Improve Your Website Content Using Google Analytics

Is a top-viewed landing page catapulting visitors away from your site? Is a lesser-viewed page making your visitors insanely happy? Use Google Analytics data to find out.

If you’ve used the Google Analytics Top Content Report, you know there’s a lot of data there. You also know how frustrating it is to comb it all. This week I was trolling Tableau’s web analytics data to find the fast and the lame.

Lots of Data, But Ugly

Google Analytics’ content report is generous with data: pageviews, time on page, bounce rate, and % of visitors who exit the site after viewing the page. But the report doesn’t exude insight. In fact, it can make your head hurt:

Web Analytics Can Be Beautiful

So try it graphically. Here’s our website’s content, organized by section (the first level of the URL hierarchy).

The visualization tells me a few things:

  • The products section gets the most pageviews. Because Google Analytics breaks out each landing page individually, this type of aggregate data is hard to get.
  • The high-pageview sections—the homepage (/), learning, community-- all have green bars, which means visitors tend to stay on the site after viewing them. From this we can guess they found content they liked.
  • Visitors spend more time in videos than anywhere else.
  • But then the video viewers leave the site. The video bar is a dark, angry red, showing a high exit rate.

So our video-watchers show commitment by spending a lot of time on the page, but then leave the site. Our sales and support guys often send customers to particular training videos, so it’s natural that they might leave after getting what they needed. Still, we could do a better job of providing relevant next-step content on those pages.

How Did Our Landing Pages Do?

Now we know how visitors are interacting with different parts of the site. Let’s check out specific content. I drilled into Tableau’s gallery to evaluate our Visual Examples, which are visualizations from customers or from public data.

What popped in this visualization:

  • The visual analysis of baby names got the most pageviews, and had a low exit rate(it’s dark green). So people liked that example well enough to keep going, probably into more examples.
  • The analysis of auto sales and the sales pipeline visualization had the next highest pageviews, but high exit rates. It’d be worth asking some customers if they got what they expected from those examples.
  • People spent the most time reading about hurricane tracks. I checked out the visualization and it was immediately clear why-- turns out we had forgotten to include one of the color keys. People spent time on the page because they were trying to figure it out. We’ve fixing the problems.

To make Google’s content report visual, I simply exported the CSV, formatted it slightly in Excel and then connected it to Tableau (don’t have Tableau? Download a free trial.) I didn’t use the Google Analytics API, but I’ll look into that in the future.

If your content report is filled with unreadable URLs, the Google Analytics Blog offers tips on cleaning them up. And if you use query strings to drive content, Analytics Talk shows you how to make them more readable.

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