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journey path analysis

high percentage of repeated pages - why?

     
9:09 am on Jul 5, 2004 (gmt 0)

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We are looking at our journey path analysis reports and see that most of the pages (5-20%) are repeated in the path.

For example, of all the visitors that start at the home page, 15% of those visitors see the home page again as their very next page view. This could be a page refresh, but why is it so high? Has anyone else seen this, and if so can you explain why this would be so high. This phenomenon is consistent across all of our path reporting.

9:11 pm on July 5, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Interesting. What method are you using to collect clicks and what software is doing the path analysis?
5:45 am on July 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

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We use a Javascript-based tagging solution that is outsourced (ASP service). Their measurement and reporting seems accurate and reliable in all other areas, but the path analysis issue quite is strange.

Could this actually reflect reality do you think - ie. visitors refreshing that often on each page? I would think that slow dial-up users who are impatient more than likely hit the refresh button, but 15-20% still seems very high. We are in the UK by the way, where dial-up usage is still relatively high.

3:45 pm on July 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Is there any chance that one or more of the pages off the home page hasn't been tagged? Then you'd see this.

Or, if the tags are at the bottom of slow-loading pages off the home page, people could be hitting the back button before the tag loads and executes, and they'd appear as a double hit to home.

15% seems really high, though I'm comparing it to USA experience. But if your home page (or others experiencing problems) is very slow to load, I suppose it's possible people are refreshing that much. If your tags are collecting connection speed for you, you could make a separate report just on slow speed visitors and see if they have sky-high incidence of the phenomenon you're describing.

Is your reporting ASP doing the kind of path analysis that's really stringing together single-step jump statistics into descriptions of longer paths? Or is it actually grabbing the multi-step path for each visit and then tabulating those? I believe Coremetrics and HitBox do the former while WebTrends does the latter. Not sure about others. It would make a difference in proposing possible explanations.

If you can compare path patterns in server logs to what you're seeing from your ASP, you could get a handle on whether the tags not loading (or not being there) is an issue.

Have I helped or confused you? ;-)

6:33 am on July 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Very helpful - thanks. I think the connection speed suggestion is very good and I am going to look into this. My hypothesis is that slow-loading pages is the main source of the problem, but as you said 15% is very high. Our tags are placed at the top of the page and we are tracking multi-step paths for each visit.
1:49 pm on July 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I thought of another possibility. Are the repeated pages dynamic by any chance? Many analysis programs' default mode is to lop off the query string. So it's easy to get the same URL stem appearing over and over in a path, when actually the visitor is seeing different pages.
4:47 pm on July 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Are you doing anything tricky on this page to serve popups or popunders?
5:04 pm on July 7, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Nothing tricky at all really. On another note, our site is fairly high traffic (15+ million page views per month). I wonder if this issue is occuring proportionally more often during peak traffic times?
7:17 am on July 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

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If there is a link from the homepage to the homepage it could just be people clicking on the logo or something like that. Running the log files through Click Tracks might provide some insight.
 

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