A new Google Analytics report allows you to see the behavior of individual visitors over time. Find the User Explorer report in the Audience area. Unlike some of the other new reports, this one doesn’t require you to add extra code to your website; if you have Google Analytics installed, you’ll have User Explorer.
User Explorer reports don’t show any identifying information about visitors, but they do show individual behavior at your website. The screenshot below shows where to find the report, and also the basic information you can find about the individual: the date when they first came to visit your website (or they did so with that specific device), how they first found you, and what kind of device they’re using.
The report then shows the individual’s behavior: the pages they visited during each session plus any conversions, with time and date. The screenshot below shows an example from our lab site, FreshPlans. This visitor visited Snow White Lesson Plans repeatedly, perhaps while planning a lesson for that story. The next day, this individual came back and looked at a couple of other fairy tale lesson plans.
A second example, below, shows an individual making numerous visits to the same page over a period of about a week.
FreshPlans shows lesson plans for K-12 teachers, and that’s about it. We have not added any new content to this site in some time, so visitors typically have searched for, say, “logic lesson plans,” and they find it. They return a number of times while they’re getting their plans together. There aren’t many surprises in the Users Explorer for FreshPlans. Mostly, people are using the website as we intended them to.
Other User Explorer reports patterns
Other websites show different patterns. For example, check out the bot who has been faithfully “visiting” us here at Haden Interactive:
Here are some other patterns we’ve found in User Explorer reports for various clients:
- Shoppers — they often browse all over during one visit, come back and visit the same product several more times over the next few days or weeks, and then have one more browse before making their purchases.
- Readers — they come back several times a week to read the new blog post, and often click through on related links to other posts. Hi, faithful readers!
- Newsies — they visit the home page of news source websites, scan the headlines, and click through to read stories they find interesting, much the way people use a newspaper. If you see this pattern, make sure you’re providing good headlines and excerpts to lure these visitors in. They often visit at the same time of day (coffee break?). If you’re not posting frequently, you’ll miss out on these readers, and possibly also the Readers described above.
- Customers — these folks often reach the website through paid search, though organic and direct traffic are also common. They hit the page they came in on, perhaps read another post or page relevant to their needs, and then go to the Contact page. We often see several visits with conversions when a site has multiple calls to action. These visitors help you see the path to purchase and the length of time it takes.
- One-page visitors — We see a lot of visitors who come back to a single post or page over and over. While we understand this for products, how-tos, lesson plans, and such, we’re not quite sure what brings people to a single blog post over and over for months. We’re glad they’re enjoying it, though.