By Cathy Dew
The second most popular mistake we find when taking over the care and feeding of intranets and public websites is that no one knows what’s popular and what’s not on the site. (The first most popular mistake is neglecting search.) You need to know what people are reading and not reading on your web sites.
In this article, we’ll cover a few different tasks you should be performing regularly to understand how your intranet or public web site is being used, and ideas/patterns you can implement to bring to the surface your more popular content. And while Kentico focused on the CMS admin perspective, these ideas are universal to all web sites.
Tracking Page Use
Do you know what pages are popular or which pages have the digital equivalent of 3-inches of dust? Do you know what pages people are bookmarking and returning to frequently, or which pages are being search for using Site Search Tool? These are important questions to answer to identify content that is popular or is not readily accessible via the menu or popular landing pages. Additionally, these are not one-time questions, these questions are evergreen as your content evolves.
Kentico Page Analytics
The quickest way to find what pages people are visiting is using the built-in Web Analytics within Kentico. With just a couple of clicks you can see what are the most popular destinations on your web site. You should be looking at “Page Views” and “Top Landing Pages.” The pages with the highest traffic will most likely be your root or primary landing pages, but what are the second tier of pages that people are visiting?
One of the most interesting questions for me is: Do you have tertiary pages that have more visits than the landing page that feeds it? These are the pages that your visitors find attractive and are visiting directly, either via a bookmark or via search.
Kentico Search Analytics
If you have enabled the Kentico Search feature, the keywords used during search are recorded within the web analytics under “On-site search keywords”. These words and phrases are important to track as they are key to understanding what your visitors are looking for and can’t find immediately via your menu system or landing pages.
Take these keywords and use your search to ensure that the correct pages are returned.
Like Kentico, the key areas for Google Analytics are the Behavior – Site Content areas. Specifically, the All Pages, Landing Pages, and Content Drill Down.
All Pages Report is just that, a full list of your site with the most popular (no matter how they got there) at the top. This is a great place to start and see what’s being visiting from a 35k foot level. The Landing Pages Report shows you the pages that people are visiting without searching for from your site, or finding via your menus or primary landing pages. And also very important is the Content Drill down, which shows you which pages were the most popular from the target page in the list.
The content drill down report is a great tool to see if your primary pages are directing your users to the content they are looking for.
Google Analytics has options to slice the visitor data hundreds of ways, and don’t get bogged down into the options until you understand what you have from the primary reports available. Once you have a good idea what’s going on there, then you can start adding secondary dimensions to the reports and tease out other types of trends and site behaviors.
Surfacing Popular Pages
So now you have a list of popular pages, their relationship to your visitors and, hopefully, an understanding where these pages live and how they are currently promoted on your website. If you are finding out that people are searching for a specific page all the time, it might need to be surfaced above other content that it currently is hiding behind.
There are multiple ways to increase the visibility of your popular content, we’ll discuss a few of these below.
Manual Restructure of Pages
Your initial information architecture of the menu system might not have captured parts of the web site that people are really interested in, or your content has changed enough over times to change the interest of your visitors. This might lead to a restructure of your page hierarchy to bring the popular content to the forefront. New landing pages to group content differently, or restructuring the current landing pages to emphasize the popular content and minimize or remove the links people are not using.
Within Kentico, you can drag and drop the pages into new areas of your content tree without having to recreate every page in a new section or area. Even with the drag and drop restructure, for large sites this can be a laborious process, but one that will pay big dividends if you are building a new page hierarchy based on your visitor analytics.
Call Outs/Fly outs/Quick Links
A quick way to bring popular content to the surface is to create a series of link aggregators to provide the most popular content in one specialize area on the page. This can be via a “call out”, or even a fly-out menu. Other people like to provide a generic quick links directly on their main menu and provide one click access to the most popular content.
These options can provide related links or a hodgepodge of important links that just make visiting them more efficient.
Dynamically Changing Content based on visits
One advanced path for providing popular content is to use a web part that pulls the popular content dynamically using the live web analytics. Within Kentico you can do this with a Custom Query Repeater, a bit of knowledge of SQL and a custom transformation.
Once created you have a web part that dynamically pulls a list of pages from your site that are currently popular and you don’t have to maintain the list itself.
As you can see, understanding what your visitors are reading and returning to for more information is one of the primary keys to having a successful website. Kentico provides you the tools to track your visitors and your popular pages as well as restructure your site based on that data. If you need help learning the basics of web analytics or configuring your Kentico web site for more effective content display, 2Plus2 can help. Go online to schedule a free consultation with our team or call 510-652-7700 today.