The analytical package from Google is a great tool for tracking the “path” of users browsing your website. Looking at a user’s entry, interaction and exit from your website is likely to uncover the truth about how well your website performs.
Note: We have recently been experimenting with a few other analytical programs on some of our web properties. In the near future, I hope to be able to review the various ways these products can enhance your “Online accountability” (to quote a phrase by the Evangelist of web analytics Avinash Kaushik). http://www.kaushik.net/avinash/
Believe it or not, most search engine traffic does not enter your website from your homepage. This probably isn’t surprising to you, as your homepage is generally an aggregate knowledge space which is unlikely to outrank your individual pages for specific queries. These individual pages that are the user’s entry point to your site (landing pages) need to be carefully considered so the user hangs around and hopefully visits more pages or makes a conversion. For example, Bill is looking for information on a particular type of apple let’s say it’s a “Granny Smith”, he opens up a search engine like Google or Bing and types the query “Granny smith apples”. The Granny smith page on your website “Whole-lot-of-apples.com” appears to be the top organic result for that keyword phrase, and the link directs Bill to this specific page.
How is the navigation from this landing page? Can a user who has arrived at a specific landing page now get to other areas of your site efficiently? Following on from the example above, let’s say Bill realises this isn’t the apple he wanted and wants information on “coxes”. That logical step or path needs to be available to him to prevent him going back to the search engine, which means you miss out on a conversion.
Monitoring a user’s path through your website is easy to do using an analytics package such as Google analytics. The latter can produce Visitor flow diagrams to accurately show which pages a visitor is likely to click to next and how a typical visit to your website unfolds. Using custom reporting webmasters can use several metrics to segment website visitor’s behaviour. These types of measurements are extremely useful in assessing your website’s performance. From our example, the type of performance questions could be; Can Bill navigate between colours of apples from the landing page? Can he make a purchase without going to the shop?
The final page a user visits before leaving a website is called an “Exit page” and is a very important metric for determining what more you could have done for that user’s experience. For example, did they add items to their shopping basket but exit on the checkout page? This could be a sign the user found the P&P price, delivery date estimate or something else was not to their liking and left. I suppose there are as many reasons to exit a site as there are to enter it so delving into the data can be a great way to discover the behaviour of your audience.
I love solving problems, if you have any questions about your website visitors “path” through your website please get in touch.