Tracking User Behavior on Your Website
Google Analytics gives you a lot of useful information, some of which we’ve discussed before. Analytics can tell you what your traffic looks like (ours is up over 38% compared with October) and how people find your website (ours is fairly evenly divided among direct, referred, and search visitors). Analytics can even tell you some useful things about your visitors, and we’ve discussed some of these things before, too.
We’re going to look today at a part of the Analytics that we haven’t discussed before. This is the Content section. The content overview, as you can see in the example on the left, shows which page people look at. This lets you know what pages are the most popular and how many pages people look at when they visit.
Beyond that, however, this section tells you how people reach inner pages and what they do once they’re on a particular page: do they go to another page, do they leave the site, do they shop or contact you? To discover this, we need to look at the Navigation Analysis, which you can see on the lower right in the screenshot.
Delving into the Navigation Analysis tells us some interesting things. The homepage of our example site is the most popular page, just as it is here at Oyova.com and at most other websites. At our example site, though, only 60% of the visitors to the homepage come to this page first. That’s unusual. At most websites, the great majority of visitors begin at the homepage and then move on to other pages.
When we design websites, we pay a lot of attention to the homepage. We make sure that visitors can immediately see what your company does when they reach your homepage, that your call to action is clear to people when they first reach the homepage, and that the path from the homepage to other pages and to conversion is clear and easy.
We don’t usually think a whole lot about how to get people to the homepage from other pages.
Our example site, however, has other popular landing pages. Visitors reach some popular blog posts from social media. They visit the site forum directly to join in on conversations. They reach various pages through search. We still want those people to go to the homepage; we don’t want them to come to get their information and leave without seeing all the other things the site has to offer. We know that it’s important not only to make it easy to get from inner pages to the homepage but to entice them to the homepage in some way. People who visit the homepage go on to visit the About Us page, or they check out the forum which they might not have noticed had they not gone to the homepage first.
Examining those other popular landing pages, we see that some of them are the first stop for 90% or more of the visitors who see those pages. Hundreds of people each week arrive at those pages via search without even knowing about the homepage. Do you think we ought to have our call to action on those pages? You know it!
This may not be the pattern on your website, and it doesn’t matter. The thing you can learn from this is that people may not be following the path you set up for them. If that’s true, then you need to set up some other paths that lead them gently from the places where they’ve gone back to the places you want them to see.
If people come to a number of different landing pages, make sure that those pages work for your company as landing pages: they should have information about your company, a call to action, and a welcome that encourages those visitors to come to your carefully=planned homepage.
If people are congregating at your About Us page and skipping the pages you really want them to see, make sure that you have something on those other pages that will draw people in. Make sure that your navigation isn’t confusing, and that you don’t have so many images and so few words that the search engines are just dumping visitors at your About Us page because they don’t see any other good places to send them.
If people leave a page quickly, make sure you figure out why. Shopping carts are often abandoned because the visitor is really just window shopping or because they were playing with the cart to figure out your shipping costs. Unfortunately, they are also often abandoned because they don’t work well and would-be shoppers grow frustrated and give up. You want to know if that’s the case. And then of course you want to call Oyova because we can fix that for you.
Explore the Content section of your Analytics. What you find might surprise you.