Taking measurements can help us understand our world better. Websites are no different. For many people, the problem lies with figuring out what metric you should use to gauge your website’s performance. What should you measure success on your website?
The answer is… it depends. Using metrics to measure your website’s performance is a helpful way to gauge the traffic behaviors on your website. So to begin you can ask, what are people doing on your site? What content is most important? Starting here helps establish a baseline because your website is unique and not every metric will be relevant.
Determining the best metrics to establish Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for your website is a process. But with that kind of knowledge, you can implement strategies to improve your website and grow your business. Here are a few basic metrics you can use as a starting point for your website:
1. Page Load Time: Page load time is a metric that measures how long it takes for all of the content on your website to display on the screen. Unfortunately, this does not just apply to the home page or just the content visible on the users screen. This metric will measure how long it takes everything on your site to load and is particularly important for Search Engine Optimization. Google’s algorithm prioritizes sites with a faster page load time. They even provide a free tool (link ‘free tool’ https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/ ) for you to get started. If you want your website to show up in search queries, a good user experience is crucial and a quick page load time can make all the difference.
2. Unique Users: Unique Users is a metric that measures how many different people view your site. While this is a basic metric, it can paint a clearer picture of traffic on your site than something like pageviews (how many pages were viewed on your site) or visits (how many times people visited your site). This is because an individual can only account as one unique user as long as they have not cleared their cache.
3. Bounce Rate and Exit Pages: Bounce rate measures the number of users who navigate away from your site after only viewing one page. Exit pages show you the numbers on how many users left your site from a specific page. These metrics can be a great tool to show you how often people are leaving your site and from exactly where. For example, if your eCommerce site has hundreds of products, you are going to want to know about the points where people are leaving your store. If a product has a high bounce rate, you might need to show more related products to create more engagement to keep people on the site. With Exit Pages, you might see that users navigate to three or four pages, but always leave from one specific page. In this case you can analyze the content on the page and run tests to see what changes will keep people on your site.
4. Average Session Duration: Average session duration is a pretty basic stat because it simply shows you how long people average on your website. It is not unique to a visitor and individual users can have multiple sessions on the site. However, Average session duration goes a long way to helping you understand the quality of the traffic you are getting on your site. Earlier we talked about Unique Users. Having a lot of unique users on your site is typically a sign of quality traffic, but think about the content on your site. How quickly can it be consumed? How many pages should a user go through? If you have large numbers of unique users, but the average session duration on your website is only eight seconds, how much content did those users actually consume in that timeframe?
Page Load Time, Unique Users, Bounce Rate/Exit Pages, and Average Session Duration are helpful baseline web metrics. These are not the only four however and metrics should never be viewed in a vacuum. Understanding the context and relevant circumstances are also important to gain meaningful interpretation. Website analytics can be powerful tools, but you need to take steps to understand the data’s meaning and value. Because your website and your organization is unique, it is highly likely your site could benefit from custom metrics to track trends. Tailored metrics will lead to greater understanding and improved interactions based on your target audience. We provide our customers with recommendations specific to their needs and situations. The goal is to measure your digital impact in a meaningful and helpful way. When you can easily spot trends over time, you can make most of your website metrics.