One of the best things you can do for a business is to pay close attention to the numbers. Because the numbers don’t lie. For the online side of a business, this means regularly watching what’s happening in Google Analytics.
The only problem with that, however, is that Google Analytics is not for the faint of heart. The Google Analytics dashboard allows you to scope out a website from every angle, but you really have to know what you’re looking for. Add to that all the configurations you need to make--e.g. the date range, comparison sets, and the variables to chart--and the whole thing can become overwhelming pretty quickly.
And that's where a Google Analytics dashboard for WP comes into play...
While WordPress does have its own system of analytics you can tap into once you’ve installed the Jetpack plugin, it’s not the ideal solution if you intend on using analytics to seriously evaluate your site’s performance. If you want a WordPress Google analytics dashboard that brings you deeper insights from Google, without impacting site speed or WordPress security, then you’ll need a Google Analytics dashboard plugin.
In the following roundup, let’s take a look at why WordPress Google analytics dashboards are beneficial for both you and your clients. Then we can take a look at a couple of the best Google Analytics WordPress plugins that will help you integrate Google Analytics into your site as well as your dashboard.
The Benefits of Having a WordPress Google Analytics Dashboard
A WordPress website is not a set-it-and-forget-it kind of thing. In order to maximize this tool within your marketing arsenal, you have to keep an eye on what visitors are doing on the website and then formulate a plan on how to make them respond even more positively.
But when it comes to Google Analytics, there are extensive data options to choose from. For instance:
- Number of pageviews
- Average session duration
- Bounce rate
- Geographic origin
- Device type
- Traffic source
- Behavior flow
- E-commerce data points
- Custom-created goals
As you can see, there is a lot to peruse and it’s easy to get lost, confused, or intimidated by it all if you’re unfamiliar with Google Analytics or aren’t sure what to look for. This is one of the reasons why having a WordPress Google Analytics dashboard is so beneficial for you and your clients. Here are some other benefits to think about:
- It’s easy to implement--not just to get Google Analytics in the dashboard, but these plugins also help you get the pixel set up on your site.
- You can be more productive by integrating your analytics into the WordPress dashboard and keeping you and your visitors within one tool instead of two.
- Google Analytics plugins are easy to customize and use, so you can set it to display the data that matters the most and within timeframes that are the most relevant.
- WordPress analytics dashboards are great for clients as they take the intimidation factor out of Google Analytics.
- By putting analytics within the dashboard, you’ll compel your clients to log into WordPress regularly if they know they can get a high-level overview of their statistics right there.
- Also, by having the analytics there, you can ensure that the website’s performance stays top-of-mind with clients and doesn’t fall by the wayside long after you’re gone.
- Real-time insights as well as long-term analytics are available within the same dashboard panel, making it easier to make smart and timely decisions for the site based on data, rather than on gut instinct.
- You'll be able to tell if your site is receiving unusual traffic, which could be a good tip-off for potential security issues.
There’s clearly no reason why your WordPress sites shouldn’t each have a WordPress analytics dashboard installed within them. So, let’s take a look at the best plugins you can use for this purpose.
The Best Google Analytics WordPress Plugins to Create a Data-Rich Dashboard
Before we dig into the plugins you can use to create a WordPress analytics dashboard, be sure to set up the Google Analytics account first. It’s easy to do, especially if you already have a Gmail or Google account created.
Upon setup, you’ll be provided with a tracking ID. If you’re not provided with that information or you forget where it’s located, go to the Admin tab in Google Analytics. You’ll find the ID under Tracking Info > Tracking Code.
Now, you can install your Google Analytics plugin. Once you do, you’ll be given an option to add the tracking code into the settings of the plugin. If you run into any issues with installing the code and getting Google Analytics connected to your site, read this.
Option #1: Google Analytics WD
The Google Analytics plugin from 10Web is definitely one of the best Google Analytics WordPress plugins around. If you want access to comprehensive analytics and more control over how the data is displayed from within WordPress, this is the plugin you should use.
Here is what you need to know about this plugin:
- The premium plugin provides access to reports from within WordPress as well as more customization of those reports (especially for e-commerce goal tracking).
- You can see a high-level overview of your analytics from the main WordPress dashboard widgets or you can use the new Analytics tab to drill down deeper.
- Analytics can be displayed using one variable or two, depending on what you’re trying to track.
- You can also experiment with the type of data visualization through the use of line charts, standard column charts, or even pie charts.
Here is how the data is displayed from within the main WordPress dashboard widget:
And here is the expanded view and customization capabilities from within the Analytics tab:
As you can see, there’s a lot you can do with this terrific WordPress plugin right off the bat. If this is something you intend to use for your own purposes, then this is a great tool to have within WordPress. For clients, however, you can expect there to be a learning curve if they’re new to analytics configurations. You may find that one of the simpler plugin solutions will be more suitable for them in that case.
Option #2: Google Analytics for WordPress by MonsterInsights
Another highly trusted WordPress plugin for Google Analytics is the one from MonsterInsights. Because this is a freemium plugin, you can expect that there will be more data available as you pay to play (which is true). However, the free version of this plugin is also quite nice.
Here are some of the highlights:
- The interface of the plugin is beautiful and features some subtle animations to keep your clients engaged with their data.
- Rather than just focus on number, the MonsterInsights plugin shows data that’s especially helpful for clients that produce a lot of content. Specifically, they’ll be able to see the number of pageviews, the top URLs, and a list of referral websites.
- The premium version of the plugin provides additional insights. Among other things, you can see what’s going on with your AMP content, AdSense ads, e-commerce products, and Facebook Instant Articles.
The main caveat with this plugin is that it does not place your WordPress analytics dashboard on the home page of WordPress. Instead, you have to find your new Insights tab on the sidebar and locate the dashboard there. And, of course, if you want to access all relevant data for the site, you’ll have to pay for the premium version.
Option #3: Google Analytics Dashboard for WP
The Google Analytics Dashboard for WP plugin is one of the most used and highly rated WordPress analytics dashboard plugins. There’s good reason for this, too, as it provides a fantastic user experience, both for you as the developer who needs to install and configure it as well as your client who will use it to study their site’s analytics.
Here is what you need to know about this plugin:
- It’s completely free to use.
- The plugin developer provides an easy-to-follow tutorial and video to aid you in setting up the tracking code.
- Analytics show up right on the home page of your WordPress dashboard.
- Settings are simple and basically allow you to determine who can see the analytics dashboard widget.
- Once the plugin is fully set up, you can then add the widget to the dashboard.
- It’s easy to toggle between the various data configurations in the widget, too.
The one thing to be aware of is that the amount of data you can show in the widget and the complexity with which you can express that data is greatly limited. So, if you’re a serious developer or marketer trying to dig deeply into the data, you won’t be able to rely solely on this plugin to do it.
Why the Numbers Matter
Websites are like children. You have to pay close attention to what they do and then guide them along in the hopes that they interact well with everyone they encounter. But without that mindfulness, you’ll never really have an idea of what’s happening to your website (which is basically like your child) or how people are receiving it.
Getting a GA dashboard for WP installed on your site is the first step to achieving this. Use one of the best Google Analytics WordPress plugins we've discussed here so you can keep a better watch over your traffic, your visitor behavior and your conversion.
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Brenda Barron is the blog editor for the WP Buffs WordPress blog and a freelance writer from southern California. When not working, she’s spending time with her family, homeschooling her kids, knitting, and getting outdoors. Find out more about her at Digital Inkwell. If you want some freebies, check out our free speed and security ebooks, webinars for WordPress professionals, WordPress blog or WordPress podcast all about building monthly recurring revenue.