10 Critical Website Performance Metrics You Need to Know

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10 Critical Website Performance Metrics You Need to Know

Your website must be productive if you want to be successful in online marketing.

What’s the best way to tell if it’s working? The idea is to track how well your website is performing.

The issue is that Google Analytics and other tracking tools provide a plethora of metrics. Determining how your site is functioning — or even which data you should track — can be difficult.

The indicators that create the shape of your site’s traffic, from bounce rate to page views, might be difficult to discern.

Furthermore, some of those measures aren’t particularly important in the long run.

In this blog post, I’ll go through ten website performance measures that will assist you to determine how well your site is doing overall.

1) Bounce Rate

Bounce Rate

The number of visitors to your site who leave (bounce) from your site within a certain amount of time, normally 30 seconds. A high bounce rate can indicate that your copy and/or user experience isn’t convincing people to stay on your site.

 If your bounce rate is higher than 80%, it’s time to take a look at your copy and/or user experience. Alternatively, you may need better calls to action on your homepage. Whatever it is, identify what’s causing people to leave right away. Without a solid user experience (UX), you can kiss conversions goodbye.

 Once you’ve identified your bounce rate and know what’s causing it, take some time and run A/B tests on your homepage. Try changing up your headlines or user experience to see if you can decrease your bounce rate. Note that a high bounce rate isn’t always a bad thing if it makes way for increased conversion rates elsewhere on your site.

 For example, if your site’s home page has a very low bounce rate (2-3%), but your product pages have much higher bounce rates (20-30%), you may be running into issues with landing page optimization. One way you can resolve that is by doing some A/B testing on your homepage and product pages to see what converts best. Calls per Visit: How many calls or visits did people make to your website after coming through a specific channel?

 For example, if someone comes through Google search and clicks on your site link (1st Visit), but then returns through Google again a few days later to actually convert (2nd Visit), that counts as two visits. It’s also possible they came back via another channel altogether (3rd Visit). Visitors who come back a second time are crucial because they’re more likely to convert than first-time visitors.

2) Time Spent on Page

Time Spent on Page

Time spent on a page is important because it’s a direct reflection of how engaging your content is. The higher time spent on a page, generally, indicates a positive experience for your visitors; lower time spent on the page could indicate issues with the content flow or usability. Note that even if there’s low time spent on a page, high bounce rates might suggest that there are problems with engagement.

 To calculate time spent on a page, take your site’s average session duration and subtract out bounce rate. 

For example, if a site’s average session duration is 10 minutes with a 50% bounce rate, that means people spend five minutes on that page. This metric can be calculated using Google Analytics’ Real-Time > Behavior > Site Content > Time on Page. Time spent on a page is typically expressed as a percentage, so 50% of time spent on the page means that visitors are spending half of their session on a given page; if someone spends five minutes on a page, they’ve spent 100% of their session time.

 One of your most important site performance metrics, time spent on the page should be considered in conjunction with other metrics. High bounce rates coupled with low time spent on the page could suggest problems with usability or content flow.

 Low time spent on the page alone is also not a good indicator, as users may leave a page because they don’t want to deal with a form, not because they aren’t interested in what you have to say.

3) Pages Per Visit

Pages Per Visit

How often do visitors go from one page of your site to another? Low is good because it means visitors are engaged and returning for more information or products. High could mean visitors are leaving quickly, making it difficult for you to keep their attention long enough for them to make a purchase. Sites with high bounce rates typically have low pages per visit; sites with low bounce rates tend to have high pages per visit.

 Pages per visit can be broken down into three important numbers: time on site, pages per visit, and bounce rate. 

The sum of these three metrics tells you how much time visitors are spending on your site and how often they come back for more. The lower your bounce rate, the better. Sites with low bounce rates typically have high pages per visit; sites with high bounce rates tend to have low pages per visit.

How Long is the Average Visit? How long do people typically spend on your site?

 Pages per visit are important for two reasons. The first is that it allows you to make a rough calculation of how much revenue your site can generate.

 Secondly, pages per visit can tell you a lot about how customers are interacting with your site. Low pages per visit typically point to one of two issues: either visitors don’t find what they’re looking for on your site, or they leave before finding it. The first issue is a matter of content; focus on creating well-written, detailed, and useful information that will capture readers’ attention and keep them coming back for more.

4) Conversion Rate

Conversion Rate

Conversion rate is how many times a visitor takes a desired action on your website, such as placing an order or filling out a form. For every 1,000 visitors you receive, you need at least 10 conversions to make sales. If you’re receiving 10 conversions from 1,000 visitors but only converting 5 percent of those visitors into paying customers, it’s time to look closely at what might be stalling people along their buying journey.

 It’s one thing to understand your conversion rate, but it’s another thing entirely to understand why those conversions are or aren’t happening. For example, if you receive 1,000 visitors and 10 of them convert into sales, but only five of those customers return for a second purchase, how does that compare with your industry average? Are you performing better than competitors or worse?

 While looking at your conversion rate is critical, it only tells you one side of the story. If your conversions are low and you can’t identify why it’s time to investigate deeper. 

One of the best ways to do that is by using a heat map tool like Crazy Egg. A heat map shows you where visitors are clicking on your site—and what they aren’t clicking on. Are visitors having trouble finding a call-to-action button?

 When you understand why visitors aren’t converting, you can make your site more customer-friendly. Use information gleaned from a heat map to reorganize your site so that it’s easier for visitors to find what they need and take action. For example, if customers have a hard time finding your sign-up form on your homepage, move it lower on your page—and add a pop-up window with an offer that encourages them to sign up.

