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Business owners are increasingly realizing how a rich website brimming with well-designed content can contribute to the overall success of the business. You need several great website analytics reporting tools to tell to what exact extent things are working on your website—and what needs fine-tuning.
Nobody dreams of driving a car while wearing a blindfold. Well, you shouldn’t want to be blind to where your website is headed either! You do not have to be a data geek to have full understanding of website engagement metrics. These metrics are also known as KPI’s – Key Performance Indicators. They reveal what you need to be aware of as you steer your website to success.
Knowing the numbers that are relevant to your company’s performance will support your decision-making and provide clarity on how to re-allocate resources. While we admit this can be a tough thing to do continually, knowing what to look for and how to keep a keen eye for it is highly important.
Small-business owners can track a few key web metrics to provide a better chance of success and focus on the areas that will grow their business. The monitoring tools and analytics services available make up an entire industry.
Once the business is up and running, you can become proactive about bounce rates, conversion rates, page views, time-on-site, social media interactions and more. These will tell you what your visitors are doing and how the site is performing. Understanding these metrics and applying what you know to improve your website is key to advancing business performance.
Table of Contents
- Unique Visitors
- Time on Page
- Bounce Rate
- Top Exit Pages
- Pages per Session
Each time a person visits your website, they create a page view. Regardless of the business, an early page view is a step into the unknown. You need to ask:
if a visitor is new to the site;
if they are a returning visitor to the site;
where they navigated to on the site; and
what they interacted with on the site.
Pageviews are not as important themselves, yet they are necessary to create a baseline of growth and popularity for the site. It is encouraging to see steady growth of new visitors on a website.
Google Analytics’ Pageviews report shows how well a given page engages users relative to other pages. The Pageviews data also lends key insight into whether the content on a page meets visitors’ expectations and needs.
Several tactics exist to improve pageviews, but what matters most is the quality of your content. Increased conversion is a natural outcome of quality content. It’s like reading a good book. The pageviews are higher because readers consider the book to be useful.
Put great effort into creating meaningful, relevant content for the user. Also ensure you have some basic search-engine optimization in place for your content, to increase your chances of being found online.
Creating relevant content will mean you understand the nature of the unique visitors coming to your website. You can then promote a great user experience on the site, while maintaining a sidebar promoting related blog content. This may even be old blog content, but if it’s relevant, it will be fresh to the user if they have never read it.
A unique visitor has visited a site at least once during a reporting period. Without going too fast, visits represent the number of times a webpage is visited during the period in question. Unique visitors is the actual number of people who have come to the website (webpage) at least once in that time. This number does not increase if a previous visitor returns to a page multiple times.
So visiting this site x times a day translates to x visits and only one unique visit.
IP addresses and cookies are used to track unique visits. This is how Adobe Analytics and Google Analytics process the Unique Visitor metric.
This is not exactly rocket science. The following tactics can help:
Advertise. Let people know your website exists.
Gain mileage using social media.
Use irresistible headlines.
Be attentive to on-page SEO.
Start guest blogging.
This is the average amount of time all users spend on a single page. It results from only the non-bounces from a single page, which is actually a smaller number than the actual number of hits a page gets. Google Analytics measures Time on Page by accounting for the difference between the time of the first hit and the time of the last hit.
To Google, an Average Session Duration is the quotient of the cumulative duration of all sessions (in seconds) and the total session number. It is a measure of how long users spend on your site before exiting. A reasonable benchmark for average session duration is 2-3 minutes, thus anything above three minutes is a good average session duration.
By default, Google Analytics provides average session duration and average time spent on a page. More-advanced methods are able to provide total time spent on a page across all visitors and visits. These include pulling data through Google APIs and the Query Explorer.
The Time on Page metric can be used to identify trends in page and web engagement metrics. To improve Time Spent on Page:
Use tidy designs across the site.
Include high-quality images on pages.
Improve the readability of pages.
Use internal linking more often.
Add comment-worthy content.
Include videos for an interactive experience.
A higher Time Spent on Page reduces your bounce rate.
A visitor on a page who leaves immediately without interacting further with the website is said to have bounced. Pages with high bounce rates indicate that re-design or editing is necessary to keep visitors on the page and get them to interact with it in some way.
Examine your site and take note of business pages that lack engagement points (as many early business websites did). Include these engagement points to increase engagement KPI metrics and reduce bounce rate.
