How to set up Google Analytics alerts

Digital Marketing, SEO

A large part of an SEO consultant’s job is to analyze how users use the website in order to constantly improve it. In other posts we have already seen the importance of knowing how to correctly use some of the analytics tools to optimize the work of increasing traffic. (as in our guide to Google Tag Manager for WordPress).

In this month’s post we’ll look at Google Analytics‘ custom alerts feature, which helps you take a more proactive approach to monitoring your websites or customer data, without having to log into the interface.

Customized alerts notify you by e-mail when there are changes in the data you have previously configured, based on predetermined thresholds that you can customize for any of the data you want to monitor.

Why is it useful to set up custom alerts in GA?

Monitoring your Google Analytics data can be a tedious task, but it is important to keep a close eye on your data to avoid potential data loss and spot any red flags instantly.

With Google Analytics alerts you can correct potential problems instantly and without having to manually monitor the status of a web project.

Automatic alerts are created for individual Google Analytics views, and in practice can cover anything:

  • From traffic analysis
  • A significant increase in conversions
  • Interactions with contact forms
  • Customized events

GA Alerts Workflow

Google Analytics alerts work as follows:

  • The most important alerts are configured so that we can know what is happening at any given moment. Once the alert is configured, when it is triggered an e-mail will be sent directly to your e-mail address or to the e-mail address of the SEO consultant in charge of the project. The sample email is as follows:demonstration image
  • In this way we can have a quick diagnosis of what has triggered the alert we have configured. This diagnosis appears when you click on “alert title”:

demonstration image

  • In this way, the causes of the alert can be analyzed and two things can be done:
    1. Solve the incident immediately in the case of a problem on our website (broken page or website down).
    2. Enhance opportunities that are benefiting the project in the case of a positive alert (natural increase in traffic).

How alert settings work in Google Analytics

To create an alert in Google Analytics follow these steps:

    1. Log in to your Google Analytics account and go to the “Manage” section.
    2. Once inside click on “Custom Alerts” (located near the bottom).
    3. Now, click on “New alert” and start naming and configuring it according to the variables you want to monitor (see next section for more information).
    4. Check the box that says “Send an email when the alert is activated” and enter your email address or the email address of the consultant in charge of the project.demonstration image


  1. If you select the “Apply to” option you can choose whether you want to add more views or not. Normally you will always have one by default, and based on our experience you will not need any more.
  2. With the “Period” dropdown you can configure the alerts to notify you on a daily, weekly or monthly basis each time the condition we set in alerts is met.

demonstration image

Basic alerts to be configured step by step

At we regularly use several Google Analytics alerts to manage our clients’ SEO projects:

  • unusual drop in traffic
  • unusual traffic increase
  • increases in organic traffic
  • decrease in activity in contact/event/transaction forms
  • increased traffic to 404 pages
  • other alerts (loading speed, ads…)

Let’s see how to configure each of them.

Alert for total traffic decrease

Detecting drastic drops in overall traffic in a day allows you to receive an email when traffic to your website drops by more than a defined percentage.

  • The trigger used for this alert is the “total sessions” trigger.
  • A relevant change for us is from drops of 75%.
  • The configuration of this alert is as follows:

demonstration image

Alert for total traffic increase

In this case, it is the opposite scenario: there has been a one-off increase in overall traffic. Detecting this increase in time can help us to enhance it by improving the pages that receive the most traffic and repeat this type of action in the future:

  • The trigger used for this alert is the “total sessions” trigger.
  • To be considered an alert we program it for increases of 50% or more.

The configuration of this alert is as follows:

demonstration image

Alert for drop in organic traffic

If your traffic depends a lot on the organic part, this type of alert allows you to control and measure exactly the organic traffic that your site receives at the moment and detect drops in it. Organic traffic drops can have several causes, so this alert for example allows you to detect them immediately:

  • Organic traffic drops due to penalties caused by Google algorithm updates.
  • Detect URL indexing errors
  • Drop in rankings due to some kind of reason (competition, errors…)
  • Drastic drop in traffic on a specific day
  • The trigger used for this alert is the “sessions” trigger of the “organic” traffic medium.
  • A relevant change for us is from drops of 75%.
  • The configuration of this alert is as follows:

demonstration image

Alert for organic traffic increase

This alert is used to detect what is growing at the SEO level. An organic growth is relevant if it rises above 20-50% in one day. In this way, if this alert is triggered, you will have the opportunity to make possible on-page improvements and positive updates very quickly in order to continue in the line of growth.

In this case, it is also interesting to program the same alert but for weekly traffic, with a higher growth, more or less at 10% for a specific week.

Keep in mind that this percentage will depend a lot on the type of project and its maturity level.

