Google Analytics Content Drilldown – More Useful Than It May Appear

For a lot of websites, the ‘Content Drilldown’ report does not appear to be particularly useful. In fact, compared to the ‘Top Content’ report, it often seems…completely redundant. For example, the only difference in the reports shown below is the name. (Aside from the difference in the number of pages – which we’ll get to later.) Furthermore, when you drill into an item on either report by clicking on it, you get to the same detail page. But, as I have (finally) come to realize, there is in fact more here than meets the eye, and for some sites the ‘Content Drilldown’ report may provide crucial, under-used perspective on site usage.

GA top content report

GA content drilldown report

(For many sites, there is no noticeable difference between the ‘Top Content’ and ‘Content Drilldown’ reports.)

The difference, as demonstrated in the screenshot below, is this: the Content Drilldown report (as its name admittedly implies), shows activity at the folder level, not just page level.  Depending on the structure of a given site, this can provide a very useful aggregation of data by folder that allows for easy comparison of performance between different sections of your site.

GA content drilldown report with folders

This example is for a site that is almost entirely structured in folders. Other than the home page (/index.asp) everything in the Content Drilldown report represents different sections of the site, organized by content. ¬†‘Index.asp’ shows up in the report because it is at the root level of the domain. So by rolling up all the pageviews in a given section, we can see in this example that while they are doing pretty well on the ‘shopping’ section of the site, in terms of exit rate, they are losing a lot of visitors in the ‘ideas’ section. Could be a good area to focus on for improvement!

And from here, when you click on one of the items in the report, you drill down into the next level of folders/pages. (Note that at each level, the number of ‘pages’ viewed refers to folders and/or pages at that level – hence the difference between the number of pages in the ‘top content’ and ‘content drilldown’ reports in the first example above.)

It’s also worth noting that if you are tracking different subdomains within your site and you have a filter in place to show full domain names in content reports, the Content Drilldown will start at the subdomain level.

With the advent of more flexible custom variables, site sections can also be tracked by applying these variables to pages. That approach has some advantages, but it involves changes to the GA tracking code. (And warrants a separate blog post!) Meantime, if you have your site architecture in order, the Content Drilldown can get you a long way right out of the box.

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