Updated (24Feb2015) – the nice folks over at CrazyEgg recently found this post that I wrote just over a year ago and offered a special 90-day free trial for readers of Dumb Passive Income. I made a few edits to this post and updated the links to get you that 90-day free trial.
I recently discovered a new (to me) tool that I am finding to be very powerful and useful not only for my Dumb Passive Income blog, but for my niche sites as well. The tool is called Crazy Egg and I’ve been using my trial account to generate free heat maps for a couple of my sites. I’ve been thinking about doing a slight re-design here on Dumb Passive Income and this heat mapping tool is proving to be very valuable. By being able to visually observe the clicking behavior of visitors to my site, I can see exactly what doesn’t need to be on my site and, more importantly, what needs to be optimized better.
I’ll show you exactly what I mean with a screenshot below and further explanation. After installing the tool on this blog and monitoring it for a couple of days, it dawned on me that this would be extremely helpful for my niche sites too! I installed it on one of my niche sites that is getting pretty decent traffic and it has already given me an amazing revelation and helped improve my plan to better monetize the site.
Crazy Egg lets you generate a free heat map for up to 10 pages within their free trial period. This is plenty more time than I would need if I were just using it for one site re-design. But, as I plan to build out several more niche sites in the near future – I definitely see the value of this tool and plan to pay the low cost to keep it. Get your 90-day free trial for Crazy Egg now or keep reading to learn more.
How to Create a Heat Map for Your Website
My Free Heat Map for Dumb Passive Income
Getting my free heat map was extremely simple. After signing up for my free trial, I only needed to add a piece of code to my site and then click the Add a New Snapshot button on my Crazy Egg dashboard. As a WordPress user, adding the code to my site was ridiculously easy with the free plugin that they offer. After that, I just had to wait for visitors to click around on my site. I only took a snapshot of my homepage for now. My income reports tend to generate a lot of traffic, so when I publish my next income report I plan to take a snapshot of it as well. Here is what my heat map looks like for Dumb Passive Income for Dec 21st to Dec 31st, 2013.
As you can see, I’ve already made a few changes to the blog which I’ve been meaning to do anyway – including upgrading to the eleven40 Pro child theme from Genesis. I had been using the original eleven40 theme.
Optimizing My Homepage Based on My Heat Map Results
Starting at the top
I was a little surprised to see that not a single person clicked on any of my social media icons, subscribe by RSS or subscribe by e-mail icons which were displayed in the header. Boom – those are outta there! In my new design, I have a floating Title/Menu bar – meaning it stays on the top of the screen when a user scrolls down. This is going to prove to be valuable space and I don’t plan to waste it with icons that people don’t click. Instead, I made those icons smaller (got rid of the subscribe by e-mail one) and stuck them in my sidebar right below my picture and description. I couldn’t imagine not having them on my site at all.
Update – more recently I moved my picture and bio and my social icons to the footer of my blog. Top of the sidebar is better used for more important things like buttons that open up LeadBoxes.
I could see that my menus at the top of my site were getting some clicks. Most of these menu items only lead (or led, depending on when you are reading this) to blog archive pages. I think I could do a much better job by changing these menu items to point to more useful pages that give readers more options – rather than just a list of my blog posts in that category. For example, I’ve already changed the Keyword Research tab to point to a page like this which has a description and then a few options they can choose from, including the blog archives if that is what they want. At the time of the writing of this post, this is not done yet – but I also plan to move the more popular menu items to the floating bar on the top. So, things like Keyword Research, Niche Sites and Income Reports will always be at the top of the screen when the user scrolls down.
Update – I’ve since removed the secondary menu and only use the floating main menu bar within the header. I’ve condensed all menu items here and it contains only the most important and useful items. Income Reports still gets the most clicks by far.
Previously I had text in my sidebar (above the fold) right under my profile box that told readers about my free report and included a link that went to
this beautiful landing page (page no longer exists) that I created in LeadPages. Only one person clicked on that link in 10 days! Turns out, most of my e-mail list sign-ups come from the floating box at the bottom of my sidebar that I created with OptinSkin. The fact that it sticks to the sidebar after the user scrolls down plays a big factor, I think. It gives the reader an actionable thing to do at the bottom of a post if they don’t want to do anything else. With that in mind, I also moved my related posts plugin to the sidebar and made it stick just below the e-mail sign-up box. This helped to de-clutter the bottom of my posts and get the sharing buttons closer to the end of the content, as well as fill up some of the blank space at the bottom of my sidebar.
