at this stage segment this by Medium (i.e., Google organic, Bing CPC, etc).

Clicking on the Source associated with your chosen Medium will display the keywords that brought people to this page. With this report you are finally able to understand what keywords ultimately drove unique visitors to each page.

Conversions by Date and Time

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This report was inspired by Marty Weintraub's article "Google Analytics, Conversion Tracking & Single Segment Reporting Power." He wrote:

This report is an awesome tool for social media community managers because it could provide a roadmap for when engagement might yield fruit. Also, absent attribution concerns, there may well be insight for PPC day-parting.

I usually modify this report a bit (and you should, too!) in order to use a variety of goals. In the download here it's just set up to use Overall Goal Completions, but your needs might be different. For example you might want to drill down through Dimensions to show the Source or change your Goal to be specific to your needs.

It's important to know that Google Analytics "Hour of Day" displays the Year, Month, Day of Month, and Hour of the Day, in that order as a numeric string. So 2013060708 would be June 6, 2013 in the 8 a.m. hour.

Customer Behavior

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I can't take any credit for this one, but I know a great report when I see it. This report was designed by Peter van Klinken as part of a contest held by Avinash Kaushik and won him a signed copy of Kaushik's excellent "Web Analytics 2.0" book. Peter states:

I use a report that specifies the different behavior between New and returning visitors. I use three categories as columns: Traffic, Conversions, Events. When viewing this report I set it to a pivot table and pivot by Visitor Type. Then select the 2 stats you want to compare within the category tab you're in.

This was the first time I'd ever really used Pivot Tables inside of Google Analytics and it has inspired me to use this feature more and more. Thanks, Peter!

Top Converting Landing Pages

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This Google Analytics custom report shows you your Top Landing Pages and how they are performing based upon goal completions and the values of these goals. I've included New vs. Return Visitors here because (especially on Landing Pages) it's important to see how new customers are motivated by your site.

This report can be a great one to share with your client to get the conversation started about fixing underperforming pages. It's also a great reminder that you should always set Goal Values!

Long Tail Convertors

Albeit a bit more complex to set up than the previous reports, this last one is one of my favorites. Essentially, the end result is that you will have quick access to all your long-tail keyword vital stats.

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On Avinash's blog he was kind enough to share his Advanced Segmenting filters to show your stats with 3, 4, 5, 10, 20 and 20+ words. I have recreated his long tail segment here and click on Create Segment to apply it to your account. If you're unfamiliar with Advanced Segments, don't worry. You can toggle this information at any time.

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With these long tail phrases I wanted to know, at a glance, which ones did and didn't work for me, so I built a custom report to help. I cleverly call it Long Tail Converters and you can click here to install into your Analytics account. This report, in conjunction with the Advanced Segmenting above, will give you your long tail keywords and how people interacted with your site off those keywords, including conversions.

Your Favorite Google Analytics Custom Reports?

Thanks again for all the hard work by the aforementioned individuals in making these reports possible. If you have any custom reports that you can't live without in Google Analytics, please share in the comments below!

About the author

Greg Habermann has been working at SageRock, Inc. since 2005 where he is the Chief Operating Officer and Vice President. He's intrigued by just about everything that web marketing has to offer. Greg has worked in many facets and forms over this unique space, from design and search engine optimization (SEO) to crafting pay-per-click (PPC) and social media campaigns for some of the top brands in this country.