You can never know too much about the people who visit your website.
From their age, to where they live, and how they navigate through your website — this is all valuable data that can be used to better optimize your website and ensure your visitors are coming back for more.
All of this information (and much more actually) can be found in Google Analytics.
And while there are many useful reports in Google Analytics, users love the Behavior Reports for an inside look at… you guessed it… the behavior of their website visitors.
If you’re new to the world of analyzing your website in Google Analytics, we’re here to break down everything you need to know about the Google Analytics Behavior Report, and particularly how to use it better analyze your website’s visitors.
What are Google Analytics Behavior Reports?
Google Analytics is full of useful reports that bring a wide variety of data front and center. The Behavior section shows you information regarding the visitors to your website, the pages they visit, how long they stay, the actions they take, and more.
These seven reports are found on the left-hand side of the Google Analytics dashboard and are broken down by:
The first option to take a deep dive into under Behavior Reports is simply the overview.
Like the name of this report suggests, this report shows you an overview of user behavior. This area of Google Analytics shows a variety of metrics, including page views, bounce rates, average time on page, unique page views, and more, to help users see which pages may need additional optimizing.
The Overview report focuses mainly on individual pages of your website, versus the entire website as a whole. It’s a quick and high-level look at many behavior reports so you can decide which one you’d like to analyze further.
The next behavior report is Behavior Flow.
Here, Google Analytics users can see the path that their website visitors are taking. It starts from the very first page they view all the way to the last before exiting. It provides a visual aid into how long visitors stay on your website and where they end up before leaving.
The Behavior Flow report is essentially a click path of how your users interact with various pages on your site. You can then narrow down what content is most engaging, the most common landing page, as well as the most popular exit pages.
Elaborating further on the ins and outs of the Behavior Flow report is Mark Varnas from Red9. Varnas shares, “The best part of the behavior flow report in Google Analytics is the ability to see where you lose your site visitors.
As you hover over each start page in the Behavior Flow, you can see the drop-off rate of your visitors. This lets you see where you need to spend some time trying to get your visitors to go deeper into your site, rather than leaving and going somewhere else”
PRO TIP: How to track these 10 popular Google Analytics metrics
Sure, there are dozens (and dozens?) more GA metrics you could track. But, starting with the 10 mentioned in this post will give you a pretty high-level view of how your marketing is working, starting with some of the most common ones…
- Sessions: The number of sessions can tell you how many times people are returning to your website. Obviously, the higher the better.
- Sessions by organic keyword: Which organic keywords bring in the most traffic to your website? This may help you determine whether your SEO investments are paying off.
- Bounce rate: Do visitors leave shortly after landing on your website? Or do they stick around?
- Average session duration: How much time are people spending on your website? Users with a high average session duration are most likely relevant to your company.
- Goal completions: How many users responded to your call to action?
If you want to track these in Google Analytics, you might find the visualizations limiting. It’s also a bit time-consuming to combine all the metrics you need in one view.
To better understand how your website performs in terms of traffic growth and conversions, we’ve made this plug-and-play dashboard that contains all the essential metrics for understanding how successful you are at optimizing different aspects of your website.
This Google Analytics dashboard offers a complete view of how your website is performing and converting at-a-glance and helps you gain valuable insights such as:
- How much traffic does my website get daily or monthly? (sessions)
- Which channels are driving traffic to my website? (sessions by channel)
- Which keywords are driving the most organic traffic? (sessions by keyword)
- How much time are visitors spending on my website? (average session duration)
You can easily set it up in just a few clicks – no coding required.
To set up the dashboard, follow these 3 simple steps:
Step 1: Get the template
Step 2: Connect your Google Analytics account with Databox.
Step 3: Watch your dashboard populate in seconds.
The next behavior report available in Google Analytics is Site Content. As the name suggests, this section contains reports pertaining to how visitors engage and interact with various pages on your website.
It’s broken down into a series of reports:
- All Pages: Allows users to see top content at a glance, as well as the average amount of revenue each page generates. This provides you with a better idea as to which content performs best on your website based on traffic, page views, unique page views, average time on page, bounce rate, entrances, and exits.
- Content Drilldown: This report is beneficial to those who have subfolders or parent sections (Services, About Us, Products, Careers) on the website, as it’s easy to see the top folders of content, as well as the top content within each folder.
- Landing Pages: The Landing page report shows users the first-entry page that visitors are accessing as they enter and begin their navigation throughout the website.