Update – I constantly test and change things in my sidebar. Currently, buttons that open up LeadBoxes are working wonderfully – so I’ve removed the former email signup box that I had created with OptinSkin and replaced it with buttons that open up LeadBoxes and that stick to the top of the sidebar when users scroll down.
As you can see on my heat map screenshot, by far the most clicked item on my homepage is the [Continue reading] link at the end of the snippet for my featured post. Currently this is set up as my latest post and I plan to keep it that way. If I had included the entire homepage in this screenshot, you would see smaller snippets for the previous 6 or 7 posts that were published on my blog. These were also getting clicks, but not nearly as many as the top featured post. For now, I plan to leave my homepage as is with the latest post featured at the top and 6 or 7 more recent posts highlighted below that.
Crazy Egg Heat Maps for Niche Site Optimization
Much the same as I did for this blog, I installed Crazy Egg onto one of my niche sites and got my free heat map as part of my trial account. (Sorry, can’t share this screenshot as I have not revealed this niche site publicly). This particular niche site has recently moved up to #5 in Google for its main keyword and has been getting nearly 100 visits per day. I had some ridiculous looking Clickbank banners on the site which I knew weren’t converting, but I wasn’t sure whether or not they were even being clicked. After viewing my heat map results, I could see that they weren’t being clicked at all! I could also visually see which Adsense ads were being clicked and which ones weren’t. I removed the ugly Clickbank banners and the non-performing Adsense blocks and put better Adsense blocks in the positions where the Clickbank banners used to be. Only a few days after the change, I’m already seeing really promising results from Adsense ($3 to $6 per day)!
The real revelation that I got as a result of looking at my heat map results for this niche site though didn’t have to do with ads or ad placement. What I was able to see was that a LOT of readers were clicking on many of the links that I included near the bottom of my homepage post. The article (and the entire site for that matter) is intended to be an informational resource. Part of it’s resourcefulness, and a big reason that readers stick around, is that it links out to several other resources that this particular searcher is looking for. All links I have set to open in new windows so that readers aren’t leaving my site when they click through – but I think there is an awesome opportunity in the fact that these links are getting a lot of clicks. That opportunity lies in the form of affiliate links for the types of sites that these links point to. Now I just need to find those affiliate programs, apply to them and insert them in the appropriate spots on my site.
Had it not been for my free heat map generated on Crazy Egg, I would not have known how popular these links were and how often they were being clicked. As I build out several different types of niche sites going forward, this heat mapping tool is going to be very useful. My latest site that I am working on is going to be monetized mostly by Amazon. It will be very interesting to see which Amazon links are being clicked and which ones are useless. I understand that there are other ways to track clicks and statistics – but I admit that I am just too lazy and/or don’t have the time to properly do them.
Update – I ended up creating a really powerful lead magnet for that site. I placed a simple text hyperlink, in the most clicked area of the site, that opens up a LeadBox. This thing is converting like crazy! Within about a year, I’ve grown my email list on that small niche site to over 2,000 subscribers!
Crazy Egg Review – Another Arrow in my Quiver
Having a visual heat map, like the one provided by Crazy Egg, makes website analysis and click-tracking so easy. As I stated above, I definitely plan to pay the low cost to keep the tool after my free trial expires. For as long as I am building niche sites in an attempt to create passive income, this tool ranks right up there in my list of favorites.
Update – since finding and using Crazy Egg – I’ve come across a couple of other free heat-mapping tools. But they just don’t compare to Crazy Egg. Just last week I renewed my subscription and paid the low yearly cost to be able to keep using Crazy Egg.
Want to see your free heat map from Crazy Egg? Click on any of the links or banners within this post that lead to Crazy Egg and start your free trial today. You do need to put in credit card info – but if you cancel before the end of your trial period you won’t be charged a thing. Start my special 90-day trial now!