Heatmapping 101 – What are Heatmaps, How can they help Websites?

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I was just at a bunch of blogging tradeshows this month and something that almost no one had heard of or were using were heatmaps to grow their business.  Heatmaps are some of the best tools that you can use for your website, blog or ecommerce store.  They can give you insight into your users behavoir, help to create a better conversion rate, increase your ability to rank specific pages in the search engines and a lot more.  A few people had asked me to do a post on Heatmaps and how they can help your website, so here is Heatmapping 101, how to use heat maps to grow your website and make money.  (I tried loading the free Google one from Analytics this morning but it wouldn’t load so I apologize for not sharing any images with you.  If you have analytics and heatmapping installed, you can easily see most of the things below.)

What is a heat map?  – Heatmaps are images of your site and page that show user interaction.  They can show the amount of clicks on specific images, items and links and the percentage of clicks that they get compared to other links or images on the page.  Heat maps can also show you where people hover the most, click to and back the most as well as what they ignore and do not click on.  This data can be used in a number of ways.  Below are some of the things that I do with the information I get by using heatmaps on my own and my clients websites.

How to use heatmaps to increase sales.

Tightening your sales funnel – In addition to setting up goals and conversion goals or sales paths with your analytics, heatmaps will show you what people click on and where they get distracted and fall off the sales funnel.  By looking at the drop off on your funnel, then what people were and are doing on those pages, you can better modify them, remove distractions and start to have less of a fall off in your sales funnel if you use the data correctly.

Finding colors that people react to and using them as buttons – One thing I really like about using heatmaps to increase sales is finding what colors people react to.  Using heatmaps to increase sales on your website is easy.  Look at images and banners and then look at the colors that the people that shop on your site are attracted to.  If ten times the people on your site click on the color yellow or green, and your sales funnel color is blue, you may want to try testing and changing the color scheme of your check out process.  Finding the colors that people respond to is only one part of learning how to use heatmaps to increase sales an conversions.  You also need to monitor how many of those people that react are shoppers or just people that browse, don’t sign up for your newsletter, generate a sale, etc…

Compare the colors and conversions, AOV and repeat purchases.  If half of the people that click on or are attracted to yellow fall off and only a couple shop, you can compare this to red buttons where almost all of the people shop but only half click through.  If 1 out of ten yellow people shop, you may be able to use heatmaps to increase your sales by changing the sales funnel buttons to red.   There are less clicks going through but if the sales number is higher and the AOV is higher, you may be able to make more money.  The only way to make a really good guess at this is to compare with your analytics and ecommerce or conversion data.  It might not always work, but it could be a good split test to try.  You can also then try testing different shades or variations of that color.

Discovering what keywords your audience reacts to – Just like above, you can use heatmaps to help increase sales by testing keywords and fonts.  Try changing out click here for shop now or even add to cart.  Try changing more information to learn more or even find out more info.   By doing this you can see what words your shoppers are attracted to and what fonts they like.  You can find out if they click here more than shop now, what makes them excited to shop and what helps guide them through your site the right or wrong way.  This is another great feature that will help you learn how to make money by using heatmaps.

Guiding people to the right pages – The most important part of learning how to use heat maps to make money is setting up your goals and conversions.  If the goal is a newsletter sign up, figure out what keywords, fonts and colors can help guide the person to it.  If it is sales, use them to remove the excess links and distractions from the shopping process (that doesn’t mean phone numbers or other things that may help to increase conversions, just actual distractions like other categories that help them fall off the sales path, random pages and articles, upsells that they don’t react to, etc…).  By knowing what your goals are, setting up the sales paths and then learning how to use heatmaps to make money and by letting them show you how to remove distractions, you can being to create a much better user interface and potentially make better design decisions.

Using heatmaps to increase pageviews

If your site relies on impressions to make money, you can use heatmaps to increase pageviews and increase your revenue.  What you need to look at is what is your best copy, how can you guide people there and how can you get them to become interested in relevant articles.  You can use plugins to pull relevant articles and hope people click through to read them.  Having those plugins isn’t good enough.  By installing them on the side, at the bottom of the article or at the top, you can test what is being read and what causes the most people to click through to other pages without dropping off your site.  By changing the colors and the fonts, the borders and the sizes, or sometimes even the amount of related articles and posts you can also increase or decrease pageviews, depending on your audience.  Many people see increases in click throughs, but by using heatmaps you can see which ad blocks are getting clicked the most, where the clicks are coming from and when you change the colors, fonts, sizes, etc… you can now start to maximize the click throughs on them which can help to increase your pageviews by using heatmaps and also your revenue if you sell ad space on an impression basis.

How to use heatmaps to increase your SEO

There are numerous ways that heatmaps can actually help with your on site and off site SEO.  They can help you boost pages and they can also help people find posts or pages that get backlinks, social shares and other things that help with your organic rankings.  Here are two ways that you can use heatmaps to increase your SEO.

Remove unnecessary links – The more links on a page, the less value they pass.  This is an old theory that has been written about for a very long time.  Just do a Google search and you’ll find a ton of articles.  If your homepage has navigation links, footer links, in bound keyword rich links from the copy, inbound links for navigation and also external links, all of these take away from the link passing authority to the next page.  By using a heatmap you can see which of these links are not being used, which ones are being used but are not generating sales by setting up a sales path and you can then start removing them, as long as the page they are linking to and helping boost isn’t bringing in a decent amount of revenue through organic traffic.  If the links aren’t being used, then they aren’t helping anyone.  By using heatmaps to see what links aren’t being used or aren’t generating any revenue, you can use heatmaps to grow your SEO by removing them and letting the other links pass more authority.  You can also replace them with other links that will help pass authority to other pages that you want to help rank and even further help your sales funnel by letting people find your most popular products and categories faster.

If you know you get a lot of traffic off of keywords that don’t turn into conversions, but are people looking for information, you can use heatmaps to help create an easy to follow path for them to find the information and also pages that they may want to share by using the color and wording techniques I mentioned above.  The pages could have infographics, awesome content or other things they may not have found without doing this work.  By changing the path, colors and fonts or even the placements of your calls to action, you can more easily help to guide them to these pages where they can help with social sharing and possibly building backlinks if they use or distribute your content, link to it or share and use your infographics on their own sites.

Heatmaps are an awesome way to help grow your revenue, increase your conversions and help to grow your SEO.  There are free heatmapping tools that you can use and also ones that range from $10 per month to enterprise solutions.  You’ll need to find one that has the information you are looking for, that can combine with your analytics and also help you understand what is happening on your site.  Heatmaps can help give you a great look into your page design and the user experience that people are having on your site.  Because they are inexpensive, they can be a great way to help you take your blog, website or ecommerce store to the next level without wasting a ton of money on design work, split testing designs and other expensive things.

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