Understanding Analytics: Behavior

Understanding Analytics: Behavior

google analytics behavior

In this Understanding Google Analytics series, we’ve talked about the metrics that give you insights as to who your Audience is and also how they arrived at your website (Acquisition), so today we’ll go over the metrics that give you insights of your visitors’ behavior when they’re on your website.

As much as it’s useful to know who your visitors are and where they come from, it’s crucial to know which pages your visitors are interacting with and what paths of navigation they are taking around your website. This can help you present your most important information accordingly.

Understanding the Behavior Portion of Google Analytics

Behavior Flow

As with the Users Flow in the Audience portion of Google Analytics, the Behavior Flow shows you the path that visitors take from when they arrive on your site to when they exit. Are there some pages on which everyone is exiting? Take a moment to think about why people might leave after that page. Or are visitors visiting pages out of order from how you have designed them? Maybe you need to make a more clear “starting point” and then show them with clear links where they should go next.

Site Content

All Pages

Explorer (default view from All Pages tab)This gives you an overview of how many visits each page of your website received, the average time spent on each page, number of entrances to your site through that page, the bounce rate of that page, and the percentage of visitors who exited from that page.

Navigation Summary: Navigate to the “Navigation Summary” tab just above the graph and in this window you can sort by page to see which pages your visitor was previously on and which page they navigated to next. Use the “Current Selection” drop down menu just beneath the graph to view the flow for each page.

In-Page: Navigate to the “In-Page” tab just above the graph. This window shows a heat map or click bubbles of where people are actually clicking on each page of your website as a visual representation of the various “hot spots” of your website. If you are using Chrome, you will have to click the shield icon in your browser to enable this feature.

Content Drilldown organizes pages by directory. If your site is primarily a blog, this will likely be categorized mostly by yearly or monthly grouping of posts, depending on how your directories are setup.

Landing Pages are pages at which your visitors first arrived or “landed” on your site. This gives you insight as to what their first impression would have been and can help you think of each page of your site as a landing page in the marketing sense (does that page have clear info about the purpose of this website? Does that page have a clear indicator of how they can make an action—buy, contact, comment, follow—from here?).

Exit Pages are the pages from which visitors left your site. Now, visitors have to leave at some point, so this isn’t necessarily a bad metric, but if there is one page that has an especially high number of exits, you might want to consider why visitors might be leaving on that page.

Site Speed

Site Speed is important to determine how long your visitors have to wait before they can see the content load on your page. If you have a slow site, that can be a huge indicator as to why you have a high bounce rate (people are impatient and give up…admit it, you’ve definitely done this before). If you notice certain areas of your site are running slowly, it’s time to optimize.


Avg. Page Load Time: The average amount of time (in seconds) it takes for a page to load from the time a user clicks a link to the time it is fully loaded in their browser.

Avg. Redirection Time: If you have page redirects setup for your site (this is likely if you have ever properly switched domain names), this shows how long those redirects take to load. This is why if you ever change your website address you should go and correct all your links in as many places as possible so that your website does not have to work as hard to make that redirection.

Avg. Domain Lookup: The average amount of time spent in DNS lookup for the page, or the amount of time it takes to recognize that your domain is associated with the assigned server.

Avg. Server Connection Time: The average time it takes to connect to your server.

Avg. Server Response Time: The average amount of time it takes your server to respond to a user’s request. If Domain Lookup, Server Connection, or Server Response times are consistently giving you trouble, it may be time to look for a new service provider.

Avg. Page Download Time: The time it takes to download your page.

Page Timings: Check out how long it takes each page on your site to load. Choose different metrics in that second column drop down menu to see how your page load time affects the bounce rate and exit rate of each page.

Speed Suggestions: Here, you will see the page speed score that Google has given each of your website pages. Click on the link in Page Speed Suggestions to see what Google suggests for improving the speed of your page and the speed score.

Site Search

The site search menu is useful if you have a search bar on your blog or website for visitors to search the content of your site (mine is located at the bottom of my sidebar menu). Use this information to determine what your visitors are trying to find when they arrive at your site and/or whether you can make key pages and information more obvious upon their arrival. To enable this, you will have to first set up site search in Analytics (go to Admin > View Settings > toggle Site Search Tracking on).

Usage: Gives you a breakdown of the number of visits to your site in which your search box was used vs. the number of visits to your site in which the search box was not used. This gives you the opportunity to compare this against your other metrics (bounce rate, pages per session, etc.) to determine whether or not having a search box on your site affects those metrics.

Search Terms: The search terms report shows you which words were entered into the search box. Use this to get new ideas for content or to make commonly searched content more visible on your site (add it to the sidebar or give it its own place in your main navigation menu).

Pages: This report shows you on which pages the search was performed. Use this information to determine where your visitors might be getting mislead or lost and how to make that page easier to navigate for what they’re trying to find.

In Page Analytics

Similar to the In Page section in Site Content, this gives you a visual idea of how users are interacting with your site, but adds metrics of percentage of users the click certain areas and how many links on that same page take you to that location.

Not Covered in this Post

Events: Events are the elements of your site that can be tracked independently from simply page navigation such as playing a video, downloading a PDF, etc. This feature requires additional coding on your website and in many cases, setting up goals will be more useful (more about that later). So we will skip this section for now.

Adsense: For the purposes of this series, I’m going to assume my readers do not have Adsense setup on their sites.

Experiments: We’ll circle back to this in a different post.

As always, send me a message with any additional questions you have about this section or let me know if there’s anything you feel like I’ve missed!

(image source)

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