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Archaeology with In-Page Analytics

March 15th, 2011 | | Analytics

Archaeology is defined as the scientific study of past human behavior and culture spanning from the beginning of time to the present. The field exists because we as human beings are fascinated with our civilization’s origins. Most tend to picture archaeology as a science that involves a lot of digging in the dirt and searching for ancient artifacts.it Thanks to the Indiana Jones movies, we romanticize the science and envision swinging on tree vines across bottomless pits with ancient gold totems in our arms. Let’s face it, the search for valuable things from our past is exciting!

Most of us probably won’t be found running away from a giant stone ball rolling after us anytime soon, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t be archaeologists. You see, thanks to Google’s In-Page Analytics tool, anyone can become an SEO archaeologist! This unique and powerful tool can give you a look into the past and help you understand how your site’s visitors have interacted with your pages.  It can help answer troubling questions about where people are clicking on your website or what the most popular features of your webpages are. Before you can start tackling these questions however, you have to know what you are doing.

To begin using In-Page Analytics, start by logging into your Google Analytics account and click on the site profile you’d like to work with.  It’s important that you already have Google Analytics tracking installed on all of your pages, or you won’t find this tool helpful.  Furthermore you need have had Google Analytics running on your site long enough to accumulate an adequate amount of data. 45 days is generally enough time.

The next step is to click on Content in the left sidebar. This will bring you to your Content Overview page and make an In-Page Analytics option appear in the left sidebar. Click In-Page Analytics in the sidebar to continue.


content drop down


You will automatically be taken to an analysis of your site’s default home page. The left sidebar contains a summary of all the pertinent information regarding the specific page. All of these statistics can be found in other parts of Google Analytics, but they are much easier to reference thanks to the side bar.


content detail


The main part of the In-Page Analytics tool is the live look into your website with overlays on click data. Google Analytics displays your site as if you were looking at it by itself and places bubbles on each part of the site where people have clicked to go a particular page.  As you can see, the Home button on SEO Boy is one of the most popular parts in terms of clicks on the page.



You can also filter the data in the bubbles on different factors like geographic region, operating system, and the keywords that brought them to the site.  Generally your site needs a high level of traffic to really get the most out of your filters and make sound decisions on about improving your site.



Google Analytics summarizes these percentages under the Outbound Destinations section of the left sidebar.  I really like this feature because it eliminates some of the scrolling and manual scanning for click data.  I’ve found that In-Page Analytics bubbles, though helpful, can sometimes be difficult to spot on a page.



Additionally, In-Page Analytics features a ribbon that informs you of the percentage of clicks you get below the “fold” of your website.  Most people will find that the majority of their clicks occur above the fold.  However, if you see an extreme disproportion in the number of clicks above and below the fold, it may indicate that you need to make some changes to your page.


As far taking this data and making a decision with it, you will need to define an objective for your page. Perhaps you operate a blog and you want to encourage visitors to keep reading other articles you have posted. You can use In-Page Analytics to see if they are finding the links to read additional posts easily or if they are navigating to an unrelated page instead.  This will help you decide whether you should relocate those links to another part  of the page or better explain what the irrelevant links do. You might operate a site with a specific conversion like downloading a PDF. In-Page Analytics can help you determine whether visitors are clicking the download button or whether they are clicking on something else.  Fortunately, you can create a filter to within In-Page Analytics to display goal conversions instead of clicks. Upon establishing your objective, you will then analyze the data that directly pertains to it.If you find that you are falling short of where you would like to be, i.e. visitors aren’t navigating your pages the way you intended, it may indicate that you need to make a change.

Just like archaeology, In-Page Analytics is all about past behavior. Although it doesn’t necessarily indicate exactly how people will behave on your website going forward, it will help you learn about historical performance. Use this to answer your questions about how you have done in the past. You may find a treasure that will help you prepare for the future.


Steve is an Account Executive at Hanapin Marketing, a search engine marketing firm focused on generating results through PPC and SEO.

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