8 Website Metrics You Should Be Tracking

Written by Sarah on 29th July 2015

Measuring and tracking data from your website is one of the first and most essential things you’re likely to do when setting up any site. Whatever you use, be it Google Analytics, Kissmetrics or any other platform, for people other than digital marketers, it can be quite daunting being faced with so much data. How do you stay on top of all of it, and use it correctly?

If your stress levels are reaching peak, and you’ve chewed all your fingernails off in a panic, don’t worry!

Focusing on a few data points and using them to adapt and improve your site can make a huge difference, and allow you to identify whether your business is succeeding or needs some changes.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by data and just don’t know where to start, here’s 8 key metrics, I’d recommend you’d start with.

1. Sessions

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While sessions are largely a vanity metric – it’s still worthwhile knowing how many hits your site is getting. Think of sessions as a starting point for identifying successes and concerns that can be investigated further.

If traffic is rising, could you find out the source and capitalise on it? If traffic is dropping, what’s the cause, and can you find a solution quickly?

2. New Sessions/Visitors

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Understanding how many of your visitors are new or returning can also impact your marketing strategy.

A higher number of new visitors could mean that your brand and site is being discovered well enough, but not impacting potential customers enough to generate a loyal community. You might need to work on a campaign to capture leads and give them reason to return.

Likewise, the opposite could mean you’ve done great at creating that community, but you need to focus a little more on how users discover your site, perhaps through referrals or search visibility.

3. Traffic Sources

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Tracking the sources of traffic can tell you a great deal about how customers are finding your site. Google firstly breaks your traffic into one of 8 default channels: Direct, Organic, Paid, Email, Referral, Social, Display and Other Advertising.

For some, direct traffic might be your biggest source of traffic. Note: This doesn’t always mean that you need to refocus on your other marketing efforts to boost referrals or organic traffic – direct traffic doesn’t always mean that users came direct to your site.

Instead it could mean that the browser they were using didn’t report to Google Analytics where they were coming from, or they’ve came from a https (secure) site to a http site. Groupon also recently experimented with their site and found that it’s likely that some of that direct traffic should be attributed to organic.

So never take your data at face value – it’s sometimes worth to spend a little time digging deeper!

Again, looking at your traffic sources is another signifier in how well your marketing is doing; high organic traffic means your brand and site is ranking well on search engines (and remember Google isn’t the only one!).

4. Bounce Rate

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From Google:

“Bounce Rate is the percentage of single-page sessions (i.e. sessions in which the person left your site from the entrance page without interacting with the page).”

If your bounce rate is increasing, usually if it tips towards and over 50%, it’s a sign that you may need to investigate, why people are leaving your site after the first page they’ve accessed. There’s a number of reasons:

they’ve found the information they were looking for on the site

 

the page wasn’t relevant to what they were looking for (this is particularly key when looking at traffic from organic search, referrers and paid search)

 

your site is a single-page website

 

It’s also worth noting the type of website you have. Blogs can have a higher bounce rate on average than others, as users may only read one blog post before exiting. It’s worth using the next metric in our list alongside the Bounce Rate to determine what might be going wrong.

5. Average Session Duration

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It’s great to know how many people are visiting your site (and leaving immediately), but it’s also worthwhile knowing approximately how long they’re staying onsite for.

Going back to the example of a blog: A blog with a high bounce rate but a long average session duration, could mean that while users are only visiting one page, they are taking the time to read your posts.

This metric can give you a little more insight into whether users are interested by the content on your site.

6. Pages

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To really get an idea of what’s working and what’s not, you should drill down into your site’s pages.

Of course, it’s not just about looking at the pages with the highest traffic; using some of the metrics we’ve already discussed, we can identify what’s successful with your audience.

A page with lower traffic but a really great bounce rate and average session duration is clearly doing something right, but is perhaps not easily found. In this case, you might need to work on improving the page’s visibility to search engines, or work on earning some links for referral traffic.

Once you’ve identified what’s working and what’s not, you can attempt to replicate these successes across the rest of the site and for new content.

7. Devices

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With mobile exceeding PC web usage last year, and Google even rolling a Mobile-Friendly Algorithm (even if it’s impact was somewhat anti-climactic), it’s becoming increasingly important to include mobile as part of your online digital strategy.

Whether your site is mobile-friendly or not, you should be aware of how much traffic is coming from the various devices available. Simply looking at traffic from Desktop, Mobile and Tablet devices will keep you on top of how customers are accessing your brand and site.

If you’ve recently seen a surge of mobile traffic but the frequency of returning visitors is low and the bounce rate is high, you may need to optimise your site for mobile traffic. However if desktop traffic continues to provides the best conversions, you may be able to justify not focusing on mobile too much.

8. Conversions

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Finally, I’ve possibly left one of the most important metrics ‘til last – conversions. It’s all good and well getting visits to your website, but ultimately we all want people to take a specific action when they visit.

Conversions can mean a variety of things to different sites; purchases for eCommerce sites, email addresses to lead generation sites, or newsletter signups to blogs. Whatever it means to you, you should make sure that you’re tracking it correctly.

By tracking conversions, you can assign value to the work that you’re doing. Changing the site design might lead to an increase in sales, and so that cost for web work will be justified by the sales. It’s particularly essential when doing anything with paid search – you need to make sure that the money you’re spending on ads is getting you a good return on your investment.

Combined with the other 7 metrics I’ve discussed, conversions can give you a key insight into just how well your site and brand is doing online.


Obviously there may be some other metrics that are relevant to your business and website that you may want to track – every business is unique in the objectives it’s trying to achieve and how they get there.

However, starting with this 8 metrics will give you a basic yet firm understanding of how your website is performing, without spending hours drilling deeper and deeper into data you don’t need or understand.

Of course by integrating your Google Analytics account with Google Analytics /a>, you can get access to all 8 of these metrics alongside data from social media, your accounts and more, in one dashboard.