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While there are many tools and applications you can use to improve your website, heatmapping technology is probably one of the more beneficial. Don’t get me wrong, data collection tools such as Google Analytics can be quite beneficial when it comes to collecting numbers and such. Heatmap applications can take the data a step further without hindering the performance of your website. In fact, it could be safe to say that you can get more information by using this technology to help develop future content.
What is Heatmapping?
Heatmap technology provides you with a “thermal” view of what each of your visitors finds interesting on your website. Every visit is recorded such as clicks and movements of the mouse as well as the visitor has scrolled through the content. The more activity is certain area of the page experiences, the “hotter” the area looks.
It works much like a thermal imaging FLIR camera. The hotter an area is, the more defined the coloring becomes. Usually, these range from dark blue being the coldest and most unpopular through red and white as the most active areas. How can this help you?
Following the Mouse Cursor
When many people read a website, they use the cursor as a kind of ruler. It scans the content as the individual is reading. I do this myself nearly every time I read a website’s content. In this example, you can watch a person’s activity as he or she scans through your text while stopping on the material that is the most interesting.
Mouse Stopping Points
Usually when the mouse stops at a particular spot on your page, it’s because the visitor finds what he or she is looking for. This can be images, affiliate links and banners, text and anything else you may have on that particular page.
Doesn’t Slow Down Performance
How Can Heatmapping Help Develop Content?
While keywords and specific phrases are how people access your website through search engines, heatmapping will show you if those visitors are actually interested in your content or are just passing through. In many regards, it can be a far more efficient tool for developing content for your website.
Recording the Visit
Some heatmapping applications will allow you to record each visit individually in real-time. This means you can actually watch as people visit your website and where the mouse pointer is going across the page. In a sense, it’s a bit like a security camera as you watch how people interact with the page. Kinda makes you paranoid about visiting websites now, eh?
Clicking the Links
When people click links, heatmapping can show you how popular each one of those are. If visitors are ignoring certain aspects of the site, you need to figure out why. Perhaps you have links to pages people just are not interested. Maybe the text itself in the link isn’t interesting enough to attract attention from the visitor.
Since heatmapping records the activity of visitors, you can actually see what areas of your page are the most important to those individuals. If the individual doesn’t scroll down the page to read the rest of the material, then he or she either found what the person was looking for or didn’t find the content that engaging.
Heatmap applications can be fun as well as informative. It’s interesting to see how people use the website, which is information that statistical numbers doesn’t provide. Whether you use Joomla, WordPress or have your own site built by hand-coded pages, there is a mapping tool for you. Often times, I’ve found heatmaps to be more accurate than even Google Analytics as some recordings of actual visits didn’t register on the popular data platform. Applications such as Mouseflow only records organic and active users, not bots. This means that the real visitors are being tracked giving you an accurate portrayal of how living people interact with your content.
Here are some of the ones I’ve found and used in the past for various clients:
- Mouseflow: I use Mouseflow on one of our blog sites utilizing WordPress. It’s a quick install and records up to 100 videos per month for free. You can upgrade the account to add more records and functionality.
- Inspectlet: This one is another good app for various development. The data is a bit more intricate, but the subscription plans are a bit more expensive compared to similar heatmap services.
- Crazyegg: This application has promise, buy requires a full signup including credit card in order to start your 30-day free trial.
- ClickHeat: If you need a quick and easy solution for heatmaps, ClickHeat is an open source project that has potential. It’s not as robust as others, but the price is right…free.
- Clicktale: Clicktale has a free option that is limited compared to the premium plans. One of the more intriguing aspects of this service is that you can create your own premium plan.
For new websites, the free heatmap solutions such as Mouseflow and ClickHeat might be the best choices until your site grows in popularity. The information you collect can be invaluable to the development of your content. See how people are interacting with your pages and create strategies to maximize your potential.