Content Group Pathing can give you fresh ideas of how people go through your site. In my opinion, there are far more insights available in pathing than in tabulations of content groups.
I am not talking about page paths, which frankly don’t have a lot of value. Too much information!
Content Group Pathing consolidates information and can tell stories. For example, you might see one of these:
- Half of those who land on an interior page tend to start using on-site search quite soon after landing, while people who enter at the home page hardly ever resort to searching. Perhaps the home page is much better at orienting people to your site than the interior pages do?
- A lot of visits flip-flop back and forth between product category C and product category F. None of the other product categories – A, B, D, E – have this kind of back and forth pattern with another category. Maybe there is some bad labeling of C or F? Maybe C and F really are, in the customer mind, two facets of the same thing and should be merged?
- Of this back-and-forth group of visits, people who go from C to F tend to stay in F, while people who go from F to C tend to go back to F. Perhaps the value is in the F content for that [possibly confused] group?
- People who enter at an interior page hardly ever see the home page. If you have really important information that is only on the home page, then they are missing that content entirely! Maybe you should add some of that important home page content to interior pages? Or you could find out why they are entering on interior pages and try to steer them to the home page?
- People who enter at the home page tend to return to it constantly, and their visits tend to be short, direct, and complete. Not so for the visits using other entry points. Again, it looks like the interior pages need some work.
- The FAQ pages are visited primarily by people who never get down to product detail pages. Is there something in FAQ material that makes people uninterested in looking closely at what you have?
- Or, alternatively, many who get to the product detail page level then go quickly to the FAQ, while people who don’t see product details rarely look at the FAQ. Is something missing from your detailed product information?
- Although your store locator happens in about a third of all your visits, it appears that most of those visits consist of the store locator and not much else. People looking at your products aren’t following through to find a store. Uh oh, maybe that “33% of visits go to store locator” result isn’t something to crow about after all.
I could go on and on.
Almost all of those “stories” can, in fact, be discerned in tabulation-type reports, but you’d have to do a whole lot of them. Content Paths reveal those stories with far less work.
That is, if you do Content Paths well. You can also confuse yourself tremendously with Content Group pathing.
I recently experienced a great deal of that confusion looking at Google Analytics’ Flow reports. Although these are sorta like content path reports in Webtrends, I think what Webtrends offers is a lot better. Except, of course, Webtrends doesn’t have GA’s cool graphics (which, by the way, are basically Sankey diagrams, one of my all-time favorite data visualization methods).
So. About “doing Content Paths well.” I’ll talk about this more in another post. It’s not that hard to get the hang of. Stay tuned.