Google Analytics' Hidden Gem
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a fan of Google Analytics. There’s something about digging into web traffic stats that I really enjoy. It’s part curiosity, part strategy, and a dash of puzzle-solving for good measure. And while I enjoy a spin through the Audience, Acquisition, Behavior and Conversion tabs as much as the next
nerd digital marketing professional, my favorite tool to use is the on-page analytics, more commonly called “Page Analytics.”
For some reason, saying that to people is like saying my favorite drink to order at a bar is mango juice. I get blank stares and a tilt of the head as people wonder out loud if that’s a thing. Yes, Page Analytics is real and it’s fantastic (so is mango juice by the way). What I can’t quite figure out is why it is so underused.
For those of you who may not know what I’m talking about, let me first explain what you’re missing out on. Page Analytics is a Chrome extension that allows you to get a visual breakdown of what people are clicking on in your site. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles that some click mapping services offer, but for companies that don’t have a budget for third party tracking tools, this free Analytics plugin does the trick.
Once your extension is installed, you can log into your Analytics account and then go directly to a site you have Analytics access to. At the top of your screen you’ll see web traffic stats specific to each page you visit, and on the page itself you’ll see little orange boxes that give you a breakdown of how many clicks each link (including buttons and navigation items) has had on the page, and the percentage of visitors who click on that link.
It’s a quick way to see what links your visitors are interested in, and which ones aren’t as appealing. If one of your most important links isn’t getting the click-throughs that you want, you can begin to focus your efforts on how to improve the click-through rate. For example, you could consider running some A/B tests on the text or make the link more visually prominent with a new design treatment.
Page Analytics is also a quick way figure out which options people prefer when they have to choose between similar types of content. For example, if you’ve got a portfolio page on your site, or a set of products that you sell, you can use use Page Analytics to see which one people click on the most. Yes the information is in Google Analytics, but this is a very visual way of getting that data. It’s also a way to understand the context of those clicks – if the most popular one is at the bottom of the page then that may be an indication to move it further up in the content so more visitors see it.
All that being said, there are some downsides to Page Analytics:
- It’s only accessible in Chrome.
- It only tracks in-site links, so if you want to know about outbound link clicks then you are out of luck.
- If you’ve got more than one link on a page that goes to the same destination, then the data is combined. That means you can’t tell which of the two locations gets more clicks.
- It can be a bit buggy at times.
Unfortunately, the Page Analtyics extension is being depreciated and will no longer get updates. My theory is that they’ll eventually roll this functionality into Google Analytics (well, roll it back into Analytics- it used to be there years ago but never really worked properly). I find it hard to believe that Google will give up on click mapping completely; it is a growing industry and Google isn’t one to drop out of a race that’s just heating up. Heck, they may even roll out a new tool just for click mapping that would (hopefully) include heat maps and scroll maps. Until that day I’ll just have to cross my fingers that Google doesn’t let go of this hidden gem completely, otherwise I might have to knock back a few mango juices to get me through that sad day.