Search Engine Journal believes bounce rate is not used as part of Google’s algorithm metrics. This seems to differ from SEMrush’s position, but they are both right. Google’s algorithm may not explicitly take bounce rate into account, but bounce rate represents something quite important to it.
If a user clicks on your webpage and engages in no further interaction, Rankbrain may interpret this to mean that this is not the website they are looking for. Thus, it may look like your result does not match the searcher’s intent adequately. Understanding bounce rate properly can tell if your marketing strategy is effective and if visitors are engaging with your content.
Understanding your target and breaking down your bounce rate in a way that is meaningful to your business is essential to understanding bounce rate.
Google Analytics considers visitors to have interacted with a site if they visited at least one other page. The bounce rate in your GA report is known as your site-wide bounce rate. It is the average number of bounces across all of your pages divided by the total number of visits across all of those pages within the same period.
Bounce rate may be tracked for a single page, a segment or a section of your site.
You may prefer to use a segmented bounce rate if your eCommerce store also has a blog. The reason is that your blog posts could present a different bounce rate than your product pages.
Site-wide bounce rate is too broad to be meaningful. To measure and assess bounce rate, use narrow groupings that exploit different variables.
Since site-wide bounce rate is too broad to be meaningful, it is better to segment your traffic using such variables as age, gender, affinity, location, new visitors, browser, device, acquisition and landing page. You can then proceed to tweak how Google records interactions by forwarding events to Google Analytics that point you to where a user spends a specific amount of time on the page. Such Google Analytics engagement KPIs are vital to adequately tracking bounce rates.
Improve bounce rates using the following approaches:
Through scroll percentage events.
Review top exit pages.
Review in-page analytics.
View page timings.
Use Google Analytics Site Speed reports.
Use A/B testing.
Make pages easy-to-scan.
Include obvious CTAs and consider where you place them.
Use images and videos to enhance engagement KPI metrics.
Offer live chat support.
To understand the top exit page, we need to introduce the concept of the exit page. It refers to the page that was the last in a session. Let’s say they arrive at your site through the home page, read the Bio, viewed a couple of products and left the site. The product page is the page they exited on.
Top exit pages reveals, for all pages with an exit link, the number of visits that included clicks on links leading from your website to another website. Measuring your traffic metrics appropriately paints a proper picture of why one page is your website’s top exit page.
To track top exit pages, we need to look at the standard exit rate metric. In Google Analytics, there is a breakdown of the number of exits, page views and the percentage exits. Some pages will appear more than others as the last viewed in a user’s session.
Exit rates show a site’s outflow. They show what pages your business needs to focus on to increase chances of conversion.
Exit rate is difficult as it requires you to understand the data and what users may be doing. An exit may occur because a user read a review and decided to buy in-store or over the phone. They may also exit your site due to usability issues.
Top exit page analysis highlights areas of a website that need work, but it is vital to understand that several factors more than communication or poor usability may be responsible for users exiting a site.
It is vital to note the role of each page in onsite and offsite conversion and factor that into marketing decisions.
Pages per Session is the average number of pages viewed during a session on your site. A higher number means users are more engaged and going through more of your site. This valuable metric measures if your visitors are viewing five pages each or if they view just one and leave. It tells if your website content engages people enough to keep them looking in.
To track Pages per Session within Google Analytics, the total number of pageviews is divided by the total number of sessions.
There is barely any industry standard for average pages per session. Many sites are designed to answer most user questions on the homepage. That’s where you’re likely to find all online and offline contact information. Many times, there is no need for a user to click on more than one page.
Take a vibrant dental or medical website for instance, it is beneficial to track when patients are using it the most. The goal may be two pages per session. While this may seem low, recall that every user who finds what they want on your homepage leaves with only one page view. This brings your average down.
To improve Pages per Session, the following options can help if properly adapted:
Make your site irresistible. If your site has that Wow! Factor, users are more likely to stick around.
Improve calls-to-action (CTAs) on your homepage. With a new site especially, there are few pages. CTAs should inspire action and can be improved through color, size, and verbiage. Simple incentive-backed statements like “Try us,” “Download now” or even mere instructions like “Click here” are powerful CTAs.
Keep a stream of fresh content. On your blog, homepage or About, show what is new on the site. Seeing the same old content each time can quickly become boring, and users will gloss over things when they should not.
It is important for businesses to track their key metrics continuously. Your analysis will also include being aware of vanity metrics that only serve to distract you. If you want to keep visitors coming to your site, becoming repeat users and converting often; then you need to start taking engagement metrics more seriously—they are the soul of your online business.