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What is a heat map and why should you care about it in SEO?

6 minutes of reading
What is a heat map and why should you care about it in SEO?
Category SEO

When it comes to Search Engine Optimization, optimizing your website to show up on the first page of search results is an obvious priority. But how do you know if your efforts are actually working? One way of doing this is by creating and analyzing a heat map based on Google Analytics data.


Warm, warmer, hotter!

Heatmapa is a data analysis tool that graphically represents how visitors to a given website behave on it. The tool uses a spectrum of colors known as warm-to-cool, where cold colors represent zones that received the least attention, and warm ones represent places that attracted the most attention of users. The map can tell us:

  • are the interactive elements on the website visible and effective,
  • is the implemented navigation working,
  • whether the recipients read the content on the website,
  • which elements (titles) are popular,
  • which parts of the website are most frequently visited,
  • whether the media is displayed correctly.

Advantages of heat maps

Heat maps are an easy way to see where your visitors are coming from and where they’re heading. This information can help you optimize your site for the best performance. Heat maps show where users clicked, how much time they spent on each page, how many pages they visited, which links were clicked on the most. The more you know, the better your performance is.


Eye tracking and move heatmaps

These are heatmaps that indicate places on the website that attract the attention of Internet users in particular – they analyze how the user moves the cursor around the page and where his eyes most often stop. Search engines use this information to better understand what is important to people looking for information on a certain subject, and then show more results for those topics.

Click heatmaps

These are heatmaps that show a graph and an analysis of clicks on a given element (logo, call to action button, navigation bar or internal link) on the page. In this way, we can see which elements get the most attention from users and which ones may need some more optimization. The insights provided by these heatmaps can be invaluable when deciding how to optimize your web pages for conversion rate optimisation.

Scroll heatmaps

These are heatmaps that reflect the places where the user uses the mouse and scrolls the content of the viewed website. Thanks to them, it is possible to trace how far down the page the reader reached before leaving it. They can also help find out what areas are most popular on your site for visitors to scroll through.

The use of heat maps in SEO

  1. Click-through rate. The more clicks an area gets, the brighter that area will appear on the heatmap. Heat maps can also tell us what users are doing when they land on our site: whether they’re reading, watching videos, scrolling down or looking for something specific.
  2. Dwell time. It is an important metric for understanding how visitors are interacting with your site. It can tell us how compelling our content is to visitors, which pages they find most valuable, and how long they spend on each page.
  3. Bounce Rate. It can be defined as the percentage of users who visit one page on your site, then leave without viewing any other pages.
  4. The amount of content on the page. Heatmaps in the form of scroll maps allow you to determine whether the website provides sufficient answers to the questions bothering its recipients. If an article fully answers the user’s question at the top of the content, there is no need for the user to scroll any further.
  5. Site navigation. Thanks to them, it is possible to follow how the reader browses the website and whether it is easy for him to learn the rules of its operation.
  6. Link building. Thanks to a thorough heatmap analysis, it is possible to deduce where the clickable elements should be located on the page and then optimize the placement of links and increase traffic on subpages.

The use of heat maps in internet marketing

In e-commerce, heat maps can be extremely useful. Knowing which elements of the website are most interesting can be used to modify the page layout and increase conversion rates. The benefits of these factors include high customer satisfaction, ensuring a positive shopping experience, and encouraging repeat purchases.

Furthermore, with heat maps, it is possible to pinpoint what sections of the site the user spends the most time on, which is very helpful in terms of deciding what articles you should create. Thanks to heatmaps, the author of this article understands where readers expect to find important information and which supplemental content readers are receptive to viewing in it.

How to create a heat map?

  • Microsoft Excel. In this case, create a pivot table and complete it with appropriate data (e.g. the number of visits to the site in the last dozen or so days). Then you need to change the format for the numbers to custom. The next step is to choose the conditional formatting and any option in the Color Scales tab according to your preferences.
  • Google Fusion Tables. It is an easy way to create these maps for your blog post. It’s fast, free, and can be done with no coding skills at all.
  • Zarget. It is an excellent way to analyze your website traffic, compare results with a competitor site, or see which parts of the site are getting more attention. They can also identify areas that need improvement for conversion rates. The best part about It has the ability to set goals for certain page elements like the call-to-action button.
  • Software. You can also use ready-made, dedicated software. Personalized heatmaps can be found in the offer of many SEO agencies.
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Heat maps are a great tool for understanding what your audience wants to see on your website. They show which parts of the page are being clicked, hovered over, or ignored. This information can help you improve the content on your page to make sure that people are clicking on the parts of the content they want to see.

Aleksandra Pietrzak
Curator at the National Museum in Poznań, graduate of Art History at the Jagiellonian University and Contemporary Art at the Pedagogical University of Krakow, curator of exhibitions and author of scientific and popular texts. A lover of contemporary art, literature and travel.
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