The majority of website owners want to maximize their site’s performance, but it’s not always obvious which website metrics best reflect how a site is doing.
If you’ve recently created a new website and want to start measuring its success, or you’ve already got a website and want to keep track of its performance, then keep reading…
First, you need to understand which website metrics will be best to tell you how well your website is performing. So I’ve explained my top 5 below.
1. Number of Visitors
The first metric you should track is the number of visitors. If the number is too low, then the rest of the metrics in my top 5 will have little value, so you need to attract traffic.
To get more visitors to your website;
- you can create blogs that rank on search engines, and of course shout about these blogs on your social media accounts (with links back to the article),
- create backlinks by commenting on other popular websites that have the same kind of audience you’re trying to attract,
- or you could try running some ad campaigns.
If you already have a well-established website and traffic isn’t an issue, then it would be worth checking your return visitor metric. Return visitors are those who’ve already visited your website at least once. Having a lot of return visitors is important because it shows that your content is engaging.
If you don’t have a high number of return visitors, trying creating more engaging content like infographics or videos. Or, if you are running ad campaigns, try targeting a different demographic.
2. Bounce rate
This is expected! A person lands on a website from a search engine like Google. They look at the site and realise it isn’t what they’re looking for. However, sometimes they may just take a look and literally in a matter of seconds, they will decide if your site looks boring or not. If it isn’t engaging, they click the back button after just a few seconds of browsing.
That is known as a visitor who has bounced. The ratio of the total number of visitors to those who have bounced is called a bounce rate. Having a high bounce rate affects your website’s SEO ranking and can make it appear lower in search results, which can cause a big drop in traffic.
To resolve this issue, firstly go to your Google Analytics page and find out exactly which pages on your website have the highest bounce rate, then you could;
- try enhancing the content on your website so new visitors will be engaged and stay longer, or
- Perhaps refine your audience targeting to better attract visitors that are interested in the products or services on your website. This will avoid the situation above where they’ve landed on your site by mistake.
3. Session Duration
This metric is pretty easy to understand. It calculates how much time a visitor was active on your website. This metric is a great indicator of how engaging your website is. The more clicks your website gets, the higher this metric will be.
But keep in mind that session duration isn’t a very reliable metric. Reason being if a visitor is inactive for 30 minutes or more; i.e you’ve published an in-depth blog or very long videos (and therefore they aren’t clicking), Google Analytics will consider that session closed.
4. Top Traffic Source
The traffic source shows where people are on the internet that drives them to your site. For eg, if you have an active LinkedIn profile and have promoted your blogs or products, this is considered a traffic source.
Why are these sources important?
Because they help make sense of other data on your website. For example, let’s say your average session time is 2 minutes and 30 seconds. If you drill into that further and look at the traffic source associated with that session time data, you’ll find out facts such as those coming from newsletter subscribers might be over 3 minutes, whereas those coming from Facebook or LinkedIn could be just 30 seconds.
By looking at the “average session time per traffic source”, you will find out exactly which visitors (and via which source) love engaging with your website more than others.
With that in mind, be careful of using the average amounts on their own. As you can see above, without looking into the other metrics, this can actually be very misleading.
5. Exit Pages
Exit pages are the pages where your visitors are abandoning your website.
Ideally, you want your home page to be engaging enough, or perhaps pinpoint their exact pain point, so that they continue to click through to other pages on your website.
Equally you might want them to click to sign up to a newsletter, or click to download an ebook, etc. If that point is the exit page, then perfect – mission accomplished.
However, what if the process was too complicated (too many clicks to get to the above), you’ll lose them at certain points. Use the information from this metric to gauge that and identify where you may need to make improvement on your site.
To track the above, and a host of other metrics, you will need to have a Google Analytics account set-up and linked to your website.
The Google tools are free to use and provide a wealth of information. If you try to measure it all at once though, it will become very overwhelming.
I suggest you start by looking at my top 5 metrics above and once you have got to grips with those and have made tweaks as necessary, then move onto some of the other areas.
If you’re interested in further reading around this topic, read my blog on Improving your SEO, which also has a link to download my SEO ebook.
If you need help in this area, please don’t hesitate to get in touch via email firstname.lastname@example.org.