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What Are the Most Important Website Metrics to Track?

Data analytics is not just a big business, it’s big for your business as well. For example, having the right data points can be the key to increasing your sales. However, if you’re just starting out, you’ll want to make sure you’re focused on the metrics that matter most. 

Fortunately, if you’re a WordPress user, integrating some fundamental tools to aid in data collection for your website is relatively easy. Additionally, it’s relatively straightforward to determine the most important data to track for your website.

In this article, we’ll discuss why using your website data is necessary and how to use it to define success. Also, we’ll outline nine of the most vital metrics you should familiarize yourself with. Grab your calculator and let’s crunch some numbers! 

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Understanding How Metrics Can Impact Your Success (And Why You Should Track Them)

First, let’s talk about what metrics are. This is any and all data you can collect from your website. It might be related to traffic numbers, audience demographics, specific actions users take, or anything else relevant. Metrics are crucial to the success of your website because they can indicate where particular problems might exist. 

There are other ways metrics have an impact as well. Not only can they highlight pain points your users are experiencing, but they can also indicate elements that are working well. Altogether, this information can be used to make decisions about marketing, website design, and product offerings. 

To get a better understanding of how this data can be used, let’s look at some real-life examples. Several years ago, the Keen footwear company was looking for a way to increase their social media presence. This process involved establishing specific Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and tracking relevant metrics.

Keen footwear on Facebook

By doing so, the company was able to make data-driven decisions about their social media content. As a result, they saw a significant increase in the indicators they were targeting. This included an engagement increase of 137% on Facebook posts and a 110% increase in Twitter followers. 

In fact, some metrics can provide valuable insights on their own. For instance, a heat map can help you improve your site’s design. On the other hand, traffic counts can help marketers rate how well certain content performs. However, many of these critical data points can be enhanced when they’re used together. 

How to Use Key Performance Indicators as a Measure of Success

We mentioned earlier how Keen used KPIs to help guide their data collection and analysis strategy. These can be a helpful way to customize your approach to metrics. Since there’s a lot of data to scan, it can be overwhelming. KPIs can help you stay on track and develop meaningful results. 

Since a KPI can basically be anything that’s measurable, there are many to choose from. Deciding what is going to be most valuable to you will depend a lot on your business model, your industry, your products, and your business goals. 

For example, the number of email subscribers you gain in a month might be a major KPI for your blog. Alternatively, absolute sales numbers in a month might be a more critical KPI for a new online business. 

9 Important Metrics to Track for Your Website

With so many KPIs to choose from, it’s worthwhile getting to know what some of the most essential metrics are actually measuring. We have nine to share with you. We’ll highlight what they measure, how to collect the data, and why they might be beneficial to you. 

1. Number of Visitors

The number of site visitors you have is your site “traffic.” Within your traffic, there are many segments you can break the data into. This is where you are likely to focus on some of your KPIs.

You can track traffic in several ways. Often, your web hosting provider will offer traffic statistics in your account dashboard. Alternatively, you can use a WordPress plugin to gather your traffic data. 

However, the most recommended tool for the job is Google Analytics.

The Google Analytics dashboard

As you may know, you can set up your Analytics account for free and begin tracking your website traffic. Understanding this metric is important because it is an excellent overall KPI. If you lose traffic or have sudden spikes, you’ll want to investigate the causes. 

Within your overall site traffic figures, you can also break the numbers down into different segments. We’ll talk more about this later, but it’s good to know that there’s more to traffic than just a number. You can also look at the demographics of your traffic to better understand your customers and their behaviors.

2. Bounce Rates

Your bounce rate is the number of people who visit your website but leave without interacting, divided by your overall traffic for the same time period. For example, if you have a one-day traffic total of 100, but 25 of those visitors “bounced” from your site, your bounce rate would be 25%. 

This means a quarter of your visitors were not compelled to stay and look around. There could be many reasons for this, which is why bounce rates can be somewhat controversial. 

There are a lot of unique factors that go into the calculation. For example, how your landing pages are structured and where they lead could create a high bounce rate but also an acceptable conversion rate. Also, some pages will always have high bounce rates regardless of your efforts to control them, such as e-commerce checkout pages.

Essentially, it’s best to know the benchmark numbers for bounce rates in your industry as they can vary. To keep an eye on your own bounce rates, you can set up reports in Google Analytics to help you keep track.

3. Average Pageviews Per Session

Sessions typically refer to the time one visitor spends on your website. Given that a user will likely view multiple pages during one visit, monitoring your average page views per session can give you valuable insights into how your design and your content are performing. 

You can easily check the pulse of your site in your Google Analytics dashboard, where this metric will be front and center.

Page views per minute on the Google Analytics dashboard home screen

For example, if your average page views per session are at the extreme high or low ends, you might have a navigation issue. If it takes a person ten different clicks to find the page they are looking for, it could be a frustration you can ease for your users.

However, note that page views per session and individual page view counts are different. You can learn a lot about visitor behaviors and your website as a whole per session. However, tracking the views of individual pages can tell you a lot about a particular page and its content.  

4. Session Duration

Alongside metrics on the number of sessions, tracking the length of time a session lasts can also be a significant metric. However, it can also be somewhat problematic to analyze. 

For example, think about how often you open a web page and walk away or leave it open for hours or days. If session duration was measured in the true time a page was open, this might present a very skewed sense of how long users are on your site. 

