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social media how toDo you want to know what content performs best on your website?

Have you heard of Behavior reports in Google Analytics?

Knowing how visitors move through your website and interact with your content lets you optimize your website performance and conversions.

In this article I’ll share how Google Analytics Behavior reports let you assess the performance of your content and the actions visitors take on your website.

Note: One way to get the most out of any Google Analytics data is to set up conversion goals. If you haven’t done this already, set up the easiest goal type by reviewing the first point under the Google Analytics Admin header in this Google Analytics Basics post.

use google analytics behavior reports

Find out how to optimize your content with data from Google Analtyics Behavior reports.

Locating Google Analytics Behavior Reports

The Behavior section reveals what your visitors do on your website. Specifically, the reports tell you what pages people visit and what actions they take while visiting.

You can access Behavior reports using the menu in the left sidebar of your Google Analytics dashboard.

google analytics behavior menu

Google Analytics left sidebar menu with Behavior section.

There are nine separate reporting sections and tools under Behavior in your website’s Google Analytics profile. Let’s dive into them.

#1: Overview

The Behavior Overview report provides a graph showing the amount of traffic your website receives and additional metrics.

google analytics behavior overview report

The Behavior Overview report.

Look below for a brief description of the data you’ll find in the Behavior Overview report.

Pageviews—The total number of pages viewed. This number includes repeated views of a single page. In other words, a single person may view the same page several times and each view is counted as a pageview.

Unique Pageviews—The number of individual people who have viewed a specific page at least once during a visit. For example, if a single user views a page more than once during the same visit, only the original view is counted (whereas general Pageviews count each visit). The Unique Pageviews metric counts each page URL + Page Title combination.

Avg. Time on Page—The average amount of time users spend viewing a specific page or screen, or set of pages or screens.

Bounce Rate—The percentage of single-page visits or the number of visits in which people left your website from the same page they entered on. For example, if you visit a single article or page on a website and then leave, that’s counted as a bounce and is factored into the Bounce Rate.

% Exit—The percentage of users who exit from a page or set of pages.

Look beneath the quick overview graphs and you’ll find links to reports for top content page URLs, top content page titles, search terms, event categories and AdSense revenue. I will cover these reports in more detail later in the article.

#2: Behavior Flow

The Behavior Flow report lets you see the path visitors commonly take on your website—from the first page they view to the last page they visit before leaving your site.

google analytics behavior flow report

The Behavior Flow report.

This report gives you a visual guide to how long visitors stay on your website and where those visitors end up leaving.

#3: Site Content

The Site Content section contains the following reports about how visitors engage with pages on your website.

All Pages

You can use the All Pages report to quickly see your top content along with the average amount of revenue each page generates. This report helps you determine what content performs best on your website.

google analytics behavior all pages report

The All Pages report.

The All Pages report displays the top pages on your website based on traffic, as well as each page’s pageviews, unique pageviews, average time on page, entrances, bounce rate, % exit and page value.

Page value is the Transaction Revenue + Total Goal Value divided by Unique Pageviews for the page or set of pages.

Content Drilldown

The Content Drilldown report is helpful for websites that have subfolders such as domain.com/blog/ and domain.com/support/ or something similar.

This report allows you to see the top folders of content on your website and the top content within that folder.

google analytics content drilldown report

The Content Drilldown report.

While it looks similar to the All Pages report, the distinguishing feature here is the ability to see top content sections instead of just top content pages.

Landing Pages

The Landing Pages report lets you see the top pages on your website where visitors enter.

google analytics landing pages report

The Landing Pages report.

Metrics for landing pages include Acquisition (sessions, % new sessions and new users), Behavior (bounce rate, pages per session and average session duration) and Conversions based on your website goals.

With this data you can determine which pages on your website are most likely to convert visitors into leads or sales.

Exit Pages

The Exit Pages report shows the last pages people visit before exiting your website. These are the pages you want to look at to see what you can do to keep visitors on your website longer.

google analytics exit pages report

The Exit Pages report.

The best way to keep visitors on your site is to add more links to other pages on your website. And be sure the listed exit pages have clear subscription options so visitors can receive emails or easily follow your business on social media.

