Website Analytics – Which metrics should you be monitoring?

Website analytics are a powerful resource for any business with a website or online presence to utilise. They’re something that, if you aren’t currently monitoring, then you should be. It will allow you to study how customers interact with your site. You can then use those analytics to create a better overall experience.

There are plenty of questions that can be answered by simply taking the time to review the analytics behind your website.

  • Are users facing any challenges? 
  • Do they stay on a particular page for too long? 
  • Are they adding items to the basket and abandoning them? Maybe they’re bouncing straight off-site without engaging with any content?

Knowing this type of information will allow you to tailor your content and website strategies. Thus ensuring your site offers a brilliant user experience, with relevant and engaging content. Not only will this improve user experience, but it’s also likely to increase your sales, clicks and conversions. 

While web analytics may seem complicated for someone just starting out, the pay off will make it worthwhile – we promise!

But what metrics should you be looking at, and why?

Before we get started you’ll need to make sure you have Google Analytics installed on your site so you can start collecting data from your website. Here’s a step by step guide on how to get started with analytics. Now let’s take a look at the metrics you should be monitoring…

Web Traffic: The number of website visitors you receive

It’s a good idea to know how many people are coming to your website over a given timeframe. This can allow you to evaluate your marketing efforts’ effectiveness by seeing if traffic is rising or falling month on month. You’ll be able to see all the web traffic that your website has generated; however, you will also be able to break this down even further. Web traffic can be broken down into new users  (unique visitors) and returning ones.

If you have a healthy campaign running, you should see steady growth in unique visitors. When it starts to drop, it’s a signal that you may have to adjust your campaign. In addition to this, if you start seeing a surge of new visitors to your website, this is a sign that your brand awareness campaigns are performing well. However, these figures alone do not tell the full story. It’s also vital to monitor engagement metrics…

Session Duration / Time on page: How long are your web visitors staying on site

Session duration helps you understand how long users stay on your website on average, which might be a good starting point for identifying customer journey issues. Whereas time-on-page is a good measure of how much value users are getting from individual pages on your website. This can be a key indicator that more valuable content is needed for certain pages if the page’s time is too low… These are two different metrics, and it’s essential to bear these in mind when you’re reviewing how users behave on your site.

When sending users to the homepage, you will want to monitor their on-going activity; where did they go next? How long did they stay on the site? However, if directing users to a blog article or a purpose built landing page, you’ll want to know how long they spent on that specific piece of content. This will show you whether they found the content insightful and engaging or not. Allowing for learnings to be taken and to be used going forward when creating content. 

Traffic Sources: A measurement of where your traffic is coming from

Another important website metric is the traffic source, which helps you determine where your visitors are coming from. There are five primary types of sources:

  • Direct visitors are those that visit your business site via typing your URL into the address bar directly
  • Search visitors are those that find and click your website from the search results. 
  • Referral visitors are those that come from another website
  • Paid visitors are ones that arrive on your website via your paid activities – PPC or Paid Social for example.
  • Social Visitors are ones that come to the site off the back of your organic social media activity
  • Email Visitors are ones that come to the site off the back of your email campaigns

Segmenting your visitors in this way will allow you to successfully evaluate your businesses’ overall performance and the performance of your marketing strategies. 

For example, an increase in search traffic after publishing new content that is SEO optimised shows that a new tactic is working, albeit this isn’t likely to be shown straight away in your results. Seeing a higher volume of social traffic coming to the site is another indicator that your posting schedule is filled with engaging content that users are finding interesting enough to engage with and move to the site to learn more.

Bounce rate: volume of visitors that leave the site without interacting

Depiction of bounce rates within website analytics.

This metric is crucial to monitor. It tells a story.

The height of your bounce rate, whether that’s low or high, can be a good or bad thing depending on the page’s purpose. For example, if users visit your website, simply to retrieve a contact number, you’d expect the bounce rate to be high – they arrive on site, get what they need and leave, within milliseconds sometimes. However, if users are viewing more content-rich pages, such as blog content, you’d expect users to remain on these pages for a longer period of time. 

If the bounce rate amongst new visitors is high, it’s time to think about how you could improve their engagement with your site – adding more content, infographics, or simply changing the layout of the information presented. A high bounce rate on a page whose purpose is to get people engaged isn’t a good thing.

  • Quick Tip: A great way to avoid a high bounce rate is by creating scannable content. That way users can either read the entire page or skim to find exactly what they are looking for. It is rare for a visitor to read your content word for word. 

Conversion rate: the number of visitors to a website that complete a desired goal (Eg. sale or subscription)

Visual representation of Website analytics

Every business wants to convert more of their website visitors to paying clients; for most, that’s one of the main objectives of their website in the first place. It costs time and money to build and optimise your website. This includes adding and refreshing content, along with running ads, posting on social, and managing your SEO strategy.

As all of this activity is going on, it’s important to measure the results these activities are generating. This will help you to evaluate whether it is worth your time or if it’s wasted investment. Tracking your ROI throughout the entire process, allows you to make tactical business decisions.

Demographic Data: A breakdown of your website visitors

Are the majority of your users identifying with a specific gender? If so, it’s interesting to monitor this going forward to see if this affects how they interact with your site. 

This understanding and insight can impact the language, tone, content, and images you are using on your website. However, it’s essential not to be too gender-focused; it will alienate users that identify differently. That’s why it’s still essential to include content that is inclusive.

Not only can you quickly identify your website users’ gender, but you can also examine the primary age group your audiences fall under too.  Knowing this will allow you to adapt your language and features accordingly, providing a great user experience and customer journey. This type of information is valuable from a website perspective and a broader business perspective. You’ll use it to improve your product/service offerings and use it to inform your social media strategy.

Other characteristics such as Interests and Location can be helpful to know. Location breakdown shows you where in the world your users are. It’s a great function that can show regions where your product/service is most popular. You can also access interest reports within GA, where you’ll be able to see an overview of the most populated interests or dig deeper into the metrics of each interest. You can use this information to inform your content and on-page strategy. Thus ensuring that you are resonating with the right audience. 

Device Breakdown: A breakdown of the devices that users are visiting your site from

How are your web visitors viewing your website? Desktop or mobile? 

This is essential information when considering which functionalities to include on your site and how to display your content, especially regarding website responsiveness. If 76% of all new and returning web visitors are coming to site from a mobile device, but bouncing straight off, why is this? It’s likely that your site isn’t offering a user experience tailored to this type of device. This is something that needs to be closely monitored going forward so your website can perform better. 

Now that you see how to measure your website’s success, we recommend putting together a spreadsheet to track your metrics over time. 

What metrics are most vital for you in evaluating the success of your website? Let us know on your social media channels;  Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram. We look forward to hearing from you!

  • Written by Simon Proctor, October 20 2020