Basic usability analysis with Google Analytics
Following on from my last ‘It started with a click’ post on page loading speed, this post is about your website’s usability and what practical steps you can take to address any glaring issues from how people are navigating around your website.
Applications like Crazy Egg have helped give many websites an insight and an introduction into usability. I’m no usability expert – pretty similar to many SEOs out there. One view could be that is why the Panda update has proved so devastating 11 months on.
Why should I take time out of my day to look at this?
For the small business owner, digital marketing and in this case web analytics is something that regularly gets neglected. However, Google is giving you the tools to succeed post Panda update – it can help you both help your users in the informational search and also improve your SEO rankings. Even if you look at it once and learn one thing – this could make a considerable difference in the way you adapt your website to maximise sales or leads.
The user journey…an over-used term in online but lets be clear website usability is absolutely vital with your online business. You need to think about the architecture of your website and how it houses content in the most helpful way. Is your navigation a concise, helpful breakdown of content that will inform their decision? Do users see what they need to within a nanosecond of the page loading? All vital stuff as you pay some amount (time/£) for every visit directly or indirectly.
Ever wondered what sections or links generate the most interest or clicks? Well, In-page Analytics will give you percentage clickthrough rates (CTRs) with this information and much more depending on the depth of Google Analytics installation within your website.
How do I access this information?
You can view clickthrough usability data via Google Analytics with no page impression restriction – all for free. This has had ‘beta’ alongside the section’s link – not any longer which is a positive sign in terms of data accuracy. This bit is dead easy but realistically the average SME isn’t going to navigate to this data regularly. The good news is that Google Analytics will be adding this as a ‘dashboard option’ meaning that you could log in and see it without any vertical navigation clicking. Smart stuff.
Anyhow, log in to your Google Analytics account, go to ‘content’ -> ‘In-page Analytics’. Then use the filter that is defaulted to ‘clicks’ and if you have Google Analytics ecommerce or goal tracking set up. You can then change the percentage clickthrough rate to be more than a level between 0.1% and 10%. This way, you can see popular areas of content, to understand what is useful…and what is useless to users. I love seeing heat maps and clickthrough maps as users are ruthless – this information will show you quickly where you need to consider design/layout/microcopy changes.
This approach will definitely assist you in gaining an uplift in visitors via ranking improvements. If you are closely following the Google Webmaster Guidelines (in particular aspects like links per page, duplicate content control and a non-spammy approach to content) and this type of basic usability focus then you will be going a long way to being ‘panda proof’.
More user focused website design is what we all want as everyday consumers of the internet. So you make the web a better place and in doing so get more sales or leads.