4 amazing Custom Reports in Google Analytics that will blow your mind

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  • October 23, 2013

It’s been a fair while since I posted about an aspect of Google Analytics that I love using, so I thought I’d share another one on the best custom reports you have ever seen.

What are Custom Reports?

Do you ever go into Google Analytics and have to click four or five times to see what you want? Custom Reports are reports that you can set up to see what you want, all within a click or two and without having to remember “do I add a filter here?” or “do I have to add a secondary dimension now?”. Basically, Custom Reports take the fuss out of reporting.

How to setup a custom report in Google Analytics

In the top navigation click “Customisation”.

There are two options: + New Custom Report and + New Category

Custom Reports Google Analytics

If you work across multiple websites or projects, it may be a good idea to use + New Category (the folders) for each website/project. This way, it’s easy to group custom reports together and distinguish between them.

But that’s the boring housekeeping stuff, so let’s move onto the + New Custom Report bit…

New Custom Report Google Analytics

You are faced with this slightly intimidating form with so many blanks to fill in. What are metrics? What are dimensions? Drilldown? Sounds painful.

Let’s keep things simple:

New Custom Report title

Call it something descriptive that means you (and others who may need access to it) can understand exactly what it is.

Bad titles

  • Custom report (You would be surprised…)
  • Creation Date
  • Website name.com

Good titles

  • Website2.com E-Commerce Conversions via Social Media
  • Website2 Blog Traffic Referrals – With Full URLs
  • Visits and Goals for Tracked Keyword (Website3.com)

This applies to anything you have to name – Title, Tabs, Metrics Groups.

What’s a Report Tab?

If you want all kinds of things in the same report, tabs are the best way to do it whilst keeping it clean. They are essentially reporting on different things for the same website.

Examples of tabs

  • Visit Data and Conversion Data
  • Data by Keyword, Data by Source, Data by Landing page
  • A map Overlay of top Cities, A Table of Conversions for people who used site search, a Table for Top Visits via keywords

It’s up to you to decide what you/your team/your client needs to see and whether it makes more sense to have them in separate reports or within the same report but on different tabs (think of it this way – if you were doing an Excel report, would you have it on different tabs?)

What are Metrics in Custom Reports?

Click the blue box to add metrics.

Metrics Google Analytics

Look familiar?

Metrics tell you a specific piece of information about your website: visitors, conversions, bounce rate, page speed and so on. They are anything that can be measured about the website.

Choose which metrics best represent the work you’re doing. Is your job to drive traffic? Then include Visits. Are you improving the site speed? Then choose Avg. Page Load Time (sec). Improving Engagement? Then include Bounce Rate. Improving Acquisition Cost? Choose Cost per Goal Conversion.

You can add up to 10 metrics. That doesn’t mean you have to – it’s probably better to focus on a few key metrics. If you need more you can use other tabs.

What are Dimensions in Custom Reports?

Click the green button to add dimensions.

Dimensions Google Analytics

Dimensions are essentially groups of similar things on your website that you would like to see information about. Keywords, Cities, Operating Systems.

Like Metrics, choose your dimension based on the work you are trying to show. Trying to rank for a certain keyword? Choose Keyword. Making a mobile site? Mobile Device Model might be worth looking into. Recently implemented Site Search tracking? Use Site Search Status to see how people using site search interact compared to people who don’t.

And Drilldowns?

You can further select Dimensions in order to see deeper into the first dimension you have chosen. For example, if you’ve chosen “source/medium” as the first dimension, you could have “landing page” or “keyword” as the next.

What are Filters in Custom Reports?

If you want to only see data about certain visitors, you need to use a filter.

Filter Custom Report

Filters should be used if you need to only see data about certain visitors – visitors from a specific country, coming from certain keywords and so on. If you’ve been concentrating your efforts on only a few specifics, you would use a filter. Filters are optional.

Views in Custom Reports

Finally, you need to choose what Profiles (recently renamed Views) is this report to be used in? You can choose all profiles, or just a few.

