Bloggers start out with the best of intentions.
You always think you'll analyze your traffic with as much detail as possible. You use all the analytics tools you can get your hands on and dutifully run them often.
Over time, however, as you begin to generate a solid income, you tend to back away from the tools, even though those tools are starting to become much more advanced.
Most analytics tools will give you good information on how many visitors and what particular pages they visited. They will also tell you which devices and browsers are being used.
And this is good information to have. But now, you can discover what visitors actually do during the entire time they are on your site, which of your posts are the most popular and most shared, and what is distracting them and/or causing them to leave.
These newer tools are called heat maps, and any blogger who really wants to maintain and grow their current audience will get on this now.
What Heat maps Can Do For You
- They will show you the “hot spots” on your site, page by page. Where are you getting the most action? Now some of these hot spots will be your navigation area and possibly the first blog post title on your home page – this is to be expected. But it will show you the other posts that are getting a lot of play and, once a post title shows up as a hot spot, how many readers actually navigate to that post and do they stay long enough to read it?
- They will show you how long each visitor stays on each page or post. And as you analyze the most frequented posts, you can determine what type of content is going over well, so that you can plan content, media, etc. based on your users' preferences.
- You will get all kinds of information that earlier analytics did not provide. Not only will you get the devices being used and the browsers and operating systems used, but you will also know the country of origin of each visit. All of this is neatly packaged for comparisons.
- The latest heat mapping tools will also provide video recordings that track exactly where a visitor’s mouse goes while they are on your site, and exactly how much time they spend in each spot. Summary reports are provided by each individual visitor, and you can choose which ones you want to view in the recordings. For example, suppose you want to know why many of your users are leaving quickly? Pull up the recordings of those visitors, see exactly where they have been and at which point they leave.
So, How Does All of this Help You?
- You will be able to see where visitors are going, the order in which they are navigating to different places, and, even more importantly, when and where they are exiting. If a large number are exiting at a certain point, for example, there may be something confusing or distracting them and you can fix that.
- You can watch the recording to determine where users might be experiencing difficulty with navigation and you can fix that, too.
- If you study the information carefully (and it is all really well laid out for you), you can use it to drive design, layout and the flow of your site, so that visitors will stay longer and access more pages.
- You will be able to determine which images might be the most intriguing and what text visitors are staying long enough to read. This should drive the type of posts you create in the future.
Doing It Right
When you first implement a hot mapping tool, go a bit slowly at first, because there is a learning curve.
- Test the tool on just one or two pages at first, perhaps just on your home page. What is your goal for the homepage? Are you asking visitors to register or sign in order to access your posts? Do you have your most recent post titles in the middle of the page and links to older posts down the right or left? Which are getting the most clicks?
- Use the hot mapping tool to determine the most popular posts that are featured on your home page. What media and content are included in these posts? Are you not getting enough “play” on the older posts featured on the right? Maybe you need to find others to place there and then test those for popularity. The hot mapping will allow you to make changes, test them, and then make more, based upon the information you are getting.
- Are visitors subscribing for your email updates at a rate you like? If not, maybe you need to change the format of your form – do you have a big fat submit button? Are the fields large enough? Where is the form? Should it be re-located?
- As you continue to become comfortable with all the data you are receiving, you will be able to change things up to get rid of distractions and potentially confusing spots and then test again until you have what you want.
- You may find that you need to make significant changes in your design and layout, especially in the navigation process if this seems to bog visitors down
- You will able to see how your site looks on tablets and mobile devices, and you can make changes to enhance your visitor's experiences from those devices.
Choosing the Right Hot Spot Tool
Fortunately, you will not lack for options, and there are some really great ones available in all price ranges. Many base their pricing on which specific tools you select. So, in choosing, do the following:
- Determine in advance just what specific data you want and need. You can always add-on later.
- Ask for a free trial if one is not offered – most reputable companies will offer one anyway.
- Use the free trial period to really test the tool on your site. You may discover that there are features you now don’t want and others that you need to add.
You can’t build your blog unless you know what most visitors to your site are really doing, so get a hot map tool and find out!
Julie Ellis is working as the writer for Premier Essay and finds her inspiration in educational help to gifted students. A master's degree in Journalism allows her to follow her passion and help students around the world.