Want to see what’s happening on your website right now?

Video - How to Use the Real-Time View
Note: With the discontinuation of Universal Analytics as of 1 July 2023, this article is no longer relevant, as these tips apply to Universal Analytics accounts. Please visit my tutorials page for other helpful content.

Did you know that you can watch what your customers are doing on your site in real time using your Google Analytics account?

I absolutely love this feature of Google Analytics.

It’s like watching my website breathe.

Every piece of changing data in my report is a real, living, breathing human being somewhere in the world, doing something on my site, while I watch.

And it has more uses too! Watch the video to find out what they are, and how to find this magical report in your Google Analytics account.


If you found this video helpful, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

And if you know of anyone who would benefit from this video, please share it with them.

Video Transcript

Hello! I’m Nikki, the Data Fairy and today I want to talk to you about a really exciting feature of Google Analytics that allows you to see exactly what’s happening on your site in real-time.

So the section in your Google Analytics account that shows you what’s happening on your site right here, right now, is called “Real-Time” and before I tell you how I use this section in my reports, I want to take you through what it looks like and where to find it.

So here we are in the Real-Time overview for an account that is a demonstration account from Google, that has 29 people currently on the site.

To find this report, you go to your reporting section of your account, down to Real-Time on the left and Overview.

And that gives you this overview of the people who are currently on your site, with very little delay, maybe at most a second or two delay is what I’ve seen when I’ve been watching it.

So you can see that we’ve got a total number of people, we’ve got the page views per minute, page views per second, so that’s how often the pages are being loaded.

Down further we have a list of referrals for the different sources that people are coming from, the social platforms people are coming from, the keywords people are using to find you.

And those values and the actual numbers of people will change as you watch.

Over here we’ve got the top active pages, so these are the pages that people are currently on on your website, and as people move between pages you’ll see these values update as well.

And right down the bottom here we have a location graph, and this shows where your users are right now in the world, which is also pretty interesting.

So this overview is the one that I find the most interesting to watch.

You can also look at the individual charts, so there’s one for locations, which shows you the same map but breaks it down more for you.

Traffic sources, this includes referrals as well as other sources like organic search and social all in together so you can see the breakdown.

Content, so this is again the pages that people are looking at the moment.

If you have events set up in your site you’ll be able to see those in this table, things like clicking on buttons signing up for newsletter lists, going through a checkout process, and conversions which are similar but it’s very much about achieving a result.

So whether that’s completing a sign up, or completing a purchase.

But for me the section that I find the most interesting is the real-time overview because that’s the one that gives you that broad summary of exactly what’s happening on your site right now.

So that’s where you find the real-time reports in your Google Analytics account, and there are three main ways that I use this report in my business.

The first one is to watch the real-time view after I’ve done some activity outside of my site to bring traffic to my site.

Whether I’ve shared something in a Facebook group, sent out an email update, run some ads.

When I launch off something like that I can come in here and see the kind of response I’m getting to that promotional activity.

And that can be really informative to see what kind of response, at least at a general level, you’re getting to that activity that you just undertook.

The second thing I use this for is to see how many people are on my site currently, specifically when I’m about to update plugins on my site.

So if you’ve got a WordPress site you know that when you update a plug-in, it briefly makes the site unavailable, so I wanna see how many people I’m going to affect if I go and update a plugin right now.

There are reports that tell you generally what time of day is the quietest on your site but that’s a topic for another time.

So I look at this, if I have a sense of what’s normal on my site, and I’ll see if it’s lower-than-average, so I’m going to affect as few people as possible, so that I know if I update my plugins now I’m not going to be annoying too many people, or discouraging them from looking further on my site.

The third way I use this is strangely enough to feel more connected to my customers.

It seems kind of odd to think that by looking at this list of charts and graphs and numbers that I could feel more connected, but it helps me to see the people on my site as real because each of those numbers, in the number of people on my site, is a person somewhere around the world who’s currently doing something on my site and I find that pretty exciting.

I’ve watched people place orders, sign up for things, I can see where they’re coming from, what content they’re looking at and I get a feel for how they’re interacting with my site and so it actually strengthens my connection with my audience, I see them as real people, I love watching what they’re doing and I find it really exciting.

So that’s a little bit about how to use the real-time reports, what they are, where to find them and how you can use them to understand your business better and to connect more strongly with your customers.

If you found that helpful I’d love a like and a comment and if you could share this with anyone else that you think would find it helpful that would be fantastic.

I look forward to seeing you in the next video.

Have a great day!

Nikki, The Biz Pixie

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About the author 

I’ve had a love affair with systems, technology and data for as long as I can remember. I’ve been building websites for over 20 years, running online businesses for more than 15, and teaching myself how to use gazillions of software programs since the very first moment I got my hands on a computer. I’m a geek and proud of it!

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