Tracking and analyzing website metrics are essential to any blog growth strategy. However, monitoring all those metrics could potentially be overwhelming. Today’s article is a guide to the important website metrics that matter so that you’ll know which ones to actually focus on.
When can you call your blog successful?
Is it when you have plenty of visitors? Or lots of subscribers? Or massive sales?
Every blogger’s definition of success can be different depending on their individual goals, but every blogger can agree that to know where they stand on their goals, they’ll need to track and analyze their website metrics.
However, web analytics tools tend to track a whole lot of metrics, and unless you’ve been doing this for a while, it’s quite possible that you’ll get overwhelmed and confused with all the metrics and which ones are actually relevant to what you’re trying to achieve.
In today’s blog post, let’s look at the website metrics that matter so you know exactly which metrics to track and concentrate on improving.
In any article detailing how to set up a blog, there will inevitably a section on setting up your analytics software. It’s safe to say that it is accepted that analytics software is an essential part of blogging.
But website metrics hardly seems crucial to running a blog; we can continue creating and publishing content, promoting that content, and getting subscribers without it. So why exactly do we need it in our blogs?
Tracking website metrics allow you to measure performance.
Setting goals is one thing, but knowing whether you’ve achieved those goals is another. Installing software that tracks your metrics gives you precise numbers you can use to set goals and lets you know exactly if you’ve achieved them.
Capturing website metrics allows you to improve.
Analyzing the data that you’ve tracked lets you know which aspects of your website are doing well and which ones aren’t. This, in turn, lets you know which aspects you should be working on and which ones to leave alone.
Analyzing website metrics allows you to strategize.
Every strategy you apply on your blog should be based on accurate data and not just speculation.
For instance, if you want to create a content strategy, you’ll need to know what type of content works for which visitors. You’ll want to know how many views that blog post has been getting or how many plays that video has been gathering. Then, you’ll want to know where your visitors are coming from: did they click on a link on social media, or did they find it on their search results page?
Further, you’ll want to know what your visitors do after they’ve consumed your content: do they subscribe to your newsletter, close the page, or read another article?
Now that we know why website analytics are important to your blog strategy, let’s look at the website metrics that matter to your overall growth strategy.
It seems only logical that if your content is consumed by plenty of people, then it’s popular and thus performing well. Knowing which ones of your published content are doing well, as well as which ones aren’t, informs your content strategy and helps you decide on what types of content you should focus on.
Here are some consumption metrics to analyze so you can discover trends in how popular your content is and how your visitors consume them.
Technically, the number of visits and visitors to your website, but more commonly refers only to the visits (or sessions)
Website traffic is a general measurement of site reach and growth. It’s one of the metrics you analyze to know whether a marketing campaign is working and whether your reach is growing.
Measuring overall website traffic alone doesn’t give you much information; it’s better to contextualize this data with the source of the traffic (i.e., device, link source, geographical location, etc.) to give you more useful information about your audience.
Plus, data for a single month isn’t very helpful. Traffic naturally fluctuates through the seasons, and these fluctuations vary per blog. Traffic data for the past 6 to 12 months will give you a more comprehensive picture of how your blog is doing.
How much traffic should your website get?
Short answer: it depends.
There isn’t a magic number or range of visits to your website. Your goal shouldn’t be to increase the traffic just for the sake of increasing it. You want to increase the number of readers that can turn into a dedicated audience for your blog.
Thus, the quality of traffic matters much more than the actual number. The factors I mentioned above, such as the device they used, what page they came from, and which geographical locations they’re from give more meaning to the traffic data you gather.
The total number of pages on your website viewed by visitors
While traffic is a measure of the number of visits, page views also consider how many pages a reader goes to when they’re visiting your blog. Thus, a single visit from a reader can have multiple page views.
Because page views count exactly how many views a page received, this gives you a more accurate measure of how popular your content is.
How many page views should your website get?
As with traffic, there is no hard and fast rule when it comes to the number of page views you should be targeting. What’s more important is that this number should be steadily increasing over time.
The average percentage of first-time visits to your website over the total number of visits to your website
Measuring the number of new sessions you have on your website gives you an idea of how well you’re promoting your website to new audiences.
If you have a high number of new visits/sessions compared to return visits/sessions, that means you’re attracting plenty of new readers to your website. However, you don’t want to neglect your existing audience for a new audience. Also, not all of the visitors you attract are worthy of retaining and converting into subscribers.
