Google Analytics Logo(73600)Credit: new Google Analytics interface offers a variety of choices for viewing data, which is extremely useful if you know how to use these different viewing options. This article is a supplement to my five-part tutorial detailing the Standard Reporting section of Google Analytics. If you would like to read Part I, please click here; for Part II, click here; and for Part III, click here. To start off, let me explain where to find the reports and viewing selectors being discussed. The viewing options are selected by going into one of the secondary or tertiary menus and looking at the Explorer Tab. If you have not read my other articles of this tutorial, a secondary menu is the sidebar listing written in gray with an arrow next to it; clicking this arrow opens a drop-down of what I call tertiary menus. Within both secondary and tertiary menus, there is a commonly used tab known as the Explorer TabExporer TabCredit:

The Explorer Tab provides both a visual line graph depicting changes in value of a defined metric (depending on the menu that the Explorer Tab is in) over time as well as a table detailing information for different primary and secondary dimensions. The aforementioned table is where you can find a drop-down menu with selections for different viewing options. When clicking on the View button, it provides options which include viewing for Data (default view), Percentage, Performance, Comparison, Term Cloud, and Pivot. I will now offer a brief explanation with imagery for each of these viewing options. Note: these viewing options will offer the same metrics but some may require you to select a specified metric to be displayed.

Before starting the explanation of the different viewing options, let me first discuss the Sort Type feature which is available in all Explorer Tab interfaces.

  • Sort Type - this selector allows you to choose between different methods of sorting including Default, Absolute Change, and Weighted.
    • Default - this shows the standard sorting type which is sorted by the first metric to the right of the primary dimension listing. You can choose to sort by a different metric by clicking on that metric within the Explorer Tab's table listing. 
    • Absolute Change - this shows the absolute change of a metric when comparing two time periods and thus requires that two time periods be compared in order for this sort type to be active (meaning not gray and selectable). Absolute as opposed to relative change means that the change will be viewed as a positive value which is the difference between one period's value and the other period's value. 
    • Weighted - this sort type adds weights to the results so that certain metrics are defined relative to another metric. For example, weighted sorting can allow users to view the bounce rate of a keyword relative to the number of visits sent by that keyword and the pages/visit of those visits. This way, keywords with lower bounce rates relative to the number of visits will be ranked higher than keywords with a bounce rate irrelevant of the number of visits.

Now onto an explanation of each of the viewing options and any confusing metrics or aspects of them that would require further remark.




This is the default view; it displays a simple table with different columns and rows to show specific types of information. You can choose to select both a primary and secondary dimension for this display along with a Sort Type.



This view displays as a pie chart and can be tweaked to display information for Impressions, Clicks, Average Position, or CTR. This view also offers a drop-down menu next to "Contribution to total" above the pie chart. You can select between Impressions, Clicks, or Weighted Total.

  • Weighted Total - see previous explanation of Weight Sort



This view appears as a table but includes a graphical display with horizontal bars which illustrate the level of performance of your site relative to some primary dimension. Performance is measured as a percentage based on the number of impressions relative to a given metric specifier compared to the total number of impressions relative to all metric specifiers. For example, when looking at performance across different countries, it is measured by this equation:   

(Impressions for Country A / Impressions for All Countries) x 100 = Performance.

This viewing option also provides drop-down menus for both the general table and the performance bar which allow you to select between different options depending upon the secondary or tertiary menu you are using. 




This view appears as a table and includes a graphical display with horizontal bars which illustrate the level of comparative performance of your site relative to some primary dimension. Comparative performance is measured by the level of some metric relative to a given primary dimension's specified value compared to the average of the same metric relative to the same primary dimension across all possible specified values. For example, in the Pages tertiary menu under the primary menu Content, the home page of one of your sites has x number of pageviews compared to the average number of pageviews across all pages of your site. In this example, the equation for calculating the comparative performance is:

(Pageviews of Page A / Average Pageviews of All Pages) x 100 = Comparative Performance



Term Cloud

This view is very unconventional compared to the others because it simply displays a term cloud, which is exactly what it sounds like. Term clouds are similar to commonly used tag clouds except they use values from a given primary dimension instead of tags. The size and boldness of a given term is determined by the number of visits, pageviews, etc. for a given value. For example, a term cloud within the All Traffic secondary menu's Explorer Tab shows the traffic source google/organic as bold and large because it has the highest number of visits of all values in the source/medium primary dimension. Term CloudCredit:


Clicking on any of these terms will generate a new line graph that is specified to show data from only that value. It's hard to see in this visual but the term in the middle is google/organic, it displays with this table and a line graph of data.

Term Cloud, SpecifiedCredit:




This view is perhaps the most complex of all the possible viewing options because it requires the user to designate multiple variables when creating a Pivot table. The variables that must be selected are: Pivot by, Pivot Metric 1, and Pivot Metric 2.

  • Pivot By - this the variable against which you are "pivoting" and will display the values for this variable from greatest to least relative to the pivot metrics you have in place. For example, you could set the pivot to be source and the pivot metric 1 to be pageviews. This pivot table would then show the sources in order of highest number of pageviews to lowest number of pageviews.Pivot By, PivotCredit:
  • Pivot Metric 1 - this is the metric for which the Pivot By selection is being ranked; the metric you select for this will define the possible selections for the Pivot Metric 2 in the same way that the selections for this metric are defined by the selection made for Pivot By. 
  • Pivot Metric 2  - this is a secondary pivot metric which can be added to the primary pivot metric (Pivot Metric 1). The selections for this metric will be defined by the metric you selected for Pivot Metric 1. For example, if you choose Pageviews for Pivot Metric 1, the options for Pivot Metric 2 are Unique Pageviews, Average Time on Page, Bounce Rate, and % Exit. 
Viewing Options