Google Analytics: Tracking “Router” Pages

Tracking Router Pages Google Analytics

<< See the Parent article on Functionalism

Web Page Type #3: Routers.

Functionalism series by Think Around Corners. OK, it’s Router page time! No, this isn’t that funny little black or cool blue box that sits on top of your computer that makes your network go, this is a type of Functionalism page that allows people to drill down further into your site where they can find information valuable to them.

Example: Go-Kart Racing.

Before giving you the specific definition of Routers, let’s go through a simple example for a go-kart racing site. Whereas Engagers are like splash pages, Routers are more like the pages you land upon after visiting the top-level navigation on a website.

Router pages (Functionalism): Note that the top-level navigation helps visitors define who they are in relation to your site.

Note that the top-level navigation segments the type of visitor (and their burning questions) into ‘areas’ of the website…

  1. Never raced before (is it safe, can I rent a kart?)
  2. Raced, but not at this track (is the track superior to others?)
  3. Currently racing at the speedway (what’s my lap time?)

This is very important because different types of visitors access the site for different reasons. Some might want to get ‘race results’ (because they just raced last weekend), others might want to get into racing (because they have never raced before.) Still others might be seasoned racers that race elsewhere, and want to know the ‘Oakland Valley Speedway difference’.

So, whereas Engagers there is little known about the type of visitor that has landed, Router pages have defined that and the selling can begin!

Routers Explained: Routers take visitor segments and move them from an Engager to a Convincer or Router page.

Routers Explained: Routers take visitor segments and move them from an Engager to a Convincer or Router page.

The Router page.

Definition: Routers.

Routers primary purpose is to move visitors into the right section of the website. Router pages should have…

  • A rich amount of keywords in the body text of the page,
  • A clearly-defined navigation to delve further into that website section,
  • And those links should segment the visitor further based on need.
Routers (Functionalism): Top-Level Navigation PLUS secondary navigation.

Top-level navigation leads to secondary navigation (left nav bar). The visitor type is now known, but the need is unknown.

Gregory Was Here - Just so you know...

We realize this is pretty tough stuff. If you're a newbie to Internet marketing, this is a great place to pause!

Google Analytics integration.

How to measure an Router page in GA.

Let’s not just define what a Router page is, let’s show you how to view a Router page in Google Analytics.

Router pages should be measured in a few ways:

  • How many visitors exit the site from the Router page? (Exit Rate)
  • How many come from previous Engager pages? (internal links)
  • How many come from previous outside links? (like search engines, etc.)
  • How many come from deeper pages in the Router section? (Re-surfacing from drill-downs)

Report #1: Exit Rate, Previous pages, Next page.

Let’s take an example of our “Costa Rica Travel” website.

Go to: GA > Overview > Content > Top Content > Navigation Summary (find Router page)


Router page example: Top Router page

This is a "top-level" Router page. Note that there are incoming links from both internally and from the outside (search engines). Note the body routes – the pages visitors go to next

This standard GA report shows the Wedding-Honeymoon Router page. Some traffic comes from the outside (search engines), some from other pages within the site (internal links). The body routes show the ‘next page’ in the click path.

What is this showing you? To name a few things…

  • 10% of the traffic exits the site (they were not interested, or navigation was too confusing)
  • For the most part, the Router page did it’s job (90% clicked to another page)
  • Some got really excited (8% of the traffic goes directly to form-fillouts (/contact-form-itinerary-wedding.shtml))

PROBLEM: However, if you examine Bounce Rate, you see a different story…

Go to: GA > Overview > Content > Top Content > Content Detail

Note that the Bounce Rate is pretty high. That means that over 50% of the people that landed on the page, leave the site.

SOLUTION: We should probably reinforce the links to Engager or Convincer pages to make sure that landing visitors see the solid benefit to the website.

PROBLEM: Time on Page is high!

Also not that the Time on Page is a bit high, too. 41 seconds to figure out where to go? The Router page is not doing its job.

SOLUTION: Remove text from the page. On this Router page we have quite a bit of text – over 300 words! That’s not a Router page, that’s an Explainer (or Convincer) page! The solution is to remove the text and move it onto specialized pages for convincing or explaining (coming up in future articles!)

Report #2: Router Re-surfacing.

This next standard report shows the re-surfacing nature of one of the ‘deeper’ pages in the Weddings-Honeymoons router section. This page is Wedding Planning page.

Go to: GA > Overview > Content > Top Content > Navigation Summary (just click on the Next Page Content from Report #1)

The wedding planning page: A deeper page inside the Router section for weddings.

This is a 'deeper' page inside the Wedding-Honeymoons section. Some 're-surface' to the top Router page, some leave, some go deeper. "Mega-re-surfacing" means they go back to Home (Splash) page.

This page shows you the re-surfacing behavior of the Wedding Planning page. Note that some re-surface onto the Top Router navigation (/wedding-honeymoons.shtml) and some go ALL the way back to an Splash (Engager) page (the /index.shtml page). You want to trace these routes because it’s important to see if visitors are getting confused with navigation.

  • If the exit rate is high, confusion is setting in,
  • If the visitor is re-surfacing, navigation is doing its job,
  • If the visitor is delving deeper, navigation is really doing it’s job – they know where they are, and the content is leading them deeper into the site.

PROBLEM: What’s up with the 23% Exit rate?

Re-surfacing for this Deeper Page is a whopping 23% – this is dismal. That means that we have to (once again) reinforce WHERE the user is in RELATION to the Top Router page.

Try to find the link back to the Top Router page from the Deeper Page. Can you do it? Not easily. Did you find the link < Weddings/Honeymoons? Probably only a small % of you, right off the bat!

SOLUTION: But how to fix it? Well, we could do a few things….

  • Make the link back to the Top Router page from the left navigation bigger (2-3 pixel sizes larger should do it),
  • Highlight the Top Router link on the top navigation in some way (bold, different color, etc.)

Suggested Router corrections for the Deeper (Convincer) page.

Doing both the corrections above should probably drop Exit rate considerably. Do you see how the effects of the Router page can be felt on the ‘next’ page? Router pages extend their influence beyond the page itself.

In conclusion…

Routers pages are a great way to measure whether…

  1. The Router as a landing page is confusing, (high Exit Rate)
  2. The Router routes well (low Time on Page, high click-through rate)
  3. Deeper pages in the Router section (like Convincer or Explainers) have re-surfacing rates (high click-throughs to section Routers)

Next article – well, it’s either going to be a Convincer, or Explainer page!

Further reading:

Greg Cox

Analytics Geek. Gregory likes Motorcycles, Cooking, and Sciencey stuff.