Measuring Scroll Behavior Helps You Connect Visitors with Key Content

On the web today, we have a whole new way to “bury the lead.” How so? The growing demand for mobile-first design, which supports mobile users’ swipe, zoom, and scroll behavior is naturally driving the development of long, easy-to-scroll pages.

So, the question becomes: Are your visitors even seeing the content you consider most important?

man scrolling a website on his smartphone


This is critical data to have, as you work to continuously increase conversions. And, here’s how you do it.

Eye tracking

You need to know if your users are seeing and interacting with the most critical content on your page. And, the most accurate answer will come from tracking their eye movements. Overlay this tracking information on your web page and you’ll get a heat map of what content is holding your visitors’ gaze.

Eye Tracking Heat Map

Of course, this means getting representative visitors into a testing facility or shipping them eye-tracking hardware. That’s an expensive proposition and most small and mid-sized businesses just can’t justify that sort of testing.

Granted, with webcams becoming commonplace, that could be changing, but there are still technical and social issues that prevent it from being a simple option right now.

Mouse and click heatmaps

If you can’t observe where your visitors are looking, you can easily track where they click.

As we assume visitors will look at something before they click it, this gives us an idea of exactly what content they’re looking at. While a lack of clicks is no guarantee that something hasn’t been seen, it is a strong indicator. And, for desktop users, you can do one better by tracking mouse movements—as people tend to move their mouse toward the content that’s drawing their attention.

In either case, you can generate useful heatmaps without the elevated cost of eye-tracking—revealing what your visitors find interesting and what they literally don’t see.

There are many services that will help you track and create these maps for a price. And, Google Analytics includes a simple version for free.

Content visibility plugins

What if you want something simpler still? What if you just want to know which specific content or interface elements are even showing up in the browser?

Scroll depth

Even in this digital world, we still butt up against the concept of “above the fold.” (Although, nowadays, it really means “before we scroll much.”)

Measuring how far a visitor gets through a page can answer many questions:

  • How long should your articles be?
  • Are you introducing too much navigation or other elements before the visitor gets to the meat of your content?
  • Is anyone seeing the secondary content lower in the page?

This simple metric can really help you optimize the content you create for your site.

And, we created a WordPress plugin to make this simple.

Element visibility

If there’s a specific element on your website you suspect your visitors aren’t seeing, you can track its visibility. This is a little more complicated than general scroll behavior tracking, but if you know how to define a selector for that element, you can use our WP Scroll Depth plugin to track that, as well.

Understand scroll behavior and improve site performance

If you have an inviting contact form in the footer of your page, but scroll behavior tracking shows only 20% of your visitors ever get to your footer, you’ll know 80% of your audience is missing out on your carefully crafted call-to-action.

And, if your best pitch is on slide three of your carousel, and users are scrolling down the page before that slide becomes visible, again, you’re losing an opportunity. And, visibility tracking can provide the hard numbers that indicate how often each slide is seen. (Spoiler alert: After the first slide, it’s not a lot.)

So, what site content is drawing your visitors’ attention and what is getting missed? Use some of these techniques to find out. Because, when you can identify weaknesses in your content and layout, you can better focus your efforts to create the stronger site that deliver the content your users are really looking for.