- Exit Pages: Finally there’s the Exit Pages report, which shows the last page people visit before leaving, or exiting, your website. Take a closer look at these pages to see if they are ways to improve the content to keep visitors on your website longer.
To explain further how the Site Content reports can be used, Mark Robinson from Teacher Mortgages shares, “I use the Site content tab to see the breakdown of behavior on each page. This gives me key insights into how people view my content. And what content works best.
To some extent, it also tells me what people’s activity is like from organic to PPC leads.”
Bishal Biswas at Word Finder is a fan of the Content Drilldown report. Biswas shares, “The Content Drilldown is great for when you have subfolders on your website, which can assist you to analyze and optimize your content.
The Content Drilldown report in Google Analytics helps you see your top content on your website, as well as each section of your website.
For example, this report is very useful if you have a /support page or /about page on your website, and want to identify your top content on each of these pages.
With the help of this report, you can identify what specific web page on your site requires improvement and then optimize it accordingly.”
Martynas Kavaliauskas of TrackingFox finds the Landing Page report to be helpful. Kavaliauskas shares, “The landing page report is a vital piece of information if you want to know how a new user who visits your site for the first time likes what they see or not. Did they browse other pages or just straight-out leave?
This will tell you if your landing page is interesting and valuable enough for customers to stop and really dive into your content. If they do not spend much time there, then you might need to revamp your landing page.”
The next behavior report is Site Speed. Here, you’ll be able to analyze how your website performs in terms of speed and load time. This section of Google Analytics provides users with reports that show areas of the website they may need to optimize further for speed.
In this section, users can see a report with a graph of the average load time of each and every page on their website. Metrics in this report include:
- Average page load time: The average time, listed in seconds, that it takes for pages to load to completion in a browser window.
- Average redirection time: The average time, displayed again in seconds, that it takes a redirect before fetching a new page.
- Average domain lookup time: The average time, displayed in seconds, spent in DNS (Domain Name System) lookup for a page.
- Average server connection time: The average time, shown in seconds, spent to establish a TCP (Transmission Control Protocol) connection for a page.
- Average server response time: The average amount of time, showing in seconds, that it takes a server to respond to the request of the user.
- Average page download time: The average time, displayed in seconds, it takes to download a page on your website.
Having this comprehensive data allows you to see where you need to improve page load time, as well as page download time, by updating and improving content on your website.
Explaining site speed a little further is April Maccario from Ask April. Maccario shares, “Setting up Google Analytics to your site is the best way to resolve your website user’s behavior. This way, you will be able to understand what your visitors want. As a website founder, following behavior flow in Google Analytics is very convenient to improve my user’s experiences in servicing their needs in meeting their expectations.
My best tip for using these reports in Google Analytics is to envision potential problems that may occur. To avoid those problems, owners must enhance the website flow, speed, quality, and SEO traffic.”
Related: 15 Website Speed Optimization Tips That Anyone Can Implement
Another great behavior report that users should be utilizing is Site Search.
Tip: To be able to utilize this report, you’ll need to set up site search metrics for your website.
These reports showcase metrics regarding who is using the search box functionality on your website, as well as what terms were searched, and on what page were searches conducted.
Beyond the overview, you can also see details regarding:
- Usage: Showing a look at the Acquisition-Behavior-Conversion breakdown between visits that featured a site search, and which visits did not.
- Search terms: Shows users a list of the most common search terms that website visitors use. It also provides details regarding the number of times users viewed the results, exits from your site after a search, and more.
- Pages: Provides a list of the specific pages that visitors searched on the website.
An event is classified as an interaction on your website that doesn’t necessarily involve visiting or loading a page. These could be playing a video, printing a page, downloading a file, and more.
Tip: To use this report, you’ll need to set up an event tracking code on your website!
The overview portion of this report shows a summary of the visitor behavior that you’re tracking. Going further, the Top Events report allows users to see the events with the most interaction by their website visitors.
There’s also a Pages report, showing the top pages where users interact with events being tracked, and an Events Flow report, providing a path that visitors take on the website starting from the landing page they arrive on to when they interact with a specific event being tracked.
Finally, there’s the Publisher report, which was previously titled AdSense, which centers around ads published using Google AdWords and the amount of income website owners receive from these ads.
Tip: You need to link your Google AdSense account to your account in Google Analytics to be able to see this report.
This section of Google Analytics has reports including:
- Overview: The Publisher Overview shows users the revenue they’ve generated, in addition to click-through rates and overall impressions.
- Pages: This report shows the top pages on a website that generated the most amount of revenue.