While a longer session time is technically what you want to aim for, there are certain things to consider. For example, understanding what constitutes a good benchmark can help you frame your own data — some research states that approximately three minutes is a great target. 

Understanding and calculating session durations can be a little complex, so it’s best to use a tool like Google Analytics to help. With this, you’ll also want to make sure you know exactly what is considered a “session” by the collection tool you use. 

For example, Google considers a session to time out after 30 minutes of inactivity. You can adjust this if you want in your Session timeout settings. If you have particularly long content or videos on your page, it might be worth taking a look at lengthening the session parameters to compensate. 

5. Average Time on Page

This metric essentially does what it says. It will tell you the average time a user spends on a specific page of your website. Consequently, if you have a very lengthy blog post that’s getting a lot of traffic, but the average time on the page is low, you can assume visitors are not actually reading it. 

You can find this information in your Analytics dashboard by going to Behavior > Site Content > All Pages.

Accessing the Average Time on Page metric in Google Analytics

This can be a helpful way to gauge the impact of your content. If certain pages are holding user attention, you can potentially explore producing more of that kind of content. Looking at your bounce rate and your average time on page combined can be useful when it comes to evaluating your content strategies. 

Like most of these metrics, Google provides a readout of your average time on page. However, you’ll have to configure the pages you want to track and represent in your dashboard. This can be useful if you’re experimenting with new content ideas. 

6. Top Traffic Sources

We mentioned previously that your overall traffic can be broken down into different segments. One of the areas you can look at within your traffic data is the source of your top traffic. This means you can see where the majority of your site visitors are coming from. 

For example, if you’ve launched a social media campaign, tracking your traffic sources will help you determine whether or not your campaign is working. There are several other sources for web traffic to consider, including: 

  • Organic traffic from search engines
  • Paid referrals
  • Advertisement click-throughs
  • Email campaigns
  • Direct traffic from users typing in your URL
  • Social media

As you can see, there are lots of different ways someone can find your website. Similarly, there are lots of different ways to track traffic. Of course, you can use Google Analytics. However, there are also several popular plugins for WordPress that can help you showcase your traffic numbers within your administration dashboard. 

7. Devices Used

It’s no secret that mobile device use is pervasive. In fact, just over half of all global web traffic comes from mobile devices. Even so, tracking the breakdown of all the devices your website visitors use is recommended. 

Tracking this metric can help you determine if you’re meeting the needs of your users based on their device choice. Additionally, you can learn a lot about their browsing behavior and habits as well. You can find this data in your Analytics dashboard under Audience > Overview.

Again, when you pair this metric with some of the other data points we’ve covered, such as session duration and page views, you’ll be better able to evaluate the effectiveness of your mobile optimization efforts.  

8. Interactions Per Visit

Measuring the interactions that take place during a session can provide you with a way to assign value to a user’s session. Interactions or “events” can be clicks, form submissions, or you can create custom events to track. 

Google provides a detailed, visual guide that outlines how sessions are broken down and how interactions impact each session. To monitor this metric, you can go to Behavior > Events in your Analytics dashboard.

The Events dashboard in Google Analytics

Here, you can find a breakdown of how many events, on average, take place during a session. You can also look at events by category, action, or label. For example, if you want to know how frequently users take items out of their cart, you can see what percentage the action accounts for out of your total number of events. 

If the percentage of Remove from Cart events is high, you can then focus your efforts on determining what is causing users to act that way. For example, do you have shipping costs that are only visible at the very last stage of checking out? This can cause people to rethink their purchases at the last minute. 

9. Exit Pages

Exit page metrics essentially provide you with the opposite of traffic source data. This will show you what pages a user decides to leave. Given the right context, you might see trends over time that highlight content or navigation issues. 

However, note that the exit page metric is different from the bounce rate. Exit pages mark the page where the user was when their session ended. If your conversion rate is low, exit page data might be a valuable place to look for clues as to why.

How to Get Started With Tracking Your Website Data 

Obviously, Google Analytics is a robust and comprehensive tool for tracking your website data. You can use it independently by accessing the dashboard, or you can use one of several plugins to integrate it more effectively into your WordPress dashboard. 

After all, a key feature is how it brings all of your most crucial metrics into the same place. You can take this one step further with the Google Site Kit plugin.

The Google Site Kit plugin for WordPress.

Once installed, you can either connect your existing Google Tools accounts or use the account wizard to create new ones. When you do this, you’ll also have access to features that bring Google data to a page-level analysis.

Alternatively, there are other options, such as the MonsterInsights plugin. With over two million active downloads, it’s a very popular choice. It’s also an easy way to make sure you’ve placed Google tracking codes into your site pages properly. 

However, as you start tracking some of these metrics, it can take a while for some information to populate your dashboard. This is true of Google Analytics and most tracking tools. 

For example, it can take up to 48 hours for some reports to produce useful data. Considering how much of an impact these metrics can have on the success of your website, we say it’s worth the wait! 

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Engagement Metrics Matter

Measuring the success of a website is likely a pretty unique process for everyone, with many varying factors. Even so, some are typically on everyone’s list

For example, bounce rates and traffic sources can usually provide highly valuable information to marketers and business owners in any industry. Additionally, using tools such as Google Site Kit can consequently help give your data more context and more significant value. 

Here at Dreamhost, we offer reliable WordPress hosting for everything from start-up sites to big e-commerce operations. With our easy to manage plans, you can spend your time focused on leveraging your site data to increase success, rather than fuss with inferior hosting solutions.

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