How to Use Google Analytics Content Drilldown to Uncover Hidden Gems

Whether you’re getting into the weeds of a content audit, or just trying to understand the performance of a particular digital campaign, it’s not uncommon for marketers to go cross-eyed when digging into marketing analytics data.

I fondly remember listening to a presentation by Robert Rose at a Content Marketing World years back where he said (and I’m paraphrasing), “I don’t know why we’re all worried about big data when we suck at small data.”

I almost blew coffee out of my nose.

It’s so true, but hey…that means there’s a lot of room for improvement! Luckily, data tracking and content analytics tools are getting better and easier to implement and use than ever before.

One main staple in the website analytics game is, of course, Google Analytics. Most of you reading this probably dig into GA reports regularly. We’ve talked before on the Divvy blog about several custom or underutilized reports that are very helpful for marketers, so today I’d like to cover one more of those.

Why Use the Content Drilldown Report

Let’s start with some context to illustrate the best use case for this report. When you first start architecting a website, the natural best practice is to create a map that organizes all the information you need to include into sections (a.k.a. directories) and pages (sub-directories). Large sites may have hundreds of directories and thousands of pages/sub-directories, which is why the CMS industry is not going away anytime soon.

website map - google analytics content drilldown

Website map or “Sitemap” example

Even blogging engines like WordPress share a similar structure through the use of page hierarchies, categories and tags. While there may not be an actual folder on a server that keeps everything contained within it, our analytics tools can still extrapolate the organization of these things, making it easier on us dumb marketers to “drill down” into what’s working and what’s not.

The key here is exactly that. When someone lands on our site, where are they going? What are they doing? What are they finding most interesting? What are they ignoring (that your boss thinks is REALLY important)?

“Brody, that’s easy… I can just go to the “All Pages” report in GA and see which pages are getting the most traffic.”


“Brody, I read this great article from Andy Crestodina regarding how to use the Navigation Summary report to see how people are navigating through our site.”

You’re right… For your company, you may have no problem using the typical reports to focus in on the few key products or services that are the most popular and getting the most traffic love. But, what if I asked a more macro question, “Which type of offering is getting more traffic, your products (all of them) or your services (all of them)?”

Or, say you have 10 product categories with 10 products under each. Which category are most visitors gravitating towards?

Again, this is an over-simplification, but if your company offers a wide variety of products and services, wouldn’t it be helpful to uncover that one of those sections/directories significantly outperforms the others?

Enter the Google Analytics Content Drilldown Report.

Using the Google Analytics content drilldown tool can be a game-changer when you audit your inventory of content. It can help you spot:

  • Underutilized content that provides great value — but needs more eyeballs on it
  • Underperforming content that was labor-intensive to create
  • Content with surprisingly great appeal
  • Topics that you need to cover more
  • Content that provides little to no value to your target audience
  • Content that is used for internal purposes that you should block from bots and the general public – that shouldn’t be counted in your audience-facing analytics
  • Navigation issues
  • Pieces of content that you need to optimize better for SEO

Google’s content drilldown feature allows you to start with a directory or page. Simply click to go down a level. Along the way, you can view the engagement metrics at each point, drilling down until you get an accurate picture of how each piece of content performs.

Look for Challenges, but More Importantly, Possibilities

As you drill down into this specialized content analytics tool, look not only for problems but, more importantly, for possibilities.

Discover new audiences

Suppose you find a piece of content that performs poorly with your current target audience but performs well with another demographic or area of interest. Instead of ditching that piece, consider adding that demographic group to your target audience. When you create more content that appeals to that group and distribute it on its preferred channels, you’ll find that you can open up a completely new stream of revenue for your business.

Correct SEO issues

If an older piece of content isn’t performing well but delivers helpful information for your customers, it might be time for a refresh. Update any dated references, check your copy for any broken links in anchor text or footnotes, and revamp its overall SEO to current best practices.

Make it easier to find relevant content

Navigation challenges include not only broken links in anchor text that links one blog post to another related one, a search box that doesn’t pick up on the words searchers enter into the box to deliver posts relevant to their search, or a piece of content’s low visibility that might be due to a lack of prominence on the menu (or misleading wording on the menu). If you have numerous navigation issues, usability testing coupled with making needed changes can help you get back on track.

Block bot and public access to irrelevant or internal pages

Search engines use bots to crawl your site. The more relevant your content is to your industry and niche, the higher they rank you in searches for what you sell. Internal pages — such as order forms, background material for employees, or content that you show only to customers that have an account with you — all need to be blocked from access to bots. Also, make sure that content that requires a login is kept from the eyes of the general public.

Remove or rewrite irrelevant content

If a piece of content isn’t performing because it is irrelevant to your customers’ needs, put your innovative minds to work to see if your content team can rework it into something relevant. Let’s say that you used to sell menswear but found that to be a dead end for your business. Blog content about your menswear collection probably doesn’t perform well with your female target customers. You have two choices: remove it or rework it into a piece that focuses on how to choose menswear that complements their partner’s for special occasions.

Give popular topics more coverage

Let’s say that you’ve created only five pieces of content in a particular category. When you drill down into these pieces, you discover that the numbers are staggering. Your target customers love them, link to them in their own content, and share it with other like-minded people. When you find these gems, look at ways to explore new angles on that topic. Then, use social media analytics to find out where your target audience hangs out and then publish them at a time and place where they’ll get attention.

Leverage unexpectedly well-performing content

Let’s say that you have a tool on your website to estimate income projections from real estate investment or a list of industry terms. During your Google Analytics drilldown, you discover that its page has yielded a huge number of page views, shares, and even has led to some sales. To you, it was just a tool. To your target customers, though, it’s a valuable resource. Link to that tool in more blog posts and other static pages. Promote it on social media and other channels. Create more content around that resource and create more resources like it.

Learn why some labor-intensive pieces of content underperform

Look at the characteristics of those people that did interact with the piece of content. For example, a blog post whose call to action was to download a white paper might not have gotten as many page views as your how-to video. However, a deeper look at the numbers might show that a majority of those in your audience that did download the white paper made an appointment with your sales team — and most of those people bought your product.

In that case, find ways to distribute that blog post to potential customers that need what you offer. Or, on the other hand, you might discover that your flashy new video didn’t convert because it didn’t provide enough information. In that case, rework it so that it does communicate the information your customers need.

Find underutilized content, promote it, and link to it

Let’s say during your content audit, you find a piece of evergreen content that would be incredibly useful to your target customers. But you also notice that your other pieces of content haven’t linked to it much — or at all. With a comprehensive content marketing platform, you can make a note in your content calendar to promote those pieces of underutilized content and create other content around its topic.

Conducting a content audit with the Google Analytics content drilldown report is much like finding buried treasure. Your audience’s behavior can help you discover hidden content gems that may just need a quick spit shine to help them sparkle.

Finding these hidden content gems is one of the reasons we at DivvyHQ get up in the morning. Leveraging this type of data often results in plenty of opportunities for new content or maintenance to-dos, which will all need to be planned and executed. We might just have a great tool to help you with that. Start your 14-day trial today!