Before we jump into the Google Analytics Realtime Report, it’s important to remember Google Analytics is a tool that provides invaluable information about what is happening on your website, such as where your traffic is coming from, the engagement of your site users, user details, the success of your marketing efforts, and so much more.
There are 5 main report sections in Google Analytics: Realtime, Audience, Acquisition, Behavior, and Conversion. Today, we are going to cover the Realtime report. We have a blog post and video that covers the basics of Google Analytics for Beginners, as well a more in-depth view of each section – Audience report, Acquisition report, Behavior report, and Conversions report.
The Google Analytics Realtime report does exactly what it says in the title: it shows who is on your site in real time – right now. You can see who is logged in, what pages they are using, where they came from, and even their location.
To be honest, I previously ignored this real time data report entirely. I thought, “why do I care how many people are on my site right now?”
But it’s not really about that, nor is it about traffic to your site as a whole. Now that I understand how this report works, I find it to be one of the most useful reports in the entire tool. Let’s dig in.
On the left-hand side of the screen, you will see your menu. Click on Realtime and hit overview.
This is the big-picture view of what’s happening on your website, right now.
The Realtime report shows how many users are currently active on your site, a list of top active pages, top sources of referral traffic, top keywords, and top locations that users are visiting from.
Try testing it for yourself, click over to a page on your website that you don’t see listed under top active pages. Then come back here and wait a couple of seconds and see your URL pop up. You will know the data is transferring because the bar will be moving in the top right corner.
The location section allows you to dig into a bit more information about the active user(s). In the overview, the information is broken down by country, but if you choose the map of active users you can ‘zoom in’ on which cities your users are logging in from and this allows you to filter data by specific city.
Note: These filters stay while you navigate to other reports so remember to clear the filters if you want to see all the data presented.
Traffic Sources show where on the web your visitors are coming to your site. This data is organized by medium, source, and number of active users. You also have the option to select the page views filter and see the number of pageviews from the last 30 minutes.
The Content report shows the active pages that visitors are currently on, the page URL, the page title, and the number of active users on that page. You can also see what device your users are accessing your site on, desktop or mobile.
Events show actions happening on your site. Clicks on buttons or links, form submissions, scrolling on the webpage, video interaction, and downloads are examples of measurable actions.
You may not see anything here because events are different from the other reports in that we need to add additional information (set up custom events) in order for events reports to measure as opposed to data that is automatically collected with the basic Google Analytics code on your website.
The Conversion Report will track the completion of any goals you’ve set up in Google Analytics. This is different from events in that they track the completion of an activity and an event measures interactions with your site. Again you need to set goals up in order for the data to generate
For example, I have goals set up for each step of my funnel so I can track how site visitors are moving through it.
The Conversions report will show all your goals listed but take note of the active ones that show a number and percentage next to them.
Realtime reports are a great overview report for testing, monitoring activity, and ensuring everything is working correctly. It saves you time in having to wait for accumulated data and allows you to see actions now and to make sure everything is showing up in the reports as you have set them up.