Running a website is much like having a house. It is very important that you stay on top of everything that goes on in it. Such as, who goes in and out of your website, how long they stay, where they come from, and where they go out from or what they do once they’re in.
There’s a certain point in any online platform’s growth, where you need to stop planning based on guesswork and start growing based on factual data and statistics. Identifying the patterns in these statistics and data is what defines analytics.
When it comes to the marketing aspect of your site, the most important part of your statistical feedback is website traffic analytics. There are many metrics that you can track, the specific examples that I’m about to mention are all found in Google Analytics.
If you have a WordPress website then a very convenient way of getting all your Google Analytics results straight on your WordPress sidebar is by installing the WD Google Analytics plugin. It also conveniently adds an easy-to-read analytics dashboard straight to your WordPress dashboard panel.
In the list, you’ll see a lot of metrics that are meant to track your conversions from various sources. To use these metrics you need to start tracking your conversions separately, so you can use them in various segments later. Follow this tutorial and set up goals to start tracking your conversions.
Now onto some of the most important metrics that you need to pay attention to:
1. Website traffic
Let’s start off with the single metric that enables and gives significance to every other metric.
Traffic, or session as it’s listed in Google Analytics, does not signify success by its own since different companies have different objectives and manage traffic in different ways. On the other hand, patterns in traffic data can reveal a lot about your website’s overall direction. Increases or decreases in traffic are huge identifiers in the overall correct implementation and execution of your strategies.
2. New visitor conversion
Visitor conversion defines the number of users that convert from “passive visitors” — who read through your content and leave, to “active visitors” who eventually buy your product, sign-up to your website, or click on requested links. Converted active visitors are the necessary factor in achieving the goals you’ve set up (conversions).
To track “new visitor conversions,” you need to isolate conversions from returning visitors, then compare the patterns. If your new visitors’ conversion rate is on the decline, then you need to take a look at what new users lay their eyes on when they first visit your site and work on optimizing and improving that experience for them.
3. Demographics & traffic source
Through the demographics section of your Google Analytics, you can look at how your users are segmented based on their age or gender. Using this information you can draw a more accurate representation of your user base, to enhance your marketing strategy.
Traffic source, on the other hand, is split into 3 main sections –direct visitors, search visitors, referral visitors– each source is important in its own way, so having an overview on where your users are coming from can provide a lot of valuable information so you can plan your content strategy accordingly.
- Search visitors — users who have found your website through online search engines, such as, Google and Bing.
- Direct visitors — users who visit your website directly by typing the URL in the address bar of their browser.
- Referral visitors — users who find your website by following a link from another website that redirects them to yours.
4. New vs Returning
You can check the percentage of your returning users to new users in the “Behavior” section of your Google Analytics then clicking on “New vs Returning” and then by comparing the data, you can check how many of your users are returning visitors. This way you’ll figure out if your current content, landing pages, and user experience are working as intended in retaining your users to revisit your site.
High returning visitor percentage is a good indication that your website offers valuable information and content that incentivizes users to return.
5. Bounce Rate
This metric shows how many of your visitors have left the website right after their arrival, aka single-page sessions. If the percentage of this metric is too high, that means your users aren’t sticking around browsing the content of your site.
Bounce rates carry more importance with some websites than others, it all depends on the type of your website. So a high percentage isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but that’s up to you and your site’s objectives. Bounce rate also doesn’t tell you the reason why people might be leaving after a single page.
You might want to check on the first impression your landing pages are giving and increase the quality of your content so that your users are incentivized to browse more.
6. Lead generation costs
Sometimes referred to as “cost per conversion”, this metric that you’ll find in the “E-commerce” section of your analytics tracks just how much you’re paying for lead generation. At some point, even if your advertisements or paid referrals are bringing in a lot of conversions, but your net income is below 0 from your lead generated sources, then perhaps it’s time to revise your referral and ad campaigns.
7. Exit Pages
In some cases, you’ll notice that despite your low bounce rates in relation your conversion rating isn’t increasing. The exit pages metric will show you the pages that have the highest amount of visitors leaving your site from them.
Generally, you’d want your exit pages to be along the lines of either your subscription confirmation pages or your checkout pages if you’re running an online marketplace. If you have low bounce rates and your visitors aren’t leaving after a single page, you need to identify those exit pages and fixing the underlying issues will work wonders in increasing the conversion rating of your site.
8. Top Pages
Besides keeping tabs on where your visitors come from and where they leave your site from, you need to keep track of the specific pages that your visitors are most attracted to.
This metric is the best indication of what’s most appealing to your users. If you’ve had different sorts of content on your site, by tracking this metric you can identify the most successful types of content on your site and shift your content production in that direction.
Sometimes your top pages might be a result of referral visitors, analyzing and comparing your traffic sources with your top pages should give you the information you need on which pages are organically attracting visitors and which are due to referral visitors.
9. Average session duration
This metric calculates how long your users are spending on your site per each session. Analyzing this data should provide a good indication of how engaging your site is to your users.
You just have to monitor closely to make sure that your users’ session duration on each page corresponds correctly with the content and/or function that those pages represent.
10. Conversion by traffic source
Earlier in the article, we looked at the three categories of traffic source and how to track them. To track your conversions based on where your users have reached your website from you need to go to custom reports, select your conversions tracker from the “Metric” tab and add your desired traffic source from the “Dimension” tab and give your custom report a name.
This way you can track your conversion rate per traffic source to see their actual effectiveness besides the amount of traffic they bring to your site.
As a final reminder, while all of these metrics are important, it is up to you to figure out which ones suit best for your site and objectives. Then identify and optimize them to maximize the efficiency of your website’s analytics.