The Ultimate Google Analytics Heat Mapping Guide [For Beginners]

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If you aren’t using heat maps on your site…

You are leaving money on the table.

Why?

Because the best way to grow your business online is by understanding your customers. Heat maps give you unmatched insights into user behaviour.

They give you the power to:

    • Visually see complex data to analyse them
    • Optimise your site to generate more conversions and sales

Who doesn’t want that, right?

But what most people don’t know is that Google Analytics provides a completely free-to-use heat mapping tool.

And if you already have Google Analytics set up – there is nothing more you need to do!

Read this tutorial to see how to take full advantage of Google Analytics heat mapping and what you can do with this powerful tool.

What Is Google Analytics Heat Mapping?

Google Analytics heat maps help you track what users are doing on your site and how they engage with different page elements.

Think of heat maps as a visual representation of data.

They allow you to better understand the most complex data so you can make intelligent decisions about your site.

You’ll also see what interests your target customers and what doesn’t – so you can serve them better.

All heat maps are broken down into colour code:


    • Red


    • Orange


    • Green


    • Blue

google analytics heat mapping

As the user engages with your site, Google Analytics starts to create a map of each page.

After enough users have visited your site, you’ll see what parts of the page the average user engages with most.

Popular elements of the page are shown in red, and the least popular parts are shown in cooler colours, like blue.

At a glance, you can see which parts of your pages are getting the attention of your visitors, and you can use that detailed information to optimise it further.

Heat maps are powerful tools that can help you significantly increase conversions and leads.

What Exactly Does A Heat Map Tell You?

Heat maps are essential for conversion rate optimisation (CRO).

There are tons of things that heat maps tell you:

    • Instant overview of page performance issues
    • What buttons and call-to-actions users click on
    • Page elements that users ignore
    • Average scroll depth on a page
    • See how users engage with your site
    • Find out what your audience is interested in

Heat maps act like a “crystal ball” into your site visitor’s minds. You can track their user behaviour across each individual page.

Seeing what engages your audience and what doesn’t is one of the most powerful tools a marketer has in their toolbox.

benefits of data driven decision making

This information makes it easy to reconfigure the page to eliminate underperforming elements and make engaging parts more prominent.

More engaging pages = more conversions.

Heat maps give you the insights you need to build pages that actually increase sales.

How Does A Heat Map Work?

From the moment a user lands on a page, Google Analytics starts mapping their actions.

It tracks tons of actions, such as:

    • Where a user stops on the page
    • How far the user scrolls
    • What the user clicks on
    • Where their mouse goes

And so much more!

After having enough visitors on a page, Google Analytics will collate all of this data into a heat map by looking at similarities in actions between users.

The heat map then displays those similar actions on the map in a visual way:

    • Elements that get more attention are displayed in warmer colours.
    • Elements that get less attention are shown in cooler colours.

This allows you to instantly see what part of your pages is working and what needs to be changed.

Introduction To Google Analytics Heat Mapping

There are tons of heat mapping tools out there.

But they are usually expensive and involve you using another platform.

The good news is that Google Analytics has a custom heat mapping tool built into the platform for free.

The Google Analytics heat mapping tool is a Chrome extension called Page Analytics.

page analytics google extension

It’s easy to use and has all the powerful insights of a regular heat mapping tool, including many custom reports.

You just need to have a Google Analytics account and ensure it is set up correctly on your site.

The Chrome Extension does the rest!

Types Of Heat Maps

What types of heat mapping does Google Analytics offer?

There are four main types of reports you can take advantage of.

1. Scroll Maps

Scroll maps show how far down the page an average user scrolls.

scroll maps example

This is the most common type of heat map. Scroll maps show you what percentage of visitors reached each part of a page.

How does this help?

You will know how far the average visitor scrolls down the page.

This helps you prioritise the most important information at the top of the page so that as many visitors will see it as possible.

The information provided by scroll maps also helps you optimise your landing page length.

Sometimes shorter landing pages work better. That’s why you need to implement scroll mapping.

2. Click Maps

Sell products online?

Click maps could be your new best friend.

click maps example

Click maps allow you to track each user’s click on any page. Whenever the mouse is clicked, or a visitor uses their finger to click (for mobile devices), it’s recorded.

This allows you to track what users click on most and which buttons/links get the most clicks overall.

You can optimise button elements on the page to get more users clicking through to the next step.

Sometimes it can be as simple as changing the colour of a button that makes all the difference.

3. Move Maps

Move maps track visitor’s mouse moments.

You can also track visitors’ finger swipes on touchscreen devices like phones or tablets.

move maps example

Each spot on the page represents a time when someone stopped moving their mouse or stopped scrolling with their finger.

Why is this important to track?

