Unless you’re a seasoned analytics expert, it's understandable if metrics and website statistics aren't your cup of tea. If you’ve started using an analyttics tool, you might have realized that there’s a huge amount of data right there on your website.
There’s data on what pages your visitors go to – in the exact flow, their city, and the amount of time spent on specific web pages. Data can be made available on almost anything. With that said, the amount of information available, it contributes to the problem there's a lot to track.
Most business owners start with the best of intentions and get blown away by the sheer volume of statistics and metrics available. But don’t be intimidated, you don’t need to be tracking 10,000 different metrics. So, just how many do you need?
Unique traffic consists of people who visit your website within a specified time period: a day, a week or a month ago. The amount of unique traffic represents the number of individuals who visited your website within that time frame, regardless of how many times they came back.
Meaning, if person X comes to your site only once and person Z comes three times, you have four visits but only two unique visitors.
One of the most important initial goals of a website is to boost your reach. So, this metric is important because it shows you how many people you’re reaching, which would be impossible if you focused just on the number of visits. As you master tracking unique traffic and you increase your marketing efforts, you can broaden your scope to include tracking of repeat visitors. An increase in repeat visitors indicates that your website is compelling and useful to your audience.
2. Source of traffic
So you know people are visiting your site? But where are they coming from?
Google Analytics uses referrals to track and report on visitors coming from search engines, social platforms, blogs and other websites linking to your site. By knowing the source of your traffic, you can get a clearer picture of how well you’re promoting your website across various channels. Are you getting mentions from other blogs? How good is your social media marketing? You can then decide on whether to increase your efforts or do away with certain strategies.
This report is also important in helping you find companies in your area that you might want to work with. It also helps you boost your blogger outreach campaign as you can easily see who’s mentioning and/or linking to your website. You can then reach out and establish a more formal and stronger relationship.
3. Bounce rate
Sometimes a visitor comes to your site and goes back or closes the browser tab within a few seconds and without going to any other page. This is what’s referred to as a “bounce."
It’s as if someone walks into a store, looks around and immediately walks out. This indicates that they didn’t find what they were looking for and decided to leave. Every visitor represents an opportunity, so it’s vital to get your bounce rate as low as possible. Of course, sometimes people will end up on your site by mistake, so it’s virtually impossible to get it down to zero.
So, what can you do about it? The first thing is to start to measure it. Once you have the bounce rate report, you have to try and figure out what on your site could make people leave. Maybe it’s because your content isn’t useful, or it could be because visitors are finding it hard to navigate on your site.
Also, you’ll find that sometimes a site will link to you, with the best intentions, of course, but on content, that isn’t directly related to what that visitor would be expecting. Realizing they have no business being on that particular piece of content, the visitor leaves immediately. This results in a bounce and in that way, that site’s increasing your bounce rate. You can track this by analyzing the referral data and the bounce rate report. Thankfully, Google Analytics does this for you.
In the past, you’d also be able to see what keywords generated highest bounce rates but in 2013 Google encrypted keyword searches making it impossible to track them, unfortunately.
4. Exit pages
Whereas a bounce reflects a one-page visit, an exit means the user visited more than one page on your website before leaving. Of course, at some point, the visitor has to leave your site. What’s important, however, is knowing the page through which most visitors leave. Once you know which pages visitors are leaving from are they in line with your expectations?
Pages like the order receipt page will naturally have high exit rates and that will be a welcome metric. However, recording high exit rates on other pages (i.e. order page, product features page) may indicate deeper problems within your site.
By understanding exit pages, you can have a closer look at the pages with high rates and diagnose the problem accordingly. Why do people leave when they get on that particular page? Have you provided relevant information? Is the copywriting strong enough? Is the order process clear or is it confusing?
This kind of information allows you to test different alternatives to address these types of questions.
5. Top pages
This is a report on the pages on your site that your visitors find most important. This information helps you make more informed decisions as you tweak the pages for on-page SEO.
If you run a blog where you regularly update the content, you’ll find that your top pages' report is constantly changing. In that case, the report tells you the specific pieces of content that your visitors are consuming and engaging with most as well as your most successful headlines. This should guide you as you create more content.
6. Conversion rate
Conversion is the ultimate success metric. It wouldn’t be possible without all of the other supporting metrics.
The conversion rate refers to the number of people who completed a desired goal on your website against the total number of visitors. The goal could be filling out a form, viewing a page on the site or making a purchase.
A low conversion rate can mean you aren’t attracting the right people to your website. It can also mean that you don’t have the copy or a design that’s compelling enough to make people pay for your products or services or sign up to access higher value content.
Keeping an eye on your conversion rate can also help you identify errors on your website. A sudden drop in sales could indicate an error with the shopping cart or an issue with the signup form.
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