5) Time on Site

Time on Site

The average amount of time a user spends on your site is measured in seconds. A higher time on site can be indicative of a more satisfying or effective experience. In general, you want users to spend enough time on your site that they feel they got their money’s worth. If they get exactly what they were looking for in 30 seconds, you may have some content issues or clarity problems that need addressing.

 Time on site is one of the most important metrics because it’s so closely related to conversion. The longer a user stays on your site, app, landing page, etc., the more likely they are to convert into a lead or sale at some point. This means that time on site can be used as an indicator for success in these areas.

6) Load Time

Load Time

How fast is your website? Each additional second of load time leads to a 7% drop in conversions. Monitoring load time is critical if you want users who are just checking out your site and not engaged enough with it to stick around. These lookie-loos don’t have time for slow-loading sites and will bounce as soon as they sense a delay.

 If you want your site to be successful, you need to understand what makes it fast or slow and how each affects users.

 ​Measure how long it takes for your site to load using a tool like GTMetrix. Here’s a list of other tools you can use if you want more information about specific metrics (there are more than just these 10): Google PageSpeed, WebPageTest, Pingdom, and GTMetrix. If you want an overall picture of how your website is performing across all these metrics at once, check out PageSpeed Insights.

7) Mobile Traffic

Mobile Traffic
Source Broadbandsearch

Mobile devices are becoming an increasingly popular way for people to access your site, and a recent report showed that more than half of all web traffic comes from mobile devices. However, slow load times and long page sizes can significantly decrease your mobile traffic. In fact, Google recently released its Mobile-Friendly Test Tool; if your site fails Google’s standards, it won’t rank as highly on search engine results pages.

 Identify which devices you want to optimize for and measure your site’s speed on each one. Use Google’s PageSpeed Insights, Pingdom Tools, and WebPageTest (there are many others) to learn more about your site’s mobile performance and identify bottlenecks. Each of these tools can help identify ways you can improve page load times, which in turn will lead to an increase in mobile traffic.

8) Referral Traffic

Referral Traffic

When it comes to website performance metrics, referral traffic is among the most important ones that you need to understand. Referral traffic refers to people that have navigated directly from another site (such as Twitter or Facebook) rather than through a search engine. In other words, instead of finding your content by using a key phrase or via a specific campaign link, referral traffic represents users that were led there by an outside source like social media.

 According to Google, 93% of users never scroll past page one when using a search engine. This means that if your website doesn’t rank on page one for your main keyword phrases, you’re going to miss out on a huge number of visitors and conversions. Furthermore, 69% of customers are likely to abandon their shopping cart if your site takes more than three seconds to load.

 All of these factors indicate that referral traffic is an important source of both visitors and conversions, as well as a critical website performance metric. In order to drive more referral traffic—and thus improve your overall website performance—you’ll need to understand how social media can help with your organic reach.

9) Demographics of Visitors

Demographics of Visitors

The first critical metric you need to be familiar with is your website’s demographics. What percent of your visitors are from mobile devices? What percent are from desktop PCs? How do demographics differ by country and region? How does seasonality affect your traffic? There are many tools for analyzing site traffic, including Google Analytics (free), Woopra (premium), and Clicky (premium). We’ll discuss how to use these tools in upcoming posts.

 There are many reasons why it’s useful to understand your demographics. The most obvious reason is that you can segment and target your marketing efforts. If 70% of your visitors are from mobile devices, then you might want to put more effort into creating a mobile-friendly website. But knowing how different demographic groups interact with your site is also an important way of understanding whether users have a good experience on your site, or if they are having trouble finding what they need.

 It’s also useful to understand how seasonality affects your website traffic. If you have a seasonal business, such as a ski resort that gets more visitors in January than July, you might want to optimize your marketing efforts for these busy times of the year. Knowing what days of the week are busier for your site is also an important data point. Understanding demographics is one of many key website performance metrics you need to be familiar with when planning and optimizing a site.

10) Conversion Funnel

Conversion Funnel

The term conversion funnel is used in sales, marketing, and management when talking about getting customers. A funnel is a visual representation of what happens when visitors come to your website and move through a process you’ve designed. The top of your conversion funnel should have as many visitors as possible; every visitor who moves down your funnel represents one more sale or contact with your company. At the bottom of your funnel, you want to close as many sales or leads as possible.

 Let’s look at a simple example of a conversion funnel: getting visitors to fill out an inquiry form. Visitors see an ad, visit your website, and then complete an inquiry form in exchange for information. They move down your funnel from top to bottom as they complete different top tasks on your website.

 Next, let’s look at a more complex example of a conversion funnel: visiting a store in person. A visitor drives past your store, sees an ad, then drives by again and sees another ad before finally entering your store. The visitor might look around, discuss options with a sales associate, place an item in their cart, wait for other items in their cart to be available for purchase, or ask about delivery or installation.

 Once they’ve finished shopping, they head up to a cash register. In addition to paying for their items, they also might have information about a product or service put into an inquiry form in exchange for a coupon. They then receive information about delivery or installation services, find out when their new item will be ready, and leave with their items in hand. They move down your funnel from top to bottom as they complete different tasks on your website.

 As you can see, a conversion funnel can be very complicated. If a visitor doesn’t move through all parts of your funnel, it’s like they disappeared; they might have bought something, but you don’t know how much revenue was lost if they didn’t. However, as visitors move down your conversion funnel—even if it takes them a long time—you gain valuable information about each stage of your sales process.

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