Using Google Analytics to inform a non-profit website redesign

A non-profit website redesign is an exciting prospect, presenting an organization the opportunity to modernize options, rethink user needs, and update, well, everything, from text to images to site architecture. But a new website should lean heavily on one major component of the old website and that’s analytics. If you have Google Analytics (GA) installed on your current website, it’s likely a treasure trove of information which should inform your redesign.

Here are the ways you should use Google Analytics to inform your non-profit website redesign:

Search Terms

Google Analytics Search TermsIf your site has a search box with Google Analytics tracking enabled, this report will contain the searches people have conducted on your website when they weren’t finding what they were looking for or weren’t finding it quickly enough. This is important data because it shows what content is buried on your current website and what content you should elevate in the site architecture of your new website.

Check this report for data on the previous three months and the previous year. The previous three months will tell you what people have searched for seasonally. For non-profits, this is important since we often operate around seasonal needs, holidays, or certain giving cycles (for our donors). The previous year of data will give you an overall, modern snapshot of the content your users want and what you’ve buried.

For fun, search the entire history of search terms on your current site. You may see search terms which were once important, but which aren’t any more. For example, phrasing may have changed from “get food” to “get help” or “ food stamps” to “SNAP.” This may even provide you with ideas for A/B testing on the new site, in outreach materials, or in advertising.

To find Search Terms: Behavior > Site Search > Search Terms

Organic Keywords

Google Analytics Organic KeywordsOrganic Keywords are the words people use to search for your site on Google. This data gives you so much information. First, these phrases show you the real-world way people are searching for you. For example, a Humane Society might find that people are finding them by searching “how do i get my cat neutered for free” more than “Adopt from a Humane Society.” The quantity of searches for a keyword or phrase should inform how you phrase things on your new site and also which pages you place higher in the architecture.

When looking at this report, check the bounce and conversion rates (if you have Goals and/or Ecommerce set up in GA) of any keyword. You want a low bounce rate and a high conversion rate. Keywords which fit that bill should be incorporated into your text or even given their own landing pages, if, for example, they describe a program of your non-profit. If there are keywords which don’t fit this bill, but which users still use to find you, ask yourself if you want to be known for this content. If so, improve your landing page and user experience. If not, ignore the keyword.

To find Organic Keywords: Acquisition > Campaigns > Organic Keywords

Behavior Flow

Google Analytics Behavior FlowBehavior Flow shows you how users travel through your website. It’s a great visualized report, as opposed to Google Analytics’ many data reports. On this report, feel free to hover over and click on any section. Hovering will give you a quick view of more data. Clicking will give you an option to dive deeper into that data.

The data in Behavior Flow is incredibly important to a website’s functioning, not to mention a redesign. With luck, you’ll find users landing on the page you want them to and, it being so compelling and all, heading right to the donate/volunteer/get help page, right? But most of our websites aren’t set up that well. At one non-profit, I was surprised to find that our Program pages – lots of them – were our most compelling donation solicitations. They were written for clients, but it turns out our donors were thoroughly researching what we did before donating.

By diving into Behavior Flow, you might find that your visitors travel in loops – visiting and revisiting a page. This could be bad, since it indicates a bit of confusion or lack of other options, but it could also be good if that page also has an incredibly high Page Value. Spend some time in Behavior Flow to see what your visitors are currently doing on your site. While much of the data will make it clear you need a redesign, much more of it will show you your client or donors needs and desires in the real-world.

To find Behavior Flow: Behavior: Behavior Flow

Most Visited Pages

Google Analytics Most Visited PagesHopefully, you’ll be able to guess your most visited pages before looking at this report. But sometimes non-profit staff “know” the heart of what we do and then get stuck in that thinking. Finding out your most visited pages can be a surprise, but it’s good data for your next website. The All Pages report will show this data.

The most visited pages of your current website should be valued in a non-profit website redesign process. Even if you really rethink the structure of things, you don’t want to take away valuable information from your clients or donors. Or, worse, risk confusing your clients or alienating donors. Incorporate the most visited pages into your new website, whether by replicating the pages or incorporating the content onto another page.

Bonus: The All Pages report is a great place to find oddities in your data which can help you make a seamless transition from an old site to a new one. For example, maybe a colleague, years ago, linked your Guidestar account to a certain landing page and you now get steady traffic and donations through this page. I’ve seen this happen with a Privacy Policy page and only discovered it after I wondered why in the world our privacy policy was of such interest to so many people.

To find your most visited pages: Behavior > Site Content > All Pages


In this post, I haven’t mentioned reports on Goals, Ecommerce, or Mobile traffic. Those reports are incredibly important, but I left them out for a few reasons:

  1. Many small non-profits don’t have Goals enabled.
  2. Many small non-profits don’t have Ecommerce tracking set up – at no fault of their own. The world of online payments (Blackbaud, PayPal, etc.) doesn’t serve non-profits well by providing easy Ecommerce tracking. (Which, in our lingo, would be donations.)
  3. Mobile traffic isn’t even a concern – all websites should be responsive now. But, just for fun, go to Audience > Mobile > Overview to see the mix of desktop/mobile/tablet visitors you’ve had in the past three and twelve months. Don’t entertain a website redesign quote unless it is fully responsive.

When we’re ready for a non-profit website redesign, we can be so overdue for a new one that we might want to scrap the whole old site and start from scratch. There are golden nuggets (many more than I mentioned in this blog post) in your old site, though, that can set up your new site for success.

If you would like help in walking through your GA account, I can provide one-on-one support sessions and help you get a handle on all the data. Please contact me here if you’re interested.