Wednesday, April 23, 2008

BYU Independent Study site

Over the past few weeks my web analytics class has had the opportunity to consult with the BYU Independant study department and help provide recommendations for their site. We began by creating an online math courses landing page.

As a final assignment for my web analytics class we were allowed to look at the Google Analytics data for BYU's Independent Study website. After a quick analysis of the data I have the following recommendations:

Paid keyword recommendations:

Most of the top organic keyword searches have “BYU” in the search term, but not many of the subjects are ranked high. “fine arts” was the highest ranked keyword based on a subject. It was ranked at 136 with only 46 visits. However, the bounce rate was less than 1/3 of the site average. I would recommend focusing the paid advertising on subject keywords like “math class online.”

“byu high school program” search term:

The search term “byu high school program” brought in 234 visits (37th site wide) but had an 88% bounce rate (much higher than the 15.57% site average). The landing page for this natural search is I would recommend considering changing this landing page to improve the bounce rate.

Links in top navigation bar:

The links in the top navigation bar have high exit rate. is the top exit page on the site. This page is accessed by clicking on the “Start Course” Link in the top navigation bar. These pages are targeting returning users, but new users could be clicking on them because of their location on the site. (Some students might think “Start Course” is where they should go to enroll for a class.) This could be the explanation for the above average exits from these pages. Here are the stats for these pages:


Exit Rank

Number of Exits

Exit %

Start Course


146, 842


Check Grades




Request Exam




Submit assignment




Site Average/Total



When taken to the start course page the user is prompted for a course access code. For a new user, they may leave the site since they don’t have a code. In the long term I would recommend making this page and the other pages (request exam, check grades, and submit assignment) only available after a student has logged into the site. For a short term solution I would add the following to the Start Course page:
  • A link to instructions on how to get your course access code if you lost it or don’t have one.
  • Additional navigation (a call to action!) for students who have not yet signed up for a class to direct them towards the class catalog.

Read Me First Page:

The page has a high exit rate (52.72%) but it is supposed to be the “Read me first” page. This page is filled with great detail on how the independent study courses work, but there is no call to action on this page to sign up for a course! I would recommend adding some sign-up calls to action in the page that would direct users to the course catalog or other appropriate pages. There is an “Enrollment” section but there is no links from this section to the course catalog (which is the place that prospective students would go to in order to sign up for a class).

Page Titles:

The vast majority of the pages have the same title: “BYU Independent Study – Distance Education Courses – Online Learning.” For SEO purposes it would be good to put the keywords for each page first and then have BYU Independent Study at the end. This recommendation is primarily for landing pages.