Has your website felt a little “off” lately?
It might be hard to put your finger on exactly what feels misaligned, but you can’t shake the feeling that something needs to be edited or improved. You’re always hearing about analytics, but where do you even begin when it comes to interpreting all those numbers in your Google Analytics dashboard?
My recommendation? Start by self-auditing your website. By reviewing each page of your current website, you’ll be able to identify areas of improvement before you try to demystify the data.
After you’ve done a comprehensive audit of your website, it’s time to dig deeper and see what your website analytics are trying to tell you.
As a strategic website designer, I’m a huge believer in making data-informed decisions. Why not use real statistics from your current site to create a better optimized version?
Whether you are rebranding and starting fresh with a new design, or you simply want to make routine updates to your site, you’ll want to review your website metrics as soon as possible.
To ensure you’re ready to dive in, let’s review the definitions of each metric.
8 website metrics you need to know
As you open your website analytics dashboard, you may feel a little confused by all of the jargon and numbers you see. Don’t panic, my creative friend! I’ve got you covered.
Along with reviewing these important website metrics, I’ll also share some of my best practices so you can get started right away.
You’ve probably heard of this website metric before because it can be the “holy grail” for influencers and bloggers. The reason why pageviews matter is that it shows what pages your visitors are most interested in.
The more pageviews a blog post receives, the more traffic you’ll attract to your websites. The more your pageviews increase, the higher the likelihood that you have the option to monetize your blog post. You can do this through selling ad space, including affiliate links, or highlighting a service or product you sell that relates to the article’s topic.
This metric also shows you which website pages are the most popular. While the Home and About pages are usually at the top, some blogs and content creators optimize their content so it garners even more pageviews. Keep an eye on this metric over time to see where your visitors are landing and how you can direct them to other places on your website.
There are a few different ways you can measure your website audience, but I would suggest paying attention to your unique visits. This refers to the total number of individuals who come to your website.
For example, if someone comes to your website through a podcast link, they may visit other pages on your website after listening to your episode. It’s important to track this metric in addition to pageviews because these visitors are counted as one unique visitor.
You may know how many people are already coming to your website by looking at your unique visits, but have you taken a moment to consider where they’re coming from? This is where your traffic source metric comes in.
Your website traffic can come from a number of sources, including:
- An SEO-optimized page on your website, like a Services page
- An SEO-optimized blog post you’ve written
- A blog post someone else has written which includes a backlink to your website
- Social media channels like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or another platform
- A social media ad or pay-per-click ad on Google that promotes your offer
All of these website traffic sources are great, but you’ll also want to pay close attention to your direct traffic. This term refers to the number of people who specifically search for your URL in their search bar. Direct traffic tells you how many people are aware of your brand name and how often people are directly searching for your website versus coming through an external source where they may have a lower awareness about your brand.
The best performing websites usually have a blend of traffic sources, so don’t worry about putting all of your eggs in one basket. You’ve got this!
Number of sessions
You may have noticed the word “sessions” when visiting your Google Analytics dashboard. This is just a fancy word to describe all of the interactions a user takes in a single visit to your website.
I’ll show you what I mean with an example. Let’s say a visitor comes to your website through a social media post that links to an article on your blog. After reading the blog post, they sign up for your email list through a lead magnet and read an additional article from the blog before closing your website.
Even though this visitor viewed more than one page, this set of actions would all be grouped under one session. However, it would count as two pageviews. This has the dual benefit of helping you reach a higher pageview count and meet a conversion goal to build your email list (that is, if you had it set up in Google Analytics to track that).
Number of sessions is a good metric to be aware of, but it may not tell you as much about how your website is performing by itself. Instead, look at other metrics and see how they relate to your number of sessions overall.
Unlike other website metrics, an ever-increasing bounce rate is not a sign of website health. Your bounce rate refers to how many visitors immediately leave your website after arriving. Google Analytics sometimes refers to these as your “single-page sessions.”
If you have a one-page website or direct most of your traffic to a landing page, you’ll likely have a high bounce rate because you aren’t directing visitors to other pages on your site. That’s why I always recommend that business owners launch a website with multiple pages.
Bounce rates also increase when you don’t have a call-to-action (CTA). Your CTA tells visitors where to go next, like linking your contact form or a call scheduler on your Services page. Without that call-to-action, visitors may click the exit button on your site because they aren’t sure what to do next.
The difficult thing is your bounce rate metric won’t tell you exactly why people are leaving your website. Instead, you’ll have to do some research and dig up the answer by looking strategically at your website. Then, you can make improvements over time and continue to decrease this number. If you hire a website designer (like me!), we can help with this too!
Average pageviews per session
Now that you know what pageviews and sessions are, you’ll probably be able to put two and two together when it comes to this metric. See? You’re getting the hang of this!
Average pageviews per session (also called “pages per session” in Google Analytics) is an important metric that refers to the number of pages a user will typically visit each time they browse your website.
Let’s say you run an eCommerce shop and primarily use your website to generate online sales. The more pages someone views on your site, the more likely they are to continue browsing. They may even make a purchase!
It’s clear, then, why a visitor who visits five pages on your website would be more of a primed buyer than someone who visits your homepage and then falls off. Your goal is to increase your average pageviews per session so you’re able to increase not only the amount of time someone spends on your site but also how likely they are to explore multiple products or services.
This brings me to the next website metric you need to know…
Average session duration
Just like it sounds, your average session duration will tell you how long visitors are spending on your site. Even if there are a few visitors who spend hours combing through your content, if you have thousands of visitors who exit out of your site within the first 30 seconds, your average session duration will be low.
Some of the best ways to increase your average session duration include producing higher quality content on your blog, mixing in multimedia content (like extended audio and video files), and creating a better user journey through your site.
Commonly abbreviated to CTR, your click-through rate metric matters to those of us who are trying to improve our conversions. As business owners, this should describe all of us!
In short, your CTR shows what percentage of visitors who come to your website click on your desired link. If you attract a high amount of traffic to your site but your link clicks are low, it’s a sign that you may want to improve your messaging.
Click-through rates aren’t just used on your website. You may also find them on your email analytics dashboard. If you frequently use email marketing to sell your products or services, you’ll want to pay attention to this metric.
What to do with your new website metrics
Although this isn’t an exhaustive list of every metric that’s available to you, as a website designer, I believe these are the most important to regularly track.
Now, you may be wondering where to go from here. I recommend checking into your website analytics at least once every month to begin with. Once you see steady numbers from month-to-month, you can start checking them every quarter.
If you’re interested in making continual improvements to your website, this is the best way to go about it. You’ll be able to make decisions based on data rather than on a hunch. If you want to increase or decrease how often you review your analytics, feel free to make adjustments along the way.