[3QF-GA-5] 3 Quick Facts: What is Google Analytics Realtime?
Updated: Aug 31
OK, so we're starting to get somewhere with Google Analytics now.
Now it's time to start using it for real. So, where do we start?
Well, one of the best ways to get familiar with Google Analytics as a whole is to find one report in each of the main sections which answers a question:
Realtime: What's happening now?
Audience: Who came to our website?
Acquisition: Where did our visitors come from?
Behavior: What did our visitors do?
Conversions: Did our visitors do what we wanted them to do?
And knowing one report in each section is a great start, but if you are seeking to know more about Google Analytics then I suggest taking our 2-day course (which gets you a certification as well!)
Let's start with Realtime, which is at the top of Google Analytics, underneath Reports.
1) Realtime shows you what is happening on your site, right now (which is pretty incredible)
According to software tracking firm BuiltWith, nearly 30 million websites use Google Analytics including 70% of the 10,000 most-visited websites, some with a million visits every day.
Yet, somehow, Google is still able, with minimum fuss, to provide real-time updates of your website traffic - for free. On many levels, that is an incredible feat and we should certainly take Google up on its generous offer.
To do so, simply open up Realtime and click on Overview. Overview is the main report you're going to use in Realtime as it tells you just about everything real-time that you need to know.
2) The Realtime Overview report is the best place to get all the real-time info you need
So what does the Realtime Overview report have to offer?
First off, it lets you know whether your tracking code working. If, when you visit your site, you see any numbers at all in the report, then your tracking code is correctly configured. If you don't see anything, then you need to check your tracking code again.
Secondly, Realtime Overview displays the pages that people are viewing on your site right now. This could be useful if you have an urgent update and need to see whether it is being read.
Finally, Realtime Overview is the first report you should visit if you ever receive word that your site is down. If you see your own traffic on the site then you can rest assured that the problem lies with the reporter, not the site.
3) You probably won't use Realtime very much in the future
While Realtime is an impressive engineering feat, it is unlikely that you will use it very often after you learn more about Google Analytics.
Apart from knowing instantly whether your tracking code is working, most people do not have many requirements for real-time statistics. It might be interesting to know that people are visiting your site from countries around the world, but it's hardly something that you need to know right now.
Admittedly I have seen several marketing departments with Google Analytics Realtime running on a big screen in the background, but I am reasonably sure that they served decorative rather than analytical purposes.
Regardless, being familiar with Realtime Overview is very useful when you are starting up and can provide a certain level of comfort when people are having troubles with the site. As for real analytics, this will have to wait for future posts which will cover the remaining, more analyst-friendly reports.
Until then, happy analytic-ing!