#4: Site Speed

Want to know how your website performs in terms of speed? The Site Speed section has crucial reports that identify areas of your website that you may need to optimize.

Site Speed Overview

The Site Speed Overview report displays a graph of the average load time of all pages throughout your website.

google analytics site speed overview report

The Site Speed Overview report.

See below for a brief description of the metrics you’ll find under the Site Speed graph.

Avg. Page Load Time—The average amount of time (in seconds) it takes for pages to load from initiation of the pageview (e.g., a visitor clicks on a page link) to load completion in the browser.

Avg. Redirection Time—The average amount of time (in seconds) spent in redirects before fetching a page.

Avg. Domain Lookup Time—The average amount of time (in seconds) spent in DNS lookup for a page.

Avg. Server Connection Time—The average amount of time (in seconds) spent in establishing TCP connection for a page.

Avg. Server Response Time—The average amount of time (in seconds) your server takes to respond to a user request, including the network time from the user’s location to your server.

Avg. Page Download Time—The average amount of time (in seconds) to download a page.

With these metrics you can work toward improving page load time and page download time by optimizing the content on your website. A few improvements you can make include reducing the size of images, reducing the number of add-ons (widgets, plugins, etc.) used on a page and so forth.

Under the Site Speed metrics, you’ll see quick reports on load times based on the browser the visitor uses, the location of the visitor (country) and the page the visitor lands on.

Page Timings

The Page Timings report displays how long your most-visited pages take to load compared to the overall average load time for your website.

google analytics page timings report

The Page Timings report.

You should review pages with a higher-than-average load time to see what optimization options you have.

Speed Suggestions

google analytics speed suggestions report

The Speed Suggestions report.

The Speed Suggestions report gives you detailed advice from Google on how to optimize specific pages on your website and includes steps for each suggestion.

google analytics speed suggestions report

Detailed suggestions to fix page load time.

Depending on the number of pages you have on your website, it may seem impossible to fix all of your load time issues. I suggest you start with your highest-traffic pages and work your way down the list.

User Timings

The User Timings report allows you to measure how fast specific elements on a page load and determine whether it affects the user experience.

Note: To use the User Timings reports, you need to implement custom code on your website.

#5: Site Search

One of the most frustrating changes to Google Analytics in recent years is the loss of organic keyword data. Fortunately, you can still capture some valuable keyword data using Site Search.

Setting up Site Search metrics for your website is simple. Use your website’s search box to perform a search on your website, and then follow the steps in Google Analytics Help to configure Site Search in your website’s Analytics profile. You will then be able to use the following reports.

Site Search Overview

The Site Search Overview report displays the overall metrics for visitors who use the search box on your website. Beneath these metrics, you can view quick reports for the terms searched, categories and the pages where visitors initiated a search.

google analytics site search overview report

The Site Search Overview report.

Usage

The Usage report breaks down the number of visits where someone used the search box on your website versus the number of visits where the search box wasn’t used.

You can quickly see whether having a search box increases or decreases factors like bounce rate, average time on your website and conversions.

Metrics for the pages users land on as a result of their search include Acquisition (sessions, % new sessions and new users), Behavior (bounce rate, pages per session and average session duration) and Conversions based on your website goals.

Search Terms

The Search Terms report displays the keywords entered into your website’s search box. Along with the terms, you’ll find metrics for the total number of searches, % search exits and additional details about visits related to a search term.

Pages

The Pages report displays the same metrics mentioned above for search terms, but in this case the metrics are focused on pages where searches originated.

google analytics pages report

The Pages report.

#6: Events

The Events section in Google Analytics allows you to track specific interactions on your website, such as clicks on external links, file downloads and video plays.

To use Events reporting, you’ll need to set up event tracking code on your website. Once it’s set up, you’ll be able to use the following reports.

Events Overview

The Events Overview report displays a summary of the visitor interactions you’re tracking. Values are calculated based on the event value you specify in your event tracking code.

Under these metrics, you’ll find quick reports showing the number of events based on category, action and label (all of which are specified in the event tracking code you set up).

google analytics events overview report

The Events Overview report.

Top Events

google analytics top events report

The Top Events report.

