Seeing The Big Picture: How To Interpret Visitor Flow in Google Analytics

Google Analytics has tons of awesome features that many people don’t know about. What’s more, even if you know about tools like the Visitor Flow chart, you might not know how it works. At first glance, it might look like a huge connect-the-dots catastrophe just generated on your computer screen. Overlooking this big tangled web is a huge mistake, because it’s one of Google Analytics’ most useful features.

Ready to figure out how to interpret your Visitor Flow? This is another quick and easy Google Analytics tip you’ll be able to use in your business right away.

Visitor Flow, and What It Means For Your Website

Google released Visitor Flow as part of their analytics package back in October of 2011, so it’s still a fairly new feature. When someone arrives at your website, Visitor Flow shows you their referral point, telling you where your visitors are coming from. From there, you can see how many people click a link and go to another page within your site, and how many people leave. The progression continues as long as there are pages visitors continue to go to, showing just how far some users explore into your website.

For business owners, this information is an absolute godsend. Visitor Flow takes the individual analytics for each webpage on your site and shows you how customers relate all of them to one another. Understanding how people use your website means you’ll understand what pages are effective traffic sources and which ones aren’t. Visitor flow can show you very quickly whether or not your website is streamlined and optimized for conversions, and what you can do to improve your website.

Digging Into Your Visitor Flow For Real Insights is Easy!!!

If you’re savvy with analytics, you may only need to open the Visitor Flow window to see the information you want to see. The leftmost column shows you traffic sources. Hovering your cursor over each subsequent column will show you how many people landed on this page, how many people left your website after arriving here (in red) and how many people clicked through to another page. The green dropdown menu above the sources column lets you filter your sample size down by different data categories. With this source dropdown bar, you can see for yourself if your social media posts contribute to conversions, or how well your search and PPC campaigns are working for you.

If you want more detailed answers, you can “zoom in” on specific traffic groups simply and easily. Below the Visitors Flow title, the dropdown menus help you filter your data down to what you need to see most. You can divide your traffic into new and returning visitors, or based on the source they’ve come from. Dividing your traffic into logical groups will let you analyze visitor behaviors at a detailed level, giving you a greater understanding of how “usable” your webpages are based on where your visitors come from.

The Level of Detail slider will also let you expand or reduce all the squiggles and flow paths. You can see each and every individual visitors’ path, or you can scale down to the largest, most effective paths your traffic is following. Seeing where the majority of your traffic tends to move will show you what works best on your website, and will show you how you can improve those paths for better conversions.

As you tinker around with the flow interface, you’ll begin to see trends emerge that help you optimize and develop your content strategies. Do a disproportionate amount of your visitors leave after a page they should be converting on? It’s time to redo that conversion page. Are they dropping out of your website before they even reach an opportunity to convert? Maybe it’s time to tighten that conversion funnel up and drop some extra fluff. Caitlin vonHedemann from has more on how you can interpret your Visitor Flow results and really work wonders with them on your website.

As someone that has used all sorts of software and digital tools as a professional for years, I can assure you that you’ll eventually get the hang of analyzing and acting on your Visitor Flow just by playing with it every now and then. Have you had success with Visitor Flow recently? If you aren’t using it now, are you going to start?


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Andrew Glasscock is currently based in Nashville, Tennessee. He graduated with a BA in English, specialized in Creative Writing, with a minor in Marketing this past May. Along with copywriting, he loves being an improv comedian, playing frisbee, and dogs.

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