How to Track Traffic on One Page Websites

One page website design has become very popular in the last couple of years and can be very tempting for businesses that want to present a lot of content on the home page.

One page design gives businesses the opportunity to combine several pages visually into one home page design with distinct sections that will allow the visitor to get to information either by scrolling down the page or by clicking menu items that scroll down to that information. The visitor to one page site won’t get lost within interior pages of the website, but be able to scroll up and down quickly to get all the information she needs.

Mat Releases one page web siteThis is why we selected a one page design for Matreleases.com

However, one page websites present a unique problem when trying to track visitors through Google Analytics.

By default, Google Analytics starts most of its data collection when your visitor starts moving from page to page on your website. For a one-page web site the following traffic data will be unavailable or misleading:

1. Duration of time on website: Google Analytics starts tracking time on website AFTER the visitor has clicked through to another physical page on the website. If your visitor just stays on the home page, even if the visitor clicks on the menu items to travel up and down the home page, Google will count the time as spent on the site as “0”.

2. Visitor engagement with website: Out of the box, Google Analytics does not count clicking to a different section on the page as a new page visited. You will not be able to tell from default Analytics if your visitor was engaged with your site by scrolling or clicking.

3. Bounce rate: Sites with a one-page design will have a 100% bounce rate. Bounce rate is measured by visitors who go to one page of your site and then leave without visiting other pages.

We faced these challenges with the Matreleases.com site. Even though there are a few interior pages for Case Studies, the majority of content is in a one-page design on the home page.

The solution was Event tracking. Event tracking can be set up to track any type of engagement with the website. You can set up events physically within your website using Google Analytics code or you can use Google Tag Manager to listen for a variety of events and fire on certain rules.

We chose to use Google Tag Manager because we had a lot of events we wanted to track and we didn’t want to have to keep changing code in the web pages as we added new text or new events.

Here is what GTM is tracking for us:

1. Menu clicksGTM help will give you information on how to set up a click listener and event tags.

2. Scrolling — We adapted the excellent instructions at http://andygibson.us/2013/10/track-scroll-depth-using-google-tag-manager/ to track visitors who bypassed the menu to scroll down the page. This script will track the % of the page scrolled to. We adapted the script in a few ways: We changed the percentages and event tags to match the sections of our home page so we could report of visitors who scrolled to various sections. We removed the “Baseline” trigger which fires every time the page loads because that event was giving us false information on engagement. We also added a condition that would prevent this from firing if the menu had been clicked since a menu click cased a page scroll and we didn’t want to double count events.

3. TimerGTM help provides information on how to set up a timer listener and events. We wanted to capture a general idea of how long visitors were on the site. We set this up to fire every 30 seconds. We experiemented with shorter time periods but they gave us an overwhelming amount of even information that we felt was unnecessary.

4. Other clicksGTM help provides instructions for this event tag as well. We wanted to capture clicks on buttons and on the Mat Release Success Tips accordion in the middle of the page.

These event tags helped us track visitor engagement on our one-page website. We can look at these events in even tracking and determine how many visitors scrolled or clicked on menu items as well as clicked on buttons. We can also see approximately how long our visitors are spending on the site.

Note: Remember to remove any Google Analytics code from pages where you have the Google Tag Manager code installed or your website visits will be counted twice.

Author: Terry Matz

Digital media expert with 18 years experience delivering web site strategies and solutions to improve business results through web site user experience, search engine optimization and marketing, and social media. Innovative thought leader with a cross-functional background in technology, communications, design, and marketing.

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