- Referrers: This report displays the referring URLs that drove visitors who clicked on your ad to be sent to your website.
Essentially, this behavior report is where you’ll find more metrics and data regarding if the ads you’re running are worth it.
How to Use the User Behavior Flow Report in Google Analytics?
How you decide to use the User Behavior Flow Report in Google Analytics is up to you. It depends on the metrics that mean most to you and where you think your website needs a little help.
Interested in using this report in a certain way? Jump ahead to learning about:
- Following the steps of the user
- Knowing what a user is looking for
- Better understanding drop-off rates
- Improving user engagement
- Checking website functionality
- Keeping track of campaigns
1. Follow the steps of the user
The most obvious and most popular way the Behavior Flow report in Google Analytics is to follow the steps of the users on your website as they navigate from page to page.
Charles Musselwhite of Musselwhite Marketing explains, “We use the behavior flow report to see and follow the steps website visitors take or the page they navigate through on a site based on a selected dimension such as country, landing page, campaign, browser, etc.
The Google behavior flow report is kind of like that falling green code scene in the movie The Matrix in that it provides you with a quick and visual tracking of the website through traffic and drop-offs. It represents and reveals website visitor activity which is super important when understanding the customer journey.”
Using this report in a similar fashion is Andre Oentoro of Milkwhale, who shares, “We use the behavior flow report to figure out how users behave once they visit your site. They can come from different sources so if you want to get a specific report.”
Also using the Behavior Flow Report to keep an eye on the user and their journey is Lily Ugbaja from Findingbalance.com. “The Google Analytics Behaviour reports show how visitors interact with your site, total page views, bounce rate, exit rate, etc.
My best tip for using the behavior flow report in Google Analytics to gather helpful insights is to isolate where and what visitors interact most with on your site.
What content receives the most views and engagement? What page is the most time sent on? This would help you track what generates the most traffic and what can be better optimized for more leads and conversion,” shares Ugbaja.
2. Know what a user is looking for
The Behavior Flow Report can also help website owners understand more about what the user is looking for or as they peruse the website. This could be anything from a product or service your company offers to the careers page.
Explaining further is Brita Hammer from Emergent Software. Hammer shares, The behavior flow report is great for understanding what people are exactly looking for as they enter your site.
For example, if I see that someone is entering our site and heading immediately to our careers page, I can understand that they’re likely not going to purchase services from us but rather apply to work with us. I can also understand how many pages a potential customer might be looking at before reaching out to us.
If they’re looking at one service level page, then heading to our contact form to reach out, I can say that our service level page might be giving them all the information they needed in their decision to reach out.
If they drop off after a service level page or two, I could look at those pages to see if they’re filled with enough helpful information and if they’re not, add more copy to potentially increase the conversion rate.”
Also using the report in this way is Jonathan Cohen from Cohen & Winters. “The biggest thing we use the flow report feature for is our blog. Using the report, we are able to see how many people have viewed the posts and are able to see which links were clicked on within the post.
This has been helpful in determining which blog posts are engaging to potential clients and which can maybe be left out. We want to provide intriguing and useful content to our site visitors, and the flow report helps us in better understanding what our clients are looking for in our blog posts,” explains Cohen.
Adding to this point is Aaron Haynes of Loganix, who states, “Behavior flow is an incredibly useful report in Google Analytics for determining user intent on your website. You should use it for two particular reasons: to identify the most engaging content on your website and to recognize user patterns.
Look at the report to see if there are some website paths that are more popular than others, and figure out whether that’s okay with you or not. In most cases, the behavior flow report will help you to make slight adjustments to optimize for better end-results.”
3. Better understand drop off rates
Another popular way to use the Behavior Flow Report is by taking a deeper look into metrics surrounding drop-off rates, which will show you where a user is deciding to leave your website. Having this data will allow you to make the necessary moves to further optimize these pages in hopes to decrease these rates.
Sasha Matviienko from growth360 shares, “One of the ways that companies often miss out on when reviewing the behavior flow report is identifying roadblocks. In other words, finding pages with a high drop-off rate.
This can be a goldmine for Conversion Rate Optimization efforts.
If you have a piece of content and it’s attracting a significant amount of Visits, you can potentially engage the audience further by directing them to the pages that sell and measuring a direct impact on Revenue,” shares Matviienko.
Explaining further is Elizabeth Weatherby at AH Management Group. Weatherby adds, “Using the behavior flow report in Google Analytics helps you to know: where users are going on your site, how they’re funneling through your interior pages, and where they may be dropping off/decreasing.
