Using Google Analytics to Improve Usability and Stickiness

Learn how to use Google Analytics to track visitor use to improve keyword selection and conversion from leads to customer.

Google Analytics is a free tool from Google that can be used to track a vast array of web site visit statistics. Initially, most people were using Analytics to track referring search terms, but it can provide so much more intelligence for web masters including those who are part of the Hubspot network:

  • audience performance and behaviour
  • content, speed and search
  • visitor flow, advertising, conversion etc.

This article concentrates on two aspects of Google Analytics:

  • using the Flow statistics to improve usability
  • using Keyword Visit Data to measure and improve stickiness

These two aspects are linked, of course, but have different aims – the first is to make sure that returning and regular visitors are able to find the information that they came for, and the second is to ensure that the correct keywords are bringing in the right kind of traffic.


Improving Usability

The Google Analytics Flow Diagram is very useful in checking the usability of the site. It can be found in the following left hand menu option:

  • Audience->Visitors Flow

As always, the first view contains all the relevant information, which needs to be pared down to yield something that can be interpreted.

Clicking on an item, and choosing to ‘Explore’ it will tell the web master which pages have delivered traffic, and which pages have been accessed afterwards. This is useful as it will help the web master to spot navigation flaws.

More interesting, especially to marketers, is knowing where the traffic drops off. The term drop-off is used by Analytics to indicate that a visitor has left the page – perhaps in frustration, or perhaps just because they’ve completed their visit.

If the conversion figures don’t seem to stack up, or if a page isn’t generating the kind of revenue that was expected, the Flow can help to determine why.

Improving Stickiness

As well as actually improving the usability, stickiness can be enhanced by attracting the right kind of traffic – warm and hot leads. Badly targeted keyword phrases will lead to high drop-off figures in the Analytics Flow diagram; and this will mask more useful trends.

Spotting the cause of these will help eliminate keyword phrases that are badly matched with the site, or adapt the content to match the keywords more closely – especially if they are high volume! The metrics can be found in:

  • Traffic Sources->Sources->Organic

The Visits figure indicates the search volumes, but the more useful data for stickiness can be found in:

  • Pages/Visit
  • Visit Duration
  • Bounce Rate

Very sticky and engaging sites will have a high Avg. Visit Duration and high number of Pages/Visit, but then again, so will badly designed sites, so it is important to check the Visit Flow diagram to make sure that visitors do not drop off prematurely.

A high Bounce Rate will also indicate that the specific keyword phrase is delivering visitors who do not find the content useful. So, either the content needs to be adapted, or the keyword phrase should no longer be targeted.

So, if the webmaster needs high engagement to deliver visitors to a specific page that is designed to result in an action, then the site needs to be engaging (sticky) and well designed.

On the other hand, if the web master just wants high volume, with one or two page views resulting in a click away (to an affiliate or sponsor) then the traffic statistics can be used to make sure that content is created that pulls in those specific visitors.