Google Analytics – Site Overlay

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by Sage

In my previous post about Google Analytics titled “Free Customer Insights” we talked about some of the basic benefits of installing Google Analytics (GA) on your website.

For those of you who have already seen the light and are enjoying the benefits, this post is for you. Based on my experience working with and talking to more than 50 website owners, the majority of them are utilizing about 25% of the real value of GA. One feature of particular value that very few clients know about is called “Site Overlay”.

This feature enables you to analyze any page of your site to see which links on that page your visitors are clicking on. Mousing over any link will show you the number of times that link was clicked on and the percentage of total clicks on the page that link was responsible for. If you have “goals” set-up within your GA account the site overlay tool will also tell you how effective links on a page are in achieving those goals.

Where’s the value

For example if you were to analyze your home page with the site overlay tool you could determine:

  • how users are navigating your site
  • where they are going from the home page
  • which links they are clicking on
  • which links they aren’t clicking on
  • how effective those links are in achieving your goals

Let’s say you have six links in your main navigation bar across the top of your site, and one of those links is generating less that 2% of all clicks on the page. In that case you might consider either:

  • changing the copy (title) used for that link to make it more intuitive
  • reallocating that real estate by replacing that link with something else
  • removing the link altogether

How find and use the Site Overlay tool

Within Google Analytics go to the “Content” report for any page of the site, although you may want to start by looking at your home page. Down near the bottom right corner of the page is an item labeled “Click Patterns”. Just below that is a link labeled “Site Overlay”. Clicking on that link will open that page of you site in a new browser window with the site overlay tool employed. Mouse over any link on the page to view the report data.

You’ve invested considerable financial and marketing resources into your website; your home page real estate is too valuable to leave to chance. Understanding how customers are interacting with, and navigating your site is critical to generating a return on that investment. The Google Analytics site overlay feature is one of many tools at your disposal.