QUESTION on How to Track and Measure Website Performance:
I have just started my own website. What measures would I take to monitor improvement and success? How do I know what metrics to track to tell me if I am doing well or not. Right now, I’m just looking at traffic numbers but what else can I look at? Thanks
Ingrid (Richmond, VA)
ANSWER by Isabel Isidro
You did not indicate what your website is about, as the business model of your site can help us better determine what important metrics you need to look at.
The first thing you need to do is to set your success parameters: when do you think you have achieved success and how do you define success for your website?
If this is an information site, success may mean the volume of traffic your site receives. You may want to look at:
- Growth of your traffic – pageviews, visitors, uniques
- Ratio of the number of pageviews per visitors (you want a high ratio)
- Bounce rate or single access users versus visitors (you want a low bounce rate)
- Content analysis – meaning what content are they interested the most and provide more of that content to them
- Sources of traffic, from the number of traffic search engines bring you to traffic from your links, so you know where to focus your marketing
- Number of media mentions, if any.
- Keywords where you get traffic so you can craft pay per click campaigns using keywords you want to get traffic but currently not getting as much as you want
- Buzz about your site in the blogosphere as well as social networking or bookmarking sites
- Number of shares that your pages get in social media
- Number of pages or articles being shared in social bookmarking sites
- Quality of feedback you receive from your audience.
- If you have a newsletter, how is your subscribers growing overtime. Also look at metrics such as unsubscribe rate, open rates (number of email recipients who open your email), and click throughs (or number of those who opened the email who actually clicked on the links in your email presumably to your site). Check the deliverability rates as well to pinpoint any technical issues that may be preventing your recipients from getting your emails.
The way your site is monetized will also determine what metrics are important.
- If you sell advertising, look at the growth of your ad sales as well as the growth of the number of your advertisers. Also check how many advertisers renew their ad campaigns in your site.
- If you use third party advertising sites such as Google Adsense, determine if your income is growing overtime; and if not, experiment with optimization techniques.
- If you are running an ecommerce site, do a funnel analysis and see the process of how users are buying from your site (and at what part of the process do they leave your site without completing the sale). Look at your sales, your conversion rate, the rate of return on your marketing investments.
To track the performance of your website, some suggested tools include:
- Web monitoring software such as Google Analytics http://www.google.com/analytics (free)
- If you are earning via advertising and need information on the demographics of your site, check out Quantcast http://www.quantcast.com
- To a lesser extent, look at how you perform in site comparison tools such as Alexa http://www.alexa.com , Compete.com http://www.compete.com and Ranking.com http://www.ranking.com
Recommended Books on Website Performance and Succcess:
- Your Google Game Plan for Success: Increasing Your Web Presence with Google AdWords, Analytics and Website Optimizer
- 42 Rules for a Web Presence That Wins: Essential Business Strategy for Website and Social Media Success
- Engage!: The Complete Guide for Brands and Businesses to Build, Cultivate, and Measure Success in the New Web
- Social Media ROI: Managing and Measuring Social Media Efforts in Your Organization (Que Biz-Tech)
Article originally published August 2008. Updated on January 19, 2012