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3.5 Reporting tab: Behavior reports

What are behavior reports in Google Analytics?


If the Audience reports tell you who your site’s visitors are and the Acquisition reports reveal how they got there, the Behavior reports show what they’re doing on the site. This should help you assess how well the content, design and technologies of the site meet the needs and expectations of users.

What metrics are reported in behavior overview?

  1. Pageviews: which might include repeated views of the same page – each view is counted as a pageview.
  2. Unique Pageviews: the number of individual users who have viewed a specific page at least once during a visit. This time, if a user views the same page more than once during the same visit, only the original view is counted.
  3. Average Time on Page: or optionally on a defined set of pages or screens.
  4. Bounce Rate: the percentage of single-page visits or the number of visits in which people left the site from the same page they entered on.
  5. % Exit: the percentage of users who exit from a given page or set of pages.

You’ll find links to reports for top content page URLs, top content page titles, search terms, event categories and AdSense revenue below the overview graphs

What is a behavior flow report?

This report shows the path users travelled from one page or event to the next until they left the site. Use the view type selector at the top of the report to see user movement between Pages, Content Groupings, Events, or both Pages and Events. Note that you must have set up and be tracking Events before they appear in the Behavior Flow report. You must also have set up Content Groupings before they appear in the report. Content Groupings are created at the View level: click Admin, select the View you want, then select Content Grouping.

In this report, page nodes are green, event nodes are blue, and dimension nodes are white. Click a node to highlight or explore traffic through that node, or to see the individual pages or events that are grouped together in that node.

A connection represents the path from one node to another, and the volume of traffic along that path. Click a connection to highlight just that traffic segment through the flow.

Note that in Events view, exits don’t necessarily indicate that the user left the site, only that a traffic segment didn’t trigger another Event. Exits are not shown in the “Pages and Events” view.

You can use the Behavior Flow report to determine how engaged users are with your content and to identify potential content issues or navigation problems. Are there paths through your site that are more popular than others, and if so, are those the paths that you want users to follow?[1]

What does a site content report include?

The Site Content report contains four sub-reports:

  1. All Pages: this displays the most frequently viewed pages on your site, offering each page’s pageviews, unique pageviews, average time on page, entrances, bounce rate, and % exit. It also displays the page value (defined as the Transaction Revenue + Total Goal Value divided by Unique Pageviews for the page or set of pages), if you’ve defined all the necessary components.
  2. Content Drilldown: this report allows you to see the top folders of content on your website and the top content within that folder. While it looks similar to the All Pages report, the distinguishing feature here is the ability to see top content sections instead of just top content pages.
  3. Landing Pages: the top pages on the site by which visitors enter the site. Metrics for landing pages include Acquisition (sessions, % new sessions and new users), Behavior (bounce rate, pages per session and average session duration), and Conversions based on Goals you’ve defined for the site.
  4. Exit Pages: shows the last pages people visited before exiting the site. These are the pages you want to look at to see whether you can do anything to keep visitors on the site longer.

What is reported within the site speed report?

This report is based by default on a fixed 1% sampling of your site’s pageviews, though this can be customized if you wish.

The Overview report shows a range of metrics including Average Page Load Time (in seconds), Average Redirection Time before a page is fetched, Average Domain Lookup Time, Average Server Connection Time (the time in seconds spent in establishing TCP connection for a page), Average Server Response Time (including the network time from the user’s location to your server), and Average Page Download Time. You might feel that some of these things are influenced by factors outside your control, but some of these measures can alert you to issues you might aim to improve by such means as optimizing content on your pages, reducing the size of images, or cutting the number of widgets and plugins on your pages.

Under the Site Speed metrics, you’ll see quick reports on average page load times based on the browser the visitor uses, the location (country) of the visitor and the page the visitor lands on.

There are three sub-reports with the site speed report:

  1. Page Timings: displays how long your most-visited pages take to load compared to the overall average load time for the site. Further information is provided behind various tabs, including site usage metrics such as pageviews and bounce rate, technical network and server metrics, and a map overlay displaying different geographic data.
  2. Speed Suggestions: gives you step-by-step advice from Google on how to optimize specific pages on your website. The PageSpeed Score indicates the extent to which you can improve the load time of a page – the lower the score, the more room for improvement. Note that the score isn’t itself a measurement of the page’s speed, but only the extent to which the speed can be improved.
  3. User Timings: this report enables you to measure the execution speed or load time of specific elements on a page, including any discrete hit, event or user interaction that you want to track, such as how quickly images load or the response time after a button click. Note that User Timings requires you to implement custom code on your website.

What is a site search report?

The Site Search Overview report displays the overall metrics for visitors who use the search box on your website. Beneath these, you can view quick reports for the terms searched, categories and the pages where visitors initiated a search.

If you provide a search box on your site, use the Site Search reports to find out how successful your users are when they use it to search your site. Metrics include the number of sessions that used your site’s search function at least once, what percentage this is of total sessions, how long users spent on your site after performing a search, and the number of pages they viewed after performing a search (“Search Depth”).


The Usage report breaks down the number of visits where someone used the search box on your website versus the number of visits where the search box wasn’t used. You can quickly see whether having a search box increases or decreases factors like bounce rate, average time on your website and conversions. Metrics for the pages users land on as a result of their search include Acquisition (sessions, % new sessions and new users), Behavior (bounce rate, pages per session and average session duration) and Conversions based on your website Goals.

The Search Terms report displays the keywords entered into your website’s search box. Along with the terms, you’ll find metrics for the total number of searches, % search exits and additional details about visits related to a search term.

The Pages report displays the same metrics mentioned above for search terms, but in this case the metrics are focused on pages where searches originated.

