Given the growing importance of User Experience (UX) in SEO (Source: Search Engine Land) and organic rankings, the obvious next question is, how can we get more insight into the UX of a site and improve any pain points, ultimately increasing organic ranking?
As an aside, any quality improvements to your site can impact much more than your organic rankings, including improvements in your overall conversion rate, customer satisfaction, loyalty, and even the quality score for paid campaigns. The infographic below highlights key questions online businesses should be asking to better understand the UX:
If you genuinely try to answer these simple questions, you’ll soon find yourself with both a multitude of ideas, as well as frustrations. To understand what content is driving people to your site, we can look at keyword data or at the Landing Pages report in Google Analytics. Yet, given the thousands of keywords and landing pages that sites have, a simple data dump will need to be manually completed before any high-level insights can be gleaned. The same goes for understanding the user behavior on your site. Google Analytics provides the Behavior Flow, Navigation Summary and Entrance Paths reports. Yet, once again with thousands of pages, no real patterns can be identified. Time and time again, overly granular data fails to provide high-level insight.
In comes Content Groupings: a hidden gem in Google Analytics that solves the problem of too much data granularity, letting you capture high-level UX insights, customer journey, and audience insights. For a full list of resources to better understand the technical aspect of content groupings, jump to the end of the post below. Once you get your content groups up and running, you will be able to quickly answer the questions highlighted above.
What kind of content is bringing people to my site?
By gaining insight into what content (or even types of pages) people first interact with on your site, you can understand more about your customers. As a result, you’ll be able to quickly pinpoint areas for improvement. An example from one of our clients illustrates this clearly.
This clients’ Landing Page report for the Organic Channel lists the homepage first in terms of top sessions, followed by a few key product and category pages, high-traffic blog posts, and information / tip pages. This is very typical for most ecommerce sites.
For one particular client, the blog was not a high priority because they didn’t see it as a major acquisition source of traffic. Despite the few top blog pages listed, the blog as a whole was often considered a last priority when discussing potential improvements to the site from an SEO perspective. However, after we implemented content groupings, the truth of how people were getting to the site was revealed.
It turned out that all the blog posts rolled up into one, were by a landslide the main interaction people had with the site. On mobile, this trend was even higher, with the blog drawing in 34% of the users, and nearly 40% of the new users. Suddenly, the importance of the blog for SEO jumped to the forefront.
The secondary realization from simply glancing at the new report with Content Groupings, was that the conversion rates are essentially at 0% for blog pages. Drop off rates for customers who landed on the blog is close to 100%. While it’s true that it’s normal to have blog posts with a high bounce rate, this was a bit extreme. The client was actually surprised by the data. Realizing the importance of the blog, they began to place a new focus on the UX of these pages to encourage a higher click-through rate (CTR).
In this specific case, basic UX like clean navigation, load speed, and design improve click-through, yet content is also critical. The major pain point of current blog posts was that there was very little content on the page: little internal links, no CTA, no branded information about the company itself, and no images about the products sold on the site. While some people truly want to read the post and move along, certain blog posts have opportunities to get people to click-through to a relevant product, or at the very least related blog posts.
It’s a subtle balance. Too much “salesy” content may not be appropriate, yet this is totally dependent on the type of content. To understand the appropriate times to include CTA’s or links to relevant products, it comes down to understanding user intent via search queries.
Some customers are viewing your blog posts for truly informational purposes, like a student researching a topic for a paper. However, some customers are viewing your blog posts because they’re in the market to purchase one of your products. So, how do you know when to tactfully place products on your page?
- Are queries top of the funnel (short-tail) or bottom of the funnel (long-tail)?
→ “hyaluronic acid anti-wrinkle cream” vs “healthy living”
- Use common sense. Does the content naturally lend itself to purchase a product?
→ “hyaluronic acid anti-wrinkle cream” vs “DIY beauty regime with simple things about your home”
In both examples, it would be the “hyaluronic acid anti-wrinkle cream” query that would make the most sense to include anti-wrinkle products, especially for the specific hyaluronic acid cream.
Once you understand what content draws people in and find the pain points, it’s time to focus on how users interact with your site once they get there.
Once people get on my site, what is their behavior?
This question can easily be answered by creating content groupings that highlight the customer journey. Remember, you can create many different types of groups, to slice and dice your data however you personally want.
For one of our clients, we saw that when a user landed on the homepage, their drop off rate was 20%. That means the chance of someone clicking through to the next page was 80%, which is pretty good. When the user landed on a category page, their drop off rate was 40%, and when they landed on a product detail page, it was 80%.
In this specific case, a simple glance at high-level data invites us to investigate why the UX of the homepage is more optimal than that of the product category pages, especially the product detail pages.
Perhaps the homepage really conveys the brand tone, and a lot of effort was placed here. In contrast, it could be that the product detail pages are too commercial, don’t really convey the unique brand voice, rather simply mimicking the look and feel of Amazon?
Users may not be engaged. It’s also possible there may be a disconnect between what people are searching, user intent, and the product detail pages they land on. In these cases, we often look at the keyword data to understand user intent and why people are not flowing through. As the site currently is, it’s wise to drive people to the homepage or product category page rather than the product detail page.
When customers land on certain parts of your site, it’s important to understand what specific conversion funnel they’re being driven towards. These conversion funnels are especially easy to identify with content groupings, and nearly impossible without them.
Does the funnel have a high conversion rate? If so, what does this funnel do successfully from the initial search query all the way down to purchase? If not, what can be learned from the highly successful funnels to make improvements?
Once there’s a general understand of how people get to your site and what they do when they get there, there’s a potential to understand how different customers interact differently with your site.
How do these patterns (UX insights) vary based on who is visiting my site?
If you have developed personas, you can create representative Advanced Segments in Google Analytics to see what content appeals to them and how they generally interact with your site. If you haven’t previously created personas, you can actually create rough personas or audience segments based off the data you obtain in your Content Groupings.
For example, one of our clients creates custom prints and frame for artwork and photos. The majority of their customers are either artist or photographers. Because the products for uploading artwork differ from those uploading photography, most of our content groupings were already segmented to either photography or fine-art themed. From this distinction, we created Advanced Segments. These groupings included intersections of the two, but they can also be constructed to exclude any overlap:
You can also investigate different segments generically to learn about your users: male versus female, different age groups, mobile versus desktop users, etc. The options are endless.
Using content groupings, you will be able to quickly get a snapshot of who your customers are, what content first attracted them to your site, and how they interact with your site once they get there, all without digging through thousands of pages in your reports to find patterns. Also, you have full freedom to identify how you want your content grouped. In the day and age of overly-granular data, data that zooms out to see the big picture, is golden.
Need some help or just have some questions for us? Reach out to our team via https://www.netelixir.com/contact/. If you’re getting ready for the holiday season, don’t forget to check out our resources, workbooks, and more today!
Content Grouping useful resources: