6 Reasons Why You Must Use Site Heatmaps

Written by Zac Johnson
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We’ve all heard of site heatmaps and how they can track what people do when they get to your site… such as where they click, what areas they move their mouse around and how they scroll through your site. I’ve always been a huge fan of heatmaps and the many case studies that are out there, simply because it’s very exciting to see how people act when they get to your site. You can also learn a ton about not only your audience, but also the experience your site gives off as well.

Before we jump into the six reasons why you must setup a heatmap on your site, let me show you how a typical heatmap works.

I’m currently using hotjar to manage heatmaps across all of my sites. To start tracking visitor movements and activity on my site, all I need to do is place a small pixel and hotjar does the rest.

It’s extremely simple to use and the backend is pretty sweet. However, hotjar isn’t just a heatmap tracking software. It’s actually a combination of several different services into one platform. It’s like having CrazyEgg, SurveyMonkey, SnapEngage and Qualaroo all in one software package, while also not costing anywhere near as much. I’ll likely do a future post on their other features in another post.

After letting hotjar monitor my traffic for a few days, I can login to my account and pull up a heatmap of ZacJohnson.com, which can be seen below. With more time and data, this heatmap will look even more exciting!

Zac Johnson Heatmap

What a Heatmap Quickly Tells Me About My Site

As with any site that uses a heatmap, you will get a basic screenshot of your site, then any areas where people click you will see a heat point. Blue is a cool area, while red is hot.

Here are some observations I can make right away from my initial set of stats from hotjar.

The top navigation bar is where most of the action happens
Top menu items are “ABOUT” and “MAKE MONEY”
Social buttons are also a big point of interest (Facebook the most)
People also like to use the “Search” feature near the social icons
– More people click on the title and “Read More” than the header photo for each post
– There is a decent amount of activity on the subscribe box as well

Based off these observations, I will be making some changes to my site… which include updating my About Me and Make Money pages, setting up a new subscribe form with a optin window to split test results and add more social engagement to the site in addition to a few other things.

It’s been a while since I updated these static pages and now is a perfect time… especially with a new Zac Johnson theme design coming out in the next few weeks!

Zac Johnson Mouse Scroll Heatmap

If you want to get even more technical, hotjar also offers different types of visitor tracking such as mouse movements (like the one shown above), scroll tracking and even tap tracking for visitors viewing your site from a mobile device.

6 Reasons Why You Must Use Site Heatmaps

Now that you have a good idea on how easy it is to setup a heatmap on your site and the many benefits of doing so — here are six reasons why you should implement heatmap tracking on your site today.

It’s All About the Click!

While you might know your web site or blog pretty well and think it’s pretty obvious what’s clickable and what isn’t… your audience probably doesn’t. With a heatmap you can track where people are clicking and why. With hotjar you can even record video sessions of what people are doing on your site so you can even better understand what they are clicking and why.

You have Too Many Distractions

When someone comes to your site, they are likely there because they want to read something and be guided along the way. Having a site with too many distractions not only makes it hard for your audience to read the content of your site, it also makes them lose focus as well. This loss of focus can lead them to leaving your site and not taking action for whatever your end goal may be. By tracking your visitors mouse movements and where they are clicking, you can get an idea on how distractions around the real content on your site might be taking away from the user experience.

Is Your Information Easily Accessible?

Just like you can monitor what people are clicking on and where their cursor is scrolling throughout their duration on your site, this can also tell you if they are having a hard time navigating through the content of your site. By viewing user activity you can clearly see when users are reading your content or continually scrolling and clicking around trying to find what they originally came for. You might think your content and information is perfect, but seeing your audience in action on your site will let you know for sure!

Browsing Across All Devices

Viewing a site on a desktop versus on a mobile device is two different worlds, even if you do have a responsive site. Even the variation in desktop sizes and viewing preferences can come into play when viewing how people use your site. Advanced heatmaps tracking allows you to pull different reports based on device, which is extremely important with more users viewing internet content through mobile than ever below.

Where is the Bottom of Your Site?

With sites putting as much content as possible on one page, it’s very important to make sure your audience is actually seeing all of your content. Not only is the bounce rate (how often people leave your site) of your site important, but seeing how far they are actually scrolling down and noticing what they are missing is important. This is another big benefit to scrolling heatmaps. This allows you to see what people are missing, then making changes on your site to either move the content or let your audience know to keep scrolling down.

Heatmaps are Fun and Effective!

Besides all of the statistical data and case studies that heatmaps can provide you with, seeing actual visitors on your site and learning from their actions is exciting, engaging and fun. Heatmaps also make it easy for you to start split testing different areas of your site and within 24 hours you can start seeing new reports on where people are clicking and how they are navigating through your site.

You can see visuals of each of these methods on this hotjar article.

Getting Started with your First Heatmap

As mentioned earlier, I’m running heatmaps for all of my sites through hotjar, which is currently in closed beta, but they are accepting new members who enter their email on their site. It’s a really cool service and combines all of the best site features (heatmaps, surveys, conversion tracking and more) all under one platform.

There are also a few other well known heatmap services out there as well. Check them all out, compare prices and features, and then see which one you like best. No matter who you go with, be sure to setup a heatmap on your site and be blown away with the results!

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