How to Improve Your Website Navigation with Google Analytics

So you know which web pages your users are landing on.

But where do they go from there on your site?

You may be familiar with the Behaviour Flow Report in Google Analytics. You know, the one that looks like several streams merging and diverging from one another.

But for most people this report is quite clunky and frankly hard to interpret.

In this guide, I will show you an alternative to this called the Navigation Summary Report that tells us the pages users landed on and the next page they went to.

We will also see how to use tools like Hotjar for enhanced link attribution.

Here’s what we have in store for you:

So let’s dive in.

The Importance of Using a Navigation Report

Navigation reporting is an underrated feature of Google Analytics in the marketing industry.

You don’t hear a lot about it on blogs or YouTube channels pertaining to analytics because it doesn’t require any setup.

And some analysts seem to miss it because it’s hidden…right in plain sight!

But the Navigation Summary Report is a fundamental report inside Google Analytics, and it’s important that you learn how to use it.

The User’s flow report or the behavior flow report is very hard to analyze. They don’t provide a simple view of the basic question: where do visitors go on your website?

But the navigation summary makes it very simple to answer this.

It orders the pages people go to most from a given page.

From there, you can see which pages are most visted or “most popular” with your audience.

You can then use this data to rethink how to structure things on your page to make your menu navigation, links and Call to Action user experience better!

Some questions this report can help you answer:

  • Are your call-to-action items enticing enough?
  • Is your menu navigation easy to understand?
  • Are visitors finding your most important pages?

With the Navigation Summary Report, you can answer these questions and optimize your site navigation based on these answers to make changes to your site that help your business grow.

Using the Navigation Report in Google Analytics

Here’s how you can do a basic analysis using the Navigation Report in Google Analytics.

How to Access the Navigation Report in GA

First, let’s take a look at a website and access the navigation report to answer a fundamental question:

How effectively is our navigation menu performing?

In other words, which pages are the visitors most using and why?

We’re on the homepage of a sample website here.

It has a main header menu, which has some sub-menus as well. And we want to know where the website visitors are going from the homepage.

Homepage of the website for navigation analysis using Google Analytics

For starters, this is a pretty long drop-down menu, which creates a lot of visual noise.

So let’s begin by running some test hypotheses. 

To do that, first, we need to go into Google Analytics, and then go to Behavior → Site Content → All Pages. 

From here, we’re going to drill down into the homepage.

Let’s fetch a little more data from a couple of months. You can do that by selecting a custom Date Range.

Select the months for which you want to analyze the data

The first view you see will contain all the pages on the website.

But when we click on the homepage from the list of the webpages, we will see the data only for that page. 

Data for the homepage of the website in Google Analytics

This might not look very helpful at first.

But, we have the tab for Navigation Summary right next to the Explorer tab.

Click on the Navigation Summary tab and we get a report showing how visitors landed on this page and where they went from this page.

This is called the Previous Page Path analysis and the Next Page Path analysis. In this guide, we’re going to focus on the Next Page Path analysis, but you’ll find the process similar for both reports.

Next Page Path Analysis

For the Next Page Path analysis, we have data about where the visitor went after visiting a particular page.

We can see that 51.37% of visitors exited the website from the homepage and 48.63% of visitors went to a next page.

The Next Page Path summary shows the Pageviews of which pages those visitors went to.

The Next Page Path summary using the Navigation Report of Google Analytics

Thus, we can see where the visitors are going and what they’re clicking on. We also get an insight into what links never (or rarely) get clicked on the homepage.

You can expand to see more rows by choosing the number of rows in Show rows.

There’s also a search filter so that you can see what you’re looking for right away. 

Choosing the number of rows to be displayed in the Next Page Path summary

In the analysis, you’ll usually find an exponential drop in the Pageviews as you move farther down the list. This can help in measuring the effectiveness of navigation labels, calls to action, and the internal links of your website. Pages that lead to more next pages instead of bounces are helping you keep visitors on your site and hopefully turning conversions.

However, one thing that you do not get from this report is the information about exactly which link the user clicked on. For example, you might have two different links that take users to the Portfolio page. 

Two different links for the Portfolio page on the website

But, the Next Page Path report doesn’t show the link that was clicked. Instead, it only shows the URL path for where the user ended up.

Next Page Path summary shows the pages that were visited

So there’s a gap in the navigation report. But wait! There’s still a way to do this analysis using a technique called Enhanced Link Attribution. 

Enhanced Link Attribution Using Hotjar

If we want to know the exact links that users clicked, we’ll need to use a supplementary tool like Hotjar. Hotjar has heatmaps for interactions like Click, Move, and Scroll for multiple devices including desktop, tablet, and mobile.

If you’re new to Hotjar, you can learn how to use it with our Hotjar beginners’ guide. If you already have a Hotjar account set up for your website, you can check out the heatmap for your homepage.

Heatmap of a website using Hotjar

Here, we can see that this Portfolio link got 90 clicks.

Hotjar tracks the number of times a link was clicked

However, the View All Work link, which also directs to the portfolio page, was only clicked 18 times. 

Tracking the number of times a link was clicked on a website using Hotjar

Thus, one link is actually five times more popular than the other. 

Now, there are some other limitations to the Next Page Path report and the Navigation Summary, but they’re so fast and so easy that they’re still absolutely worth using. And oftentimes the insights are so direct that they will jump out at you.

Navigation Optimization using Navigation Report

Let’s take another website as an example.

This website has a navigation and a sub navigation. It has some drop-down menus.  

Now, let us take a look at the Navigation Summary Report for the homepage of this website. 

Navigation Summary report of the homepage of a website

We see that the /team page has almost 10% of the total Pageviews from the homepage.

It is also evident that the /team page is twice as popular as the fourth- or fifth-most popular webpage.

However, on this particular website, the link to the team page is placed at the bottom of the webpage in the footer.

So what is going onhere?

Why are people so interested in going from the homepage to the team page?

It’s simple:

People want to see the people working in your business on the website.

You should put the faces of your team members higher in the website structure.

Therefore, you should consider putting the team page link in the primary navigation or feature your team members in a prominent page block. 

Using navigation reports, you can find out what your visitors are trying to do and make it easier for them to do it.

After all, it’s your job to guide your visitors towards what they’re looking for.

This is known as “navigation optimization”, and it can be achieved easily using the Navigation Summary Report, especially with the Next Page Path analysis. 

Summary

All right, so there you have it. This is how you can utilize the navigation report of Google Analytics to improve the navigation on your website. 

It is important to know how to use this report to analyze your website navigation and optimize it. It can help you place your calls to action at the right place on your website. Thus, the buttons and links become more accessible to visitors. You can also track each internal link of the website using a supplementary tool like Hotjar.

And if you’re new to Google Analytics, we can help you with this free beginners’ video course!

So what do you think? Do you use a different report for navigation optimization? Have you tried using Hotjar to create heatmaps of your website? Let us know in the comments below!

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