Using Google’s In-Page Analytics to understand how people use a site

If you use Google Analytics to get some insight into how people use your webpages, be sure to check out Content > In-Page Analytics. It gives you an idea of what people click on, and that can influence your design decisions.

The posts on my blog homepage change roughly every week, so I used the drop-down in the top right to change the reporting date. Here’s what the overall stats look like for the main page of my blog:

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Let’s look at the breakdown throughout the page:

2013-05-31 11_39_58-In-Page Analytics - Google Analytics

It looks like I should spend some time improving my About page, since a lot of people go to it.

2013-05-31 11_40_19-In-Page Analytics - Google AnalyticsSome blogs recommend removing the Recent Comments widget from the sidebar because people don’t find it useful. I find it handy for seeing what people are talking about, though, and it seems that other people do too. (21% of clicks to see older comments!) I switched to using the Better WordPress Recent Comments plugin in order to show comment previews. There’s a slight delay because I’m using the external Disqus commenting system which still needs to synchronize with WordPress, but I like it overall.

2013-05-31 11_40_37-In-Page Analytics - Google AnalyticsSome blogs recommend manually selecting Top Posts & Pages instead of leaving it up to the computer. This one is automatically selected based on recent views, which is great because it comes up with recommendations I wouldn’t have remembered or thought about (like that Drupal one!). I should make a Resources page, though.

2013-05-31 11_40_59-In-Page Analytics - Google Analytics

I include links to blog posts in my weekly reviews. This is surprisingly useful for both personal memory-jogging and for helping other people jump to things quickly.

2013-05-31 11_41_15-In-Page Analytics - Google Analytics

I have a hard time getting the hang of “Next page” and “Previous page” navigation on blogs. (Am I going forward or backward in time?) I changed my theme to make it easier to figure out which direction you’re going in, and I have these paging links at the beginning (near a table of contents) and at the end of the page.

2013-05-31 11_41_23-In-Page Analytics - Google Analytics

This is all the way near the bottom of the page.  It has the same numbers as the ones up top, so I think Google Analytics might be getting confused about the links because they go to the same place.  (Same with the Older Posts link.) I can probably disambiguate the links by changing the tracking code.

So, TODOs for me: spruce up my About page, figure out where to add a Resources page, look into asynchronous tracking, and see if there’s a way I can set up WordPress to experiment with different layouts…

Check out Google’s In-Page Analytics if you have it on your site!

Note: Got an error while trying to use In-Page Analytics? Make sure you’re properly calling the Google Analytics code on the site. I use a Wordpress plugin to make sure that my visits aren’t tracked when I’m logged in (no sense in throwing off the stats with obsessive refreshing! Winking smile ), so I needed to log out of my site before checking In-Page Analytics.

  • tzlukoma

    Great post Sacha – very clear walkthrough. Do you have a past post on setting up Google Analytics with a wordpress blog. I think I am doing something wrong with how I set mine up because it has never shown any traffic whereas I see traffic with the standard WordPress stats plugin.

    Maybe its the plugin I’m using – which WordPress plugin do you use to connect your blog to Google Analytics … and how did you set it up?

    • http://sachachua.com sachac

      I’ve just switched to the Google Analytics for WordPress plugin by Yoast (http://wordpress.org/plugins/google-analytics-for-wordpress/), which was much more recently updated than the Ultimate GA plugin I used before. Google Analytics for WordPress makes it really easy to add the tracking code to your site – it even shows you the list of Google Analytics profiles you have, so you can pick the appropriate one. Hope that helps!

      • tzlukoma

        I had just discovered this plugin before you posted this. I have it installed and it was very simple to set up – so you are right. I will use this on all the other blogs/websites I set up for other people too.

    • http://sachachua.com sachac
  • http://www.trajano.net/ Archimedes Trajano

    I too am using it as well, though I don’t think I have to log out of my site. Then again I haven’t really hit a critical mass of readers as of yet anyway.

    Have you thought of doing Infinite Scroll rather than doing the “Older Posts” thing? I am using infinite scroll on my site, though it works well for some cases, I find it off-putting myself at times especially since I can’t just jump back to where I was. I was thinking I need to tweak the navigation a bit to put a list of articles on the left that uses Scroll Spy or something to work with the navigation and also limit the amount in semi-logical chunks.

    • http://sachachua.com sachac

      Oh, maybe it’s just temporary weirdness on my end. =)

      I often take advantage of WordPress’ paging features as a way of quickly estimating how many posts I have in a category. I sometimes run into problems on other sites that have infinite scrolling. So, yeah, no particular plans yet…