A Method for Analyzing Navigation Flows of Health Website Users Seeking Complex Health Information with Google Analytics

Patrick Cheong Iao Pang, Megan Munsie, Shanton Chang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


People are increasingly seeking complex health information online. However, how they access this information and how influential it is on their health choices remains poorly understood. Google Analytics (GA) is a widely used web analytics tool and it has been used in academic research to study health information-seeking behaviors. Nevertheless, it is rarely used to study the navigation flows of health websites. To demonstrate the usefulness of GA data, we adopted both top-down and bottom-up approaches to study how web visitors navigate within a website delivering complex health information about stem cell research using GA’s device, traffic and path data. Custom Treemap and Sankey visualizations were used to illustrate the navigation flows extracted from these data in a more understandable manner. Our methodology reveals that different device and traffic types expose dissimilar search approaches. Through the visualizations, popular web pages and content categories frequently browsed together can be identified. Information on a website that is often overlooked but needed by many users can also be discovered. Our proposed method can identify content requiring improvements, enhance usability and guide a design for better addressing the needs of different audiences. This paper has implications for how web designers can use GA to help them determine users’ priorities and behaviors when navigating complex information. It highlights that even where there is complex health information, users may still want more direct and easy-to-understand navigations to retrieve such information.

Original languageEnglish
Article number80
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023


  • Google Analytics
  • health information-seeking behavior
  • health websites
  • navigation flows
  • public health


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