Have you ever been to a house you’ve never been to to before and felt right at home, enjoying the seamless flow from room to room? You know that if you opened that door on the right you’d find the bathroom you desperately needed and not the a coat closet. When you come out and your host calls, “I’m in the kitchen,” you know just where to find her. When we were house-hunting last spring, we found houses that just made sense … and also houses that made no sense at all! Bedrooms off the kitchen, showers across the house from bedrooms, doors to nowhere, closets in unexpected places, rooms with roof angles so extreme that the space is unusable. You want people to immediately feel at home on your website. You want it to be intuitive. You want it to make sense as people flow easily from page to page. Do you know how intuitive and easy your website flow is? Let’s find out. You can use Google Analytics to understand how readers flow through your site. Where are they spending time? If you don’t know, it’s time to find out.
You can use Google Analytics to understand how readers flow through your site. Where are they spending time? If you don’t know, it’s time to find out.

Use Google Analytics to Understand Your Current User Flow

You can use Google Analytics to understand what’s happening now. Are people coming in through your front door (home page) or are they coming in through a back door, like a specific landing page? Do they come in, hang out for a while — read a blog post, check out your About page, see how they can work with you — or do they leave? Where are they spending time? If you don’t know, it’s time to find out. Here’s how to find out how people are moving through your site:
  1. Log in to your Google Analytics account (Don’t have it set up? Watch this video to get started.)
  2. Select the Reporting Tab
  3. On the left sidebar, scroll to Audience, then choose the last option: Users Flow
  4. You’ll see a chart like this:Sample Users Flow Chart

Get all this chart’s information in a free one-page printable PDF!

The first column’s default is usually the location of your readers — you can change this to get different information from this chart, but in general it’s a good overview. Take a look at the next column (second from the left). These are the most common landing pages (the door through which they enter your website house). The top box is the most commonly used landing page, below that is the next most in frequency, and so on through the chart. Here’s the example from my website to give you an idea of what to look for: my landing page traffic, July 2016 In July 2016, 118 people landed on my homepage (the top box, labeled “/”). I can scroll over the box to discover that 67% left without exploring, and 33% stuck around. 58 people also landed on a blog post I’d written that month (the box labeled “/i-quit/”); 90% of those people left after reading the post, but 10% decided to check out other parts of my website. This makes sense to me: if people land on my website, they’re interested in learning more about my business; if they discover me through a blog post, they might just want to read the post then leave without learning more. Ask yourself: How much of your traffic comes to find out more about your business, and how much just wants to read one specific page or post? For those readers who continued to explore my website, I can see where they explored next by following the grey lines into the next column over. 15% people went to my blog, 13% checked out my portfolio, 11% wanted to read my About page, etc. In August 2016, I changed up my site flow to try to direct traffic from my site to where I wanted people to spend their time. I put an emphasis on my branding service and my experience, and then people had a better idea of where the next logical place was to spend their time: screenshot-2016-11-01-20-55-38 My bounce rate went down as 23% of people checked out my branding page, 20% to my About page, and 17% to my portfolio. Ask yourself: Where do you want people to go on your website? What should your emphasis be in your copy & website layout in order to direct traffic flow to the desired pages & posts?

You need to know where you want your readers to go.

Just like an architect designs a house to have ideal flow between rooms, create a site blueprint to figure out how you want your readers to move through your site. When people walk into my house’s foyer, they can turn left into the living room, go straight to the kitchen, turn right for the bathroom, or go upstairs. Usually I want to invite them into the living room to relax, but sometimes they’ve been in the car for a while and need to bee-line it to the bathroom, or they have food for a dinner party they need to stick in the fridge. I definitely don’t want them to go upstairs, because most likely I haven’t made the beds. So think about your website: when people arrive, where do they want to go (see your user flow chart to get the answer to this) versus where do YOU want them to go? It sounds obvious, but a lot of times, people haven’t thought things through. They created the pages they thought they were supposed to have: home, about, work with me, blog . . . but they didn’t really think about how people move from one to the other. Ask yourself: Do you have a specific service or product you want to share? Do you want your users to join your list, read your About page, or figure out how to hire you? What the best way to keep them interested & engaged? Next week on the blog, I’ll talk about ways to direct traffic through your website to get people to move in the flow you want. Sign up below to be notified when that post is available and get a free one-page downloadable overview of how to interpret your Google Analytics Users Flow.