Content Optimization With Google Analytics, Part 1

We all know that Google Analytics provides great data to help optimize your AdWords spending. Heck, that’s why Google Analytics exists, to help you drive better traffic to your site using AdWords. But optimizing how people get to your site is just one side of the equation. Making sure they convert once they’re on your site is just as important, and GA can help you with that. Site analysis is a bit more complicated than analyzing CPC data. Sometimes the answers don’t pop out at you as easily.

If you read this blog often (thanks!) you’ll know that I added a ‘Recent Posts’ section to the right hand navigation. This is to help drive visitors to specific pages in the site rather than have them read posts on the homepage. This change was prompted by an analysis of my analytics reports. Let’s walk thorough some reports for this site and I’ll show you how I decided to make this change.

Here is the top entrance point for my blog. This is found in the Entrance Bounce Rates report:

Top Entrances Entrances Bounces Bounce Rate
/blog/index.php 58 34 58.62

Obviously the index is going to have a large number of bounces. That’s just the nature of web visitors. Some people may have come to my site and discovered it wasn’t what they were looking for. But let’s try to figure out why. Let’s dig deeper into these numbers. For my home page, how long are people spending on the page? Using the Top Content report:

Content Uniq. Views Pageviews Avg Time % Exit $ Index
/blog/index.php 79 140 181.93 42.14 0.00

That’s 181.93 seconds or 3:02. That’s not too bad! That’s a pretty sticky page. People are reading the content on my homepage. That’s a good thing. But where do they go after the home page?

Initial Path Visits G1/Visit $/Visits
/blog/index.php > Exit 34 0.00 0.00

34 people left my site after hitting the home page. That’s a bit depressing. What do I know about traffic to my site so far…

  • A majority of visitors to my site land on the homepage
  • Once on the homepage visitors spend a good amount of time reading the content
  • A majority of people leave my site from the homepage

Why aren’t people going any deeper into my site? Probably because I don’t give visitors any navigation! My blog is designed to show all posts on the homepage. That’s obviously why I’m getting long visit times to the home page and a high percentage of people leaving from the homepage.

My site design is affecting my analytics data because all the content is on one page. I can’t get a good feel for which content is most popular because I can’t differentiate Post A from Post B on the homepage.

I think I have two options here:

  1. Add a list of recent posts to the navigation (which I did!)
  2. Only show part of each post on the homepage so the visitor has to click through to the entire post.

You can see how my analytics analysis drove my site navigation changes. It’s also important to notice that I needed to actually dig into the data to understand how it related to my site design. And don’t think this is an exact science, it isn’t! I was speculating as to why so many people left from the index page. I took a chance and it _may_ pay off. Who knows, I might check the data in a week and notice that nothing has changed. That’s the great thing about analytics, I can measure the effects of my changes and, if they’re bad, I can undo the changes. But, if the effects are good, then hopefully I’ll get more detailed analytics and more site visitors.

I’ll review the analytics in a week or two and see how my site visitation data has changed.

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    Comments

    1. says

      Hi Justin. It is rare that I get to give *you* analytics advice so I am relishing this one.

      As your blog grows bigger and you have more content, you will find that you have more people landing on internal pages. This will be because they are searching for topics on Google or another engine and the SERP takes them to a specific (internal) post. Also, as you become more well-known, you will have more bloggers linking to you — not just in their blogrolls, but in their posts. And individuals follow the links. Clint Ivy once posted a comment about my blog and linked to it on Juice Analytics — I probably get a visitor a day just from that comment, which must be almost two months old now.

      Also, as you get a larger readership, you will find people going to the internal pages, just because they can’t read or write comments from the index.

      Finally, if someone lands on the index, they rarely have an incentive to go to an internal page if they aren’t going to write a comment or don’t want to read the comments. Instead of “Recent Posts,” you might want to have “Most popular posts,” since at least half of all the recent posts are on the home page already. You could also do Zoom Clouds (check out Clint’s blog or Avinash’s, they both use them.)

      Robbin

      ps keep that great content coming.

    2. Justin says

      Hey Robbin,

      Thanks so much for the great advice! I agree, people need to think of every page as a SERP landing page. Thanks again,

      Justin

    3. says

      Justin,

      Very useful post! Thanks. I see that when I click the + button for “exit” i just get (no data).

      I am assuming that the data that “could” be here is the next website the visitor goes to?

      Can GA track this information?

      thanks!!

    4. says

      Hi Rob,

      (exit) means that the visitor left the site. There is no way to drill down any further than that. It’s hard to track where a visitor goes after they leave your site. By default GA can not track this. However, you can track links on your site that point to other domains. Just add an urchinTracker() call to the your links that point to other sites.

      I’ll write up a blog post about this.

      Justin

    5. says

      Hi Leonard,

      In general, there should be little impact from adding the tracking code to a page. It is fairly small and it is usually cached by the browser after the first load.

      To insure an optimal use experience the tracking code should be placed before the closing body tag. That way, if there is any latency in the GA server responding to the browser, it will not affect the page rendering.

      HTH,

      Justin

    6. says

      HI, i’d like to know if it’s 100% necessary to add the tracking code to every page of the site or is it ok if i just add it to the homepage? If i have to add it to every page, should i create a new code or add same one to the pages?

      Thanks!!!!

      Ana

    7. says

      Hi Ana,

      Google Analytics will only track pages that have the tracking code. So if there are pages that you do NOT want to track then you don’t need to tag them. My advice is to tag ALL pages and then use filters to manipulate what data ends up in your profiles. You should add the same tracking code to all of your pages.

      Thanks for the question and thanks for reading.

      Justin

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