You can then analyze your behavior to find opportunities for optimizations to make the journey through your site more efficient for users.
You can pinpoint places on your site where you think you can either provide more info to educate the user or maybe switch up the design/user experience of the page to more effectively push users to convert.”
Also using the Behavior Flow Report to analyze exit pages is Sara McKinniss from FST Logistics. “My biggest tip for using the Behavior Flow Report is to use it to figure out what pages people are exiting your site most often (so determine the last page where people leave) first.
Then, use that to analyze and prioritize each page where you can improve the time they spend on the site so they stay longer. Maybe you add a video, interactive feature, chatbot for help, request a quote form, etc.
By trying these strategies, you can keep people on your site longer and hopefully reduce the bounce rate too,” shares McKinniss.
4. Improve user engagement
The Behavior Flow Report can also be used to find ways to improve user engagement and increase the time users spend on your website.
Jake Meador from Mobile Text Alerts explains, “The primary use I have found for the behavior flow reports traditionally is identifying pages that need to be optimized to improve user engagement.
Once I’ve identified the pages to improve, then I can start asking questions about how to improve the on-page experience for people, how to make it easier for them to take the next step toward conversion, and so on.
There are plenty of other users for that report, but that’s been my most regular use for it over my career.”
Also using the Behavior Flow Report to track and improve user engagement is Michelle Devani from lovedevani. “One flow report that I often use is the behavior flow report. This is because it helps me identify how users navigate my website and what kind of content keeps them engaged.
A tip that I can give for using the behavior flow report is to isolate pages, sources, or keywords. This is because doing so will help you better analyze your website visitors’ behavior while on your website,” Devani explains.
Ron Stefanski from OneHourProfessor.com is a fan of using this report to understand how customers move throughout the conversion funnel. “The behavior flow report gives you keen insights on where your users are hitting roadblocks in the conversion funnel, as well as what content is the most engaging for them.
I suggest using the report to find what is stopping your users from converting and making changes to increase the usability and navigation of the site,” Stefanski explains.
5. Check website functionality
No website is perfect, and sometimes they’re affected by bugs or errors. You can use the Behavior Flow Report to check that your website is functioning properly and that users aren’t encountering broken links or 404 errors.
Explaining this further is Jessica Brown at KWSM Digital. Brown shares, “My best tip for using the behavior flow chart in Google Analytics to gain helpful insights is to use this area to make sure your website is functioning properly. Typically the most visitors should be entering on the homepage or any landing pages that are linked in active digital ads.
If visitors aren’t doing this, it can mean broken links or poor web health. This area is also useful to see which pages cause visitors to exit the website. Sometimes simple changes can be made to those pages to increase user’s time on the site.”
Also using the Behavior Flow Report in this way is Alexander M. Kehoe at Caveni Digital Solutions. “Behavior flow is one of the most useful tools in Google Analytics, especially for optimizing your website for conversions.
The best way to utilize behavior flow is by setting up goals that are tracked and assigning a monetary value to each goal completion, even if it is just for tracking purposes. With those two systems set up, you can track your user journey through to the conversion and see which of your pages are performing best by comparing their value while also considering traffic.
If you find a high traffic page with a low value this is a good first indication that the page may have issues that are harming your conversions. Because of this simplicity, behavior flow is the fastest and easiest way to test the performance of your pages,” Kehoe shares.
6. Keep track of campaigns
If you’re paying good money for advertising and specific campaigns, the Behavior Flow Report can help you keep track of them to get the best ROI and bang for your buck.
Lyndsey Doherty from Origin Digital uses Behavior Flow Reports this way, sharing, “The behavior flow traffic report is a great way of mapping the touchpoints in a customer journey based on page-level from a wider perspective before you dig further into specific journeys. By sorting the behavior flow by medium, you can start to map users’ journeys by channel and you can see the main routes that users are taking.
Specifically pulling in advertising on a campaign or ad set level can help measure the value of a paid campaign which is vital in terms of spending your budget efficiently. These insights are invaluable in advance of an onsite UX review as well as reviewing paid, organic, and email marketing campaigns.”
Editor’s note: Keep track of your most important campaigns with the Databox mobile app. Monitor your current performance and access any dashboard you’ve built from your mobile device too!
A Better Way to Go with the Flow
It’s impossible to know what your website visitors are really thinking, but thanks to the Behavior Flow report, and all of the other Behavior Reports at your fingertips in Google Analytics, you’re one step closer to understanding how they use your website.