The configuration of this alert is as follows:

demonstration image

Alerts for broken contact forms/decline in number of events/decline in number of e-commerce transactions

This alert will warn you when important errors are detected at the level of pre-configured Google Analytics events. This way you will receive an alert when GA detects broken forms, drops in the number of events or sharp drops in the number of e-commerce transactions (if the website is an online store, that is).

At Rodanet we recommend you to configure per day, changing the percentage according to your convenience (we set it in variations of 50% or more).

The configuration for this alert is as follows:

demonstration image

It is also advisable to make the same rules but on a weekly basis, so that you can receive automatic alerts for increases/decreases of transactions or events on a weekly basis. In this case a change of 15/20% per week is sufficient.

Alert for traffic upstream to 404 pages

This alert will be triggered when the number of visits to 404 pages increases. An increase in traffic to those pages is indicating that there are broken links, so you will be able to fix them quickly and automatically without having to search for 404’s manually on a constant basis but only when necessary.

We schedule this alert on a weekly basis, with a percentage of 10%. To program it you only need the title of the 404 page of the website in question.

The configuration for this alert is as follows:

demonstration image

Alert for increase in rebound rate

On any website there will always be a certain percentage of natural bounce (users who enter the site and leave without taking any action), especially in the case of blog posts: the user reads and finds the information he is interested in and when he has it, he leaves the page.

However, extremely rapid increases in bounce rate may indicate an issue to be highlighted (such as bot traffic that may cloud the statistics).

This alert would be set up for a bounce rate increase of 90% or more, for all traffic and for a specific day.

The alert configuration would look like this:

  • Alert name: Bounce rate increase
  • Period: Day
  • Applies to: All traffic
  • Alert me when: Bounce rate is higher than 90.00

Alert for changes in loading speed

A significant decrease in website loading speed will directly impact the user experience, and therefore also the site’s conversions. A decrease in loading speed can be considered significant when it is close to double, so we set it at 75%.

The configuration for this alert would look like this:

  • Alert name: Increased page load time
  • Period: Day
  • Applies to: All traffic
  • Alert me when: Average page load time increases by more than 75% over the previous day.

Alerts for Google Ads

If you have your Google Ads account connected to Google Analytics, you can also create custom alerts based on the data collected from the ads.

Decrease in the number of impressions

This alert will alert you when impressions drop by more than 50%, which may indicate that your ad is not being served correctly, or that your ad data tracking is down/disconnected from Google Analytics.

The configuration of this alert would be as follows:

  • Alert Name: Decrease impressions Ads
  • Apply to: [inserta la vista de GA aquí]
  • Period: Day
  • This applies to: All traffic
  • Alert me when: The percentage of impressions decreases by more than 50% compared to the same day of the previous week.

Significant increase in CPC

When it comes to investing in Ads, we are often talking about thousands of Euros, and therefore it is important to make sure that everything works as expected.

Set this alert to be notified when Ads campaign costs increase significantly. Sometimes it can be intentional, but sometimes it can catch us by surprise and leave us without our monthly budget in a matter of days.

The configuration of this alert would look like this:

  • Alert Name: Increased Cost Ads
  • Apply to: [inserta la vista de GA aquí]
  • Period: Day
  • This applies to: All traffic
  • Alert me when: The cost percentage increases by more than 50% compared to the same day of the previous week.

Extra ball for a total control of your traffic: annotations

At Rodanet we create annotations in Google Analytics every time we make an important change, in order to have a traceability of that change vs. the repercussion (positive or negative) that such change may have produced.

Thus, if we have annotations for these changes and at the same time alerts have been triggered, we will be able to know immediately if these alerts are a direct consequence of the updates. This is especially important in the long term, since for example after 1 or 2 years many web changes that could have had positive or negative effects on visibility would be lost (we would not remember them) if we did not have a “cheat sheet” in the form of an annotation.

Annotations is one of the most underrated features of Google Analytics. The annotations are basically like post-its that you can paste on your data by date. That is all.

Rodanet recommends you to add annotations every time you make important design or performance changes or when you make a direct investment in online or offline marketing campaigns.

In particular, it would be advisable to add an annotation when:

  • Launch of new PPC campaigns
  • Launching of e-mail campaigns
  • Offline advertising: TV, radio, press, etc.
  • Major website changes: new design, new content, etc.
  • Changes made to your Google Analytics settings that may affect your data
  • Problems with the web site, including server problems or downtime due to scheduled maintenance
  • Major events such as Black Friday, Christmas…

demonstration image

Summary: the 10 alerts to configure

demonstration image

Consultor Senior | + posts

Especializado en la redacción de contenidos y la gestión de blogs, Desde 2018 investigando y dándole a las teclas para convertirse en un auténtico maestro del WordPress y el SEO on-page.

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