Google Analytics: How to Evaluate Behavior Reports

Google Analytics: How to Evaluate Behavior Reports

Behavior Reports are your lens into what your visitors do on your website. This Google Analytics section shows which content resonates the most with your users and how they navigate through it all, also known as pathing behavior. Behavior reports can help guide you in a number of ways, but are most commonly used for content strategy and user experience.

Big Questions that Google Analytics' Behavior Reports Can Answer

  • Which pages are the most popular? Influence the most conversions? Influence the least engagement?
  • How long are users engaged with each piece of content? 
  • Are landing pages successful in conversions and engagement?
  • Which pages do users engage with more? 

So before we dive into all the Behavior reports, it's important to know that these set of reports are the only ones defaulted to "page-level metrics." If you flip through Acquisition or Audience reports, the main metric to the most-left position is Users. It's very different for Behavior as we're looking at the more granular level of single hits, aka page views. So Google makes it clear that this is not to be interpreted the same way as the other reports.

You'll notice the second most-left metric in Behavior reports is "Unique Page Views." Since we're sticking to the page-level metrics, it's just another term for Sessions. Just keep that in mind.

Now, let's dive in!

1. Behavior Flow

Behavior Flow visualizes the pathing, starting with the most popular landing pages of each visit. Then, each landing page is connected to the next page, and the next page, until the most common exit page. I honestly find very minimal value from Behavior Flow due to the visualization, but it's a great high-level view of common paths that users take on your website.

As you get some quick insights from this chart, you can create a custom goal funnel of the most popular path users take. That way, you can follow each step precisely and see where users fall out, too. Once you create a custom goal funnel, head over to the Funnel Visualization under Conversions to check out a cleaner visualization. Learn more about the Goals and Funnel Visualization reports here.

2. Site Content

The All Pages report defaults to a page breakdown by the corresponding page path. Before we move on, what is a page path? A page path is the "slug" or set of characters after your main domain. Sometimes if you have subdomains, you can have the Page report list out the entire URL including the domain with these filtered view settings.

See a few Page Path examples below:

Now back to the reports. Site Content reports order the pages by traffic volumes to show which content is the most popular. You can then re-sort the pages by the additional metrics shown.

How to use the page-level metrics

  • High bounce rates indicate two possible scenarios. Users took the information they needed and left. Or your website experience was uninteresting or unoptimized that they didn't continue to browse through your website. It all depends on the type of content you have, so it's good to click through the link to understand the purpose of each page.
  • Longer time spent shows that users stay engaged with the content. Consistent engagement, in turn, informs Google that it is a reliable source to rank higher in search results, too! Yay!
  • One metric that usually stands out here is Page Value. Mainly because it's not a widely used metric. So how is Page Value calculated? When an order is made in one session, Google Analytics assigns equal weight for all the pages that influenced the total revenue. But remember, this is only calculated if you track revenue on your website. Obviously checkout pages will have the highest Page Values, but what's fun is finding the unexpected ones that do too.
Page Value Formula = (Total Transaction Revenue + Goal Value) /(# of Unique Page Views)
  • Exits indicate which pages users were last visiting on the website. This provides additional insight to high bounce rates and evaluating a page's value to your website.

3. Site Speed

Site Speed can be one of the reasons that causes high bounce rates. Users expect a seamless experience with all websites in today's Internet. If they can't do anything on your website, they'll immediately leave. So Site Speed is another report to help you to figure out the root cause of unhappy users.

You don't have to be a technical expert to understand this report. So Site Speed shows individual pages by Page Path with the corresponding Average Page Load Time (in seconds). Obviously, you want the speed to be as close to 0 as possible, but there are some that can raise alarms ie over 5 seconds.

So when you notice a bizarre number like that, you can click through the hyperlink under Page Speed Suggestions for insight into longer loading times. A popup modal appears with both mobile and desktop views to give you a score with improvement tips. Do note that Google’s Page Speed analyzer may not give real-time results, but is still incredibly useful in guiding quick quality checks.

