Okay, you’ve just built a new website or redesigned your existing one. Now what? Do you sit back and hope that your website is going to be a raging success? If visitors don’t start filling in your contact forms, do you rip it apart and start all over? Certainly the answer to these last two questions is an emphatic “No!”, but what should you do once your new website is live? Keeping an eye on your website analytics lets you monitor how well your website is performing, and identifies opportunities for improving its effectiveness.
Five Website Analytics Metrics You Should Keep an Eye On
Here are five website metrics that can help you understand how well your website is performing.
- Sessions – The number of sessions is how many visitors have visited your website, and if you don’t have visitors then the rest of the metrics don’t really matter. A session starts when a visitor first arrives at your website and ends when they leave, regardless of what they do in between. Ideally, your sessions will increase over time, especially if you’re publishing great content like blog posts, email marketing or social media marketing.
- Pageviews – Once a visitor is on your site, you’ll want to keep an eye on pageviews – the total number of pages viewed by all of the visitors collectively. It’s good to keep an eye on the pages/session metric, too, because it tells you how many pages a visitor looks at during a session. Having a pages per session that’s too low might suggest visitors aren’t finding what they’re looking for and leaving; have a high number might suggest your call-to-actions aren’t strong enough.
- Bounce Rate – This is the percentage of visitors that come to your site and then leave while only looking at the page they landed on. So, you want your bounce rate to be as low as possible, right? You want people to come to your site and look at multiple pages, right? Not so fast. If a visitor did a search for a service that you sell, clicked on your link, loved the look of your site and called you – but didn’t visit a second page on your site – how would you like that? That would increase your bounce rate but in this example it’s not a bad thing because your site did an awesome job of moving them deeper into your sales funnel.
- Average session duration – Assuming you want your visitors to stick around your site for a while, another good metric to look at is average session duration – the average amount of time a visitor spends on your website looking around. Average session duration pairs quite nicely with average pageviews per session because together they tell you whether a visitor is taking short looks at a lot of different pages on your site, or taking a long hard look at only a few pages.
- Users Flow – This metric tells you where visitors are going once they get to your website. So, they land on your homepage – where are they most often going from there? Understanding user flows is a great way to evolve a website design to make it more effective: by looking at the most common paths you can enhance your website to make these paths easier to find. Also, you can look at conversions paths along your user flows and if users aren’t going where you want them to go then you can change the site layout or content to better direct them along conversion paths.
No One Metric Tells the Whole Story
There’s a story behind your metrics and in most cases no single metric does a good job of telling that whole story.
The number of visitors to your site might be high, but if you have a high bounce rate, low average session duration or low pageviews per session then you might want to spend some time revising your content so that it engages visitors better or improve your user flow paths. Conversely, you might not have a high number of sessions, but your site might be doing a great job in converting those visitors that you do get, in which case your website is doing its job.
Another thing to keep in mind is that there aren’t hard and fast rules for what are good and bad numbers for your metrics, it depends on a bunch of things including how old your site is, how hard you’re promoting it, how much your target market looks online for your products and services, and which part of the sales process your website serves.
Website analytics are great at telling you how effectively your website is performing. Not only do they tell you basic things like how many people visit your site, but they can also describe how visitors are interacting with your website when they get there. There are many different metrics that your analytics tools can show you, but a good place to start is to keep an eye on sessions, pageviews, bounce rate, average session duration and user flow. And remember, there are no hard good or bad numbers for what these metrics should be – consider them as parts of an overall story that is very dependent on the size and nature of your business.