A Guide to Google Analytics Heatmap

Hannah Hicklen
7/26/2021

A Google Analytics heatmap can help you monitor the performance of your website and increase your conversion rate. This guide will walk you through how to use this tool to improve your digital marketing strategies.

Google offers a heatmap feature through a Chrome extension called Page Analytics (by Google). The heatmap uses Google Analytics data to create a visual representation of your site’s data. It specifically creates a clickmap, which shows where visitors click on your website. 

Digital marketing agencies often use this information to optimize ad campaigns and improve landing pages. By creating a graphical representation of your site’s data, you can easily visualize how people engage with your website. 

Through insights provided by a heatmap, you can: 

  • Monitor the performance of your website
  • Reduce friction
  • Increase conversion rates

In this article we will discuss how to set up a Google Analytics heatmap in order to evaluate your site and make well-informed design decisions. This will make your site more accessible, easier to navigate, and more appealing. 

Setting Up Google Analytics Heat Map

First set up a Google Analytics account and download the extension. Once you have it set up, you’ll see an icon in the upper corner of your website that looks like an orange line graph. If you click on it, you should see this: 

Downloading extension diagram

Source: Hotjar

Once installed and enabled, you’ll be able to see a Google Analytics overlay on your website. The heatmap should look like this:

Heatmap example

Source: Moz

The blue color indicates fewer clicks while red shows that a particular feature is “hot” because it attracts more clicks. In addition to the heat signatures that show the volume of clicks, you’ll be able to click on bubbles to find the percentage of users that click there. 

Using A Heatmap to Optimize Your Campaigns & Landing Pages 

Getting traffic to your site is only half the battle. While visitors are important, what really matters is sales. Once you have them on your site, your landing page needs to convert them. 

Google Analytics’ heatmap can help you improve your campaign, streamline navigation, and grow your conversion rates.  

Once you have the heatmap tool set up, carefully analyze which sections of your website users engage with most. Using this information, you can: 

  1. Adjust your PPC strategy
  2. Improve UX 
  3. Assess your content efforts 

Adjust Your PPC Strategy 

Use information about when users visit your site to improve your PPC strategy and optimize your ad spend. Using Google Analytics heatmaps, you can analyze the data based on certain date ranges. 

To do so, click on the custom menu at the top right side of your page. Here, you can pull custom reports to help you identify trends. 

If you notice more spending, higher conversion rates, or more clicks on certain days or times, you should adjust your bids to attract more traffic at those times.

You can also use heatmaps to track user behavior and engagement with different iterations of paid ads. If your company runs multiple ads at the same time, you can use heatmaps to see which one is more effective at driving desired behaviors. 

Improve UX 

According to a 2018 survey, 83% of people say that easy navigation is the most important website feature. That being said, it’s important for businesses to understand how they can improve user experience (UX) on their sites. 

Here are 3 ways web design firms can use heatmaps to improve your UX: 

  • Identify dead elements
  • Make icons look clickable
  • Remove distracting features

Identify Dead Elements

Look for information that is being scrolled over. You may be surprised to learn what visitors often don’t see. If visitors aren’t engaging with certain elements, consider relocating them to a part of your webpage that earns more clicks. 

For example, many visitors only scroll part way down the page before leaving your site all together. So if you have valuable information located at the bottom of your site content, they won’t even see it. 

Instead, use the heatmap to identify the best areas for CTAs and sign up forms. Often, these are featured at the top of the page or along the side. 

Make Icons Look Clickable

If you have a low click through rate (CTR), you should examine whether your icons look clickable. By changing your fonts, highlighting buttons in different colors, or adding 3D effects, you can make your CTAs stand out. 

For example, Call to Actions (CTAs) like this grab visitors’ attention and are more likely to be clicked on.

3D Clickable Button Example

Source: PlaceIt

The button is bright orange against a green background so it’s easy to spot. It also features drop shadows that make it look like a 3-dimensional button. 

If your heatmap shows that your CTAs are underperforming, conduct A/B tests to pinpoint what works for your company. In 2011, HubSpot tested button colors to determine if red or green buttons were more effective. 

AB Testing CTA Colors

Source: HubSpot

To their surprise, the red button outperformed the green button by 21%. Use your heatmap to test different variations of your website design. 

Remove Distracting Features 

Some website visitors will try to click on elements like images or headings that they expect to be links. Sometimes this is accidental, but it can also be indicative of bugs or design errors that can frustrate users.

If you see a lot of clicks on unusual parts of your site, assess whether or not there should be clicks there. If not, make sure your other elements stand out and are easy to recognize. 

Assess Your Content Efforts

On-site content is a great way to attract top-of-the-funnel traffic to your site and improve SEO. However, if you want to continue to drive them through the buying process, your content needs to be easy to read. 

Similar to UX design, you can use heatmaps to determine if your content is directing users to where you want them to go. 

See what elements they’re engaging with, how far down they’re reading, and what titles and sections they interact with the most. Use this information to determine where visitors come from within your site and where your content pages lead them. 

Google Analytics Heatmaps is a Valuable Tool

Once they’ve downloaded the Google Analytics heatmap, businesses can use the data they collect to monitor the performance of their website and improve the user experience. 

With a better understanding of how users interact with your site, they can easily identify dead elements and remove distracting features. By highlighting clickable CTAs and reorganizing pages, they can reduce friction and increase conversion rates. 

Businesses can also use this data to examine how well their content efforts direct users on their site. This helps nurture leads and drives potential customers through the buying process. 

Finally, Google Analytics heatmaps can help you test different PPC strategies. By tracking user behavior and monitoring ad spend at certain times, businesses can optimize their ad spend and boost their ROI. 

Hannah Hicklen