My Favorite Analytics Report: 4 Steps to Find Your Most Important Pages

My Favorite Analytics Report: 4 Steps to Find Your Most Important Pages

Sometimes the most trafficked pages on your site aren’t the most engaged-with pages. You could have a million people landing on a page they all immediately leave… within a second or two. That’s not the kind of performance you want from a page.

We want pages that work, articles and posts and content that people are enticed by, they’re reading, they’re taking it in and mulling it over and applying the learnings.

We call this “engagement,” and by focusing our efforts more towards this metric (than other metrics like “traffic” or “social shares,” etc) we could take our businesses in much stronger, sustainable and profitable-over-the-long-haul directions.

A few months back, Tony Haile wrote an excellent article for Time Magazine about the importance of these kinds of “engagement” metrics.

“We are getting a lot wrong about the web these days. We confuse what people have clicked on for what they’ve read. We mistake sharing for reading. We race towards new trends like native advertising without fixing what was wrong with the old ones and make the same mistakes all over again.”

It’s a great article. Well worth your time (and I’ve included a link to it below) but first, let me show you how to run this report.


The Engagement Report

I’m going to show you a simple report I ran in Google Analytics to determine what the most engaged with posts on this blog are.

(Maybe that way I won’t get all preachy about why you should focus more on “engagement” than any other metric.)

We want to find pages that are BOTH high traffic AND high engagement.

  • We don’t want high trafficked pages with very low engagement.
  • We don’t want pages that are high engagement but low traffic.

Traffic is easy to measure… it’s the number of visits to any particular page.

Engagement can be a little trickier to measure, but not all that difficult. Let’s simply use TIME on the page.

The assumption we’re making here is: the more time a person spends on a page, the greater the likelihood that they’re actually reading/watching/listening to the content… the greater the likelihood that they’re engaged, that they may come back again, that they may become an avid fan and loyal customer.

So here’s how to find which pages on your site are performing best.


1. Set a long date range. Open Google Analytics and set a long date range. I want to find the best pages across the site no matter when they were published.

analytics report finding your most engaged with pages


2. Navigate to Behavior > Site Content > All Pages.

analytics report finding your most engaged with pages


3. Click the “Comparisons” little dingus… then choose “Avg. Time on Page as your secondary metric. The picture here should clear this up:

analytics report finding your most engaged with pages


4. Note all the green bars!

analytics report finding your most engaged with pages

Here’s what’s going on:

  1. From the top of the page to the bottom you’re seeing your highest trafficked pages.
  2. On the right, the green bars are showing you which pages visitors are spending more time on.

I’m not sure what you’ll feel when you look at your own data on this, but I felt a surge of confidence about those articles that were performing best.

Based on this report, the long amount of time we’re looking at and the significant number of both visitors and posts on our site, I could feel extremely confident putting these posts in front of people.

In fact, I took the top 20 or so posts and added them to a new page listing the most popular posts at The Sparkline.

It feels really good to be able to say with confidence, “people read the crap out of this post, more than other posts on this site… it can’t suck that much. You’ll probably like it.”

So, there you have it. Now it’s your turn.

When you run this report… what insights do you land on? What changes will you make to your site as a result? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

And here’s that great Time article I mentioned above.


Engagement vs Traffic — run this simple report to discover the most important pages on your site.
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  • http://donnielaw.com/ Donnie Law

    I guarantee you this is the most helpful thing I will read all day. I just went through these steps for my wife’s blog and it was eye-opening!

    I noticed that all of her “tutorials” or step-by-step guides rank really well with this metric. Also her long posts with tons of great pictures do well for time spent.

    This is a great post! You taught me something that I could use immediately.

    • chasereeves

      Thanks man! Glad to hear it.

  • http://bootcampideas.com/ Kyle Wood

    Awesome, thanks for this Chase. I have a plugin that spits out the most popular posts to my sidebar, but it regularly
    When you picked your top 20, did you pick the 20 with the highest percentages or the first 20 down the page in the ‘green zone’?

    • chasereeves

      I went with first 20 I came across with a pretty sizable “greenness.” You could maybe think about what the difference between the two options might get you. Thanks man!

      • http://bootcampideas.com/ Kyle Wood

        Thanks man. I ended up picking a mixture of those and green one’s that I felt were important for people to read.

  • http://www.GilMichelini.com/ Gil Michelini

    Yep, just as you said: my most visited post is NOT my most engaging. Thanks!

  • http://www.mymoneydesign.com/ MyMoneyDesign

    Great tutorial. The more I learn about Google analytics, the more useful I find it to be. I suppose you could also use the same trick to see which pages need more improvement or a rewrite.

    • chasereeves

      Absolutely. Though, you can only polish a turd so much. (I, personally, LOVE a good tues polish every now and then.)

      • italiafirenze

        You can always sprinkle a little glitter on it.

