Understanding Google Analytics – Behaviour

So far in this introduction into Google Analytics series we’ve covered how to understand who your audience is and where they come from. In this instalment, we will cover how to gain insight into how your audience behaves on your site.

Overview

Under the Behaviour tab in Google Analytics, you’ll see many different items. The purpose of the behaviour section is to understand what your visitors are doing when they are on your website. What content do visitors engage with most often? What products do they look at the most? How do visitors flow through your website from page to page?

The Overview page shows you general metrics, some which overlap with the Audience tab. I find most of these metrics aren’t useful. The page ranking in the bottom right shows the top 10 most popular pages on your site and can be useful. You can see how all the pages on your website rank if you navigate to the All Pages item under Site Content.

The All Pages view under Site Content allows you to rank your pages using many metrics. Beware of pages that have few pageviews. Often they are misspellings of a URL or traffic from a spam bot and just clutter up and distract the view. I recommend using the advanced filter to set a smallest number of pageviews as shown below.

GA - Advanced Filter

Take some time to sort by each column, and not just from greatest to least, but least to greatest as well. Knowing which pages users spend the most time on can help you craft similar engaging content. Knowing what content is not engaging can help you not waste time with its creation. Entrances are pages that the visitor views first, sometimes called ‘landing pages’. Which pages are users landing on? Online ad campaigns or emails sent can skew this, so make sure you take that into account.

The % Exit column tells how likely the user is to leave your site from this page. There are a few ways to interpret this. If the page is one where the user has found what they are looking for, like the contact page, then a high exit rate may not be bad. A simple content page or product page (if you are a e-commerce site), with a high exit rate requires investigation. Is there no strong call to action encouraging the visitor to complete a next step? Is the product over priced or in some way out of line with the visitor’s expectations? These are just some questions to consider.

Flow

Flow is understanding how visitors move through your site. The Behaviour Flow page shows the most popular paths through your website.

GA - Behaviour Flow

Each column represents a ‘page level’. The column ‘Starting Pages’, is the first page the user visits, the second column being the second page and so on. Understanding flow gives you a good idea of what users are looking for and what they find interesting. If your flow graph is flat and has a lot of drop-offs, this could be a sign that your content is not engaging. It could also mean your navigation system is confusing.

The other items contained within the Behaviour section are somewhat more advanced for this post. These other items like Site Search, Events, Publisher and Experiments all require extra configuration or coding and have very specific use cases.

The Site Speed tab can give you some insights into how fast your page loads. Faster pages mean happier visitors. I find that there are much better and also free tools out there on the web. My own personal favourite is WebPageTest. The results produced by these tools are technical and need analysis from your website developer.

We are starting to assemble an image of your website visitors now. We so far have who are they, where they came from, and now what are they doing. The next and last part of this series will delve into something a bit different – conversions and goals.

Tell us what you think.