Through various reporting tools and systems you can see what keywords people used to find your site, what pages they landed on then subsequently viewed, how long they spent reading your pages, which specific areas of each page get the most reader attention, at what point they left the check-out process, and more.
Everything is traceable, measureable. You can find out, down to the letter, what’s working and what’s not on your website. But first, you need to know what you’re looking for.
While these systems enable expansive monitoring, a problem many website owners have is too much data – with so many options at your fingertips, which ones are relevant, and what should you focus on to improve your performance?
The answer, of course, will vary – a website that makes money from publishing content is going to be focused on very different metrics to one that aims to sell products.
For the time-poor small business owner, it pays to consider getting your website manager to do this for you. There’s no shame in outsourcing your website management. In fact, for many, it makes more sense to spend a small amount on outsourcing, rather than using your valuable time to navigate systems outside your area of expertise.
Here’s a quick overview of three of the most common website metrics, what they mean, and why you should keep track of them.
Of course, a key metric is visitors – if you want to do anything, you have to know how many people are coming to your site in the first place.
Visitors is a metric available via most web hosting providers – on Wordpress, for example, the main analytics charts display both ‘Visitors’, meaning people who’s come to your site, and ‘Views’, meaning how many pages they looked at.
The comparison between these two can give you an average – 20 visitors and 80 views would give you an average of 4 pages viewed per visitor – though it’s also important to recognise the two represent very different things, and to drill-down into the data to determine the exact user behaviour to ensure you’re tracking the right data points.
(Also worth noting, in Google Analytics, ‘Visitors’ is referred to as ‘Users’.)
Another key aspect you’ll want to track is referrers – i.e. the websites and sources from which people are coming to your website.
This, again, is available in most hosting providers – in Google Analytics, you can get this insight via the ‘Acquisition’ overview.
Referrers will show you what keywords people searched for that brought them to your site, which can give you additional insight into what people are looking for in your industry – and highlight the keywords you’re not ranking for which you want to see on that listing.
Referrers will also highlight which social networks and search engines are driving the most traffic to your site, showing where you should be focusing your efforts and what’s generating positive response.
3. Popular pages
You also need to know which of your pages are driving best response, in order to get an understanding of what info users are seeking from your business website.
Using this, you can get an understanding of the pages that people are turning to. Meanwhile, the ‘Bounce rate’ stat, which measures the percentage of people who leave your website after viewing a single page, can help you understand whether these pages are delivering on those needs, or whether visitors are clicking through then quickly leaving, which suggests they’re not finding what they’re after.
If the data shows your visitors are heading to your most popular pages and reading them through, that may be a cue to create more content on a similar theme, while if they’re bouncing quickly, it likely shows an area they’re interested in but on which you need to improve.
Using these basic points as your starting measures, you can start to get an understanding of visitor behaviour, and how it relates (or doesn’t) to your end goal, helping you to better plan and structure your efforts.
The more you understand this, the better you’ll be able to guide people to your ideal outcome – be that in them making a booking, completing an online purchase or getting in touch.