I did not spot this feature in Google Analytics before but you can check which areas of your site or blog are being clicked by readers by using the service’s Site Overlay feature. I never dug deeper into the statistics of Google Analytics before and most of the time I just view the executive summary (click here to view screenshot).
I don’t know when Google Analytics started offering this feature since its announcement does not have a date of publication but the screenshot linked above, which I took on March 19, already displays a link to Site Overlay.
As I was viewing my stats the other day while adding a new site profile, I got curious on what Site Overlay was and clicked on it. The feature, it turned out, tracks which parts of your site your readers are clicking on (click on photo to view larger image).
I had been solely using Crazy Egg to monitor my blog’s interface elements and the data it gathered were the bases for my decision to use this theme and take out the clutter from my blog design. Knowing where your readers click is very helpful in making design decisions. It tells you which elements or menu items aren’t working.
Crazy Egg is a very good tracking service and it comes with a beautiful Ajax interface that allows you to load data without having to load a new page. You can choose which type of visual reporting you want: Site Overlay or Heatmap.
But I’ve often encountered problems with Crazy Egg on the reporting of data. At times, the report set isn’t loaded and the site is stuck with showing the animated loader image for a long time. When this happens, I had to reload the page for several times until the report gets displayed. There were even times that the report isn’t loaded at all.
There is no such problem with Google Analytics’ Site Overlay feature. When I clicked on it, the report set is loaded. You can click on bars overlaid on your blog’s menu and navigation items to get the data on how many users clicked on it, its percentage and average score.
Google Analytics’ Site Overlay tells me, for example, that many readers click on the recent comments excerpts posted on my sidebar.
Both Google Analytics and Crazy Egg are currently being offered only by invitation. Crazy Egg is still being improved and I’m sure that as soon as it irons out kinks in its system and goes into public release, web designers and site owners would find its service very useful.
To read on other metrics services, you can check out my previous post on different ways to track your website traffic.