Using Google Analytics site overlay

by Martin Reed on 13 April 2007 in Snippets

If you have not already installed Google Analytics on your website, I would highly recommend it. Sure, you are giving Google details about your traffic but if you are running AdSense on your website they already know a lot about your site as it is! In my opinion, the knowledge and information your are given about your website traffic is well worth sharing with Google.

Earlier this month, I spoke about the importance of continually tweaking your website in order to keep it optimised and user friendly. Through the use of Google’s site overlay I have further optimised and tweaked the index page of Just Chat.

It is important for you to make your site’s most popular content the easiest to access. Using Google Analytic’s site overlay feature you can see just where people are clicking and make changes, should they be necessary.

Just Chat overlay

Screenshot showing site overlay for Just Chat (click to enlarge)

As you can see from the screenshot, the most clicked sections of the site are the ‘chat’ and ‘epals’ links. Therefore I can assume these are the most important sections of the site to my visitors (further analysis can be done to prove these assumptions – I will post about this in a future article).

As you can see, the link for the message boards is not as popular as the link for the email penpals section – therefore it makes no sense for me to have the link and graphic for the message boards above that for the email penpals section.

By swapping these around, and having the links listed according to their importance to my visitors, I have made the site more user friendly. What is more, this took literally five minutes to do.

Just Chat overlay two

Screenshot showing revised site overlay for Just Chat (click to enlarge)

Not only have I rearranged the graphical elements, but I have also swapped around the text links based on the premise that a Western audience reads from left to right and placed the most important links to the left of the navigation bar.

This example demonstrates how important continuous monitoring and improvement of your website really is – I hope it inspires you to take another look at your site and see what improvements can be made.

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Bri April 14, 2007 at 6:06 pm

Great overview. I think that site overlay is an often overlooked tool in Google Analytics. People often just use it to see what people are interested in, not to look for ideas for tweaking their site to be optimized for users. Great article!

Martin Reed April 14, 2007 at 11:10 pm

Hey Bri, thanks for your comment. I am amazed at the wealth of information that Google Analytics offers – I can’t believe I stumbled in the dark for so long without it.

Dealer June 25, 2007 at 10:35 am

i wonder how do they add overlay to a website not belonging to google. is it the urchin() javascript that we add in our websites allowing them to modify our pages or is it something else, any information on this will be appreciated.

GridviewGuy June 25, 2007 at 10:40 am

its the urchin code generating the overlay div bar.

Martin Reed June 25, 2007 at 7:04 pm

Thanks for the question, Dealer and thank you for the answer, GridviewGuy!

Welcome to the blog and I look forward to reading more of your comments in the future.

Bollywood October 27, 2007 at 6:31 pm

i instaled and must say it’s really a good software to analyze traffic.

Martin Reed - Blog Author October 29, 2007 at 8:06 pm

Bollywood – I am glad you are finding it useful. Did you see any unexpected results? Did it teach you anything about the behaviour of your visitors that you were previously unaware of?

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