Optimizing Website Pages Through Analytics

by Lyena Solomon November 27th, 2012 

Remember the Olympics? A gymnast is eying the vault. She is good, but her face is reflecting the pressure of millions looking at her. She is up. Wide smile. Run… and incomplete. She cannot stick the landing! And the audience sighs, whispers, "Ah, well…", and turns their precious attention to the gymnast's competitor, who sticks the landing. Every. Single. Time.

Elsewhere, at a local tournament, another athlete is dazzling the audience with incredible execution of the same vault. She runs, she twists, and sticks the landing perfectly. Everyone is in awe. Why isn't she at the Olympics? The audience is clapping, whistling, cheering. All 25 of them.

Does your site have pages like this? Some of them are very popular, have a lot of potential, but they cannot stick the landing. Others are "eclectic" because they are visited by so few, but when it counts, those pages deliver every single time.

The question is, how can you make your visible content more sticky and your sticky content more visible?

Let's look to Analytics for an answer.

In Standard Reporting, go to Content -> Site Content -> All pages. Pick two pages to analyze. One page with high visibility and low conversion. And another page with low visibility and high conversion.

Click on advanced by the search box and configure your filter. For example, Pageviews greater than 1,000 and Page Value less than 0.50. Select your popular page that is not performing.

Then, edit the filter to include Pageviews less than 100 and Page Value greater than 50. Pick your second page from the list. Of course, adjust the numbers to match what makes sense for your site.

Why does this page exist?

Why did you pick those two pages? Why do you care if this page is performing or not, out of all other pages? There is something specific you want this page to do. What is it? Is it a gateway to other areas of your site? Is it supposed to educate people? Is it a conversion page that is supposed to sell something?

The purpose of the page will determine how you interpret the metrics.

High visibility page, lacks conversions

Low visibility page, high conversions

If it is a gateway page, it is expected to have low time on page. The bounce rate and number of exits, however, should be low. It also helps to have high Page Value. This way you know, that the page participates in the chain of clicks that lead to conversions.

If your page is educational, having high bounce rate is not the end of the world. Still, consider putting something on that page that would entice the visitor to click and go deeper into your website. Your time on page should be high. Number of entrances will determine if the page is visible on search engines or has a lot of valuable links.

If the page in question is a conversion page, it has to have high Page Value, low bounce rate and low number of exits. Time on page is not that important as long as people are converting. It is nice to have more entrances, but again, not as critical.

Defining Strategy

Now, that you know what the purpose of your page is and how to measure its success, start with the baseline. Determine where you are and where you would like to be.

If your educational page is not visible enough, start a linkbuilding campaign. If most of your visitors bounce off a very popular conversion page, start optimizing the page for conversion, run some A/B tests. If your gateway page exhibits high time on page, address usability. Perhaps, your visitors are lost on it and getting frustrated while looking for content they want.

When you know what to do, it also helps to figure out how. Specify your tactics and expectations of success. What is your target referral traffic for that educational page? What is your target bounce rate for the conversion page. And what time on page is acceptable for your gateway page? While you are at it, measure bounce rate as well. If usability improves, your bounce rate should go down too.

Sticking the landing

You thought you were done with Analytics? Not so fast! The brainstorming about tactics is going to take shape. You want to prioritize your efforts and give yourself a better chance at improving the situation quickly.

First, let's look at where the visitors are coming from. Click on the page you want to analyze and add "medium" as second dimension. Your choices would be cpc, organic, referral, etc.

If the page is doing badly in paid search, add a note to review the campaign. If it does not do well in organic and referral traffic is showing glowing results, linkbuilding will be your most valuable effort. Are you running any email campaigns? Are your email visitors liking your page? If you can do better with them, this is going to be a fast and easy win.

Next, we need to see what the visitors are actually doing on that page. At the top of your Analytics page, there is In-Page tab. Click on it. You will see in-page report showing which links users clicked on that page. If you have enhanced link attribution enabled on your site, even better. Evaluate what people are clicking on. Are these the links you want them to click? For additional insights, add the page to CrazyEgg. You will get even more information on your user behavior.

Finally, we need to know if the page is participating in converting. We already have Page Value, but let's get some additional insights.

Click on Explorer tab at the top of the page. Then, select Advanced Segments higher up. Check Tablet Traffic and Mobile Traffic. Keep All Visits checked as well.

What do you know? We have a percent of people who view the page on mobile devices and convert. Need to make your site more mobile-friendly? You decide.

Go back to the advanced segments and select New and Returning visitors this time. How do your key metrics apply to them in terms of conversion? Is the page more valuable to the new or returning visitors? Why do you think that is?

Do not stop here

Try Content Experiments once you figured out how you can change your page.

You have other pages that have same goals on your site. Apply what you learned to them as well. Keep improving your content offer to your visitor and they will stick around longer and will help your content be more visible.

Do you have tips on content visibility to share? What worked for you to make your pages more attractive to visitors?

If you liked this post, you might also enjoy How to Use Analytics to Understand What Your Visitors Don't Want  

Lyena Solomon

I am leading the SEO and analytics teams providing strategy and overseeing processes. I facilitate and carry out training and testing latest strategies to improve conversion and revenue. Being a people person, I establish and maintain relationships with vendors and business partnerships.

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3 Responses to “Optimizing Website Pages Through Analytics”

  1. Theresa says:

    Very insightful post, Lyena! There's a wealth of knowledge to be gained from analytics, if people know what to look for. Applying filters and segmenting visitors is key to getting more actionable data. Of course, this assumes people have 1) properly configured their analytics script (it's surprising how many sites have it configured wrong), and 2) set up goals in analytics (most don't, gasp!). But I like that you brought up the point of considering the purpose of the page when looking at data. What is good on one page might be bad on another — all on the same site.

    Thanks for the excellent post. It's a success if it convinced just one person to look beyond mere traffic numbers in analtyics.

    • Theresa,
      You are so right about Analytics! It is often impossible to know how a website is doing because the Analytics implementation is so wrong. Analytics audits are definitely something to consider doing.

  2. Excellent insight with what I can do with my "Gee whiz" metrics!

    The best tip was "prioritize your efforts and give yourself a better chance at improving the situation quickly." Yep, that makes sense and sounds like it's actually do'able. Way to go Lyena!