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How do website heatmaps work?

Website heatmaps can tell you a lot about how users interact with your website. Here is everything you need to know about website heatmaps.

decibel heatmap
Image: Decibel

Free website analytics are great but how do you really know what your customers do when visiting your pages?

Wouldn’t it help to understand what they clicked or tapped on? What content did they like to read or view? Did they scroll down the page or focus on a particular section? Or did they leave because they were confused?

The great news is that this visual storytelling tool exists in the form of website heatmaps.

This article provides a full guide to heatmap analysis website services and how they can benefit you.

You’ll discover how a heatmap works and the different types of capturing behaviors. We discuss the benefits of the tech and how to create a heatmap website. And how the best website heatmap generators make the process easy.

Read on to learn all about website heatmaps and see precisely what your users do while visiting your site.

The Need for Accurate Website Statistics

Bounce rates measure how long visitors arrive at your site then leave almost immediately. The average bounce rate hovers around 45% which means that nearly half of all site traffic vanishes within seconds.

Why do so many people choose to return to Google instead of staying on your website? And if they do remain, what keeps them there?

Google Analytics offers excellent statistics in terms of referrals and a customer’s journey. But it fails to breakdown a user’s behavior, especially regarding bounce rates.

New forms of data collection and visual platforms are required to give a clearer picture of exactly what’s going on. Technology that accurately explains your visitors’ actions and can be understood at a glance.

The answer lies in website heatmaps.

What Is a Website Heatmap?

Think of a heatmap as a data visualization tool that color codes the areas on a page that get the most attention.

Heatmaps use a cool-to-warm spectrum to make it easy to identify popular content. Areas of interest appear in red while the least actioned display in blue.

This information gets stored with a heatmap provider like Decibel.

You’re able to log in and view heatmaps for any page over a period of time. The best providers also let you replay exactly what your visitors did in the form of a video. That way you can identify the customer’s journey without guesswork.

How Do Website Heatmaps Work?

The secret sauce to heatmaps hinges on a small piece of code that you add to each of your pages. That code records everything your visitor does including:

  • mouse movements
  • swipes
  • scrolling
  • taps
  • clicks

Heatmap software identifies a full range of events for all platform and device types.

Touch-enabled devices like mobile phones or tablets activate a signal when the user taps the screen. The same goes for laptops and computers when the mouse moves or the user starts to type.

All these actions get sent to a cloud server without interfering with the user’s experience. Artificial intelligence then analyzes the information to produce heatmaps and other reports.

The end result is a reliable set of statistics that you can review as you wish.

Capturing Critical Behaviors

To help uncover hidden insights into your customers’ actions, heatmaps focus on several core behaviors:

  1. Bird’s nest
  2. Multi-clicks
  3. Select and copy
  4. Zooming/pinching
  5. Rotation
  6. Scrolling

We’ve broken down the top 3 types below and how they help you to understand how your visitors behave.

1. Bird’s Nest Heatmaps

If you’ve seen a bird’s nest in a tree you’ll notice how erratic it seems. The twigs don’t match and it resembles a jumbled mess.

A bird’s nest heatmap reflects a visitor’s confusion when they shake their mouse around to leave a jumbled trail.

These types of behaviors display customer frustration. They cannot find what they want and search aimlessly without success. Most leave after several seconds and never return.

Digital marketers should use bird’s nest heatmaps to identify gaps in the sales funnel process.

For example, if the heatmap shows a consistent trend at the checkout phase then work to eradicate payment or shipping issues. If your landing pages show a high bounce rate, use a bird’s nest to ensure your content is relevant.

2. Multi-Clicks Heatmaps

Multi-clicks heatmaps are similar to bird’s nests in that they denote confusion.

Instead of showing mouse movements, they record rapid clicks. And that’s a major sign that your customers don’t know what to do. Or that your links and buttons don’t work.

One major example of multi-click madness is on your contact form.

Website forms with dozens of radio or checkbox options aren’t a good idea. Visitors tend to become overwhelmed and click or tap on any and everything. And if the submit button doesn’t send the form they’ll leave in frustration.

3. Select and Copy

This behavior gets recorded when a user highlights and copies text. Reasons for select and copy include:

  • researching a product for Google search
  • comparing to a competitor
  • sharing information they like
  • querying the meaning through dictionary definitions

Select and copy behaviors reflect engagement with your website. Unlike the erratic nature of the bird’s nest/multi-clicks, they show that a customer wants to learn more.

Use this critical behavior to check for confusing words on your pages, especially for translations.

Benefits of Heatmap Analysis Websites

When you add heatmaps to a website you get an immediate overview of your website’s performance.

You can identify any issues that need addressing using reliable data. This makes it easier for your technical team to make the necessary changes without guessing.

Visual representation far outweighs numerical data to spot patterns over time.

You’re able to detect the pages on your site that underperform and either fix or remove them. You can also identify sections that your readers enjoy and push them to the top of the page to increase retention.

Heatmaps also work in tandem with your other website statistics tools. Combine them to create the ultimate toolkit to analyze your site’s performance.

Website Heatmap Generators

Website heatmaps offer an essential service when analyzing your visitor’s behavior.

The software captures every tap, click, scroll, zoom, and action. It then displays it in a visual way so you can spot trends within seconds. From there, you can adjust your site as required to retain users and convert them into paying customers.

Make sure to choose the best website heatmap generator service that captures all behaviors. Then add heatmaps to a website and replay them any time you wish for ongoing results.

Have any thoughts on this? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

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