You’ve probably scrolled the headlines on website metrics: “16 Metrics You Must Track” and “23 Key Metrics to Monitor” or (our favorite) “The 27 Most Essential Website Metrics to Track.” So many metrics and so little understanding about which are key/important/essential/crucial to examine. Part of the reason the number seems so big is that what’s important on your website may or may not be as important on another company’s website. (Web conversions matter more if you’re an online retailer, or your clients use a web form to request a lead.) You could track thousands of web analytics metrics, or like Google Analytics alone, track hundreds of different web analytics metrics.
Not all website metrics are equally important to every organization or company with a website, which is the good news. (We just gave you back the gift of time.) But which ones need your attention most? We suggest these 7 metrics matter for any organization or business that values engagement on their website.
Overall, the number of users you’re getting on a weekly or monthly basis is an important website metric to measure, as it often correlates to your lead or sales numbers, but types of visitors vary.
New user sessions measure the times new, unique users come to your site during a set timeframe. If users initiate more than one session in that timeframe, they count as the same visitor. If you want to increase the number of new visitors, examine your analytics for information in the data that can guide you with specifics. According to HubSpot, your analytics may reveal that a design change (friendlier!) is called for, or you need to generate more backlinks or promote content on social media or work with influencers to reach new audiences.
“Strategies for improving new visitors can also focus on strategy,” according to HubSpot. “For example, if your website doesn’t include a blog, you may want to add a blog to your business website to boost unique visitor numbers.”
Unique visitors are those who visit a website one or more times but are only tracked once during a specific timeframe, which shows how many total users visit your site during a specific period. Note that this metric isn’t always reliable because it’s too dependent on user behavior. Users who clear or block their cookies, or use different browsers, count as multiple unique visitors for the same unique visitor. Not an ideal measurement.
Returning (or repeat) visitors are users who visit your site more than once during a specific time frame. This is a rich metric because it can provide insights into your most loyal customers, products or services those customers like best—or use often—and content that’s valuable.
“If you want to improve your returning visitor numbers, turn your attention to email and overall site quality, HubSpot advises. “This gives a more positive first impression and encourages return visits. Strategic retargeting ads can help you target the best prospects in your returning user audience.
When keeping track of these numbers, make sure you can easily spot any big changes, such as a large marketing campaign or even a change in the Google algorithm (happens all the time). If you notice upswings that don’t match seasonal needs or seem out of the ordinary, investigate the issue.
Remember, too, that new visitors are good, but if you have few—or a dwindling number of—returning visitors, you probably have a problem that needs to be addressed.
Bounce rate measures how long visitors spend on your webpage before clicking on or leaving the site altogether. It’s the percentage of people who land on one page and leave without performing a specific action.
When users bounce, it may mean they looked for something on the page and didn’t find it, or it could be something more within your control, such as bad content. If you track bounce rates on your important pages this metric will help you understand which pages are doing their job and which are motivating users to leave your site.
Those who stay for a certain amount of time, click on a link, make a purchase or fill out a form all indicate a greater engagement and interest—or they’d bounce (get it?). But bounce rates vary by website. According to the popular SEO platform Semrush, the average website bounce rate is somewhere between 26% and 70%, but your industry, where your traffic originates and where that traffic lands can influence the bounce rate.
eCommerce websites bounce rates are between 20% and 45% and non-eCommerce content sites range between 35% and 60% for bounce rates. B2B websites, according to Semrush, have a bounce rate of 25% to 55%, which means visitors to B2B sites may arrive to do business and aren’t eager to leave.
We said where your visitor lands can affect bounce rate, so landing pages with a bound rate between 60% and 90% may only reflect the fact that visitors are navigating away from the landing page, not abandoning your website completely.
Google Analytics measures the “percentage of sessions that were not engaged sessions” and defines engaged sessions as lasting longer than 10 seconds, having one or more conversion events or having two or more page views.
According to Google, if a visitor lands on your page, reviews your content for more than 10 seconds, and then leaves, the session isn’t a bounce—“even if they didn’t perform any other action.”
There are certain times when the bounce rate isn’t nearly as important to worry about — for example when running a PPC campaign. This is a time when a high bounce rate isn’t as big of a deal, as the page you’re sending traffic to is selectively specific.
Why can bounce rate be a problem? If someone thinks your website is lackluster or irrelevant, they won’t want to stay there long enough to find out more about your company and the products or services you offer.
Average Number of Page Views per Session
The next website metric you’ll really want to keep track of is the average number of page views per session. In short, this equates to the number of pages visitors browse during their time on the website.
The higher the average, the more the people coming to your website are exploring while they’re there.
Page views per session isn’t just a metric that helps manage your website. It also can show you how easy it is for users who access your website to navigate through it.
