Website metrics include traffic, performance, engagement and conversion metrics. They give owners an idea of how well their website is performing and how well it is bringing in new customers.
Nowadays, surviving and thriving in the global market requires businesses to establish a strong online presence. So, it’s not surprising that around 65% of all small-to-midsize businesses have a website. However, owning a website and making a profit from it are two very different things.
What might come as a surprise is that although two-thirds of businesses have websites, more than 35% of them do not use analytics tools to track website traffic or engagement metrics.
If we take into consideration the fact that Google Analytics is completely free, we can conclude that many website owners don’t fully understand the potential and benefit of web analysis, or they do not know where to start. Either way, we’re here to change that.
In this article, we’ll explain the benefits of tracking website traffic and engagement, as well as share 12 metrics that are absolutely essential in 2022 for growth and scalability.
Owning a website and not analyzing its performance is like having a brick-and-mortar store and not knowing whether its profits cover the expenses of having it open. On top of that, not tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) means choosing to stay in the dark regarding the behavior and interests of your potential customers.
This can make your business incredibly vulnerable to market changes. Moreover, you’ll probably lag behind the competition because you’ll be unable to quickly identify opportunities for growth - something that can cripple the company’s future.
But, in case you’re still not convinced, here are the most important arguments in favor of tracking website performance metrics.
There’s no doubt that tracking the performance of your website is essential for surviving in the online market. But, with so many different metrics out there, the key to success is knowing what metrics are truly essential.
Essentially, website metrics are carefully planned variables that track user behavior and traffic on your website. This gives owners a good idea of:
Keep in mind that these are not exclusive categories and there might be some overlap between them. The distinction is made so that it’s clearer to web owners what they are looking at and why it’s important.
Great websites consistently perform well in all metric types, but especially engagement and conversion metrics because these hint at the quality of your website content. Let’s explain this better by looking at the 12 most important metrics for 2022 and how to improve them.
The most important goals for business websites are establishing a brand reputation, spreading brand awareness, educating potential buyers about products and services, and turning prospects to paying customers.
Regardless of what goals you’ll focus on, you can’t reach your objectives without understanding hard data. But, the world of web analytics can be overwhelming - especially for beginners. This is why tracking the following 12 metrics is a great start. Here’s what you’ll learn from them.
The first thing you should be tracking is the number of visitors in a certain period of time. For example, how many people are visiting your website daily, weekly, and monthly? This is popularly known as website traffic. And, within the website traffic section in analytical tools, there are usually different segments that break down traffic data in greater detail.
For example, you can see in real-time how many users are currently active on your website or the number of users on different pages per minutes, seconds.
Tracking traffic is important because it indicates how popular your page is. And, the popularity of your page is a direct result of your marketing activities and your brand’s reputation. If your marketing efforts are effective, you’ll see an increase in your website traffic i.e. more prospects are visiting your website.
A change in website traffic is typically a reflection of a change in your marketing activities. To give you an example, you’ll probably see an increase in traffic when you launch a new social media campaign, or a decrease in traffic when you decrease your social media activity.
Once you know how many people come to your website or any individual page, it’s useful to see what percentage of them “bounce” off, that is, leave your website without interacting with your content. This measure is known as the bounce rate and you can automatically track it in most analytical tools.
Normally, website owners want to see a low bounce because a high bounce indicates that your website is performing poorly. The main reasons for a low performance related to a high bounce rate include:
Unfortunately, there isn’t a clear boundary as to what constitutes a good or bad bounce rate. However, the rule of thumb for low bounce rate, for most industries, is 20 to 40%. If you manage to keep your bounce rate within that range, you have nothing to worry about. Anything over 70% is a big red flag and requires immediate attention.
Session duration is a measurement that shows, on average, how much time users spend on your website in total. To better understand the session duration metric, we need to first define sessions.
A session is a group of all user interactions with your website within a given time frame. For instance, the user’s session begins when they open your page and ends after 30 minutes of inactivity - regardless of whether they closed the page or not. If the user continues to interact with your website after 30 minutes of inactivity, then the new interactions will be counted as a new session.
Knowing the session duration is a very useful metric because it also hints at the quality and appeal of your content. In other words, if users find your website content interesting, they’ll spend a lot of time interacting with it. However, the session duration varies greatly between different types of websites. Some experts believe that a good session duration, in general, is around 3 minutes.
However, keep in mind very long session duration (for example, 30 minutes) might also mean that users opened your page, spent one minute on it, and then left the tab open while they were doing something else. And, after 30 minutes, the session ended. So, be careful how you interpret your session results.
Another similar metric to session duration is the time spent on page. However, unlike the total active time, this metric measures how much time users spend on each individual page, which is one of the best ways to assess the quality and appeal of your content.
For instance, let’s say that you own a website with a blog section, or you have an online magazine. Whether they’re coming from social media or organic search, this metric can measure how much time users spend on your article before they leave. Then, you can evaluate if that time was enough to actually read what you have on the page. And, of course, the longer they stay, the better.
Depending on the content, the average time people spend on pages varies greatly, but in the most general sense, it shouldn’t be lower than 2-3 minutes. The best way to interpret time spent on page is to contextualize it. Always compare the type and density of content with the average time spent on a page, instead of just looking at the metric.
If two similar in length blog posts have a very different number for time spent on page, then you might draw a conclusion that one was more engaging and easy-to-read than the other.
To improve your time spent on page metric, give visitors a reason to stay with quality content.
Another very interesting website metric related to traffic is the number of pageviews per session, as it is defined in Google Analytics. In the newer version, Google Analytics 4, you might find the same measurement as page events.
Anyway, pageviews per session gives us information about the user’s journey before they leave the website - how many pages they visited and which ones.