  • http://www.podcastjunkies.com Harry Duran

    I think you just did that so that I could see (and confirm) that my interview with Mr. Chase Reeves is currently the top page on my site. Hmmmm… ;)

    • chasereeves

      Ha! WINNER!

    • Bree Brouwer

      Score!

  • Jesse Robinson

    THANK YOU! In the past, I’d open up Google Analytics and it’s like the needle came off the record at a party. And I’d be like, “Aaaaaaaaaaaa…Ok. What the hell am I suppose to do now?” Then I would quietly shut it down and go back to making good content. Now, I get it! Woo Hoo! AND, I learned people are actually reading the Welcome page when they subscribe. Thanks man!

    • chasereeves

      Oh man, perfect analogy. Thanks man!

  • http://www.caelanhuntress.com/ Caelan Huntress

    Thanks, Chase, this is awesome. I have needed something tangible that helps me surf through the google analytics data overwhelm, and this is just perfect.

    • chasereeves

      Awesome, Caelan!

  • chasereeves

    I did too. I’d bet we all do.

  • http://kimanziconstable.com/ kimanzi constable

    I stay away from Google analytics because I wondered how to really use it effectively. This has helped with a simple way to get the most out of those numbers and it makes sense.

  • http://www.liveworktravelusa.com Daniel

    Thanks Chase. I’m on Google Analytics staring at my stats every single day, but I have never looked at it like that. It’s so much more insightful and I thank you very much for it.

    • Chase Reeves

      Awesome, Daniel!

  • http://www.livinginthailand.net/ Neale

    Thanks I use Analytic’s a lot and have never seen this before what a great query Thanks

  • http://www.thebalancedwife.com/ Jacey Verdicchio

    This was really valuable! Thank you!

  • http://effortlessgent.com Barron

    Dope. High five, Reeves!

  • http://cashwithatrueconscience.com/rbblog Ryan Biddulph

    Great breakdown Chase, thanks!

  • http://ChannelEmpire.com/ Andy Slye

    Dude, Google Analytics is a monster so these little tips and tricks help out a TON. My most engaged page is my Resources page, which makes sense. It’s the most thorough as of right now. Definitely going to keep my eye on this data though!

  • MayBPhoenix

    Thanks a lot, interesting report! :) My blog is not about any business but still it’s interesting to see what people like the most.

  • Bree Brouwer

    I realize there are tons of metrics programs and software out there, but really for the entrepreneur or business owner just starting up, Google Analytics is all you need. Find your way around a bit, and you’re set for quite a while!

    Thanks for this info, Chase. Makes me glad I don’t have to shell out tons of money for a “pro” option. :)

  • http://problogschool.com/ Jason Leake

    Brilliant! I exported our data to a spreadsheet for easy viewing/manipulation (I used conditional formatting to provide a nice color scale). Now I have 9 posts to review for inclusion of affiliate links and/or CTAs. Thanks Chase! I so need to hire another VA to perform analytics on the regular. I’d love to geek out on myself but only so many hours in the day.

    • Chase Reeves

      WIZARDRY! HES A WITCH!! CANT BE TRUSTED!!! (awesome, man :)

  • http://www.slowyourhome.com Brooke McAlary

    Thanks so much for this, Chase. I’ve been super down the past couple of weeks (think grumpy-face + nobody-likes-me-shoulder-hunch) and running through this report really did bring to mind the fact that, hey! people think I’m alright. They stay and read stuff!

    In other words: external validation! Yay! :)

  • http://www.digitalphotomentor.com/ Darlene Hildebrandt

    huh! good one, I did NOT know this!

  • Ann07

    Great idea, Chase!

    Engagement and traffic will surely help you find the most important pages in your site.

    Well, I think I should agree with what you’ve said that sometimes, the page that brings more traffic on your site is not really the most engaged one.

    Studying your audience engagement allows you to have a sneak peak of what page or content does your viewers are enticed the most, what offers they take the most and what stuffs do they like the most.

    On the other hand, determining what content brings the most traffic allows you to determine what content does most of your audience like.

    Thanks for the shared knowledge :)

    Best,
    Ann07

    By the way, I found this post shared on Kingged.com

  • Susan B. Bentley

    Thanks so much for this, very helpful and yet another bit of Analytics I didn’t know about! Cheers!

  • Sudheer Yadav

    Great article for all SEO I love this and helpful for my blog http://www.guruofmovie.com/

  • dave stewart

    Great stuff. I will be using this tip throughout the year to see what’s hot. I multiplied the page view number by the average time on site number to produce one number for each article. Makes it a little easier to see which are the top 5. Now to produce more of this content……..

  • http://www.golightly.fi Eveliina Lindell

    I love this! But what the heck are these posts with action_ids and a bunch of gibberish in the end? They mess this beautiful system up!

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