A click path is the series of ‘clicks’ that is taken by a visitor to navigate a website. This sequence of clicks is outlined as the order of internal links that a web user clicks on.
Click paths are also commonly known as clickstreams. A click path will often begin with an external link (such as the results page of a search engine). Alternatively, it could start at a point from within the site (often the home page is used). From there, the click path covers all of the hyperlinks that the user follows from there, in the order which they were viewed.
Click path calculations are often used alongside event tracking. With event tracking, you can incorporate clicks on individual page elements on your site into the click path.
Example of a typical click path
A click path is calculated by following the event stream of the user. The click path starts at the chosen dimension value (this could be either from a SERP, or from the first point of entry to the website), and ends either when the user leaves the site or completes the site’s main objective.
A typical example of a single session would look like this:
SERP > Home > Product 1 > Home > Product 2
One click path could potentially include multiple sessions. For example, if a visitor is inactive on a web page for more than half an hour, the first period in which the visitor was active would count as one session, and a separate session would start when they become active again.
In the instance that you are using click paths to measure a cross-session, this may look like this:
Session 1: SERP > Home > Products Page > Product 1 > Products Page > Product 2 Session 2: Home > Product 2 > View Cart > Checkout
Data regarding the length of a click path - in terms of either the amount of time that a user spent on your website or the number of clicks that were made within this path - is used by search engines to determine how relevant a website is to include in their SERP for a particular keyword.
Although a long click path may be indicative of an ample supply of relevant information, if the click path is too long, then this seems to suggest that the user was confused, or had difficulty accessing the content that they required.
As a result, the ideal click path length would be around four levels, or ‘clicks’, deep. Ecommerce sites often reduce the average click path length by using features such as product search filters, easily accessible guidance and product information and product category pages, to direct users more efficiently.
What is the click path analysis?
Click path analysis is the process of using data gained from web analytics to understand the typical fashion in which visitors navigate your website. Although behavioral patterns will differ between different users, this technique enables web developers to improve the user experience of their website and understand how easy it is for users to complete the marketers' desired objective.
An example of click path analysis would be assessing the operation of your eCommerce store based on the typical customer’s clickstream. You can optimize the architecture of your store in order to reduce the average click path length, and so maximize the sales conversion rate of your site.
This project could, for example, involve making the click path of the shopping cart and ordering process as short as possible, so that it is easy and quick for the consumer to complete. For this reason, single-page checkouts are a popular option.
How can measuring click paths be used to improve your website?
Companies can use click path data to help improve their websites by:
- Identifying and tackling any bottlenecks that are limiting the number of customers who successfully complete a transaction on the site.
- Reducing the bounce rate.
- Driving up your website’s conversion rates.
- Identifying the pages that have a high exit rate, and improving their content.
- Identify the search engine terms that are bringing the most website traffic to your website.
- Encouraging visitors to, for example, sign up for your e-newsletter, or redeem an online shopping voucher code.
You can use a click path data analytics tool - such as the analytical software which is provided by Google Analytics - to undertake click path analysis. These tools will enable you to view your visitor’s clickstream, create a tree graph to help you oversee your user’s click paths, and view a graphic representation of the click path which a visitor to your site went through.
You can also break down your overview to a page-by-page clickstream analysis. This will enable you to gain data regarding which steps your users took after viewing this page, the steps they took before arriving at this page, how many users entered your site through this page, and the numbers of users who were led into further sub-category pages after visiting this page.
Importance for Online Marketing
Understanding how the content on different pages is viewed, and in what order, is a useful type of measurement for web analytics. Identifying and analyzing the typical clickstream helps the owner of the site to optimize their website and best direct visitors to the company’s desired objective - typically, purchasing an item from the eCommerce store.
Optimizing a website based on a click path analysis can not only increase conversion rates but can also ensure that customers have a more enjoyable experience with the company, which will potentially translate into more positive reviews and a higher proportion of returning customers.