Website Metrics: What You Need to Know about Understanding Them
You’ve heard the warning before. If you’re not tracking your website’s metrics, you cannot determine whether you’re succeeding in your mission. The challenge here has nothing to do with realising that those metrics are important, and everything to do with not understanding what those metrics actually mean, when it comes to your website and your online presence.
For instance, what does ‘bounce rate’ really mean and what does it tell you about your website? What about user paths ? – how does that information help you build a more successful company? Are page views the same thing as impressions?
It can be tough to cut through the tech-speak to get at the underlying meaning, so in this guide, we’ll help to address some of the more important metrics you need to know, and what they actually mean for your website and your business.
Visitor Origin Points
Having a lot of website traffic is great, but it doesn’t do you as much good if you don’t know where those visitors are coming from. Understanding visitor origin points helps you refine your marketing strategy, and to focus on the traffic sources and channels that deliver the most value. You will find a wide range of traffic types, including:
- Direct Traffic – These visitors type your website URL into their browser.
- Organic Traffic – These visitors find your website through organic search results.
- Social Traffic – These visitors come from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social sites.
- Referral Traffic – These visitors come from referring sites, such as guest blogs, business directories, and the like.
To determine if you’re seeing good traffic inflow from any source, you need to balance the amount of traffic you see with the amount you’re spending on marketing within that channel.
Landing pages are where your visitors reach your website. They may not come directly to your home page, depending on their search or the link they followed to your website. Technically, any page within your website could be a landing page, despite the fact that the term is more often associated with marketing efforts.
By correlating the search terms your visitors use with the landing pages they reach, you can delve into this situation. What you’re really looking for here is called “user intent”, and it’s the motive behind their search. For instance, someone searching for “heel pain relief” is most likely driven by discomfort and a need to find a treatment, so a landing page that used ‘heel pain relief’, ‘heel pain treatment’, ‘stop heel pain’, and related keyword phrases, would speak to that intent and deliver a better user experience.
Not only should you look at keywords and phrases, but also the questions that your users are asking through search, and what your conversion rate is like from those landing pages.
Speaking of conversions, we need to discuss conversion rate in a bit more depth. A conversion is technically nothing more than a website visitor taking whatever action it is that you want them to take. It could be making a purchase, sure, but it might also be signing up for a newsletter, setting up an appointment, or reaching out for more information.
Conversion matters because if you’re seeing low numbers, it indicates that there’s a breakdown somewhere. You could be targeting the wrong keywords, or you might not be answering your customers’ questions correctly. Your content might not be readable, or you could be failing to deliver the ideal customer experience. Conversion rate is about more than profitability – it’s an indication of whether or not your website is succeeding.
User flow is a useful metric that tells you where website visitors go once landing on your website. What page do they visit after the landing page, or after landing on your home page? Where do they go from there? Is there a common page where many visitors exit your site? If you’re seeing breaks in user flow, you can use empathy maps to help determine where the breakdowns are and how you can better serve your visitors to ensure a smoother flow and less interruption.
Metrics Are Vital, But…
Metrics give you a great deal of insight into what’s working and what’s not with your website. However, they can only go so far in shedding light on your challenges. There are numerous other tools that can do a good job in providing supplemental information to help you paint a more accurate picture of the average user experience, and consequently, where you need to make improvements and changes. For instance, visitor surveys and heat mapping provide significant value. Customer feedback and user interviews can give you even more direct information, and help improve website performance while delivering the best possible experience for your website visitors.