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Google Analytics in Very Plain Language. Part VI: Let Your Website’s Visitors Flow in the Right Direction

| Posted in category Analytics

On October 19 Google announced that Google Analytics (GA) will be enhanced with a new visualization tool – Visitors Flow and Goal Flow. It took a few weeks to roll out the feature across all GA accounts.

Now, when most of you should have access to it, let’s have a look at all the new goodies we are getting.

The feature is a better alternative to the Funnel Visualization and Reverse Goal Path tools. It’s more flexible and lets you watch how the users interact with your content at a wider perspective.

Before we start, make sure you are using the new version of Google Analytics.

Visitors Flow

The tool provides a graphical representation of the pages visited by the users from various sources; what is more important, you may observe in what sequence the users are viewing the pages and at what stages they are quitting your website. The real power of the tool lies in its ability to segment the traffic sources and users with pinpoint precision.

Open the new version of GA and click on Standard Reports tab. In the left hand pane click Visitors Flow (if you can’t see the link yet, don’t worry. The feature wasn’t activated for your account yet. Be patient, in a few days you’ll surely have access to it).

Google Analytics

On the next step you should see a screen like this (see below). Let’s poke around and see what all these controls mean.

Google Analytics

1. Select a segment – this drop down menu lets you select one of the default visitors segments, like All Visitors, New Visits, Search Traffic, Referral Traffic, etc. Alternatively you may apply the tool only to the Custom Segments (e.g. your loyal visitors, top buying visitors, …) The number of custom segments is almost infinite and varies depending on the niche, website type, and your purposes. Once one of the segments is selected, the tool shows the number of visits and paths for the sessions that meet the selected segment criteria.

2. Drop down menu – lets you put the visitors into certain data buckets and examine their interaction with the website. On the screenshot above we opted to show the entrance pages for the visitors coming from different countries.

3. Settings button – don’t overlook this tiny but useful button. How it works and why should you use it? E.g. if you want to compare the behavior of CPC vs. Organic visitors, then click on the button. You’ll see a modal window like this:

Google Analytics

  • Select Source/Medium;
  • Select Match type contains;
  • Type in expression ‘organic’;
  • Add another item, but this time type in expression ‘cpc’, and;
  • Apply the settings.

The visitors flow from organic search (all the search engines) and cost per click advertising should be displayed now.

Google Analytics

All in all you may segment visitors in two dimensions and display only those segments that are matching the specific criteria.

4. Connections scroll bar lets you increase or reduce the number of displayed paths between the pages (or knots of the graph). If you are looking for the major, trend setting stats – opt to show fewer connections, alternatively, if you are looking for a needle in a haystack – increase the number of the connections.

Google Analytics

5. Date Range selector.

6. Zoom in/ Zoom out slider – use it to change the size of the graph.

7. + Step link adds new interactions to the graph. With no additional interactions you will see only the starting pages. If you add a new step, you'll see the pages that where viewed next after the starting page.

Are you ready for the most exciting part? – The graph is interactive. Hover mouse over any knot or connection and get the detailed data about it.

Google Analytics

Are you looking for even more? Click on any connection to see what pages were viewed next by the respective users and what other interactions contributed to this connection.

Google Analytics

Right click on any knot. The context menu will appear. It gives you three options:

  • Highlight traffic through here;
  • Explore traffic through here, and;
  • Group details.

The first option will highlight all the connections that come through the respective knot. The second option magnifies the selected knot; you will see only the inbound and outbound connections of this knot. The last option opens a modal window featuring data standing behind the graphical representation.

Why you might like Visitors Flow feature?

  • It gives you yet another way to diagnose and reduce high bounce and exit rate issues (more on the topic).
  • You may explore the most appealing content for certain user segments.
  • You may enhance your website’s navigation and improve internal linking.
  • You get the valuable information to sculpture a conversion funnel that really works.

Goal Flow

The Goal Flow tool is similar to the Visitors Flow tool, but unlike the latter it only shows the paths leading to the goal completion. In order to use the tool you need to set up goals and conversion funnels first.

This tool may be found under Standard Reporting tab. In the left hand navigation pane select Conversions > Goals > Goal Flow.

Google Analytics

The overall functionality of the tool is the same. There are only two new elements: goal selector (a drop down menu in the top right corner of the screen) and the data spreadsheet featuring the detailed raw data.

To get the most from the new tools, make sure you are familiar with goals tracking, user behavior analysis and usability basics. For more information refer to previous Google Analytics tutorials.

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