Flow Visualization Comes to Google Analytics

    October 19, 2011
    Chris Crum

Google announced the launch of Flow Visualization in Google Analytics. This is described as a tool that lets you analyze site insights graphically, and instantly understand how visitors flow across pages on your site.

There are actually two flow visualizations upon launch: Visitors Flow and Goal Flow. These will be rolling out to all accounts starting this week. More visualizations will come out later.

Visitors Flow shows who visitors flow through your site by traffic source or other dimensions, and see the path they take to the exit. This could be a pretty helpful tool in analyzing bounces and exits and useful for trying to reduce them. This visualization is shown in the image above.

“Nodes are automatically clustered according to an intelligence algorithm that groups together the most likely visitor flow through a site,” explains Phil Mui of the Google Analytics team. “You’ll also notice that we made the visualization highly interactive. You can interact with the graph to highlight different pathways, and to see information about specific nodes and connections. For example, if you want to dive deeper into your “specials” set of pages, you can hover over the node to see more at a glance.”

Goal Flow, pictured below, shows how visitors flow through your goal steps and where they dropped off. ” Because the goal steps are defined by the site owner, they should reflect the important steps and page groups of interest to the site,” says Mui. “In this first iteration, we’re supporting only URL goals, but we’ll soon be adding events and possibly other goal types.”

Goal Flow  

He says Goal Flow helps you understand the relative volume of visits by dimension (traffic, source, campaign, browser), the rates at which visitors abandon different paths, where and how visitors navigate the steps you define, and how they interact with your site (in terms of things like backtracking to previous goal steps).

Any advanced segments can be applied to a Flow Visualizer, and you can even visualize “backward” to see reverse paths to “identify suboptimal content”.

In the comments on Google’s announcement, people are already calling the feature a game changer. Do you agree?


Chris Crum
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.