Analyzing Your Most Popular Pages for Missed Opportunities

I’m addicted to web analytics.  I guess I could have worse vices, but web analytics is the one I obsess about.  Lately I’ve delved into the performance of my site’s most popular pages and found some painful issues.

My most popular pages, the ones that interest people the most,  the ones they visit the most on my sites are also the ones that do the worst job of driving visitors to other pages and converting these visitors into customers.

I’m going to put my own site, this blog website up for analysis in hopes that it will elicit your comments below with some of your opinions and experiences.

Page Performance Analysis

Most Popular Page

Over the past 30 days my most popular page has an exit rate of 89%! When you couple that with an entrance rate of 92% (landing page) you can see this page is doing nothing in terms of visitor engagement.  They come and they leave.

Navigation Summary Most Popular Page

Home Page

When you compare that to my homepage you’ll see an exit rate that is much more respectable at 34%.  Of course the way this website is designed, the home page is intentionally developed to not bounce its visitors.  The goal of the homepage (and it should be for all) is to drive them to the next page with teasers and only partial information.  With 66% of the visitors doing that, I would claim success here.

Navigation Summary Homepage

Most Recent Page

But back to the problem.  If you compare the above most popular page to my most recent post you will see a very different tale with an exit rate of 40%.  And over the past 30 days, it’s my 4th most popular page.  Something is going well here.

Navigation Summary Homepage

Look Under Your Hood

Using Google Analytics, go to Content >> Top Content.  For each of your top pages, click on the “Navigation Summary” in the right column.  Here you will see numbers like the ones above.  After you’ve looked around, what does it say about your site?

  • Are your most popular pages also the ones that drive traffic to other pages?
  • Or are they just hit-and-run’s?  Missed opportunities to engage and convert, like some of mine?

Insights into the Problem

When I first looked at this metric, I didn’t think twice about.  In fact I wasn’t even looking to answer the question. I was just clicking around Google Analytics one day looking for something else when I happened upon the Navigation Summary report.  I had been there many times in the past, but there was something about the way I arrived that made an impression.
It was days later, with my mind working on it without my permission, that it came back and woke me up.

“Why is my most popular page not driving conversions, or least more pageviews?”

Now, I have a website designed around answering questions about web analytics, web analytics tools and the various vendors.  With certain posts optimized to target questions, you could say that if I’ve done my job and answered the visitor’s question – then you wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t stick around.  After all, my site is not a destination site.  Although we all think our site should be, right?

But that bothers me also.  I am not just targeting answers to questions.  I’m hoping that the people who are asking my targeted questions would be interested in learning more about web analytics would believe I am a trusted source and thus be interested in other insights.

If that’s true then I need to do a better job at capturing their interest.

Because to me when you most popular page has a high exit rate, something either is broken or you are missing a huge opportunity.

Solutions for a Poor Performing Page

Here are 3 of my ideas to solve the problem on this website.  They may apply to you, but even if they don’t, they surely will spark some ideas on what will work on your website.

  1. Behavioral targeting
  2. I’m looking into BTBUckets on this site to play around with behavioral targeting in an inexpensive way.

    With it I will be able to segment those visitors who have only seen one page (maybe even limiting it to my most recently popular page) and if they reach the bottom of the page (implying they found something that interested them) I would present them with a “This might also interest you” shadowbox to drive them to other pages.

    Or I could display unique sidebar elements depending on the actions (or inactions) of past visitors who match their behavior in hopes of changing their next steps.

  3. Better calls-to-action
  4. [IMAGE]

    Call To ActionThis is an obvious one.  Unlike what I obsess on during my day job and for my clients, I can definitely do a better job of writing and placing better calls-to-action for my readers.

    Getting them to view very interesting posts, subscribe to the RSS feed, sign up for my newsletter or connect with me are my most important conversions.

    I think we could all do a better job of this on our websites.

  5. Interrupt
  6. In the same vein as behavioral targeting there are many websites (blogs like mine and mainstream commercial websites) that have implemented a particular type of shadowbox or lightbox.