The Top Events report displays the events with the most visitor interaction. For example, if you’re tracking outbound link clicks using this piece of event tracking code, then you can click on Outgoing Links from this report to see the specific links that visitors are clicking on when they leave your website.

google analytics top events outbound links report

Outbound link clicks tracked with Google Analytics Events.

Tracking your outbound link clicks helps you learn what resources your visitors are most interested in. This information is especially helpful for publishers. Say you write a post on 50 top tools for content marketing. If you notice that a lot of people click on a particular tool, you might want to follow up with a post on how to use that tool.

Top Events reporting is also valuable for businesses with online portfolios, such as web designers or freelance writers. Seeing what example links people click on most would show you the work your potential clients like best. When you notice a particular portfolio item never gets clicked on, you’ll know to remove it from your site.

Pages

The Pages report shows you the top pages where visitors interact with the events you’re tracking. Let’s go back to the earlier example of a business with a portfolio. If you have several portfolio pages and you track outbound link clicks, you can see which portfolio pages not only receive traffic, but also get the most clicks to your example work.

Events Flow

The Events Flow report displays the path visitors take on your website from when they arrive to when they interact with your event.

google analytics events flow report

The Events Flow report.

The default view shows event interactions from visitors in particular countries. You can change the view to show event interaction flow from landing pages and other dimensions offered in the drop-down menu above the first column.

#7: AdSense

Many websites use Google AdSense to generate income from visitors who click on ads published by Google AdWords advertisers. You must link your Google AdSense account to your Google Analytics account to use the following reports.

AdSense Overview

The AdSense Overview report displays the revenue you’ve generated from Google AdSense on your website along with additional metrics including click-through rates, revenue per thousand impressions and overall impressions.

google analytics adsense overview report

The AdSense Overview report.

AdSense Pages

The AdSense Pages report displays the top pages on your website that generate the most AdSense revenue for you.

google analytics adsense pages report

The AdSense Pages report.

Additional metrics show the number of ads clicked, click-through rates, revenue per thousand impressions and overall impressions per page.

AdSense Referrers

The AdSense Referrers report shows you the referring URLs driving visitors to your website who click on AdSense ads.

google analytics adsense referrers report

The AdSense Referrers report.

If your website generates revenue through ad clicks, this report helps you determine what traffic sources to focus on for increased earnings.

#8: Experiments

Experiments in Google Analytics allow you to conduct simple A/B testing to see which landing page variations perform best at meeting specific conversion goals.

google analytics behavior experiments results report

The Experiments Results report.

If you want to optimize for conversion goals such as increased subscribers, leads and sales, then Experiments can help you perfect your landing pages to convert more visitors.

#9: In-Page Analytics

The final component of the Behavior section, In-Page Analytics, lets you view your web pages along with your Google Analytics data. To use this feature, you must install the Page Analytics Google Chrome extension.

In addition to the metrics shown at the top of the page, you’ll see percentages next to each link on the page. Hover over the link to display the percentage and number of clicks the link receives.

google analytics in page analytics on website

In-Page Analytics displayed on a website.

This view of your website allows you to see which areas get the most attention. If you notice a particular area gets a lot of clicks, make sure it includes links that aid in conversion goals for your business.

Conclusion

Google Analytics reveals a lot of data about how visitors engage with your website’s content. The Behavior reports give you insight into your top pages and top event interactions, as well as the ability to improve your conversion rates with Experiments and In-Page Analytics.

What do you think? Do you check your Behavior reports regularly? What insights do you get from the reports? Please share in the comments!

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  • Thank you so much for this! I’m Google Analytics deficient and this was very helpful. It’s one of my goals this year to learn how to use this tool more. I have so much data and don’t know what to do with it. I hope this is the beginning of a series of posts on Analytics 😉

  • Thank you so much for this! I’m Google Analytics deficient and this was very helpful. It’s one of my goals this year to learn how to use this tool more. I have so much data and don’t know what to do with it. I hope this is the beginning of a series of posts on Analytics 😉

  • S.J. this is the 4th recent article on Google Analytics from Kristi. You can find the others here: http://new-theme-socialmediaexaminer.pantheon.io/author/kristi-hines/

  • You’re welcome! Be sure to check out the other posts I’ve done on Google Analytics using the link Cindy shared – so far, they’ll take you through the basics plus the Audience and Acquisition reports in detail. 🙂

  • Wow. You can always count on Kristi to unravel the technical secrets of the web and dig deep. Super helpful post, as always. Thanks.

