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Using Google Analytics Real Time to Check Visitors to Your Website

Updated on July 12, 2016
eugbug profile image

Eugene is a qualified control/instrumentation engineer Bsc (Eng) and has worked as a developer of electronics & software for SCADA systems.

"Watching my pets come online"
"Watching my pets come online" | Source

Watching the Orange Circles Light Up

Have you tried out the "Real Time" feature of Google Analytics?

This feature was added over a year ago and is very entertaining. When I asked this question on Webanswers, one member who used the facility said, "I feel like someone watching their pets!". There is an element of truth in this and I suppose it is sort of voyeuristic watching victims, sorry I mean visitors, coming on line and seeing what they get up to, the keywords they use to search the site, and how they navigate to other pages. I have a hub on this site about lawnmower problems which gets a moderate amount of traffic. On Saturdays and Sundays, those little orange circles light up all across America as poor unfortunates try to cut their grass and their lawnmower won't start! Then about 12 hours later, the same happens in Australia. It even happens in the UK and Ireland, although I can't imagine how anybody would want to cut grass in the wet stormy weather we have had in western Europe during the last month!

What Exactly is Google Analytics Real Time?

This is a feature of Google Analytics. It is "real time" because it provides instant traffic data about visitors to your site: their country and region, search terms, network, referral source and the content they are reading. When a visitor comes on line, an orange circle appears on a map close to the region in the country from which they are viewing your content. A sliding time line shows the users on site and other information is displayed also including the referral source, the number of visitors from social networks and search keywords if the source is organic, i.e someone has searched for a topic in a browser.

Google Analytics

If you haven't set up Google Analytics, now is a good time to do so. It is an invaluable resource, giving lots of information or statistics about the visitors to your site.

Google Analytics provides the following information about your audience:

  • The numbers of visitors to your account. You can select the timescale of interest, either choose a day, or a range of days specifying the start and end date. This information can be further filtered to display the numbers of visitors per hour, day, week or month within this timescale
  • A breakdown of the country and region where visitors are from (over the timescale)
  • The nature of the traffic, i.e whether it is organic, direct (pasting a URL into a browser is a type of direct traffic), or comes from social sources, e.g. Twitter, HubPages, Facebook, Stumbleupon etc
  • The technology used - Device (e,g, desktop,mobile,tablet), browser, operating system

Audience size can be viewed numerically and also graphically over the timescale of interest. Specific to Hubpages, you can also select individual hubs and view statistics as described above

The Real Time feature can be accessed from the side bar on the left.

Select "real time" and then one of the sub menu items. "Overview" gives general information
Select "real time" and then one of the sub menu items. "Overview" gives general information | Source
Real time info about current visitors on site and those in the last half hour
Real time info about current visitors on site and those in the last half hour

Setting up Google Analytics

I won't re-invent the wheel as regards setting up Google Analytics! The LearningCenter of HubPages provides a guide showing exactly what you need to do. Google Analytics requires a Google account, so you need to set this up first. Also you need to be able to edit the HTML code of your website to add a Google tracking cookie so that they can monitor traffic and its details and pass the information on to you when you access the Google Analytics page.


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    • eugbug profile image

      Eugene Brennan 3 years ago from Ireland

      Thanks Susan, the "not provided" keyword annoys me also.

      Yes it's a nice pastime for those of us who have nothing better to do and need to get a life. (BTW, I saw your "orange circle" lighting up also when you read this - LOL!)

    • susi10 profile image

      Susan W 3 years ago from The British Isles, Europe

      I love watching those orange circles light up too, especially when my traffic spikes and up to 7 people can be active at once. It is a very fun hobby of mine, just sit down and watch the numbers rise and fall. I especially like being able to see where the reader is from, what they are viewing and what keywords they used to get there. The only annoying thing is the "not provided" keyword in the search traffic section that doesn't tell you what the searcher typed into Google to find your hub. That is so irritating!

      Anyway, this was a nice hub, well done! Voted up +++ and shared.