One way to make web analytics actionable is to break the site into different sections (such as home pages, category pages, etc.) and generate reports specific to those pages/sections. In this post, we’re going to identify some of the most common reports for analyzing home pages.
First, lets start by defining home pages and their goals. The home page is typically the main gateway page for your site. It’s the first impression that your visitors will have of your site. Its role is to showcase your offerings, your value proposition and provide quick access to the most popular or important sections of your site. For this reason, web analytics should help you answer some of the following questions:
- How effective is the home page at directing visitors to product pages?
- Which part of the home page is the most effective?
- Is the home page effective at enticing visitors to learn more?
Based on these, below are some popular web analytics reports for home page analysis along with the explanation:
- Bounce Rate
- Micro Step Conversion Rate
- Conversion Rate
- Acquisition Sources
- Home Page Real Estate
The bounce rate is defined as the number of bounces (single page visits) divided by entries. It shows you what percentage of the traffic landing on the page bounces and does not view any other page on the site. It is a reflection of the home page’s ability to retain visitors. Clearly the goal is to make changes to the home page and lower the bounce rate. It’s probably one of the best reports to look for when analyzing home pages. This report is widely available in most web analytics tools such as Google Analytics, Yahoo! Web Analytics and Unica NetInsight.
Micro Step Conversion Rate
Although the ultimate goal of your site is to drive conversions, we recommend micro step conversions as a better way to assess home pages. The goal of your home page is to drive people to your product description pages. It’s at that level that you do the selling. For this reason, when assessing the success of your home page, it should be around its ability to get visitors to those ensuing pages. You can get this in a number of way. Inside tools such as Yahoo! Web Analytics and SiteCatalyst, you can tag your product description pages as events and look at the success of your home page around this event. In Google Analytics, you can create a goal for your product pages, as long as the pages have a consistent nomenclature. If not, you can create an advanced segment for your product pages and look at the home page traffic for the segment. Such metrics can pretty easily be created inside Unica NetInsight and Webtrends.
Yes, this should not be your primary report for home page analysis, but you can still use this report as a tie-breaker. For example, if two versions of home have similar bounce and micro step conversion rates, then you can use the overall conversion rate to see if one version does in fact do a better job. Unfortunately, we often see that many people use conversion rate as the primary report for assessing home page effectiveness.
Want to lower your bounce rate? One place to start is by looking at the acquisition sources. You can start with the sources of traffic to your home page and look at their respective bounce rates. Start with referring sources with high bounce rates. Often, you’ll find a messaging gap between the referring sites and your home page. The referring site may be saying something while your home page could be promoting something else. While you cannot optimize your home page for all referring sites, you can start with those with high traffic and high bounce rates and provide messaging on your home page that helps retain this incoming traffic. You’ll typically find that a handful of sites may account for a high percentage of your bouncing traffic.
Home Page Real Estate
To understand the real estate effectiveness, you’ll have to look at the click activity on the page. Rather than looking at all page links, we recommend classifying the link into sections or categories (such as as header, footer, navigation, left box, right box, etc.), and analyzing the activity by such sections. This is different than the default site overlay that you typically get from web analytics tools and requires some additional configuration to get proper reporting. For example, if you’re using Google Analytics we recommend using Event Tracking to track the activity on various sections and links within sections. You can then see how effectively each section and each link gets visitors to product pages and to final conversion.
You can also investigate some of the in-page analytics tools such as CrazyEgg and ClickTale, which do a more thorough job of providing such reports than web analytics tools.
Of course, depending on your business, your reporting needs may vary, but we believe this list should provide a good starting page for optimizing one of your most important pages.