How Are Visitors Using My Pages? Getting Answers from Google Analytics
- Are visitors reading my page text?
Are they clicking links at left? What about at right?
- Do they click links within the body of the page?
- Which do they do more often?
- Are they watching videos embedded in the pages?
- Can we break down time spent on pages to discern what’s happening during this time (are they reading or watching a video)?
Looking for Answers in Google Analytics
There are two true answers to some of these questions for every page on every website:
- No: people don’t read web pages; they scan them. Be sure your headers, links, bulleted lists, and other eye-catching pieces of text are meaningful at a glance.
- Yes: if people are interested in the information you’re offering, the text in the main body of the page will get more attention than any other part of the page.
We can, however, assess the effectiveness of individual pages when we know the goals of that page:
- What’s the single most important piece of content on your page? Is it a link to another page or site? A form? A video?
- What do you most want people to do after visiting your page? Find a congregation? Sign up for an email list? Visit your Facebook page?
The “Content > Site Content > Content Drilldown” report shows the relative popularity of different sections of the site. Google sorts content by page URLs; thankfully our topic-based folder structure takes advantage of this logic. Clicking on any top-level folder (like “/re/”) will let you compare the performance of that folder’s subsections (like “/tapestry/”, “/owl/”, etc.).
The “Content > Site Content > Pages” report shows the relative popularity of individual URLs on the site.
Use the “Filter” to narrow down the subset of information you’re looking at.
What the Numbers Mean
Looking at the “Pageviews” for each of your pages gives you a rough idea of which pages are “getting eyeballs,” (or web robots) but there are lots of ways to measure the success of a page.
One is by looking at the “Avg. Time on Page.” If you’re hoping that people are soaking up the information on your page (watching a video, or reading a sermon), you may be able to judge how well the page is performing by looking at how long people are spending on that page.
We can look at the “In-Page Analytics” to see what links are attracting clicks, and sometimes that gives us an idea about what parts of the page are getting attention. REMEMBER: Google cannot differentiate between two links to the same location. Crazy Egg can differentiate between links, and the tests we’ve done on UUA.org confirm that following basic usability principles is your best bet for effective content delivery.
Because we can't embed Google's tracking code in documents, multimedia files, or external links, data on these “Events” is tracked differently from the data on regular web pages.
- PDFs, DOCs, and other non-HTML documents
- UUA video/audio
- Email links
- External links
What People Are Searching For
The "Site Search" area under "Content" gives data about searches performed using our custom site search. These searches are from people who are already on UUA.org, so they tend to be more specific than the keywords in the "Traffic Sources > Search" area, which occurred on Google.com or another web-wide search engine.
Reviewing the keywords that led to views of your pages—or, perhaps more importantly, the keyword searches that started on your pages—can help you optimize your content to meet user demand.
Putting popular content front-and-center not only increases user satisfaction, it also helps you funnel readers to content you think is important. For example, if you have information on "child dedications" but people are looking for information on "baptisms," be sure to include information about how baptisms are related to child dedications on your page. That way, people looking for "baptism" won't get lost in a sea of empty search results; instead, they'll find your page which explains why Unitarian Universalists don't normally have baptisms.
Review site search data for any and all iterations of words that you hope will lead people to your pages, and make sure you’re using the most popular ones in your text.
Training on Lynda.com
On Lynda.com's Google Analytics Essential Training, watch Content Reports: