Every website owner wants to maximize their site’s performance, but it’s not always obvious which performance factors best reflect how a site is doing.
If this topic is of interest to you, you’ve either created a new website and want to start measuring its success, or you’ve already got a site and want to keep track of its performance.
To do that, first, you need to understand what kind of metrics will best tell you how well your website is performing.
In this article, we’ll explore nine useful website metrics.
1. Number of Visitors
Before you can gauge how attractive and engaging your website is, you’ll need visitors, so the first metric you should track is the number of visitors.
If the number is too low, the other metrics covered here will have little value, so you need to attract traffic.
To get more visitors to your website, you can create content that ranks on search engines. And you can get backlinks, that is, links to your website posted on other popular websites that have the same kind of audience you’re trying to attract.
You can also attract more visitors by running ad campaigns on Google Ads, Facebook, or other popular social platforms.
If you already have a well-established website that gets a lot of traffic, you should measure the return visitor metric.
Return visitors are those who’ve already visited your website at least one time. 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, you can:
- Create more engaging content like infographics and videos;
- Add more products to your store or improve existing product pages with better copy, more attractive product pictures, and videos;
- Choose a better demographic to target in your ad campaigns.
2. Bounce Rate
It happens all the time.
A person lands on a website from a search engine like Google. They look at the site and realize that it doesn’t have the information, products, or services they’re looking for.
Or maybe they just think the site looks boring. In response, 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 tackle this issue, you can go to your Google Analytics page and find out exactly which pages on your website have the highest bounce rate.
Since bounce rate is caused by a mismatch between visitor interest and the content on your website, there are two things you can do to improve this metric.
- You can enhance the content on your website so new visitors will be engaged and stay longer.
- You can refine your audience targeting to better attract visitors that are interested in the products or services on your website.
3. Average Pageviews per Session
If you want to know how interesting your website is, this is the metric to pay attention to. The average pageviews per session metric shows exactly how many pages of your website a visitor has browsed.
For example, if you operate an e-commerce store, you want visitors to browse as many products as they can. If average pageviews are 5 pages, you can assume that people typically look at 3 products (the first two pages are probably the homepage and product category page).
To improve this metric, you need to add as much compelling content on your website as possible.
One thing to remember is, having a high average pageviews per session score doesn’t guarantee you will get a high number of subscribers or customers, but it is a very good indicator of it. The more pages a visitor sees on your website, the more likely they are to take the action you want.
4. Session Duration
The session duration metric is easy enough to understand. It calculates how much time a visitor was active on your website. Like average pageviews per session, 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 if your website isn’t based on interactions. If a user is inactive for 30 minutes or more (i.e., the user isn’t clicking), Google Analytics will consider that session closed.
If your website is focused on showcasing the products and services you sell and is dependent on people exploring its pages and links, then session duration could be a very good indicator of how interesting people find your website.
On the other hand, if you publish in-depth blog articles or super-long videos on your website, your visitors might not click many pages. In that case, this metric wouldn’t be a reliable way to measure engagement.
5. Average Time on Page
If a site owner was to consider just the number of visitors and average pageviews, they would only get part of the story. A million people could land on a site, click a few pages, and move on, uninterested in actually consuming the site’s content.
The metric that shows you actual engagement, when considered with average session time, is average time on page.
The average time on page metric shows you how much time is being spent on individual pages of your website. If you sell products, you’ll want people to spend more time looking at product pages than, say, your landing page or product categories page.
Average time on page will let you know which kinds of pages visitors are spending more time on. This is particularly useful for websites that are content-heavy and depend upon visitors reading articles and watching videos.
6. Top Traffic Source
There are places your website visitors come from, and we’re not talking about their hometown. Wherever people are on the internet that drives them to your site is considered a traffic source.
For example, if you have an active Instagram page where you promote your website’s products or a YouTube channel where you create how-to videos, those are considered traffic sources. When a lot of visitors come to your website from a particular source, that is one of your top traffic sources.
Why are these sources important?
Because they help make sense of other data on your website. For example, suppose your average session time is 2 minutes and 30 seconds. If you drill down and look at the traffic source associated with that session time data, you’ll get some truly valuable insight.
Your average session time from newsletter subscribers might be 3 minutes and 15 seconds while that from Facebook might be just 30 seconds.
By looking at the average session time per traffic source, you found out that your email subscribers love engaging with your website more than visitors from Facebook.
Using this information, you’ll be able to act more effectively on the data provided in Google Analytics.
The “average” metrics in Google Analytics, i.e., average time on screen, average pageviews, and average session duration are actually averages of averages, and hence, not very reliable on their own.
This is not to say they aren’t valuable, but you need to use them with another metric, like traffic source. When employed in combination with other metrics, the “averages” metrics can help you find out where engagement on your website is coming from.
7. Device Source
Device source is another metric you can use as input when trying to make your website more engaging.
It can be used to find out the top device types (PC, tablet, or smartphone) people use to access your website. In addition, you can see the top operating systems (iOS, Android, Windows) and top browsers (Chrome, Safari, and Firefox) being used to render your site.
Knowing this will allow you to optimize your website for the kind of devices it’s being accessed from.
You’ll be able to make changes to the design and content so that your site looks great on the devices most commonly used to access it. Devise source data may come handy when you’re creating ad campaigns as well.
8. Interactions per Visit
The interactions per visit metric is another cool metric that you should monitor. It shows you exactly how visitors are moving across your website, again, giving you an in-depth look at which parts of your website are engaging and which aren’t.
For example, in an online store, you can see which product category page people visit the most or the least. Knowing this will tell you what kind of products your visitors are interested in seeing.
The interactions per visit metric also lets you see the exact link, button, or other interactive elements a visitor has clicked and what action they took (i.e., liked, bought, commented, subscribed, etc.).
All this data can be useful when you’re planning your content or marketing strategies for increasing your sales, subscriptions, or simply boosting engagement.
9. Exit Pages
Many sites have a multi-step conversion process. For example, if you’re selling products via content marketing, you’ll first want visitors to read an article. Then you’ll want them to subscribe to your blog.
Your visitors may have to click on a purchase link via email and then fill out a form, and so on.
In an eCommerce store, maybe your visitors will first have to search for an item via the search bar or an extensive product category menu, click on the checkout button, complete the checkout form, and pay for the item.
In multi-step processes like those, visitors can fall out at any point. It may be because the entire process is too complicated or simply because the visitor changed their mind.
Before you can make improvements in this area, you need to know which of your website’s pages are exit pages, that is, pages where people are abandoning your website.
This way, you’ll be able to pinpoint what part of your website you have to improve in terms of enhancing engagement or reducing friction.
The trick to using these metrics properly is to identify which metrics can help you assess whether your website is meeting the needs of your business.
If you try to measure all metrics at once without any purpose, you’ll quickly become overwhelmed and obsessed with improving the numbers in your Google Analytics dashboard.
Instead, focus on generating insights from the metrics you’re measuring—insights that you can convert into actionable knowledge for improving the user experience on your site.
Generally speaking, most of these measures can be improved using three tactics: 1) Ensuring content relevancy (making sure you’re covering the topics that your users expect to find in your page, according to their search intent) 2) Optimizing technical SEO aspects, such as Page Speed, and 3) Having a cohesive, intuitive design.
While you can find a wide range of information on 1) and 2), we noticed that number 3) seems to be the tactic most business owners miss when looking to keep users engaged. That’s why at HostPapa we recommend ONE Subscription, a universal web-development toolkit that includes thousands of WordPress and CMS themes, several plugins, hundreds of design assets, and over a million stock photo items for a seamless web-development process, all in one place.
With that said, if you make sure that you’re covered in these three fronts, you can rest assured that users and search engines will take notice.
Which metrics are you tracking on your website?