- The most important site metrics are the ones that account for the person behind the visit.
- Conversions, goals, and time-on-page tell a vivid story of user behavior.
- The most often overlooked website metrics are performance stats, such as page load time and search engine rank.
Website success is easy to track if you know what you’re looking for. It’s true that there are a lot of “feel good” metrics that have no value in marketing. And others, like website traffic, require a second look before you can figure out what insights are worth knowing.
Tracking website performance metrics closely allows you to take action based on solid data as opposed to relying on mere assumptions. It allows you to gauge how your audience is engaging with your site, what works for them, and what you can do to grow bigger and better. It’s a bit like how pilots learn to fly by instruments when there is no visibility.
The frequency with which you check your website metrics will vary depending on how much you rely on your site traffic. A blog owner may check their site metrics weekly, while an e-commerce business may keep a real-time watch over Users, Sessions, and Conversion Rates.
Most importantly, website analytics helps stakeholders to track your performance as a business. Out of the thousands of metrics that Google Analytics tracks for you, these are the six most important ones you need to keep your eye on.
1. Traffic Metrics: Users and Sessions
Traffic receives a lot of attention, and rightfully so. It is the single most important indicator of site performance, but only when interpreted in the context of other factors such as engagement and conversion.
In Google Analytics, site traffic is represented by two numbers: users and sessions.
- Users — these are the unique visitors who come to your site in a given time frame. A person coming to your site 20 times a month is there only counted once in that month’s user statistics
- Sessions — this metric refers to the total number of site visits, even if they are the same user.
Both metrics are essential when it comes to tracking your website’s popularity and growth. For your websites, you will be more concerned with traffic growth over time or the increase in the number of users. For established websites, the number of sessions is important because it tells you that visitors are content enough to return.
Whether you’re aiming for more visibility or better retention, you can apply various measures such as diversified advertising to keep your site on the growth curve you are aiming for.
2. Channels — Where the Traffic Comes From
The second most important category of website metrics you should track is the sources of your traffic. Google has six channels for this by default.
- Direct traffic — this is from people who enter your site’s URL on their address bar
- Email traffic — these are visitors who click on links send in email campaigns
- Organic search from people who find your site after entering search terms on search engines like Google. Organic traffic remains the most important; according to Statista, it still accounts for 65% percent of site traffic to eCommerce platforms
- Referral traffic is for those who click on links from other sites
- Other — this is for miscellaneous traffic that Google can’t categorize
Tracking traffic sources tells you a lot about your audience. In fact, it may just be the most valuable source of information for your market research. There is a lot you can do with channel information, including:
- Measure the success of various online campaigns
- Measure the quality of your traffic
- Help you target highly profitable or underperforming sources
- Identify new and potential sources of referrals
- Observe trends and patterns on your website
- Manage your investments to ensure the best ROI
3. Measures of Engagement: Average Time on Page and Bounce Rate
There are many more metrics used to measure visitor engagement on websites, including less common ones such as scroll depth and the number of open sessions. However, Average Time on Page and Bounce Rate stand out as the two most prominent ones.
Average Time on Page
This is the average time people spend interacting with your pages. If an article on your blog is supposed to take 5 minutes to read and the ATP is 4 minutes, you can be sure that visitors are at least taking time to read it through.
Your website’s bounce rate is the number of visitors who only interacted with one page before leaving. It’s taken to mean what percentage of visitors immediately regretted their decision of visiting your site, and that’s wrong.
But if a visitor just wanted a contact number or to read a single blog post they saw on Twitter, that counts as a legitimate visit.
In terms of engagement, bounce rate is about how well your site’s user experience and content funnel can get visitors to interact further with your site. Think about internal links, powerful CTAs, and engaging content.
Bounce rate remains important because a high number (>70%) shows that most of your site’s visitors are not satisfied and could even be going to your competitors. And, a low bounce rate of less than 30% means that most of your visitors find your site engaging and useful.
4. Conversion and Goals
At the end of the day, your website is there to serve a purpose. That could be selling products, attracting subscriptions, or simply growing traffic. This is obviously one of the cardinal metrics, so most brands have no problem tracking goal conversion.
Google Analytics allows you to set goals for your site and track them under Conversions > Goals > Overview. The goal conversion rate tells you how many of your site’s visitors are taking a specific action such as signing up for a newsletter, subscribing to a service, or filling a contact form.
GA, in conjunction with other platforms such as Facebook, also provides data about link clickthroughs. You need to track how many people are clicking on the CTAs on your site and blog posts, as well as externally on paid ads, social media posts, email campaigns, and other external sources.
5. Website Performance Metrics
Page load speed, image rendering, responsiveness – these are all small metrics in the grand scheme of things, but they have the power to destroy a website. Website performance is about giving the user the best possible experience while on your site. There are many performance metrics you can monitor, but here are the most important.
- Page load speed — this is the time it takes for your web pages to load on the visitor’s device. The first five seconds of page-load still remain the most important
- Responsiveness refers to how well the website displays on various types of mobile devices. Over 50% of Google traffic is mobile traffic, so pages need to display properly regardless of the device
- Time to interact — in slow connections, text and images load first before interactive elements such as links and scripts. This is the time it takes to load these interactive elements
6. Search Engine Performance: Impressions and Clicks
Your website’s search performance such as ranking, impressions, clicks, and SERP ranking should be a top priority. Higher ranking means more organic traffic for your site and thus more business.
This is especially true for direct-to-consumer brands that rely on higher impressions to grow revenue and fuel growth. Generating high-quality content still remains the best way to grow the number of organic impressions your site receives.
Google Analytics and many other tools provide a wealth of data meant to help you navigate your website to success. However, this data is useless to you unless you can draw actionable insights from it and take action. To make visualizing your data easier, consider using a BI dashboard like Advantage Reporting™.
If you need help with figuring out what all the numbers mean or what to do with them, book a free 30-minute strategy session with an expert at Advantage and let us help you get on the right path.
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