Customizing Megalytic: Traffic by Channel Widget

Published July 22, 2015
Core to any analytics report is showing your client or boss where traffic to their site is coming from, whether that’s organic search, paid search, social media, referrals or some combination. Tracking and analyzing site traffic is the only way to know what traffic sources are contributing to the bottom line. Channels within Google Analytics offer a bird’s-eye view into how people are finding a website.
But, the Google Analytics Channels reports probably don’t present the data the way your client or boss needs to see it. Even custom reports in Google Analytics can’t give you the kind of data visualizations that deliver the insights you are after.
Solving this problem in Megalytic means customizing the Traffic by Channel widget to present the Google Analytics data in the format you need.
When you first add the Traffic by Channel widget, you’ll see a graph showing data from the top three Channels for the last 13 weeks. However, this may not reflect what you’d prefer to show in your report. Perhaps you want to show more than three Channels, you’d like to show Users instead of Sessions, or you want to focus on mobile traffic specifically. All of these options (and more!) are available within Megalytic.


Megalytic Weekly Sessions by Channel


Changing the Chart Type

Above you’ll see our data represented using a time series chart. But what if you want to represent data using a different type of graph or a table? For more about choosing the best way to visualize data, see our three-part series on Deciding How to Represent Data. To change how data is visualized in any Megalytic widget, select the “gear” symbol at the top left of the widget, and then choose your desired chart type.

For instance, let’s say you want to show Sessions in a bar chart instead of a line graph. To do this, simply select the corresponding symbol to apply this change to the report.


Megalytic Bar Graph of Channel Traffic


Now, you can see the same data using the new graph format selected, showing all seven Channels that drove traffic over the time period represented.

Changing the Metric

Perhaps you don’t want to show data by Sessions; instead, you want to show a count of Users, or more specifically, New Users. This will help you show your client how many individuals are visiting who have not been tracked as coming to the site before. You can easily change the metric represented in the widget using the “Metric” dropdown within the options.


Megalytic Charting Different Google Analytics Metrics


Once you’ve selected the desired metric, it will instantly be applied to the report. Here, we’ve switched from Sessions to New Users, and the change is reflected in the graph once we select the new metric.

Segmenting & Filtering Traffic

By default, this widget shows total website traffic data. However, you may want to show a subset of traffic, for example breaking down mobile traffic by Channel or showing traffic from New York. To slice and dice your traffic, you can use either Segments or Filters.

Applying Segments

You can use the Segment dropdown to select a Google Analytics Segment connected with your account. Note that this can be either a default Segment, created by Google for all accounts, or a custom Segment that you created to get at a specific insight (note: newly created segments may take time to sync with your Megalytic account).

As soon as you’ve selected your desired Segment, it will be applied to the data in the widget. You can also choose “Apply to Report” to apply the Segment to all widgets and affect data across the entire report.


Megalytic Mobile Segment


Adding Filters

Perhaps you want to break out traffic in a certain way but don’t yet have a Segment readily available. Filters allow you to, well, filter your Sessions by various Google Analytics metrics and dimensions directly within Megalytic. Note that this built-in Megalytic feature differs from view filters within Google Analytics.

Click “Add Filter” to begin defining the options for your Filter. Next, you can select what metric or dimension you’d like to use and enter desired text to include or exclude.


Megalytic Adding a Filter


In this example, we want to show only traffic from New York State. So, we select Region (which correlates to state in Google Analytics) from the dropdown and enter “New York” into the text box. Once applied, this filter will ensure that only Sessions from New York are included in the widget’s data.

Changing Text

You want to use names for metrics and widgets that make sense to your clients based on the use case in the report and each client’s level of understanding. Let’s say you want to use a different word than “Sessions” within the widget. For example, maybe you’ve decided saying “Website Visits” will be clearer to the client looking at the report. By clicking the arrow by “Axis,” you’ll see a text box where you can change the label for the Y Axis (the vertical line representing number of Sessions).


