Sometimes, less is more. Sometimes, fewer words can speak at a higher volume than lots of words. Sometimes, a simple, neat, and easy to read report can have a greater effect than a report filled with endless columns and rows of data. This is the case with the Top Landing Pages report in Google Analytics.
Tucked away quietly in the middle of the Content section of your Google Analytics profile, the Top Landing Pages report won’t dazzle you with an AJAX-based, “do-it-yourself” module like the Custom Advanced Segments area or fancy click-data on top of your web site like the Site Overlay report. In fact, the Top Landing Pages report has only three quantitative columns – most reports start out with at least five or six.
The report even has an evil twin – the Top Exit Pages report, which for the few folks who discover Top Landing Pages, can confound the two reports and even go as far as thinking that one is the continuation of the other (ouch!).
So what is it about Top Landing Pages that is so valuable, and such a hidden gem? Two words: Bounce Rate. The sole purpose of the Top Landing Pages report is to compare Bounce Rates against the entry pages that your visitors used to reach your web site. And, as we all know, Bounce Rate is the percentage of single-page visits to your web site. High bounce rates are bad, because they suggest that your Landing Pages are either broken, unattractive, or did not meet visitor expectations. Low bounce rates are very good, because they suggest that your Landing Page content was interesting and persuasive enough to entice a visitor to go to another one of your site pages.
When you bring up the Top Landing Pages report, you’ll immediately see your top 10 Landing Pages (or, entry points) of your web site, and three metrics for each Landing Page: Entrances, Bounces, and Bounce Rate. You can use the “Rows” drop-down at the bottom-right of your report table to see more Landing Pages if you choose, and the “Filter” tool on the bottom-left of your report table to include or exclude certain pages from the report.
I mentioned two paragraphs ago that a high bounce rate is bad, and a low bounce rate is good. However, I won’t give you a percentage and say whether or not that figure is good or bad. A Bounce Rate of 35% may be very high for your web site, or it may be very low, which depends on several factors, such as visitor demographics and your web site’s industry vertical. Comparing your Bounce Rate against a static number will not give you an accurate measure of performance. However, Comparing your Bounce Rate against your site’s average will allow you to provide a backdrop of context for each individual Landing Page, as shown in the following image, with the Comparison to Site Average view enabled:
After you’ve used Top Landing Pages for your own web site, determine which pages are in need of some optimization work. Is a Landing Page that you’re using for your pay per click campaigns suffering from a really high bounce rate? Now would be the time to possibly re-write that page’s content, make it more conversion-oriented, or fix any technical errors that may be present. Is one of your category-level pages a rock-star with a minuscule bounce rate? You may want to give Kudos to your SEO team, as their copywriting and keyword-matching optimization work is paying off.
Now that the best-kept Google Analytics secret has been exposed, add this report to your dashboard, or set-up a scheduled email report so that you can stay ahead of the curve and begin lowering those Bounce Rates!
Okay, I knew I couldn’t go three posts without talking about Google Analytics in some way, shape, or form. So, I’m not going to fight it – let’s talk about the four main “views” available in regular reports in Google Analytics. The names of the views aren’t official, but they’re what I like to call them.
Toward the right-hand side of most every report in Google Analytics, you’ll see the Views toggle menu – you can click on any one of the four icons to instantly change the view:
View #1: The Table View
The Table View is the default view for most reports in Google Analytics – so, if you’ve been in GA at all, you should be very familiar with this view. Within all of the reports, Google Analytics emphasizes the importance of displaying several metrics together, so that you aren’t making any snap decisions or quick judgments based upon one individual metric. And, of course, each view comes equipped with Site Usage, Goal Conversion, and when applicable, Ecommerce tabs for your analysis pleasure. In the Table View, you can click on any one of the column headings to sort the table to your liking.
View #2: The Pie Chart View
The Pie Chart is a standard in any business report, and provides a pretty viewing alternative to any data that you need to present. With the Pie Chart view, you can now change the metric that you’re viewing with the drop down on the left-hand side of the report, and change the metric’s contribution to total metric with the drop-down menu on the right-hand side. Play with this for a bit the next time you’re in Google Analytics.
View #3: The Bar Graph View
I love Bar Graphs. Specifically, I love vertical Bar Graphs. This report view gives me all I need in that department. It’s an easy-to-use and easy-to-understand view, with the ability to change the individual performance metric on the right-hand side. Anyone in the world can understand that the bigger the bar, the more / higher / worse the line item is.
View #4: The Comparison to Site Average View
Finally, the most interesting report view in Google Analytics. This shows how each individual line item is performing in comparison to the average of everything on your website combined. This report is great for easily picking out the winners (and the losers) in the group. You will be able to tell which items are bringing your site averages down, and which ones are your rock stars. (Red = Bad, Green = Good…pretty simple I would say). Again, change the metric that you’re using as the comparison with the drop-down menu on the right.
It’s very important that you become comfortable at looking at similar data differently. This will enhance your analysis skills greatly over time, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised how different views can show you different things – from a similar set of data.