  • Wow. You can always count on Kristi to unravel the technical secrets of the web and dig deep. Super helpful post, as always. Thanks.

  • Wow. You can always count on Kristi to unravel the technical secrets of the web and dig deep. Super helpful post, as always. Thanks.

  • Thanks Barry! 🙂

  • Those bounce and exit rates look really high.

    What should we aiming for?

  • Here are some general percentages to follow regarding target bounce rates for any given website – and remember, these rates can vary greatly depending on the brand behind the site, the content, and of course the site structure.

    25% – 40% would be consider excellent bounce rates.

    50% – 70% is higher than average.

    70% > would indicate a problem with your site.

    Now, what exactly the problem is if your bounce rate is higher than 70% depends greatly on the site, content, logistical site structuring (flow of visitors from one page to another), etc…

    Feel free to share your URL in a reply to this comment and I’d be more than happy to provide you with some initial impressions (please include your website URL and current bounce rate).

  • Georges Fallah

    Thank you for this article. I’ve seen you publishing many articles related to Google Analytics. This is important to get insights about increasing visitors and improving conversions.

  • Beth

    Great info here, Kristi. I never knew what Experiments was for! Do you know if GA measures page visit time by how long a page is active in a view? For instance, i open a lot of articles at once and then go back to them throughout the day. Am I skewing these people’s page visit time?

  • Thanks for the info!

    Looks like my previous reply didn’t get through moderation, maybe because I posted the link?

    In any case, it’s veganostomy DOT ca . My bounce rates are around 65% and exit rates under 45%.

    All my traffic is organic (no paid ads) and I don’t try to monetize at all on the site.

  • I’ve read you numerous posts regarding Google Analytics. That is essential to get experience about growing guests and enhancing sales.
    Thank you so much for this valuable blog post.

  • Great advice, you have inspired me to actually start using some reports 🙂

  • This was really helpful. Thank you for breaking the basics down.

  • wow! that’s something I’d call brilliant! Thank you so much for sharing your useful tips, I cannot wait to give em a try with my brand new 3d printing related personal blog, I don’t wanna make the big business just wanna generate some traffic because google doesn’t want to index my posts guck enough…

  • You’re welcome Georges! 🙂

  • I believe Google expires a session after 30 minutes of activity. I’ve done the same thing to content though – some pages are open on my browser for a couple of days if they are resources for an article. 🙂

  • You’re welcome Jim! Glad you’re enjoying the series. 🙂

  • That’s great James! 🙂

  • You’re welcome Lilith! 🙂

  • My blog bounce rate is very high, but I have to admit I haven’t been focusing on it as much as I do my client work. My business site (without a blog) has a much lower bounce rate. I also have two niche sites in the 25 – 35% range, which is pretty sweet.

  • Great breakdowns Bobby! 🙂

  • under 40% sounds like great!

  • Always look forward to a post on Google Analytics from @kikolani:disqus. Very informative (and extremely helpful).

  • Thanks Christian! I appreciate that. 🙂

  • asim

    good information given

  • alexwhalley

    Wow Kristi – I’m looking for unturned stones here… I see nothing!!!!

    Truly comprehensive and pillar-esque content if I do say so myself.
    Thanks for this, I have shared this around half the office and now everyone thinks I am awesome. (Oh yeah and I’ve totally name dropped saying how Ive known you for years LOL)

    PS: youre sharebar is playing up. By that I mean the G+ window would not scroll down to allow me to hit share after I typed my bit. Was a game of “canI get down there and click share before the screen resets back to the top. After 10 attempts I gave up and manually shared through Google.

    I am sure it is just me, but considering this is the Social media Examiner I figured it was best to at least let you know 😉

  • alexwhalley

    I’m assuming you are not even slightly concerned by a high bounce rate on a blog? It is the very nature of bloggers and blogs to have a high bounce rate. We come, we read, we share, we leave…..