Custom reports are only visible to the person who creates them initially – so if you want to share it with another user of that Profile, you need to then Share it from the Admin section. This can be found in the right hand menu under “Actions -> Share”.

But onto the best ever custom reports you’ll ever see.

1) SEO Essential

Custom Report 1

Every SEO person I know has a list of keywords they track their rank in Google for. Fire up your Regular Expressions and get those exact keywords in Google Analytics.

The Essentials

  • First Dimension – Keyword
  • Filter – Include Keyword Regex [insert Regular Expression here]

The Regular Expression to find only visits from Keyword1, Keyword2 and Keyword3 is ^Keyword1$|^Keyword2$|^Keyword3$ . You may also want to consider visits from any keyword containing your target keyword which would be .*keyword.*

Choose whichever Metrics best represent the work you do. I’ve simply chosen Visits and Goal Completions.

Optional Extras

  • Add another filter: Include “Source/Medium” Exact google / organic

This means that traffic from other search engines isn’t counted and it tracks only your performance in Google.

2) The Brand Enthusiast

Custom Report 2

For whoever is trying to build the name of a brand up so that people recognise it and search for it or come directly, I present this Custom Report.

The Essentials

There are two reports for this (as you can’t have different filters for different tabs). It always includes these metrics.

  • Metric Groups – Visits, New Visits, % New Visits

Have the total visitors gone up? More importantly, are they new visitors or people who already knew your name?

If you want to see what Brand variations there are of your keywords (that is – are you known for the right things?) this is what you should then use:

  • First Dimension – Keyword
  • Filter: Include Keyword Regex [Brand Terms Here]

If you need help finding the Regular Expression for your brand terms, I recommend this Regex cheat sheet


Or if you just want to see who is coming directly to your website:


  • Filter: Include Source Regex direct


Optional Extra


  • Add A “City” (or Country/Territory if you are a global brand) Drilldown


You can then see if there’s a common place that new visitors are coming from. If so, it could be worth pushing traditional marketing in these areas of the country/globe.

3) The Conversion Junkie

Custom Report 3

Do you know in Google Analytics, when you go to switch tab to “Goal Set 1” after viewing whatever dimensions you like looking at, you get a list of conversion rates?

Sometimes this isn’t what you need to see – sometimes looking at raw numbers of conversions is a lot easier, and for some reason this is hidden within the depths of Google Analytics.

The Essentials


  • Whatever Dimensions you want
  • Metrics: Goal Completions for all goals
  • Add extra Metric Groups/Tabs if you have loads of goals


So instead of having to calculate the number of actual goals, you can just see it there and then.

Optional Extra


  • Add Revenue Metrics


Some clients/bosses will be more impressed with them if you say “we made an extra £20,000” rather than “conversions are up by 10%” or “We got 500 new customers”. Some people are just more persuaded by money coming in that any other numbers.

4) Referral Hoarder

Custom Report 4

In the usual Referral report, it just tells you the domain that the traffic has come from, but sometimes that’s no use to anyone. It’s pretty easy to get to, you just have to click the domain, but then you can only compare pages on Domain1 to other pages on Domain1 – what if I have 2 guest posts on Domain1 and 3 on Domain2? Couldn’t I just see which post performs the best out of the five?

The Essentials


  • Whatever Metrics are useful to you (New Visits and Bounce Rate would be good)
  • Dimension – Full Referrer
  • Filter: Include Traffic Type Exact Referral


This gives you the ability to see a report that looks like this:

Show Full Referrals

You can instantly see the exact URL that visitors have come from, rather than just the full domain.

Optional Extra

Add a new tab to mimic the Referral Report


  • Dimension One: Source
  • Dimension Two: Full Referrer


This might seem a little pointless as it’s already in the main report, but sometimes it is useful to be able to compare on a URL level as Domain level – saves you from finding it again in the full report, and uses the metric’s you’re interested in.

What kind of custom reports do you use? Please tell us in the comments below.

