If you run Google Analytics, it can act as a really good behind-the-scenes website monitor. The key is to use a feature known as ‘Custom Alerts’, which you’ll find in ‘Admin’ under the appropriate ‘View’. Custom Alerts can send you messages when something good or bad happens, and it can be a lifesaver.
Here’s a simple example. You could use Custom Alerts to send you an email if your site had an unusually low number of visits in a day, suggesting it was down, or at least had something rather wrong with it. Of course, this isn’t as good as constantly checking your site for downtime, a service we cover for all of our clients, but it will at least tell you there’s a problem after a day.
Here’s the Custom Alert for that. I’d take a look at the lowest number of visits you’ve had in a single day, and set the alert to email you if you don’t even reach that level. Don’t just ask it to email you if there are no visits, because – thanks to spam – Google Analytics can record visits even if none are really made:
Other examples of health-monitoring alerts include monitoring ‘Average Page Load Time’ for increases compared to the previous week or month, or monitoring ‘Page Title’ for too many views of ‘Page Not Found’, or whatever your 404-error page is called.
Do you have any other good uses for Google Analytics alerts? Or is there something you’d like to do, but don’t know how? Use the comments to let me know.