  • Wow Kristi, everything I needed to know about google analytics. This was excellent and so very helpful. Thanks!

  • The title was kind of misleading. The article contains the same information you can find in any Analytics tutorial – in fact while you navigate trough different GA dimensions you can read along everything by using the help icon that’s displayed in the top right side of GA. I was expecting to see some new insights on Behavior reports.

  • Hi Adi. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this. You’re right, this article leads marketers in how to navigate Behavior reports in Google Analytics, then shares the information each section holds. I’m sorry to hear you expected something different and hope you find more value in our other articles.

  • A high bounce rate can also be a function of traffic sources.

    Ill-qualified traffic to the page (or a prominent link somewhere such as Hacker News) can really cause bounce rate to, well, bounce.

  • Aojiroi

    Is it possible to get the pageviews to output this data into my wordpress dashboard?

  • Aojiroi

    Is there a way to output this information (say pageviews) into the dashboard on wordpress?

  • You can get GA widgets inside WordPress with this plugin: https://wordpress.org/plugins/google-analytics-dashboard-for-wp/screenshots/ 🙂

  • Raj

    Thanks.. Kristi for sharing such good info about Google Analytic.

  • ganesh

    Wonderful post…

  • Laura Zver

    Thanks, this helped me get a better understanding of where people are going on my site.

  • good article to understand the performance of google analytics, which can help beginners

  • Rajdeep Das

    It is really a nice and helpful piece of information. I’m happy
    that you shared this useful info with us. Please keep us informed like this.
    Thanks for sharing.

  • Great article. Love me some Google Analytics!

  • Hi Kristi,

    Thank you for all the precious information. I have just published my first webssite and I would like to learn more about this amazing and complicated field.
    I was looking for some information about something that I noticed on my Google Analytics account recently.
    When I open the section “Content Drilldown” I notice a lot of “/runner”. I found out that the meaning is “Not Found 404”. It that correct? Why people trying to see my website encounter that error? Most of all, what can I do to fix it?
    Thank you.

  • That would usually mean that someone is linking to your website with yourdomain.com/runner and runner isn’t a page on your domain. If there are a lot of them, you can either create a page named runner (if it makes sense) or setup a redirect that says anyone going to yourdomain.com/runner gets redirected to your homepage or another page on your website instead. If you use WordPress (self-hosted), you can do this with a plugin called Redirection.

  • Thank you very much for the insight on using and understanding Google Analytics, a question pls,
    I was looking for how to Track report about content/posts that was read by Countries that visit my blog. So I can know the right spots or posts to Leverage and introduce a product/service that will be relevant to the countries within such posts. How do I find this report pls. 🙂

  • Frank Thomae

    Hi! I have one question which even my IT guy doesn’t know.
    I use Behaviour reports to see what pages go to and the average time they spend on the pages overall. It is usually around 4 min.
    BUT on the main page, when I log in (where it says audience overview) it gives a totally different average time (avr. session duration). That usually averages 1:30 min.
    I don’t understand why the difference.

  • You can go to the Behavior > All Pages report, then use the Secondary Dimension Dropdown to add a column to your report that shows Countries next to the pages. 🙂

  • Hi Frank! The Audience Overview shows the Average Session Duration, whereas the Behavior Overview shows the Average Time on Page.

    The Average Session Duration is the average time people spend on your website per session. Sessions are defined as follows.

    “Total number of Sessions within the date range. A session is the period time a user is actively engaged with your website, app, etc. All usage data (Screen Views, Events, Ecommerce, etc.) is associated with a session.”

    The Average Time on Page is the average time people spend on individual pages. That metric is defined as follows.

    “The average amount of time users spent viewing a specified page or screen, or set of pages or screens.”

    I hope this helps! 🙂

  • Frank Thomae

    Thank you Kristi!
    I have a travel blog which is basically a whole bunch of pages…I don’t know where other people would go not to count as a page (except maybe time spent on menus). So I have a hard time understanding why the average time on a page wouldn’t be close to the average time per session. Just have a hard time getting my mind around it 🙁
    Thanks again for your help Kristi.
    Frank

  • Thank you for this article as it was very helpfull and did help me with high traffic which was coming from India.