What percentage should I aim for?
The usual ratios from other blogs range from 50% to 70%, but a nice ratio to aim for is 80% new sessions to 20% returning visitors, which gives a healthy mix of new and returning visitors.
More than just consuming it, you want your audience to be interacting with your content. This way, you know that your visitors really are interested and that they’ll be coming back to your blog.
Here are the metrics you’ll want to monitor to measure engagement.
The number of pages on your website a reader views on each visit
When you go into a website to read an article or blog post, you don’t end up on a different page by accident; it’s a conscious decision and action to click on a link that leads you elsewhere.
Thus, when a reader visits more than one page in your website in a single session, it generally means they’re interested in your content and want to read more of it.
How many page views per session should you aim for?
In general, you want your readers to visit 2 to 4 pages on your website each time they visit.
You want your audience to be interested enough in your content to view multiple pages within your website. However, going from one page to another is a possible sign that your visitors are lost on your site, which is certainly not what you want.
Thus, counting the number of page views per session isn’t enough; you need to contextualize this metric with how long they stay on each page (we’ll discuss this metric further in this article).
Average length of a visit or session
How much time a visitor spends on your site is another indication of your readers’ interest in your website. If they stay a second or less, that means either they wandered on your site by mistake, or they read the title or headline and decided they’re not interested in what you have to offer.
By contrast, the longer a visitor stays on your website, the more likely they’re engrossed with your content.
How long should a visitor spend on your website?
Depending on how long your blog posts are, a good range of session duration would be 3 to 5 minutes per session, which may not seem like very much. But bear in mind that 3 minutes is enough to read and comment on a 1,000-word blog post.
A potential pitfall of this metric is that it’s taken as an average, so there’s no way to examine the extremes. For instance, the too-short visits can indicate that there’s a message mismatch; that is, the description that they read in the previous page doesn’t match what they immediately saw on your website, prompting them to hit Back or close the page altogether.
It’s also possible that your promotional efforts are reaching people who aren’t deeply interested in your website. In this case, you need to rethink your promotional and content strategies to make sure you’re getting an engaged audience to go to your website.
On the other hand, too-long sessions can simply mean they left your website open on their browser while they were doing other things. You can set a session to expire after a certain amount of time so it doesn’t skew your data too much, but even that takes some experimentation to get right.
Thus, as with most of the other metrics we’re discussing, we need to take this into context with other engagement metrics.
The percentage of visits comprising only one page on your site
If you’ve been doing research on important website metrics, you’ll tend to encounter this metric as a significant indicator of a website’s success. While it is indeed significant, bounce rate gives us general information such that there are plenty of possible conclusions.
A high bounce rate can mean that visitors who are coming to one particular page have found exactly what they’re looking for in that page, and thus have no need to go anywhere else. This then implies that your content is high-quality.
However, a high bounce rate can also mean that visitors aren’t finding what they’re looking for and are leaving the page to find it elsewhere. It can also mean that the loading time of your site is so slow that they’ve given up and just closed the page.
More importantly, a high bounce rate can mean that your visitors are ignoring the call to action on that page, such as a call to action to subscribe to your newsletter, view other posts, or sign up for an offer.
Thus, while bounce rate is essential information, you’ll need to contextualize this metric with other engagement metrics to ensure that your bounce rate is within acceptable limits.
What is an acceptable bounce rate for your website?
The typical bounce rate for a website is around 50%, and depending on your niche and the type of content you typically publish, you can aim for a bounce rate of around 30% to 35%.
As there are plenty of factors that affect bounce rate (as I’ve mentioned above), simplify your goals and just aim to find out why your visitors are leaving after seeing one page, and then tweak your website so that visitors feel inclined to explore your other content and pages.
The percentage of site exits occurring from a specific page or set of pages
The exit rate is often confused with the bounce rate, but these two metrics measure two different things.
The bounce rate measures how many website sessions are only in one page, while the exit rate measures how often a page is the last page a visitor views in a session.
There are some pages that you can expect to have high exit rates, such as the confirmation page for a download or a purchase, or any last step in a multi-page process. So if any other pages have high exit rates, you’ll need to check if there’s anything in these pages that are causing them to leave.
What is a passable exit rate for a specific page?