Emma Barnes

About Emma Barnes

With a strong mathematical background and a passion for all things data-related, Emma is an essential member of our Insights team. Even outside of work, Emma doesn’t stray far from the numbers and formulas and loves logic-based gaming.

  • David

    Hi Emma. With recent shifts in the Not Provided segment, keyword-level traffic analysis will probably become different in the not so distant future. Because of this, you might want to take more of a conversion-centric approach to analysis or use keywords as a secondary dimension when compared to landing pages so you can see which pages are garnering the most traffic, and in turn make an educated guess as to what keywords are driving those visits. Just a thought. -David

    • Emma Barnes

      Hi David – funny enough, this post was written just before the Not Provided update that’s rolling out (and I never thought to update it before hitting publish a month or two later) so you make a very good point. I agree – the most useful information going forward will probably be landing page data.

      • http://priteshpatel.me/ Pritesh Patel

        Yep agree.

        However, here’s a scenario:

        I’ve create a page for my product which includes technical info, downloads and an enquiry box.

        450 visits come to the page and do nothing.
        20 visits come to the page and download a brochure.
        10 visits come to the page and enquire.

        My page is attracting lots of people who do nothing right?

        What you don’t know is that the 450 visits were from people who had heard of my product and come to my site to see how many pieces come in a pack before ordering.

        The 10 who enquired were people who did the above last month and this month googled ‘buy pritesh patels product in bulk’.

        How do you now measure or analyse this and then tweak existing pages? Or create new pages altogether?

        • Emma Barnes

          I would include a “New VS Returning” Visitor drilldown/tab in order to see the difference in conversion rates.

          But if I’m honest, Custom Reports may not be what you’re after – I’d much rather look at the Multi-Channel reports in “Conversions” for this kind of thing (it’s under “Time Lag” or “Path Length”)

          Hope this helps!

  • http://priteshpatel.me/ Pritesh Patel

    Isn’t any custom report which uses ‘keyword’ as a dimension massively inaccurate?

    • Emma Barnes

      Since the (not provided) apocalypse, a lot of data will be lost here. WRT it being inaccurate – I’ve never noticed too many inconsistencies – do you know of any examples?

  • http://www.custard.co.uk/ Matt Fielding

    Emma – I loved your previous post on Analytics reports so I’m so glad you’ve done another! The Analytics interface changed AGAIN while I was on holiday so I can’t wait to dive in to the murky waters, using this post as a flotation device!

    • Emma Barnes

      Matt: Thank you! Also yes, Analytics actually changed around the time this was written so.. if you notice anything that’s updated, please let me know!

      • http://www.custard.co.uk/ Matt Fielding

        Oh no… I was hoping this would help me get to grips with new Analytics! I’ll just have to go back to the custom reports I used to rely on before it changed last time…

        Still, looks like a great post and I can’t wait to get into it in more detail.

        • Emma Barnes

          To be honest – Custom reports haven’t changed MUCH – the principals are all pretty much the same :)

  • http://gitgrow.com/ Santosh Rajan

    Great post Emma. As the others that have commented so far, the changing GA interface and the Keyword conundrum are on the top of every digital marketers mind. There are however, a few work around to get the keywords anyways (until Google negates those too) and I will be trying them out with your custom reports.

    Looking forward to reading more from you.

  • http://www.kostuemkaiser.ch/ Kostüm Kaiser

    I just found out that you can actually share your google analytics dashboard. Thats much easier to share your settings. On top of the dashboard click share and click on share link!

  • http://gofuse.com Fuse Metrics

    Can Google Analytics display more than two dimensions at a time?

  • http://theleanmarketer.com/ Rebecca Herson

    This post has been incredibly helpful in setting up some custom reports, especially since it seems that every time I come back to Analytics the interface has been changed. One of the metric groups you continuously use is called “Visits” but that group does not seem to appear in my list. Has the name been changed to something else? In the meantime I’ve used “Users” instead. Would that be an acceptable substitution? Thanks.

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