The % Search Exits figure represents the percentage of searches in which the user simply left the site after searching instead of clicking any of the results pages that you offered. A high figure implies that the search isn’t turning up what they’re looking for, so you might need to tune the site search to provide relevant results.

You must set up Site Search reporting for each reporting View. Click Admin, select the View you’re using, then click View Settings > Site Search Settings, and set Site Search Tracking to ON. You need to know the site search parameter used on your site (often “q=”) and set a few other preferences.

What is included within an events report?

In addition to viewing pages, users might interact with other kinds of elements on your site such as Flash, Ajax applets or just videos. The Events reports enable you to track such interactions. You’ll first need to set up Event Tracking code on your site.

The Events Overview report displays a summary of the visitor interactions you’re tracking. Values are calculated based on the event value you specify in your event tracking code. Under these metrics, you’ll find quick reports showing the number of events based on category, action and label (all of which are specified in the Event Tracking code you set up):

  • Top Events: reveals the events with the most visitor interaction.
  • Pages: shows you the top pages where visitors interact with the events you’re tracking.
  • Events Flow: displays the path that visitors take on your website from when they arrive to when they interact with your event. The default view shows event interactions from visitors in specific countries. You can change the view to show event interaction flow from landing pages and other dimensions offered in the drop-down menu above the first column.

How to set-up an Adsense report in Analytics?

To view these reports, you first need to link your Google AdSense account to Google Analytics. Click Admin, then select the relevant Account if you have more than one. Now click your Property, then AdSense Linking and click “+New AdSense Link”. Select the AdSense Property that you want to link with your Analytics Property, click Enable Link, then Done.

Once the data filters through, the graph in the AdSense Overview report shows by default the daily total AdSense revenue for your site. Use the graph to compare metrics. The table below lists 10 AdSense metrics. Click any metric to see the daily values.

The AdSense Pages report displays the top pages on your website that generate the most AdSense revenue. Additional metrics show the number of ads clicked, click-through rates, revenue per thousand impressions and overall impressions per page. By default, the graph displays the daily total AdSense revenue for your site; the table displays total revenue metrics for the date range distributed by page.

The AdSense Referrers report shows you the referring URLs driving visitors to your website who click on AdSense ads. The graph displays the daily total AdSense revenue for your site; the table displays total revenue metrics for the date range distributed by referring domain. In the table, click a domain name to see revenue metrics per referring page.


How to set-up A/B testing experiments within Google Analytics

These reports make it possible to conduct simple A/B/N testing to see which landing page variations perform best at meeting specific objectives – you can test up to 10 full versions of a single page at a time, each delivered to users from a separate URL.


Once you’ve set up and launched your experiment, a random sample of your visitors see the different pages, including the original home page, and you simply wait to see which page gets the highest percentage of users to achieve the desired objective (buying the specified product, for example). When you see which page drives the most conversions, you can make that one the live page for all users.

To set things up, simply navigate to Behavior > Experiments and click “Create experiment”. The wizard will guide you through setting up your first experiment.

What is required for a Google Analytics experiment?

  1. Different versions of your web pages to serve to your visitors: Google advises that you change only a few elements, but make the changes bold enough to matter, and use high-volume pages so you get a good number of users.
  2. Adding the experiment code to the original page in each case: so that sample groups of visitors are redirected to the variation pages.
  3. Goals: these need to have been previously set up in Analytics (see section 3.3 of the ‘Google Analytics for SEO, SEM, Website and CRO’ playbook).
  4. Ecommerce tracking enabled: if you want to use purchases or other commercial metrics as the objectives.

Each experiment page is measured according to the percentage of users viewing that page who accomplish the objective you set. Note that in addition to Goals, you can use any other available metric as objective for your experiment. For example, you can test which page leads to a decrease in bounce rate, or to the greatest increase in revenue or session duration.

Experiments should become part of your ongoing development routine. Don’t stop after you’ve tested one set of page variations – follow up and keep experimenting!

What is an In-page Google analytics report?

This report gives you a way to see what links your visitors clicked, page by page. You first need to go to Admin > View Settings to enter the URL for the page on which you want the report to launch. Then you can navigate In-Page Analytics the way you navigate your site: click any link on your homepage, and when the new page loads you’ll see the corresponding data for that page.

The links that visitors clicked are shown in a graphical overlay of bubbles. The numbers inside represent the percentage for the metric you chose in the Viewing menu. When you hover over a bubble, you see information about the metric you selected – for example, if you’ve selected Clicks, you’ll see the number of clicks on that link and what percentage of clicks these represent. You also see the destination URLs for the link, and the number of other links on the page that lead to those same destinations. Note that In-Page Analytics reports traffic data only, not Ecommerce data.

The handy Browser Size feature lets you see the portion of each page that is visible without scrolling to a specified percentage of your visitors.

If more than one link on the same page leads to the same destination (for example a “Contact Us” link), you can see separate results for those links using Enhanced Link Attribution. This feature also makes it possible to track buttons, menus and actions driven by JavaScript. To use this, you need to add some custom code to your tracking code, then enable the feature by clicking Admin > Property Settings and then, in the In-Page Analytics section, selecting “Use Enhanced Link Attribution”. Note that this is likely to slow down the generation of the In-Page Analytics report.

There’s a neat additional option if you’re using the Google Chrome browser: install the Page-Analytics Chrome extension, and you can see some Page Analytics information right there on a page you’re viewing within the browser, in addition to through the normal Analytics reports. The page must be one you’re tracking with Analytics, and the information you can see within the browser is limited to the following:

  • Metrics: Pageviews, Unique Pageviews, Average Time on Page, Bounce Rate, % Exit
  • Number of active visitors: in real time
  • In-page click analysis: where users click on that page.

By default, the information appears in “scorecards” across the top of the page.

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