Thursday, July 11, 2013

Google Analytics 101: tracking down causes of page hit anomalies

I'm no Google Analytics guru, by any stretch, but over time my understanding and GA's powers seem to be incrementally increasing.  This post is about how GA helped me understand why a particular page ranks high in page hits on our site. If you are not very familiar with GA it may help you a little.

I'm preparing to revamp our web site to work with new responsive web design templates - these will significantly change the access points to our information architecture, but not the architecture itself. Anyway, part of my prep is confirming what clients are accessing most often and greasing the path to it.

This page comes to my attention:
Types of Information Sources - Primary, Secondary, Tertiary & Refereed Journals
Pretty dry supplementary information for information literacy programs I thought. Might get a few clicks at the start of each semester, maybe.

According to GA it was the twelfth most popular page on our website in the first 6 months of 2013 (of currently 1106 pages). Over 12,000 unique page hits.

'Oh noes' I think. Do I have to put a link to it in a prominent place? Who is using this. Why?

So first I use GA  to get a sense of how people are getting to this page, using the content  and navigation summary features (see screencast below)

So what can I learn about why people are being referred to a particular page? What does GA tell us about Google search referrals? Using Traffic Sources, Landing Pages and Search/Organic and Keywords ('nother screencast)

Mystery solved, that particular page appears at the top the Google SERP for types of information.  I can with confidence not worry about whether it should be more prominent in our site structure and nav - the vast majority of use is from a Google search done by the wider public.

Lesson learned - don't accept page hits the concrete truth about how your primary clients are using your site.

Thank you Mister Google.

No comments: