Analyzing Landing Page Performance with Google Analytics

Theo Bennett - December 23, 2010

Okay, so we all know that Google Analytics (GA) is, as my colleague Joe Teixeira says, “…the greatest program on the face of the earth.’ That said, how do you use Google Analytics to: make more sales, drive more leads, and make the most of your marketing budget for your company?

The answer is contained in many good books on GA that have been written by authors like Avinash Kaushik, Brian Clifton and our very own, Joe Teixeira. However, you don’t need to read hundreds of pages on GA to begin to make a difference in your organization.

Getting the most from GA is not a hard and fast path that you take every time you log in. Rather, leveraging Google Analytics for optimization is a process. It’s an exercise of asking questions of yourself (and your data) and drilling deeper to find meaningful and actionable information.

Let me illustrate by providing some insights on how to get more from one of our favorite reports: Top Landing Pages. The Top Landing Pages report in GA is truly powerful. With a quick glance you can see which of your pages, well…ahem… stink. How? Well look at that metric right there on the right, “Bounce Rate”

Bounce Rate is a measure of visitors who come to your site and take absolutely no action. Bounce Rate is rare in that it’s a number which has value to every site owner. I can’t think of any organization, company, e-commerce site, marketing manager, etc. who would want a visitor to come to their site and take absolutely no action.

With the Top Landing Pages report, you can see very quickly which of your pages are performing or not performing in terms of their bounce rate. So how do we dig deeper and find a way to take action to improve our site?

  1. Segment your traffic. That’s right, all data in aggregate is practically useless. Segment by something. If you are running paid search, then why not start by using the “Paid Search Traffic” segment that is predefined in GA. Now you can see bounce rates for your paid search traffic.
  2. Change your view. By default, you will be looking at the table view. That’s nice, but how do you know if your bounce rates are out of line? Answer: Compare it! On the “Views” selector, click on “Comparison” then select “Bounce Rate” next to “compared to site average”. Bingo! Now you are looking at your paid search landing pages as compared to the average of all pages on your site. See a nice green line to the right? Good, that page is performing. See one in red and moving to the left? Bad. Time to drill down further!
  3. Select a page. At this point in your analysis, there are many different ways to get to relevant data. For most marketers and small to medium site owners, the best next step is to click on the link of the offending page in the Top Landing Pages report. (If you have enough data here, I also encourage to experiment with the advanced filtering tool to get to your most relevant data sets.)
  4. Content Detail. That’s right, your analysis path has now taken you from a list of landing pages and their relative performance to all the information that you could want on the underperforming landing page. Now click on a relevant drilldown to begin your analysis. I would recommend “Entrance Sources” Why? We’re analyzing your paid search performance and if you’re working many channels, you’ll want to see if all sources are bouncing equally.
  5. Analyze. Okay, if you have multiple sources here (Google, Bing, LinkedIn, etc.) are they all performing poorly? If you have one loser, why? Time to drilldown. Click on the dropdown for your secondary dimension and select something. If you are running search campaigns; I would recommend “Keyword”. Do they all perform poorly? If so, then pause the entire channel and re-evaluate. If it’s a few keywords, then pause those words and move on.

See, that was easy! Now that you’ve saved all of that money from your under-performing campaign or landing page, reallocate it into one that is working and… Boom! You’re on the way to being an analytics superstar! Just remember that this is not a one time exercise. Like they say in shampoo; lather, rinse and repeat. Once you have enough data on your new campaigns, it’s time to start all over again.

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