Testing shows a strong correlation between where people are looking and their mouse position. That means you can assume that people are looking wherever their mouse moves.

Move mapping gives you insight into where people are looking on a page.

It can show you what page elements catch people’s attention and even what elements stop people from scrolling further.

This is one of the most powerful heat mapping features available.

You can even use this information to set up landing page split tests and see which versions perform the best.

4. Device Maps

It’s no secret that most of your site visitors now come from mobile devices.

But did you know that desktop and mobile devices convert traffic differently?

Device maps allow you to separate your traffic into different devices.

This helps you understand how each version of the landing page loads and performs for individual users.

device maps example

The truth is that desktop devices tend to convert traffic better.

But by separating each device out, you can focus on the essential page elements that affect each device.

Your optimisations will be more accurate, and you can take advantage of individual devices to improve the overall user experience.

Want to dive a bit deeper?

Advanced heat mapping tools even allow you to separate maps by:

    • Browser
    • Location

You can see if there are people from different locations using different browsers that convert better.

It doesn’t get much more specific than that!

How To Set Up A Heat Map With Google Analytics (For Free)

Ready to start your own Google Analytics heat map?

Here’s how you set it up:

Install the Page Analytics Chrome extension and log into Google Analytics.

google analytics

You must be logged in on the Google Chrome browser for the extension to work.

Now visit your website and click on the Page Analytics extension.

google heat map blog overview

At the top, you will see some of the most important page metrics. Adjust the date to at least 30 days so you have a good range of data.

google heat map blog dates filter

You’ll also be able to see exactly what buttons/links get clicked and the percentage of clicks each of those gets.

Lastly, click on the coloured icon to see the heat mapping for clicks.

google heat map blog clicks filter

You can quickly see what’s being clicked on most in a single glance.

Pretty cool, right?

This is really just scratching the surface of what’s possible with Google Analytics heat mapping. I recommend implementing “event tracking” to take your heat maps to the next level.

This will allow you to see heat maps for:

    • Scroll depth
    • Conversions
    • Device tracking
    • Affiliate clicks

And so much more.

What Are The Benefits Of Using A Heat Map?

As you can see, there are a ton of different things you can do with heat maps.

But now I want to show three big reasons why I use Google Analytics heat mapping on my own site and the benefits you’ll get by doing the same.

benefits of data visualization

1. Get A Visual Overview Of Web Performance Issues

If you’ve ever run a website, you’ll know how tedious it can be to get everything looking perfect.

And without any notice, performance issues come out of nowhere. Diagnosing those performance issues cost you a considerable amount of:

    • Time
    • Effort
    • Money

That’s where heat mapping can help.

Heat mapping instantly allows you to see where individual pages are suffering. This makes it much easier to quickly identify the issues and fix them.

Data is helpful.

But visualising data makes it easier to leverage. Heat maps will help you see web performance issues before they cause a huge problem.

2. Give A Visual Overview Of How Users Interact With Your Pages

People interact with your site in different ways.

But there are some universal ways that all visitors will interact with your site.

Heat maps give you a powerful and visual overview of how visitors interact with individual pages on your site.

That makes optimising very specific parts of any page much more manageable.

top five onpage seo factors

You can even take this up a notch with Google Analytics heat mapping by segmenting your users.

For example, you could segment visitors by location.

This allows you to see which groups of visitors convert better. Heat mapping should be an integral part of your marketing strategy.

Conversion rate optimisation is a never-ending process. You decide how far you want to go down the rabbit hole.

But the results are worth it!

3. Help You Analyse Users’ Behaviours To Improve Your Site

Here’s the truth:

User behaviour should be at the forefront of any business.

Heat maps give you unmatched insight into your visitor’s behaviour. There aren’t any other tools that give you the level of information that heat mapping does.

You take advantage of this information to:

    • Improve your website
    • Create a better user experience for your visitors

And it acts like a direct “feedback” loop.

As you make changes, you can see almost an immediate effect. If the changes improve results, keep them.

If they don’t – remove them.

It really is that simple. You can even test future design decisions before rolling them out sitewide.

conversion rate optimization

This is the best way to consistently increase your conversions and sales while improving your overall user experience.

Wrapping It Up

Heat maps don’t have to be complicated (or expensive).

Google Analytics heat mapping gives you a powerful suite of tools for free.

There isn’t a better way to truly get inside your customer’s minds than seeing how they interact with your site.

Start visualising your data and make it more usable for your business. You’d be surprised at what you can accomplish with the insights you’ll get.

And if you’ve already set up Google Analytics on your site…

    • Install the Page Analytics extension
    • Start taking advantage of heat mapping within minutes

Don’t trust Google? Check out my list of Google Analytics alternatives!

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