    This shadowbox will display at a specified time after the visitor arrives and promote the primary call-to-action of the website.  Popup Domination is a sophisticated and powerful solution here.

    While many people have written about the annoyance factor, more people can attest to the fact that their calls-to-action go through the roof with these tactics.  And in the end if that’s your goal, then you really need to do everything you can to reach it.


OK now that I’ve opened up the kimono on my site and what bothers me, I need to hear from you.

  • What has been your experience?
  • Am I too focused on details and missing some bigger message?
  • What would you do to solve this problem if it were you?

Let me know in the comments below.

<span class=”drop_cap”>T</span>

Pump Up Your Website With These 25 No-Brainers

<span class="drop_cap">T</span>Whether you’re new to online marketing or a seasoned veteran, it sure is nice to see what others consider important when setting up or taking over the online marketing for a business and its website.

Below is my Top 25 list of things to do from Day One.

It’s a simple list and knocking them out is not really that hard after you’ve done each once.  So don’t let it intimidate you.

Start with the simple ones and move from there!

  1. Implement Web Analytics!
  2. Setup Google Webmaster Tools
  3. Setup Google Webmaster Tools for www and non-www
  4. Track 404 Errors – Pages Not Found
  5. Create 301 Redirects for pages not found
  6. Exclude yourself from Web Analytics (Google Analytics, Adobe Omniture SiteCatalyst, etc.)
  7. Create a mobile version of your site using MobiSiteGalore
  8. Test your page load times using Page Speed
  9. Create HTML, XML and geo sitemaps
  10. Archive your website using SurfOffline
  11. Audit broken outbound links  using Xenu Link Sleuth
  12. Use a trackable phone number
  13. Create robots.txt
  14. Implement Hcard
  15. Redirect non-ww to www
  16. Redirect index.html to /
  17. Claim your business on Google Places
  18. Create a favicon.ico for your website
  19. Confirm your website’s IP address is not blacklisted
  20. Add alt tags to your website images
  21. Validate the HTML used on your website
  22. Claim your business on, and
  23. Set up Google Alerts
  24. Validate Browser compatibility
  25. Set up site search within Google Alerts
  26. Set up a globally recognized avatar (gravatar)

My list is actually much longer than this, but these are my top 25.

Do you think they’re right?
What did I leave off?

Tell me in the comments below.

Visitor Insight with Site Search and Google Analytics

Site Search Google AnalyticsI don’t know about you, but I rarely use the site search box on any website.  If I’m searching, it’s on Google.

But I’m the exception.  Or if I’m in the majority, there are plenty of users who do use a website’s site search feature.

So let’s see how you can tie your site search into Google Analytics to derive some visitor insight.

Making the Connection

Site Search Configuration Options

Site Search Configuration Options - Click To Enlarge

Connecting the two is quite easy.  Presuming your site search produces a results page with the search string in the address (e.g. you just identify that parameter (‘s’ in the previous example) to Google Analytics.

To do this go into your Analytics profile settings, edit the profile and select ‘Do Track Site Search’ and enter your search parameter.

Site Search Menu Options

Site Search Menu Options - Click to Enlarge

From then on Google Analytics will track and report on your visitors’ site searches.  That’s where the gold comes out.  From your main Google Analytics report menu on the left, choose ‘Content’, then ‘Site Search’.

The Golden Ticket

You can now track:

  • How popular is your site search feature?  [Usage Report]
    • This could be a good or bad number depending on how important you consider site search.
  • How many people were not satisfied with their first results page and did a 2nd search (refined)? [Search Terms Report]
    • What terms did these visitors have in common?
  • Which search terms caused people to leave your site? Or stay much longer than the average visitor? [Search Terms Report]
  • Which search terms result in conversions? Which resulting pages result in conversions? [Search Terms Report]
  • Which internal page prompted the most searches? [Start Pages Report]
  • What were they really looking for? [Destination Pages Report]

No Search?

If you don’t have a search tool already integrated into your website, take a look at Google’s Site Search.  It’s simple, free and easily integrated with Google Analytics