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 MarkCRegan.com 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.
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.
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.
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.
- Behavioral targeting
- Better calls-to-action
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.
This 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.
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.