Note: This blog post assumes that you have Google Analytics or something equivalent installed to track your website. If you don’t, then stop reading this post right now and get it installed because you are committing a major website sin.
If you have a website but aren’t measuring how effective it is, you are only doing half a job. By knowing what to look for in your website metrics you can gain valuable insight to help you make important decisions. Decisions not just about your website, but other areas of your business and marketing too.
No one metric should be tracked on its own, doing that can leave you with a very distorted view of how your website is actually performing.
With that said, here are some of the key metrics you should track:
Visits and visitors
For Google Analytics users, Google recently changed what it calls this metric, you will now see this information under ‘sessions’ rather than ‘visits’ and ‘users’ rather than ‘visitors’ but it is still the same data.
These are important metrics as they are an indication of the popularity of your site and the size of the audience you are reaching. However, as I mentioned, don’t track these metrics on their own.
If you website visits are going up and your bounce rate is also going up, that suggests that those new visitors aren’t finding what they are looking for on your site and leaving right away. So although you would see visits and visitors increasing, you would get no extra benefit as they aren’t sticking around to see what you have to offer, but you wouldn’t be able to tell that just tracking these metrics on their own.
The traffic source breakdown shows the different places that your site’s traffic is coming from, whether that is organic search, social media, email or other channels.
Keeping an eye on your traffic sources helps your track from a high level how your other marketing is performing. If you have been sending out email campaigns or putting a more focused effort in to social media you see that reflected in the figures in the traffic sources report.
Again, looking at these traffic sources in conjunction along with something like bounce rate, you can tell whether the content you are directing people to from your other marketing mediums is performing as you would like or not.
I have already mentioned bounce rate a couple of times, and there is a reason for that, it’s important!
Assuming you haven’t done anything custom to your web analytics tracking code installed on your site, a bounced visitor will be one that visits only one page of your site and then leaves.
If your site has a high bounce rate, the top level take away from that is that visitors aren’t liking what they see when landing on your site, whether that is the site design, the site content or even the site speed, ultimately they are choosing to leave rather than stick around to see what else you have to offer.
The top level bounce rate figure is less useful, if you narrow this down and look at the bounce rate of specific pages, particularly landing pages, you can gather an idea of where you need to focus your effort on improving your site’s bounce rate.
Looking at the top most viewed pages on your site will give you an idea of the pages that your visitors think are most important. This will give you clues as to what content engages your visitors most so that you can create more of it!
Goals and conversions are tracked when a user takes a specific action on your site, something that you have specified that you want to track. This is one of the main metrics to track the ROI of your site.
The type of actions tend to track are the completion of a contact or enquiry form or a booking, even a download of a brochure or a newsletter sign up. Ecommerce sites can set up ecommerce tracking to track purchases of specific products. The great thing about setting up your analytics to track an action like this is that you can track the source of that conversion back to where it originated, whether that was an email campaign, Facebook or from someone doing a search on Google.
Tracking goals/conversions will give you insight into what pages of your site are most important for generating sales and enquiries, so you know where to put your effort to get more of them.
Of course there are other important metrics to track, but if you are busy and just want to keep an eye on a few key places then these are where I suggest you focus your time, with perhaps every so often delving a bit deeper into the information available to you.
Are there any other metrics that you like to measure when looking at your analytics? Leave a comment below and let me know!