Megalytic Changing the Axis Label


Note you can also change the title of the widget at top by clicking the “Sessions by Channel” text and then entering the new text.

Choosing Channels

Perhaps you want to show only specific Channels in your graph. To select particular Channels, go to “Series” at the bottom of the widget options. Use the dropdown to select the Channels you’d like to represent and click “Apply to Report.”


Megalytic Editing the Series in a Chart


You’ll see a list of Channels currently shown in the “Selected Series” area. Moving on with customization, note that when you’re using a table, you’ll see metrics instead of Channels reflected in the Series section.

Organizing Table Data

By choosing a table to display data, you can show multiple metrics for each Channel. This format can be useful when reporting to detail-oriented clients. For example, you can show not only how many Sessions resulted from each Channel, but how engaged those Sessions were, based on metrics like Avg. Session Duration and Pages/Session.

First, you’ll want to select the table icon to change the chart type.


Megalytic Table View of Data


Next, you can customize the metrics you want to include using the Columns dropdown. For instance, say we want to show individuals who have visited the site, not just total Sessions.

Here, we can add Users to the default set of metrics. To do this, we’ll select Users and click “Apply Selection.” Now, the report will add a column for Users.


Megalytic Selecting Table Columns


We can also rearrange the order of columns by clicking the icon at the left of a column and dragging it to the desired place. Here, we’re choosing to make the Users column first in the table.


Megalytic Move Columns


Finally, note that you can click the text for any of these columns to rename the heading.


As you can see, you can customize the Traffic by Channel widget in many ways to show just the data that matters to your client or boss. From changing the chart type to changing the metric, you can modify your report to represent the data as you want to display it. You’ll find this widget useful for a variety of reporting needs.

For more on customizing widgets and representing data within varying Megalytic widgets, see our Support section.


When the client first came to you, you talked up the value of Google Analytics. You emphasized the importance of seeing where your traffic was coming from. You went on and on about how Google Analytics can show traffic sources to pinpoint whether people came from search, social media or a specific site referral, and how valuable this data was. You sold them on it, so much so that your client looked forward to receiving that first report, the magical day when they would finally understand where visitors were coming from.
But then the report came, and it looked like this:



It showed that 10% of your client’s traffic came from “(direct)/(none)”. What does this label mean? How do you explain Direct traffic to your client? Better yet, how do you explain “none”?
Let’s take a closer look at understanding Direct traffic in Google Analytics and how we can address it with clients.
Digital marketers spend a lot of time focused on PPC and SEO campaigns in order to drive desirable traffic to a website. The phrases we’re ranking for and bidding on get meticulous attention, so much so that we often forget about some of the other ways that visitors find us.

We put a tremendous amount of the effort we put into reviewing organic search data and PPC campaign performance in analytics. But how closely do we monitor referral reports?

If that’s not a channel you review regularly, you may be missing out on seeing traffic that is coming directly from links you’ve obtained around the web, local business listings, news mentions, and more. Many times, links are only considered as a means to an end, a metric that Google uses in determining how to rank sites in the SERPs (search engine results pages). But the fact is, many of a site’s links may be directly contributing to its traffic.

In this article, we’ll review how to look at referral reports in Google Analytics, and some of the many ways to use that data to better inform your web marketing decisions.


Remember how your mom told you not to stand too close to the television because it might hurt your eyes?

The same rules can apply to data. If you’re too close, you may miss the patterns and trends that are crucial to understanding your website’s performance. You can’t judge a site’s performance looking at data in the bubble of a single day, you must consider any day’s traffic compared to the days before and after.

Google Analytics makes it fairly easy to analyze trends over long periods of time. But it also allows you to stand right in front of that TV, to look at more granular levels of time, right down to the hour.
There’s a better way to get that close to the data, without burning your retinas. We’ll cover how to analyze traffic effectively in today’s post.