The 5 Website Metrics to Track (and Why)

Web Metrics To Measure and Track

One of the most useful things you can do to improve your business’s chances for success is to track your website metrics. These are essentially quantitative measurements that tell you how you’re doing with attracting traffic to your business website, and more importantly, how well you keep them coming back and converting. Here are five metrics to track and what insights you might gain from them.


01. Traffic Sources

Traffic source typically falls into one of three buckets: Direct, Search and Referral traffic. Direct traffic comes from people who already know you and seek out your site directly. Search traffic is made up of people who ran a search using specific keywords and chose to click through to your site. Referral traffic is traffic sent your way from a referring site, which could include your social channels.

Where do the people who visit your website come from? Are they landing on your site from social media, email newsletters, online ads, or perhaps organically? Much like anything else, you want to aim for a balanced source of traffic. Understanding where you stand with the traffic source metric will help on several fronts. These numbers will help verify that you are reaching your target audience and can also be used to guide your marketing and content strategy efforts.

If for example, you are investing time and money on Facebook ads, but are not seeing a corresponding uptick in traffic source numbers from Facebook, perhaps you need to rethink your image/copy choices, target audience definition, the frequency of ads etc. Or maybe, without much effort at all, you’re seeing a steady stream of visitors coming through from Pinterest – in which case, you might want to maximize the channel’s potential and optimize your content for Pinterest.


02. Number & Profile Of Visitors

Every time someone visits your site for the first time, they are tagged either as a first time, unique visitor or a repeat visitor.

If you’re seeing a consistent upward trend in unique visitors, then you’re clearly doing something right to drive traffic your way. Remember though: you want good quality visitors. If your unique visitor count goes up but your engagement or conversion numbers trends downward (or worse, your bounce rate goes up), there is scope to optimize your website and/or message.

Your ability to attract repeat visitors to your site makes good business sense. It is a strong indicator of brand value and loyalty. It costs less to retain a satisfied visitor than it is to acquire a new one. And, it is almost always going to be your existing customers who are likely to test a new product and spend more. So repeat visitors are definitely a metric you want to keep an eye on. Figure out what’s bringing them back. Where do they typically come from? Take the time to review your hot pages. Pay special attention to the content topic and the formats they offer. With this data, you’d be better placed to develop a calendar of relationship-building content ideas that you can put out there.


03. Your Bounce Rates

Bounce rates refer to the percentage of visitors who enter and exit your site, from the page they land on. It is one of several indicators that shows you how engaged your visitors are on each page of your site. Most sites have a bounce rate no matter what steps you take to reduce it. You’ll just need to establish what the industry average is to know what you need to aim for.

A high bounce rate can be attributed to any number of factors such as poor readability (e.g. posts that are not scannable, don’t utilize subheadings, bullet points, and supporting images), confusion around what the call to action is, sending the wrong profile of people to your site so that when they get there, the value you offer and their need is mismatched etc. If people are leaving on the same page a lot, you might want to check that page to figure out if you can optimize it better to so that people are encouraged to click through to another page. Maybe that page needs richer content or a clearer call to action.

Ultimately, the idea is to find low performing pages needing improvement, or high performing pages to guide future content decisions.


04. What Visitors Do On Your Site

Tracking what visitors do on your site is important because you can see how many articles they read, how many menu items they click on and more. This is a great way to figure out what to add to your website to create a better experience for your visitors. This is also one of the best ways to get ideas for new content.

When people hang around on your site, search engines will send you more traffic. The average amount of time web surfers spend per page on your site is an important metric accounted for in search engine algorithms. This is why your content on every page and post needs to be relevant to what your prospects are looking for.

If you have a blog post that’s super popular, plan some new and related posts to build on that content. Or, maybe you could take your most popular content and curate it – break it into several other sub-pieces delivered via video, audio, or infographics. Have there been changes to the topic? Can you update the piece and offer your audience a fresh perspective on something they’re already interested in.

When you know which pages of your site people are spending the most/least amount of time on, you can take the appropriate steps to increase the amount of time people stay on your site.


05. Your Conversion Rate

A conversion is the single most important indicator of online marketing success because it essentially means you were able to get your visitors to do what you wanted them to do – be it to click on your Facebook ad link, to view over three pages of your website, to provide their email address in exchange for a downloadable PDF, to register for an upcoming summit you have planned, to schedule a complimentary 30-minute consultation or even to hit “Buy” on a new product you’ve introduced.

Having a beautifully-designed website with all the bells and whistles is not worth very much if it doesn’t present your visitors with a clear and compelling path which meets their need and fulfills your business goals. The start point for optimizing conversions is actually measuring it so that you are equipped to make informed, data-driven design and implementation decisions. Potential areas that can impact your website’s conversion rate include:

  • Webpage load times
  • Placement, shape, color, size, copy of your call to action button
  • Ease of navigation around your site. Can visitors get to where they need to within 3 simple clicks?
  • Number of fields on your newsletter subscription form
  • Scanability of your content (particularly on a mobile device!)
  • Availability of social proof
  • Headlines and copy that clearly articulate your proposition and the pain point you address

When studying your conversion rates, pay attention to the traffic metric too. If you are still at that stage where traffic coming through is low, you should probably focus on ensuring that there are no clear conversion obstacles on your site and then invest in search engine optimization to drive traffic.

If on the other hand, you’re getting decent monthly traffic to your site, then you can definitely dive into the iterative process of defining your goal (e.g. increase email subscribers) > creating a test (e.g. changing the text on the call to action button from “Submit” to “Sign me up!”) > measuring your results against the baseline conversion rate > tweaking your site based on the success of your test > repeating the optimization process with the next experiment.