This is important because it dives deeper into understanding user behavior. For instance, if a visitor clicks on your post on social media, which brings them to your blog post, do they open your main page to learn more about your brand? Do they continue browsing your blog and read more articles? Or, do they just leave? This is very telling about the visitors’ interest in your brand and products or services.
Also, looking at the session duration only is not enough because users might have a high session duration, but haven’t done anything else than just read the article and leave. Ideally, you’d want visitors to check more pages per one session because that’s an indication of trust and interest in your brand.
The CTR or click-through rate is another very powerful performance metric that tells website owners how engaging their content or copy is for their target audience. To be more specific, the CTR shows the percentage of clicks on CTAs (call-to-actions) or campaigns out of the total number that saw the content or copy.
To track the CTR on your website, you’ll need to first determine the event or trigger that you want to measure. For instance, you might write a call-to-action asking users to subscribe with their email on your blog page. Or, you might ask your visitors to schedule a call with you on your prices page.
Once you have a good idea of what you want to track, you should compare the impressions with the clicks on those events (links) within your analytics. For instance, 100 people might have visited your blog page or your price page within a specific time frame, but only 5 left an email or scheduled a call. If this is the case, your CTR would be 5/100 or 5%.
People who come and visit your website must eventually leave. The web page from where they leave your website is called the exit page. Now, you might be thinking: “Well, they have to leave from somewhere, isn’t every page an exit page?” And, you’re right, every page is an exit page to a degree, but the exit rate of every page is not the same. The difference in exit rates is what we’re interested in.
Usually, thank you pages or download pages are expected to have a high exit rate, and that’s okay. However, if you have a high exit rate on pages with calls-to-actions or content, then you should reevaluate your marketing strategy. This is especially problematic if a page where you’d expect to convert prospects into customers is the one with the highest exit rate.
Improving the content, copy, navigation, and internal linking structure of your website can improve the exit rates of problematic pages.
In the last section, we mentioned pages where conversions happen through call-to-actions or downloadable content. That’s a very common lead generation tactic for business pages, but to know whether it’s effective, you need to track conversion rates.
The conversion rate informs you of the percentage of visitors who completed a desirable action on your website, such as signing up for a free trial, subscribing to your newsletter, scheduling a call, buying a product, and so on.
Most business pages have several different conversion points that are located on different pages. These conversion points usually measure when the visitor becomes a lead, and later a customer. It’s incredibly crucial for website owners to know exactly which calls-to-actions on which pages are most effective at converting leads. Plus, knowing your average conversion rate is a powerful performance indicator for your website and marketing strategy.
To get more qualitative information about your website visitors, you should track the traffic and device sources. These metrics reveal where your visitors are coming from. Are they coming from organic search (your website appears in the google search results), social media (clicked on your social media posts), or a paid marketing campaign?
Knowing traffic sources is crucial because you can use this information to evaluate the effectiveness of your marketing efforts, but also to assess the strength of your website by seeing how your traffic sources change over time. What we mean by this is that you’ll want to diversify your traffic sources, while relying more on organic search, rather than paid advertisement.
You should also track device sources because this will help you prioritize your website optimization. If most of your visitors come from mobile, then having a mobile-friendly website should be your number one priority.
Finally, you can also look at the location of your visitors. This is going to tell you what country your visitors are from, which is incredibly helpful for developing a targeting strategy.
In most analytical tools, website visitors are divided in two categories - new and returning. New visitors are those who visit your website for the first time, while returning visitors are those who regularly visit your website.
This distinction is important because even though you might have 300 users active on your page at any moment, you should know how many of them are new visitors and how many are your existing leads or customers.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should expect or even want all of the visitors to be new. In fact, great websites have a steady balance of around 10:1 (up to 10:2) between new and returning visitors. This means that for every ten new visitors, there’s one returning visitor.
The reason why this ratio is desired is because it’s achieved when websites bring in new traffic continuously, but also have great content that makes some of those visitors keep coming back.
Revenue attribution is a more advanced metric that’s absolutely essential for eCommerce websites. It’s a powerful analytic that measures the source of your revenue. Just like the traffic source shows you how visitors found your website, the revenue attribution metrics shows which pages or calls-to-actions generate the most revenue. Revenue attribution follows the visitor’s journey through your website and informs you of the actions they took before they made a purchase.
It can also track all of your marketing and sales activities and identify at which point the revenue was generated.
With this metric, you’ll be able to identify your most valuable marketing strategies, but also see your weakest so you can improve them.
Last but not least is event tracking. Unlike the other metrics, event tracking is a very broad concept that can mean many things for many different businesses. In essence, it allows website owners to create their own custom variables (events) to track.
This is a very important functionality to learn in the beginning because your business model will never be the same as someone else's, and therefore, you’ll need to understand how to customize and personalize your analysis.
To give you an example, for a subscription service such as Netflix, a very important event to track might be the genre the users most typically choose, so they can personalize their recommendations. On the other hand, online software companies might want to know how often people use their new functionality.
As you see, the events that you’ll track depend on the nature of your website and business model.
Don’t let sophisticated tools, such as Google Analytics or Google Tag Manager, make you feel intimidated when it comes to tracking the performance of your own website. While it is true that the field of web analytics has advanced tremendously in recent years, understanding and tracking some of the most essential website metrics is not so hard.
Hopefully, after reading this guide, you’ll feel confident enough to try and set up an analytics tool for your website as well. There are too many reasons why you need to, and after reading this article, there’s nothing to hold you back. You can also check out our blog and read our other guides that can help you better understand website analytics, metrics, and KPIs (key performance indicators).
Alternatively, if you have a more specific question in mind and you need help with it, don’t hesitate to schedule a call through our main website. Our team of growth experts is always happy to consult with loyal readers.