As your website grows, you’ll need to understand more about your analytics and know what you are reading to make the correct decisions to ensure your website continues to serve your customers correctly.
Occasionally you can get a web agency to do this for you, this sometimes makes sure that you are getting the right numbers. But in order to know you are getting the details from your agency, you would need to know what those right numbers are.
Transparency is important to me, so I thought it would be the best idea to share what analytics I look at to best understand the performance of a website. These all relate to my provider of choice, Google Analytics.
You can delve incredibly deep into website analytics, from basic numbers right through to more advanced referral and campaign analysis. But for this post, I’m just going to purely focus on simple overview stats.
This, to me, is the most important statistic out of the basic numbers I’ll explain on this page. Simply because your website is useless if no one is staying on it and this is what bounce rate shows you.
Unlike other statistics, the lower this one is the better. If you have a 100% bounce rate, then all of your visitors are landing on your website and immediately leaving. It means the website landing pages aren’t keeping people.
The exit rate works in the same kind of way as the bounce rate, a high bounce rate and a high exit rate show a poor performing page. Sometimes, but I’ll explain later.
If your exit rate on particular pages is high then it’s a sign that your page isn’t performing that well. However, this isn’t always the case.
Why does poor performance not always mean improvement is needed?
In website design, it’s important to designate a user journey and understand which pages of your website are important for keeping people there and where you expect people to close the browser/leave your website.
When your visitors are doing exactly what you expect, for example leaving on a contact page when they’ve submitted the form and there’s nothing else for them, you should expect a high exit and bounce rate.
However, a page where you expect them to do more like this chain product page > checkout > purchase. Two of these pages should have a low exit and bounce rate. The last page should have a high exit rate.
How interesting is your content to your viewers? How long is it taking them to read each page? There’s no exact number for this, there are only averages depending on industry and page type.
However, if you’ve got a long article then you’d expect them to be on the page for longer. If you’ve got a shorter page you’d expect them to stay on for the less. I would usually say 2 minutes 30 seconds is the right around the average time you should be looking for.
This goes back to the bounce rate, your website is useless if you aren’t getting people all over it. You want visitors on your website and staying on it.
The pages per session part of your analytics will show you a good average of how many pages people are visiting per session, a session is anytime someone opens your website. A single session can have many pages.
This is an excellent statistic to show interest in your content. The more pages, the longer people stay, the lower your bounce and exit rate. The better your website.
These are great to get a basic understanding of website performance, as you get used to them you can delve into deeper analytics. Things like managing campaign performance using Google campaign URLs, and understanding referral reports to see which channels are working best.
I’ve done another blog post about improving website performance if you are interested in reading that. It goes into how you can make your stats better.