Heatmaps for SEO: Opportunities, Tools, Tips and How to Use Them for SEO-Strategy

Heatmaps for SEO: Opportunities, Tools, Tips and How to Use Them for SEO-Strategy

To ensure effective Digital Marketing and SEO, it is important to monitor the behavior of site users and evaluate the UX they receive when using Internet resources.  Heatmaps are among the effective tools for carrying out such an analysis. These are special tools that use different colors to monitor user activity. Let’s look at what types of heat mapping exist and how to use them to solve SEO tasks, optimize sites and pages.

What Is a Heatmap?

A Webpage heatmap is a tool for visualizing various data about the behavior of users visiting a page. Website owners, marketers, and SEO specialists can analyze large amounts of information that is displayed using different colors from red to blue.

Red means warm areas with the highest level of user interaction. Blue means areas with the lowest level of user activity according to various indicators. For example, this is the google analytics heatmap, placed on the Google developer site, where the color data is superimposed on a satellite image of a region map.

A heatmap for a website page shows how users react to content and its different elements, so you can find out what the audience is most interested in. In this example, you can see that users reacted more actively to the content in the upper left corner of the page. This is marked in red and is slightly less interested in the content in the middle, marked in yellow with fragments of orange:

Crazy Egg

Depending on their type, working with such maps allows you to receive various information about user behavior, what kind  of content attracts and retains the target audience, and helps to better understand its interests and needs.

Types of Heatmaps and What They Can Be Used for in SEO

There are several types of heat maps that are used to obtain and evaluate various data:

1. Clicks Heatmaps: This is one of the most popular services that displays all interactive user actions: using the panel, navigation, internal links, clicking on logos, images, CTA buttons, etc.


2. Scroll Maps, show how far users have moved on a page before leaving. This is especially important for sites with text content and e-commerce. Warm colors, especially red, indicate that a large number of users are viewing the page. Seeing that the page is predominantly filled with cool colors, it’s worth considering optimizing your content.


3. Move maps: This type of map shows how people move their mouse or move around the screen when using a touchpad on a laptop or a touchscreen on a phone or tablet. This type of map is good at identifying how people perceive your content and what attracts them the most. Warm areas show where users spend the most time.


4. Eye tracking Heat Maps. This is an advanced map view that provides more detailed information about behavior and UX. This information can be obtained using webcams, which are actively used by many users and tracks the user’s eye movement when they are on the site. The map also shows how long the user has been looking at the page. This will indicate interest in content, services, or a store. Experts note that people tend to spend more time on the left side of the site, so it should be used to place a logo, banner, and other important information.


5. Desktop and mobile heatmaps. These maps show how content is presented across devices, allowing you to compare and gauge user reactions. For example, if the desktop version shows a lot more activity, you should consider how to optimize mobile content, its structure, page opening speed, etc.


Working with Heat Maps Tools and Services

Among the free Google services, Google Analytics heat maps tools are popular among marketers and SEO specialists. Access is open to all Google Analytics users.

As stated in the developer documentation, google analytics heat maps refers to the google.maps.visualization library but is not a service that is available by default. The map rendering views are a separate library that differs from the main Maps JavaScript API code.

To work with the heatmap library, you need to load it using the following parameters from the Maps JavaScript API bootstrap URL:

Developers Google

To add a Heatmap Layer, you must first create a new HeatmapLayer object by accompanying it with geographic data as an array or as an MVCArray[ ]object. The data can be in the form of LatLng object or a WeightedLocation object. After setting the HeatmapLayer object, add it to the map called setMap( ) method. The developer page provides an example of data for 14 points on the San Francisco map:

Developers Google

Developers Google

Heatmaps can also render LatLng or WeightedLocation objects or a combination of both. Both objects represent a single point on the map, but WeightedLocation objects also allow you to add the weight of a specific point. By giving the point a weight, you are instructing to render that position more intensively than is the case with the LatLng object.

Using WeightedLocation instead of LatLng can be helpful in such cases:

  1. Adding a large amount of data for one location, to render one WeightedLocation with a specified weight of 1000, will be much faster than with a LatLng location weighing the same 1000.
  2. You can use different types of objects to emphasize the format of the received data. For example, LatLng can provide general information about a storm, while WeightedLocation can provide data about its score.

An example of how objects of both types look:

Developers Google

Developers Google

You can configure the use of HitmapLayerOption using the following parameters:

  1. Dissipating: Thi adjusts the spread of the image when zooming in, which makes adjustments if the data becomes invalid when zooming in. In this case, the system corrects the color data so that it is relevant for each location.
  2. Gradient: Color gradients heatmaps are specified using CSS color strings. All CSS3 colors strings are supported, including RGBA. The only exception is extended color names and HSL(A) values.
  3. MaxIntensity has the ability to customize the maximum intensity of the heat map. By default, the intensity of the colors depends on the concentration of the points analyzed by the map. In the case of a high concentration of the analyzed data, you can adjust the maximum intensity to obtain a more contrasting image.
  4. Radius: The radius of the coverage for each point in pixels.
  5. The opacity is the degree of density (opacity) of the heatmap, selected as a number between 0 and 1.

Google also provides a free option for working with heatmaps through the Page Analytics functionality available in the Google Chrome Extension for Google Analytics account holders. To do this, you need to install a browser, register an account, and then you can get to work.

Page Analytics

The tool provides the following information:

  1. How users interact with the site, page views, including unique views.
  2. The number of active users in real time.
  3. Average time a user spends on a page.
  4. Analysis of clicks.
  5. The number of users bounces and the percentage of exit from the site within a few seconds.