If you have an article on one page of your website and link to another article at the end of the first article, and your users click on that article, it increases their page views per session. It indicates that your content has value and is worthy of their time, according to linkilo. If two interconnected pages on your website have a similar number of page views per session, you’re most likely directing visitors through your website well—and with valuable and relevant content.
Overall Session Duration
Speaking of sessions, overall session duration is important to track. In addition to keeping an eye on what visitors are doing while on your website, pay attention to how long they stay on your site.
A longer session duration often means users are thoroughly reading your written content, watching videos you’ve posted, or otherwise engaging with your page. This isn’t always true, of course, as someone could just happen to have the site up on their screen with no further action. (Gone to lunch, anyone?) But combining this metric with others should give you a good idea of what content gives your target audience members the most value because they choose to spend time with it.
Once you’ve learned how many visits your website receives, track where that traffic is originating, which shows where users are coming from when they find your page.
Are they typing it in directly? Is it something they’re getting from social media pages like Facebook, Instagram, or Houzz? Are they finding you in search engine results on Google?
According to Google, traffic sources are generally direct, social, email, organic search and referral.
Traffic from entering your URL directly into the browser address bar is considered direct.
Visits that originate in social media channels, such as Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn, are considered social traffic sources. Email campaigns or links within email messages fall under, you guessed it, an email traffic source. Traffic from search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing, are organic search traffic sources.
A visit to your site from a link on another page, particularly popular with influencers’ sites, are considered referral traffic sources.
You want to pay close attention to this metric because it helps indicate how well your digital marketing campaigns work and traffic source metrics can give you an idea of areas you need to improve, such as search engine optimization (SEO) or social media marketing.
User Device Type
How are your visitors seeing your site? Mobile? Desktop? Tablet? It matters for you, as well as your visitors.
Users on mobile tend to bounce fast and spend less time on the site, particularly if the site is clunky on mobile. They are also less likely to purchase or fill out forms. (Fat fingers are real!)
With the right web analytics tool, visitor device as a metric will allow you to dive deep into what happens—what do visitors do—based on their device. For example, you might create a user segment of mobile users, and subsequently, notice that your conversion rate was lower among mobile users than desktop users. This would suggest that you need to improve your mobile experience.
If most of your audience is using a smartphone device, you might want to make some changes to the navigational structure of your page to make this more user-friendly. You could also opt to use certain fonts or images, or change other technical aspects of your page to ensure faster loading speeds on smaller screens.
Exit Source or Exit Page
One of the lesser tracked but still important site metrics is exit source. This is the place on your website where visitors make the decision to leave.
Pages with a high exit rate should have some sort of explanation as to why. Is there a link that takes them to an off-site page with additional information? Do they leave after submitting a request for a quote or contact? Those would all be understandable and acceptable.
But if you have a blog post or article that instantly makes people abandon your page, there might be a problem. If you notice a certain portion of your website showing signs of too many people using it as an exit, then it might be a good time to investigate and make some changes.
“If a business notices that customers tend to go halfway through placing an order, it might consider making the ordering process easier to complete,” according to LinkedIn. “You can also integrate links to other content to convince people to continue to explore.”
Wrap Up: Important Website Metrics To Keep Track Of
We said that not all website metrics are equally important to every organization or company with a website, but it’s good to know there are some general metrics that matter to almost everyone on the web. If you’d like to discuss website metrics beyond these seven or need help building engagement into the DNA of your website, contact us. Let’s start a conversation.
FAQs about Website Metrics
The top website metrics to focus on are Website Users (new users, unique visitors, returning visitors), Bounce Rate, Average Number of Page Views per Session, Overall Session Duration, Traffic Sources, Type of Visitor Device, Exit Source or Exit Page.
The number of users correlates to lead or sales numbers and indicates the reach and engagement of your website.
Analyze your analytics data for insights, make design changes, generate backlinks, promote content on social media, or work with influencers to reach new audiences.
Bounce rate measures the percentage of visitors who leave your website after viewing only one page without taking any action.
Bounce rates vary depending on the type of website. eCommerce sites have lower bounce rates (20% to 45%), non-eCommerce content sites have higher bounce rates (35% to 60%), and B2B sites have moderate bounce rates (25% to 55%).
It indicates how much visitors explore your website and how easy it is for them to navigate through the content.
Overall session duration measures how long visitors stay on your website, indicating their level of engagement with your content.
It helps you understand where your website traffic is coming from, whether it’s direct, social, email, organic search, or referral, which can inform your digital marketing strategies.
Different devices (mobile, desktop, tablet) impact user experience, bounce rates, and conversion rates. Understanding the device usage of your audience can help optimize your website accordingly.
Exit source or exit page identifies the specific page on your website where visitors decide to leave, which can provide insights into areas that may need improvement.
Investigate the reasons behind the high exit rates, make improvements to the content or user experience, integrate links to other engaging content, or streamline the ordering process if applicable.