Does Your Website Work? Measuring Your Success
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Do you know which website metrics are important to track?
Some people might think it’s all about traffic and keyword rankings, but those may not be the best indicators of website success–and they may even be misleading!
Before you start monitoring every available metric and vanity goal out there, ask yourself, “why am I measuring this?” If your answer does solve any problem or align with an overall website goal, you may be wasting your time.
Read on to save time and headache, and streamline your analytics game.
Not All Measurements are Equal–Aligning Metrics with Your Goals
There are many metrics that you can use to measure the success of your website. But, it’s essential to understand which ones will highlight your specific goals.
If your goal is to generate business leads from your site, then monitoring keyword rank will not be the best measurement of success. It might sound impressive to have the number-one slot on Google (and a lot of people get stuck on this), but top positions don’t always translate to your business goals. What you should be tracking is the number of qualified leads.
Traffic volume is another example of a metric that may be misleading. If you’re running an e-commerce website, conversion metrics will be more effective measurements than the number of visitors to your site.
So, ask yourself:
- Which goals are most important for my business?
- How does my website help me meet those goals?
Once you’ve answered those questions, it will be easier to determine which metrics matter most.
Measuring and Supporting Your Goals
Once you know which numbers matter the most, measuring your website’s progress is essential to determine whether you are meeting your goals. Also, you will need to measure some additional metrics which support your big-picture goals.
Google Analytics is an industry-standard tool for measuring website performance. It helps you monitor your site traffic, conversion rates, the popularity of your content, and more. This data allows you to make informed decisions about what’s working well on your site and what needs improvement.
While there are advanced tools, Google Analytics is free. Also, its default reports are a great starting point for measuring your website performance without getting too bogged down in measurements that don’t always matter to you.
A Sample Analytics Workflow with Context
Measuring web analytics can be intimidating. Even if you know what to measure, it’s not always clear what the numbers mean and how to use them. In this section, we walk through an actual analytics workflow and explain the practical basics of each section.
We will be looking at four report sections of Google Analytics:
They are found on your Analytics home screen, on the left sidebar.
This workflow uses Google Analytics, but other analytics tools all measure similar metrics no matter which you choose.
Audience Report–Are You Getting Good Traffic?
Audience > Overview
The first tab under the Audience Report in Google Analytics is the Overview tab. The number to look at here is the total number of website users.
Tracking the number of website visitors is not always relevant. However, nothing changes in those numbers, from month to month, or compared to other periods, (like the same period the previous year) can help you determine how well your website performs.
Measuring the success of a blog, for example, would include knowing how many visitors you have each month and whether these numbers are increasing or decreasing from one period to another.
Besides looking at traffic levels, it’s also important to notice how visitors engage with your site. Engagement is represented in metrics like Pageviews, Pages per Session, and Average Session Duration. Bounce Rate can also indicate engagement.
If website traffic is increasing but the average time spent on your blog is decreasing, you may be putting out content that people don’t find relevant or interesting. They leave (or bounce) before reaching the goal you desire. Your overall and specific page bounce rates may also be a clue your website or blog content is not delivering the content your users want.
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Acquisition Report–Where Does Your Traffic Come From?
Acquisition metrics are essential in understanding how well your website is doing when it comes to website success. Acquisition metrics track how people are finding your website. Are they reaching you via organic search, paid search, social media, or email? This information can help you determine which marketing channels work best for you and which you may need to adjust.
Acquisition > All Traffic
Some of the most critical acquisition metrics to look at in Google Analytics are found under the All Traffic tab.
This measures the different ways people use to find your website. These large categories include things like organic search, paid search, social media, email marketing, traffic sent from other website links, or direct traffic. Understanding how people find your website is key to understanding which marketing efforts work and which ones need a little help.
Source / Medium
This section is similar to Channels, but it adds more specific information about how people reach your website. For example, in google/ organic, google is the source, and organic is the medium.
Source shows where the traffic came from (Google) and Medium shows the general traffic category (organic).
Knowing where your visitors come from is key when it comes to marketing and generating new website traffic. If a large percentage of your traffic is coming from a single source, like organic search, you know you have an opportunity to increase traffic from other sources. You also understand that you need to nurture your organic traffic, and in this case, tracking keywords (which support organic traffic) would be wise.
Also, like the Channel report, the Source/Medium section can be set up to track Goals or Ecommerce Metrics, like form fills (for leads) or transactions and revenue. If a particular search engine or paid ad source is sending you traffic that converts, you can better plan your outreach and ad spend.
Behavior Report–What Do People Do Once They Get To Your Website?
Behavior metrics provide insight into how people use your website. This information can help you determine which areas of your site are most popular and which ones need improvement. Behavior metrics can also help you identify problems with your website design or content that may be causing users to leave your site without engaging.
Behavior > Site Content > All Pages
Monitoring the web pages your users are viewing can help you determine which content is most popular and relevant to your website. Typically, only a handful of pages draw the bulk of your website traffic.
Look at your Pageviews as a relative measurement. Consider the number of page views and how the views on each page compared to others. A helpful bit of information shown here is the Pageview percentage of the total. This information helps put the number of views in perspective.
Also, check that visitors are engaged by looking at the average time on the page, and bounce rate. If you use e-commerce settings in Analytics, the All Pages tab will also show a relative page value based on views and goal values you determined when you set up your Analytics.
Behavior > Site Content > Landing Pages
The landing page metric is especially significant when used when looking at the organic traffic segment. This combination allows you to see how well your website performs when people find it through a search engine. Do the top pages match what you expect based on your SEO efforts? Do the metrics indicate qualified and engaged traffic? If these numbers are lower than you would like, it may be time to tweak or rethink your website’s SEO strategy.
Conversions > Goals > Overview
While there are many ways to measure overall website success, the Goals metric is the one that most often aligns with a website’s overall success. And though the Conversions section is stacked at the bottom of the Google Analytics site metrics, it may be the report you want to see first.
Goals are what you want to happen on your site. Each completed goal is a conversion. For example, you might want people to sign up for your email newsletter. Or, you may want users to reach a specific page or call the business after visiting the site. The Overview tab shows how many people reached these goals (converted) and how profitable you may be if you assigned dollar values to each goal.
The overview also shows which web pages generated the goals and the source/medium of traffic associated with the objectives.
Conversions > Ecommerce > Overview
If you run an e-commerce website, this is the money page. While an e-commerce site may have goals like joining a loyalty program or requesting product information, the eCommerce Overview shows important numbers like the number of transactions, revenue, average order value, and conversion rate.
Like the Goals Overview, the eCommerce Overview shows profitable pages and traffic sources.
While analytics software makes a wide range of metrics available, make sure you’re tracking metrics relevant to your website’s success. To figure out if your website is working for you, skip the vanity goals like keyword rank and traffic numbers and measure the metrics most critical to your business.