Previously we’ve written about the tradeoffs in choosing GA metrics when reporting on your professional services firm website. For example the advantages and disadvantages of users over sessions or weaknesses of pages/session as a metric.
In this article though we’re going to consider how you can specifically use Google Analytics to identify weak and strong pages on your lawfirm or accountant website.
What’s a good or bad page?
To paraphrase Forrest Gump a good page is what a good page does.
1. A good page attracts lots of people
It’s clearly a good thing to attract lots of people. Your top articles in search are very important.
But solely relying on the number of people going to an article is a naïve metric: if people get there, and then don’t do what you want, your page is not working well.
2. Good pages result in good actions
What’s good depends on the context and the context in turn depends on what happens after someone looks at that page and the page type.
And one of Google Analytics’ most powerful features is that it enables you to follow a visitor through a sequence of pages in a visit, or even follow them in repeated visits.
2(a) High Value Activity (HVA) analysis
An example of a good article might be one, which after people read it, is often followed by the reader going to the author’s profile or going to the Contact Us page for your firm
Another simple example is knowing whether someone completed the article as opposed to reading the first para only (something we can set up for you in GA Enrich)
A third example would be someone who viewed an attorney profile and then emailed or called that lawyer (this can be tracked too, although again not by default in Google Analytics).
2(b) Built-in GA metrics analysis
In terms of built-in GA there are two important metrics to think about: bounce and exit which are part of standard Google Analytics. We use both of these in particular contexts in our GA+ reports.
2(b)i For practice group pages: Exit rate
What do you want someone to do after they’ve viewed your Real estate/property practice page? Ideally you want to see them go to Contact Us or at least a profile for one of your lawyers. You don’t want that page to be the last page they view before leaving your site. So practice group pages with high Exit rates merit review.
2(b)ii For article pages: Bounce rate
Some article pages attract high amounts of traffic because of external links or good search positioning or both (shame on you if you’ve removed articles with high search traffic just because they’re out of date – there are better ways to deal with this). In this case bounce rates are worth considering: people who come into the site, view this one page, and then leave.
Some people would say that a high bounce rate is not a problem if your article does a really good job of explaining the issue so that no other page needs to be visited.
However we would generally argue that if that page entirely answers the searcher’s question then maybe you are writing too much. The idea of writing good articles is that you demonstrate expertise but as a professional advisor you still want clients to talk to you about the finer points!
A minor qualification here: if an article page has say an 80% bounce rate that may or may not be important; what is really high priority is an article page with both a high bounce rate AND a high number of visitors.
2(b)iii Two metrics that are not always so useful: Average time on Page & Pages/session.
If you know a little about about GA you may be aware of the Average time on Page metric and the Pages/session metric. Ostensibly these sound important don’t they?
Not so fast: read about the pros and cons of Pages/session here and where Avg. Time on Page is concerned you need to be aware that this is measured based on comparing the timestamps on two different pages in the same visit – if you spend 10 minutes on a page and then leave the website your average time on that page is zero.
Of course all these metrics are very context sensitive. For example if people are looking for your office address on Google, select your Contact Us page directly from the search results, go to the Contact Us page and then leave, that page will have a high bounce rate. But that does not mean the Contact Us page is a bad page.
As a general guideline Bounce rates and Average time on Page are more appropriate where the page is a significant entry point in terms of volume for your website; Exit rate is important where the page is part of a sequence that is either high volume or of high importance for you.
This article is of course the tip of the iceberg when it comes to using GA to understand which pages are (and are not) working well on your website. We comprehensively cover ways of analysing pages in a practical way for professional services firms in our inhouse GA training webinars or seminars where we use your own data.
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