Page Analytics

Besides the free Google heatmaps services, there are quite a few paid heatmap tools out there. Let’s look at the most popular ones.

1. Hotjar is arguably the most popular heatmap tool of choice for many professionals. It provides various heatmap options and ways to track user behavior and creates detailed and extensive reports.

Insights Hotjar

After registering with Hotjar, you need to set its code to the <head> section of each page that needs to be checked:

Insights Hotjar

The service provides a free trial period for 15 days, and a paid subscription starts at a price of $29 per month.

The service includes the following tools:

  1. Information about clicks, maps of user movement on the site, and scrolling maps.
  2. Recordings of the screens of users who visit the site.
  3. Conversion funnels.
  4. High-quality customer service.
  5. Simple and convenient user interface.
  6. Access to an unlimited number of users to use the software.
  7. The ability to see heatmaps depending on the device.

Among the shortcomings, some experts include the lack of Channel-wise segmentation of users, the limit of 1500 pixels for pages, and the likelihood of site slowdown due to massive code.

2. The Crazy Egg is an online application that offers a range of tools for assessing user experience such as heatmaps, overlay, confetti, and others. The tool uses mouse-tracking technology to measure user behavior.

Crazy Egg

Like the previous service, you need to install the code on the pages in the <head> section, but in this case it looks less voluminous:

Crazy Egg

The possibility of a free trial period is 30 days, and the payment will also be $29. Among the service features:

  1. Analysis of CTA buttons
  2. Ability to redesign the page or its elements
  3. The ability to track user activity in pop-up windows
  4. Interaction with Google Analytics, the ability to separate the received data into the data that Google Analytics uses
  5. Detailed and fairly complete information about users

However, the service does not have a screen recording function and is not effective enough when working with websites with responsive design.

3. Lucky Orange is a tool for Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) and analysis of user feedback.

Lucky Orange

Main functions:

  1. Creation of heat maps that have additional configuration options for data by locations and regions
  2. Analytics of user behavior
  3. Tracking user polls
  4. The presence of interactive elements to track user behavior

Free use is available for 7 days, subscription costs from $10.

How to Use the Heatmaps to Push Up the Effectiveness of SEO

One of the main tasks that Google positions is to provide users with the most useful information that will match the request and expectation. For this, many algorithms are used that are constantly changing and are designed to provide the best search result.

In order to optimize your site, make it attractive to users and make them want to stay on the pages longer and come back, it is very important to understand the requests, interests and characteristics of your target audience.

Using heatmaps can significantly improve the efficiency of the analysis of user behavior. It can also track its dynamics and changes. Let’s see how you can use this tool to improve site performance and traffic.

1. Improving the structure and usability of the site: Usability and user friendliness are very important indicators for a site to be in demand among visitors. By testing different options for how to structure and optimize your site using heatmaps, you can see the dynamics of user experience and behavior. After, you will have the potential to bring your site to new positions in the search results and increase future traffic.

2. Optimizing content length and style: The format of content is highly dependent on the topic of the site. For sites with  more text content, create detailed, capacious material. E-commerce sites should have concise information that provides enough data. By experimenting with content length, you can determine what your audience likes best and build your content strategy in accordance with the needs of the public.

3. A/B testing: This type of testing is an effective tool for assessing user perception and deciding what to change or leave everything as it was. Using heatmaps will allow you to assess the reaction of different user groups to your proposed site, design or content options. This will help you make the right decision and optimize the resource in the best way. You can read more about A / B testing and what it can do for SEO in How to Do A/B Tests and How Can They Work for SEO.

4. If your site is an information resource, news portal, or blog, use the news heatmap tool to create relevant content. Depending on the nature of the most popular news, the system highlights the regions on the map with a certain color (from blue to white).


This way, you can track the dynamics of relevant news depending on the region and find ideas for content. This tool can be effectively combined with Google Trends. You can read about how to work with this service in the article How to use Google Trends for SEO.

1. Combine heatmaps with surveying: This dual interactivity can be highly effective for successfully optimizing content, design, site structure, and more.

2. Use heatmaps to implement internal links. They don’t play such a role in promotion and ranking as high-quality external links but they contribute to the formation of a convenient site structure and keep the user’s attention. Therefore, by observing the reaction of users to your internal links and, in general, to this or that content, you can make your resource more attractive and meaningful.

3. Use Clickmaps to track how well your site’s interactive features, such as CTA buttons, questionnaires, product pages, and category pages, are performing. Everyone knows that a poorly performing or illogical site irritates visitors. To avoid this, it is worth observing for some time the reaction to the site’s functionality. You can take timely measures and correct errors.

4. Analyze and evaluate your navigation: how often users click on links on the site, which pages are successful, which are not good enough, etc. High-quality and logical navigation plays a big role in how your site, pages, and content will be perceived.

5. Study the needs of your audience, follow seasonal trends, so that you are ready to offer people what they really want. If you find that your audience loves reading “how to” articles in the form of lists the most, make it the main type of your content. If your audience loves infographics, eye-catching images, and quality designs, this piece of content is worth considering.

In conclusion, note that heatmaps and their various functions can have a significant impact on the formation of an SEO strategy and the success in its implementation. SEO, like digital marketing, is very multifunctional and requires significant resources. SEO specialists’ tools are becoming more diverse and effective before our very eyes, which makes this work especially exciting.

About author
Leyla is a journalist with more than 15 years of experience. She also worked at marketing - PR and advertising (about 7 years). She was so interested in IT, especially SEO. Now Leyla is deep in SEO, this sphere inspires her for new issues and researches.