Ideally, you’ll want all your pages to have equally low exit rates, but there will tend to be a page or a group of pages whose exit rates are higher than all your other pages. Take a closer look at these pages and assess whether their high exit rates are justified so you’ll know if you’ll need to tweak the content, design, or call to action on those pages.
The percentage of clicks from a search results page
Technically, the CTR can be used to describe clicks from both paid advertisements and organic search results, but to simplify the discussion, we’ll use this term to refer to clicks to your website from search results pages.
A high CTR indicates that your posts are targeting keywords similar to that which your audience uses on search engines to find information and that they’re inclined to click on your post to read more.
What is a good click through rate?
The ideal CTR depends on your niche and how stiff the competition is. Bear in mind that what you want is to improve how your posts appear on search results.
Improve your keyword research so that your blog posts get displayed on relevant search pages. Know what words and phrases they’re using to find information.
Work on your headlines, meta descriptions, and post URLs so that when your post does get displayed, your audience is driven to click on the link to your post.
Of all the metrics you’ll measure, conversion metrics are perhaps the most important, as these are the ones that are related, directly and indirectly, to monetizing your blog.
A conversion is an action that’s completed by a visitor to your website. Examples of such actions include subscribing to your email list, filling out a form, sharing a blog post on social media or email, downloading a document or report, or purchasing an item.
Typically, a conversion rate for a certain time period is computed by dividing the number of conversions over the total number of visitors to your site. If you’re directing your visitors to a few types of conversions, then you need to check the rates for each action. This way, you know which of your campaigns are successful and which ones need to be tweaked.
Different niches and industries have different benchmarks when it comes to rates for different conversion types, so I won’t discuss that here.
Here are some of the conversion metrics that you should be analyzing.
The conversion rate for first-time visitors to your website
First-time visitors behave quite differently from frequent visitors. When you put yourself in your first-time visitors’ mindset, you can see what they first see when they’re on your website.
This should help you pinpoint any problems in your website design, especially those relating to design and usability, which are crucial to the user experience.
The conversion rate for returning visitors to your website
You know how when you’ve been to a certain place a few times, you tend to tune out certain aspects of it and only notice aspects that are important to you? The same thing happens to return visitors on your website.
Finding out what makes your returning visitors come back to your website and what makes them convert will help you determine which aspects of your site they’re skipping over and which ones are compelling them to convert.
Having this information should help you figure out your overall strategy for increasing conversions to appeal to both first-time and returning visitors.
The percentage of visitors who arrive at your website through organic search results and then convert
When you get to more advanced marketing for your blog and set up multi-step funnels, you’ll want to know how many of your visitors who came from search results pages end up on your website and eventually convert.
The percentage of visitors who land on your landing page and then convert
Monetizing your blog will require you to formulate effective marketing and sales strategies, of which creating a high-converting landing page is an important part. How well your landing page converts is another crucial piece of information to create marketing and sales strategies that work.
Website analytics data are crucial to developing your strategies for your blog and measuring the success of those strategies. However, if you don’t know which ones to focus on, going over your website analytics data can be overwhelming.
Here again are the 12 website metrics that matter.
And here are a couple more reminders when you’re going over your metrics.
We all wish things can be simple. Even website metrics.
Unfortunately, analyzing website metrics aren’t meant to be simple.
You’ve probably noticed that this is a recurring theme for the entire article: these metrics aren’t meant to be taken individually. Each of these metrics must be contextualized with other metrics and seen as part of a bigger picture.
For instance, just because you have plenty of traffic doesn’t automatically mean that your website is successful. You also need to look at how long your visitors are staying in your website, presumably reading your content and exploring your site.
Similarly, just because you have a high bounce rate doesn’t mean that your website isn’t successful.
Different website owners have different goals for their sites; some want more reach, some want more social media followers, others want more email subscribers. Thus, different website owners will look at different metrics and have different goals for each.
Goals can also change as the website evolves, so don’t be surprised if some metrics aren’t as important as before while others that weren’t very important before are now more important than ever.
Which of the above metrics do you track? Do you think I missed other metrics that matter to the success of your website? Leave a comment below to share your experiences.
JoAnne is your average, everyday, sane stay-at-home mom who believes in the power of the internet to make dreams come true. She has an insatiable appetite for chocolate, as well as all things internet marketing. She keeps up with the latest trends in blogging, affiliate marketing, e-commerce, and more.