7 Factors That Can Help You Grow Your Websites Performance and Conversion
David Kraus Wednesday, May 2, 2018
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It’s often the small details in life that define success over failure—and it’s the same when running your own website.
Statistics and website metrics are not the most glamorous subjects, but you should never underestimate their importance.
Tracking even the most basic of numbers on your website will give you an advantage over someone who doesn’t do tracking. You can use data to confirm what works on your website and what doesn’t. This will help identify room for improvement and spot any abnormal results. That’s why all the top websites allocate resources to tracking key site metrics.
I want to help you get started with performance tracking by reviewing seven of the most important website metrics. Head over to Google Analytics, add the code to your website, and you can start tracking some of these important metrics, today.
1. Website traffic
The top level metric most webmasters obsess over is traffic; the total number of visits to a website.
Traffic is fundamentally important for any successful website, and it’s incredibly easy to track using Google Analytics.
Your website’s traffic figures are a good indication if your website is growing, stagnating, or declining. It’s also useful for tracking the efficacy of certain promotional activities. For example, if you experience a huge traffic spike after publishing a guest post on a top blog, this is an indicator that you should be doing more of the same. However, if you’re witnessing a steady, long-term traffic decline, this tells you that what you’re doing isn’t working—you need to try new things, fast. . .otherwise your website will fail.
Traffic figures will only reveal so much, but if you’re looking for a quick snapshot of the overall health of a website, Google analytics is a good place to start.
2. Traffic sources
In addition to your traffic numbers, you should also know where your traffic is coming from. This information is also available using a tool like Google Analytics.
Google Analytics breaks down your traffic sources into four broad categories:
Organic Search: traffic coming via the search engines
Referral: traffic from another website
Direct: traffic typing your domain into the browser
Social: traffic from social media
Each source of traffic will tell you a few important snippets of information about your website.
Even if SEO is less prevalent than it used to be, the organic search traffic will give you an idea of how well your website ranks in the search engines. With around 40,000 searches per second on Google alone, the search engines will always be an important source of traffic, and this metric will tell you how effective your SEO strategy is.
Referral traffic shows how many visitors come from other websites—either because you wrote a guest post, or because another website linked to your content. If you’re regularly linked to by other websites, not only will this help you rank better in the search engines, but (ironically) it will reduce your dependence on the search engines, too. Besides, lots of links pointing your way shows you are doing good work, and is a great testimonial of your content.
Direct traffic is the number of people typing your website into their browser—for example, torquemag.io. A good percentage of direct traffic visits is a good indicator of a loyal following. After all, it is your regular visitors who are more likely to go straight to your site.
Social traffic will tell you how many visitors come from the social networks. The more shareable your content is, and the more engaging your social media posts are, the more social traffic you will receive.
3. Bounce rate
Your website’s bounce rate is another important metric.
The bounce rate metric, displayed as a percentage, tells you how many visitors leave your website immediately after arriving—Google defines these as “single-page sessions.” The lower your bounce rate, the more visitors there are sticking around to enjoy your website, and (hopefully) converting.
Bounce rates do differ based on the type of website—blogs will differ from landing pages which will differ from eCommerce stores. You also have to apply some logic to the situation. However, if you make changes that are continually improving your bounce rate, you are heading in the right direction.
A poor bounce rate tells you one important thing about a website: visitors are leaving, quickly.
It doesn’t tell you why they are leaving. However, common reasons for a high bounce rate include: slow load times, broken websites, bad first impression (poor website aesthetics), and badly targeted keywords.
With these reasons in mind, you can improve bounce rate by making sure your website looks great, works properly, and your content is high quality.
It’s also worth pointing out that if Google Analytics is installed incorrectly, you may see abnormally low bounce rates.
4. Top pages
In the Behavior section of Google Analytics, you’ll be able to see your best performing pages in terms of traffic volume—Analytics displays the number of page views, and how those pageviews look as a percentage of total page views across the entire website.
Knowing what pages receive the most traffic is important because it gives you real-world data showing what your audience responds to. If you experiment with different types of content, this is where you can begin to analyze what’s working, and produce more of the material your readers like.
However, traffic numbers are not the only way to determine your “top” pages.
You could also look at the number of social shares per page as an indicator of a strong article. This information isn’t available in Google Analytics, but plenty of social media tools and WordPress plugins will provide this information, including Social Metrics Pro.
When you know which content your audience likes best, the next step is straightforward: produce more of it!
5. Conversion rate
Conversion rate is another crude top-level metric, but it’s arguably the most important metric of all as it can have a significant impact on your site’s profitability—if you can increase your conversion rate from 1% to 2%, your profits double.
Total conversion numbers are important, but it’s the conversion rate that tells you how well you encourage your traffic to perform a desired action.
Your conversion rate is easy to calculate: Unique Visitors / Conversions
You can also track how your conversion rate changes over time using Google Analytics.
Now, what qualifies as a conversion will vary from site to site, and you could also have many different conversion “goals” on one site. For example, an eCommerce store might have three conversion goals:
A sale (most important!)
A subscriber to an email list
A social share (least important, but still valuable)
The higher the conversion rate, the better your website is doing. A low conversion rate indicates that you are attracting the wrong traffic, your call to action is weak, and/or your sales copy is ineffective.
Because your conversion rate can have such a significant impact on profits, you should be continually optimizing your website for conversions—even minor tweaks can have a substantial impact on your bottom line.
6. Conversion by traffic source
It’s undeniable that not all traffic sources are created equally. This can be seen clearly by looking at the conversion rate by traffic source metric.
Conversion rate by traffic source is calculated using the same four traffic source categories: organic search, referral, direct, and social.
Let’s look at a hypothetical example website with the following performance metrics:
Organic search traffic: 4% conversion rate
Referral traffic: 10% conversion rate
Direct traffic: 12% conversion rate
Social traffic: 1% conversion rate
So what do these numbers tell us?
For a start, direct traffic is the most valuable traffic source for this website. Direct traffic is usually driven by loyal visitors, so with this in mind, this website should take steps to encourage loyalty and repeat visits.
Social traffic is the least effective, so while receiving free traffic from social media is always nice, this website would be crazy to chase it too hard.
You can also see that referral traffic converts 250% better than search engine traffic. This is an indicator that the strategy for generating referral traffic is good (you’re being linked to from the right places) but your search engine strategy is less effective (you’re targeting the wrong keywords).
7. Customer’s lifetime value
The final metric in today’s list is the customer’s lifetime value. This metric is a little more difficult to calculate, but is fundamentally important when making forecasts and setting marketing budgets.
Most websites will have an idea of their average transaction size. This is useful to know, but ignores the fact that when a customer becomes part of your sales funnel, they are more likely to buy again. The lifetime value metric addresses this by factoring the customer’s future purchases into the equation.
Take a membership website, for example. (Admittedly, the nature of a membership website means they are more likely to be aware of their customer’s lifetime value.) If membership costs $100 per month, and the average customer remains a member for 6 months, then each customer is worth, on average, $600 to that business.
This is well worth knowing, as it will help this website to allocate their resources more effectively—if they use paid advertising, they could afford to spend more to attract customers based on the $600 lifetime value rather than the $100 transaction value. This higher lifetime value means they can spend more on advertising and promotion, will attract more customers, and will allow their business to grow more quickly—what’s not to like!
If you can continually improve any of the metrics included in today’s list, you are making real, noticeable improvements to your website. This will put you in the best possible position going forward.
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