If you've begun to measure website performance, the amount of data that's available can be overwhelming. (If you haven't started measuring your web performance yet, here's a guide to web analytics tools from Search Engine Land.) But you don't have to get bogged down in analysis paralysis. If you're like most SMBs, there are four key metrics to focus on that will tell you how your website is doing.
1. Traffic Referrals
Traffic referrals tell you how users reached your site, whether it was from paid advertising, search engines, blogs or social media sites. This tells you where your marketing or publicity efforts are paying off and may also point you to potential site partners. If you're getting a lot of traffic from a particular website, you might want to turn that connection into a more formal business relationship.
2. Site Visitors
Two measurements alone provide a great deal of information about visitors to your website: visits and unique visitors. Visits represent a cumulative number, while the unique visitor number shows the number of separate individuals visiting your site during a specific time frame. If person A visits 10 times and person B visits once, you'll see 11 visits but only two unique visitors. These numbers are especially useful for campaign tracking, particularly for offline marketing that's not measurable with online analytics. The number of unique visitors should expand with increases in marketing efforts, while repeat visits offer insight into your site's "stickiest," most successful content. Additionally, if you are using Google Analytics, you can use their Demographics and Interests reports to better understand more about those site visitors. Knowing your audiences can help influence your content and your targeted advertising. For info on how to enable this, check out this link.
3. Bounce Rate
Bounce happens when someone visits your site but takes no action before closing the window or hitting the back button on their browser. It's the online equivalent of walking into a store, looking around and then immediately leaving. People will land on your site accidentally, but in most cases a lost visitor is a lost opportunity. Everything from poor site design to poorly worded calls to action can impact bounce, which makes it an important measurement.
Of all the website performance metrics, conversion rate may be the most important. Yet it's only as good as the elements above — you have to get people to your site and entice them before you can convert. Your conversion goal may involve getting them to make a purchase, provide their email, or simply click a call button. Whatever it is, it's the ultimate measure of how your site and marketing is performing. If conversion is low, you're either attracting the wrong audience or not offering the solution your visitors want. No matter what the case, it's something to address, and the above measures can help you figure out what to do.
If you have many unique visitors but a high bounce, your content is likely the problem. If you have very few referrals, there may be a problem with your social media efforts. There are many opportunities to tweak your website and then assess the results just by using these core website performance measurements.