4. Site Search

If you do have a Search bar on your website, the Site Search report can really help you improve your user experience. Search bars help users find content, but it also helps you understand what they want to find right away. If the content is not easy to find, they'll depend on the Search bar for assistance. There's an opportunity right there!

Usage Report

The Usage report breaks down sessions with and without site search usage. This information will help you figure out the answer to this question: do your visitors need to depend on a search bar to use your website?

With a simple website in the screenshot below, the data shows that 99.9% of users are visiting without even touching the site search. I'll translate that for you. People can easily find the content they need on their own. There is less dependence on a help tool, so this is a great sign for the test website below.

Search Terms

Search terms are the list of keywords that users normally type into the search bar. Use these as opportunities of keywords you can use in your content! Because that's what they want. Highlight them in your content and put them front-and-center - if there's high search volume out of total visitors.

Search Pages

Search pages are the pages that users end up visiting after a keyword search. Again, make it easier for users to find or heck, put it on the homepage if it works.

5. Events

Now to the last category of website behavior, Events. Events can be any action taken on a page from button clicks, video views, form submissions, to even scroll depth. If you can tag it, it can be whatever event you want. Google Analytics gives you four dimensions to label your event: Event Category, Event Action, Event Label, and Event Value.

So besides from the default page tracking of the generic Google Analytics snippet, you can go bananas and track every single click (or scroll) with event tracking.

The possibilities are endless!

Event examples

  • Sign Up button click
  • Conversion step button clicks
  • Video play
  • Banner click
  • Add to Cart click
  • Selected a Shipping Option
  • Removed an Item from Cart
  • Entered the product page through the nav menu button
  • Entered email in the form placed on top of the page
  • Product Click on Category Gridwall

And it doesn't stop here. There has been times where I've tracked more than 100 events per website. It does get a little crazy. To make it more concise, just focus on your conversion funnel steps. Track all the places that every user has to reach before converting.

How to tag events

We are given 4 dimensions to use however we'd like, but the required 3 are Category, Action, and Label. The keywords you use is all up to you. But what I recommend is to set up a structure, so it's easy to group data when you need to. For instance, set the Category as the actual action. Then, set the action as the type ie button click, video view, etc. Lastly the third one is helpful for any other type of context. I like to put {{Page Path}} in the Label since a button can be repeated on multiple pages. I want to see which content got them to finally click it.

I'll give you a real example.

If there's a lead form submission both on top and bottom of the page, label the event parameters as such in Google Tag Manager.

1. Category: top contact

2. Action: form submission

3. Label: {{Page Path}} (pulls in the variable dynamically)

The fourth parameter "Value" is optional to categorize. It’s unnecessary for the event example above.

Then, the bottom lead form submission would be:

1. Category: bottom contact

2. Action: form submission

3. Label: {{Page Path}} (pulls in the variable dynamically)

When the data finally rolls into Google Analytics, you can simply search "contact" and both would appear. You can even search by "form submission" as well. The keywords are important in helping you group the data, so be mindful how you label them.

With the report filtered, you can compare the two to see which one was clicked on the most. Even select Label as the secondary dimension and see the top pages where people filled out the form.

6. Events Flow

Similar to the Behavior Flow up top, Events Flow visualizes pathing of all the custom events you tagged. The chart shows the most popular user interactions in order - all in a nice visual.

The drop-down menu allows you to show all the event dimensions or just one at a time with the Events Flow visualizations. It's best to start off with Category, then drill down to more detail if needed when the data isn't showing much clarity.

Now remember, I'm not a big fan of the Events Flow chart. Here's an alternative you can take. ​

Create a Sequence segment identifying the events you’re interested in - in the order you expect users to do. It'll be your very own Funnel Visualization for events. Yes, this is manual. But segments can be very flexible in capturing the actions that aren’t automatically tracked with conversion funnels and goal funnels in Google Analytics.


Behavior reports is the most granular you can drill down with Google Analytics. The insights derived from Behavior reports guides content strategy and micro-level user experience.

Looking for more personalized help with Google Analytics or Google Data Studio?