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5 ways of analyzing website visitor behavior

Make no mistake. Providing an optimized, personalized experience for your website visitors is crucial. 

According to official statistics, it takes a website visitor just 50 milliseconds to form an impression of your website. This opinion includes everything from its loading page speed, its menu layouts, its general design, and last but not least, its content. 

A recent Google report found that conversions fell by 20% for every second of delay in loading a website. 

Conversely, fast-loading websites could mean 70% longer average session times and 35% lower bounce rates

That’s why a positive user experience goes far further than fast loading times. Visitors come to your website with a specific intent. They often have expectations of what it looks like and how it works. If you can match (even exceed) their expectations and give them what they’re looking for, you can increase conversions.

This part of the journey is where a traffic analysis tool like Google Analytics comes into play. Analytics tools give you valuable insights into your visitor numbers and where they come from. To dig a little deeper, though, there are additional tools you can use.

Without further ado, here are five ways to analyze and understand your visitor’s expectations of your website. Understanding these will help you to tailor your website optimally. 

Understand your traffic origins

Take a closer look at where your visitors are coming from. Once you’ve ascertained how they’ve found your website, you’ll be better able to gauge how likely they are to visit it. 

How can you go about this? By installing invaluable plugin tools such as Google Analytics, Yandex Metrica, Plausible, or Slimstat Analytics. Depending on how complex you want your metrics to be and your stance on Google’s data policies, here are some various solutions for you to choose from.

Another way to find out statistics on your website visitors? By looking at search engine result pages (SERPs), links on other websites, social media, or your own newsletter (if you send that out).

By analyzing keywords for SERP traffic, you get valuable insight into your visitors’ intent.  You’ll find that most visitors that find you via SERP are problem-aware. This means that they have a problem, and they’re looking at solving it through their web search. It also means they probably don’t yet care about your page in particular. 

“Brand-aware” traffic is more direct and refers to someone following a backlink from your email campaign, your Twitter post, or even word-of-mouth about your company or brand. 

Now you can start dissecting, so to speak, your page views. Ask yourself, how many are there in total and how many steam from repeat visitors, rather than new ones? Analyze your on-page activity 

Next, you can start to analyze your visitors’ behavior once they land on your website. The worst-case scenario here is that they bounce, i.e., they take one look at your page and leave straight away because it doesn’t meet their expectations. Unfortunately, their prompt exit doesn’t give you any data on where you went wrong. However, if a visitor decides to hang around,you can analyze where they move their cursor, how fast they scroll, which interactive elements catch their attention, and which links they follow. 

If you haven’t already, check out WPBeginner’s list of the best analytic solutions for WordPress users. For example, scroll maps show how far people scroll down on your page. Maps are typically color-coded: red areas mean frequently scrolled, whereas blue areas are rarely visited. This information tells you if people can find what they’re looking for and when. Red call-to-action (CTA) buttons, for example, are particularly celebrated.

Similarly, heatmaps record mouse movement, keyboard activity, and clicking behaviors. These solutions help shed light on which elements your visitors hover or click. 

You can also track entire visitor sessions. The tracking information will reveal how long your visitors stay and exactly how they interact with your website. 

All of the above will help you gauge whether you’re fulfilling your visitors’ wishes. By doing so, you’ll be able to identify the most successful elements on your website and do away with what doesn’t work. 

graphic of a map between two points

Follow your visitors’ flow

Now it’s time to understand how your visitor flows are distributed across your website.  

In other words, what is their progression? Do they visit your blog, your online shop, your about page? Tracking their engagement helps you better understand their interest and knowledge level. For example, if a visitor Googles a very specific keyword, they find your page and head straight to your website, it’s pretty apparent they already know what they want. 

On the other hand, if you see that your visitors browse through a few of your blog posts before following a link to your store, their information needs might just be higher. This behavior gives you specific details to adjust your content strategy accordingly. 

Analytics suites can show you these visitor streams as waterfall models  —  how the flows split up across your page. Like VisitorAnalyticsIO, some solutions also allow you to track entire visitor sessions. This data will reveal how long your visitors stay and exactly how they interact with your website.

It will also help you understand if people are satisfied with your page’s structure or issues with logical linking, progression, or design. 

Inspecting website with magnifying glass

Understand your conversions and exits

One of the most crucial goals of analyzing your website’s visitor behavior is understanding which paths lead to conversions. 

Typically, there are just a few conversion goals for a site, e.g., getting people to sign up for a newsletter, creating an account, subscribing to your services, or buying a product. 

It’s important to mention that your visitors leave countless and tiny behavioral clues that serve as excellent conversion predictors. In their own right, they might even be seen as “micro-conversions.” Examples include hitting the customization options on a specific product, putting something in the cart, or setting up a payment option.

In your analysis, you can harness these micro-conversions to your advantage. 

They are extremely useful, for example, in pinpointing where a potential customer backs off. Maybe it’s when you ask them to create an account before letting them add products to their cart. Or perhaps they balk at having to give their credit card information to access a free trial. 

Finally, take an in-depth look at their exits, e.g. all the points where people decide to leave your website. There is a massive spectrum of possible exit points between bouncing immediately or closing their tab after reaching the order confirmation page. 

If you manage to pinpoint a particular stage in the customer journey where your website has high exit rates, then it’s safe to say you might have a UX issue.

reviews on a website

Gather your direct feedback 

If all else fails, asking your customers directly can help you gain a better idea of their needs.  

You can either launch a digital survey, include a feedback form, or analyze customer calls and chats. Now’s the time to harness your mailing list, or include a pop-up with a few quick questions at different stages of your visitors’ journey. 

While you might not get massive returns on these feedback options, the data that you do gather is much more invaluable, thanks to the personal nature and immediacy of it all. Harnessing your insights to optimize

At the end of the day, all of these analytical steps have only one goal: to yield insights that will help you improve your website. While the pressure to perform and optimize UX is immense, if your website doesn’t deliver amongst the 1.8 billion websites out there, your visitors will bounce without a second thought. 

By analyzing your sources of traffic, on-page activity, behavioral flows, conversions, and exits, as well as asking for direct feedback, you’ll be able to make the cut. All you have to do? Gauge your visitors’ intent and expectations and fulfill them to a T. 


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Hasan Saleem avatar

Hasan Saleem

Hasan is a seasoned web professional with experience in planning, launching, and operating successful Web-based ventures. More articles written by Hasan.

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