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5 Ways to Track & Optimize User Experience in Google Analytics

by Kylie Ora Lobel on February 20, 2017 –

How to evaluate User Experience with Google Analytics
In today’s environment, user experience isn’t a plus. It’s a must.

Users are expecting that your website will be easy to navigate, and take them on a logical journey. They want it to be as friendly as possible and fulfill any needs they have.

Typically, however, businesses won’t report on the user experience beyond the bounce rate. They’ll simply look at the number of people who left their websites and perhaps why they left.

To succeed, you should be looking at much more than the bounce rate. It’s important to analyze on-site behavior to see what features work on the website and which ones bounce users away.

The following are five ways to track user experience in Google Analytics.

1. Button Tracking

The first thing you can look at when analyzing your user experience is button tracking. You’ll want to make sure that your tracking is 1-1.

The easiest way to manage button tracking is to distinctly name each button so it has it’s own tag in Google Analytics. You can organize your buttons however you want, in the end.

How to improve UX using Google Analytics

But you should at least segment your different conversions into different name types. This will allow you to at least contrast and compare how different buttons or conversions are performing.

You can also get super granular and track on how individual form submissions perform. This will have you making a lot of unique tags and pixels in GA. But, it should yield some really powerful insights.

For example, you may have both low level and high level form submissions on your site. If that’s the case, you can start to compare how different form submission fields are performing and see if users are stopping at a certain point within the individual form.

You may be asking for one to many data points and be bouncing away a large percentage of possible conversions. These are things optimizers need to know!

2. Destination URL Tracking

Next, track your destination pages where you want people to land so you can convert them.

A best practice for tracking and optimizing is to make dedicated landing/thank you pages for form submissions as well. These landing pages should be linked to a specific ad with a specific conversion goal and a singular CTA. Keep it streamlined and focused.

How to improve UX using Google Analytics

You also need to prioritize your “money pages,” which include:

  • Service pages, such as get in contact form submissions.
  • Product pages, which is where on-site purchases occur.
  • Resource pages, where gated conversions happen and users enter your pipeline.

Tracking your money pages should also help you identify which channels are funneling the most valuable traffic to your site. You don’t want misdirected or unqualified traffic that reaches your service pages and bounces right off.

You’re looking for users that are looking for you!

3. Time On Page

Are users spending a few minutes on your page and then leaving, or are they browsing for a while? You might need to figure out why users are bouncing off the site as soon as they get there.

How to improve UX using Google Analytics – Time on Site

Track the time spent on your page by new users, repeat users, and visitors going to your blog posts. See if people who go to pages with content below the fold are making it to the end of the pages as well.

If you see that your blog posts aren’t being read the full way through, you have a few possible solutions.

  • break the blog post in multiple, smaller posts that are more reader friendly
  • turn the blog post into a gated content eBook that encourages more engagement after trading personal information to access it
  • you can also repurpose the post into a series of videos to post on your site

Regardless of how you solve the problem of read percentage, you need to ensure that any necessary information users need to convert is above the read fold.

4. Behavior Flows

You’ll need to track the actual journey that users take when they visit your website. What pages do they click on? What links interest them? Where do they spend the most time? Do they convert on the first visit, or does it take a repeat visit to get them to purchase from you or take some sort of action?

How to improve UX using Google Analytics – Behavior Flows

You should identify the high volume funnels through which your traffic is flowing.

It’s also crucial to combine behavior flows with the time spent on the page. You can do this by:

  • Looking at how much time is spent on each page in a singular conversion path.
  • Identifying which pages are “service” pages and which are “bridges.” Users won’t spend a lot of time on the pages that are bridges, but they’ll click through. Service pages may stop the flow of traffic with a conversion or long piece of content to read.
  • Optimize towards your ideal conversion path. Make the user’s journey logical, easy, and always leading to a call-to-action that will help your bottom line.

5. Reverse Conversion Paths

Instead of looking at the conversion path starting from the beginning, do some reverse engineering.

How to improve UX using Google Analytics – Behavior Flows

Here’s how to find your Reverse Conversion Paths in GA:

How to improve UX using Google Analytics – Reverse paths

You can click through the highest volume reverse path to optimize towards your ideal customer journey.

This may actually be easier for you. Identify which paths lead to conversions and work backwards. Organize it by volume; start with the highest volume reverse path and then optimize the entire on-site experience towards the optimal conversion path.

How to improve UX using Google Analytics – Reverse paths in detail

This should get your whole site working more like a sales funnel than it is a random assortment of pages. Not that your site is random – of course it isn’t you stud you 😉

Key Takeaways

Tracking user experience can be confusing and frustrating, and Google Analytics won’t make it any easier for you.

But I want to make sure you walk away from this blog post with at least a bit better understanding of the monster that is GA. So, here are five tutorials, resources, and/or guides about setting up Google Analytics the right way:

Analytics Academy

Moz’s Beginner’s Guide to GA

Kissmetrics GA Resources

23 Tools from Optimize Start

Premium’s Guide to WordPress GA

Good luck, and happy reporting!

profile-pic-kylie-ora-lobell

About the author

Kylie Ora Lobell is a content marketer for Directive Consulting. Her company provides leading B2B brands with content, SEO, and PPC campaigns.

 

  • Thomas Bosilevac

    Kylie, these are fantastic examples of using Events within Google Analytics to track page engagement.
    One comment on the out of box “time on page/site”, it is not as accurate as it once was… Because out of box this is only tracked as the difference between a-b-c, only the time spent on pages a and b would be counted. Leaving any time on page c uncounted. If this has a high exit rate…uh oh!!

    We recommend using custom events for this, triggering every 15 sec (but an interaction, or non-bounce only after 45…adjusted bounce rate). This helps truly understand causes for bounce and exit rates by showing actual time spent (in 15sec intervals).

    This, along with scroll tracking, video performance and other events and goals are included in all our pacakges. http://Www.mashmetrics.com/gapackages

  • Thanks for such a fabulous post. you really made us to understand the
    whole phenomena properly. i really liked the way you explained each and
    every thing.

  • Great post, but I 100% disagree with using thank you pages to track conversions. TY pages are messy and clunky. Utilizing event based goals is a much more elegant and modern way of tracking conversions.

    Because each GA view only has 20 goal slots (unless you are on premium) you will need to create a consistent TY page URL structure and use Regex patterns to create a rollup goal if you have more than 20 unique TY pages for different assets or conversion points.

    Plus, if a TY page somehow gets indexed by Google/Bing you may end up with skewed numbers.

    With the rise and adoption of Google Tag Manager and event based goal tracking TY pages are becoming less and less common – which is a good thing. No one wants to manage handfuls of generally thin and useless TY pages inside their CMS anymore.

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