Everyone knows you’re supposed to be tracking your website traffic – where it goes, what it does, and ultimately, how your digital channels are driving sales.
Metrics like total visitors, CTR, and bounce rate are all a pretty standard, but they don’t tell the whole story.
Here are 5 metrics that you can use to help you know how people are finding you online, what they’re doing on your website, and what content they’re responding to. Together, these metrics will ultimately help inform your digital strategy.
Note: you can access all of this information through Google Analytics or Google Webmaster tools.
1. Search queries
Search queries in Google Search Console are essentially what words people are typing into Google to land on your site.
This data is useful for a couple of reasons. First, it lets you know how effective your SEO strategy is. You can see what keywords are driving your traffic and what your ranking position on the Search Engine Result Page (SERP) is for them.
So it can help you confirm what’s going well already, and tweak what isn’t.
For example, if you were working hard to optimize your content for a few particular keywords (say, ‘.NET alternatives’) but those words were barely generating traffic, then you should probably reassess your strategy.
The second reason this is useful to know is that it can help you uncover opportunities for new PPC campaigns, new content, and better SEO. If you’re getting lots of traffic from particular words in addition to what you’re already paying for (since PPC is tracked separately) then you might say ‘gee, we’re getting awfully good traffic from those words already. Might be worth differentiating our PPC campaign.’
Alternatively, you can use your search queries to help drive content ideas. If you are seeing lots of website traffic for a specific theme, you can double-down on the topic and build out new content related to the general theme.
2. Exit page
We know, this might seem obvious. But where people are leaving your site is a fantastic red flag for what’s working well and what isn’t.
It is worth noting that not every page is going to have the same optimal exit rate. For example, if you’re an ecommerce site, your receipt page will probably have a high exit rate, since people finish their purchase and then go and do something else. And that’s fine.
However, if a page in the middle of your purchase flow has a high exit rate, then that’s a problem since it reflects the exact scene of cart abandonment.
Exit pages help you know which points in your user flow are causing people to get frustrated and quit, and can help you really target your energy where it’s needed most.
3. Popular Pages
Finding out what pages are popular is so simple yet so often passed over for bigger-picture and conversion metrics.
However, just knowing what pages people are landing on, as well as what pages people find interesting enough to link to and to spend time on, is a huge asset to your content creation strategy.
Your content creation should be informed by what’s worked previously and what’s been popular in the past. Odds are, your core demographic hasn’t changed dramatically (if you’re offering the same stuff) which means that content that’s roughly similar is going to probably get roughly similar results.
Particularly for blogs, which rely on lots and lots of pages being produced, knowing what your top 10 posts are when you’re generating new topics is going to be enormously helpful for narrowing you focus.
4. Repeat Visitor Ratio (RVR)
The Repeat Visitor Ratio (RVR) is simply the percentage of people who came back to your site after their initial visit in a set time period. It’s calculated like this:
Repeat visitors in a as set time period/total visitors in the same time period = RVR percentage
That’s it. It’s super simple to work out, and it’s also super useful.
First, your RVR represents what percentage of people came to your site and thought what they saw was good enough to come back for. It’s a good indicator of general website health.
The more people who come back, the more people who think either:
- Your product is so amazing they couldn’t possibly get it anywhere else
- Your content is so fantastic they just had to consume more of it
Both of these are good.
Second, sales usually take somewhere between 7 and 10 points of contact to close. The better your RVR, odds are the better your sales.
Third, the cost of new customer acquisition is enormous. However, the cost of customer retention is far lower. RVR is the very start of that relationship. For example, enticing someone to visit your site with a PPC campaign is pricey, especially compared to the cost of them returning just because they want to. That’s much less expensive for you.
5. Average Session Length (ASL)
Like exit pages, there is no perfect ASL, only what’s appropriate for your site and even your specific processes.
For example, let’s say you’re trying to find the hours of business of your favourite store. So you go onto their website to look up their hours. The company (and you) want you to be able to find that information quickly and effectively. If you can find this information quickly, this is a fantastic result for you and the company, even though your individual session length is very low.
So how long you want someone on your site really depends on what they’re trying to do.
Say someone was on your site just to browse, you’d want your ASL as high as possible. Or if you’re a blog, then it’s best to have your ASL higher, since it probably means people are reading your content in a more engaged way.
So what’s the best use of ASL?
Easy. ASL excels at helping you track your changes to processes over time. This is particularly true for ecommerce sites. Say, for example, you want to improve your checkout process. ASL would help you track how long people are taking to go through that process, and see if your changes improved their time.
Likewise, ASL can help you determine which content is really engaging people and which content isn’t. So if all five of your how-to blog posts have high ASLs, you can assume your how-tos are being read and understood, and presumably helping your users overcome their own problems.
Digital marketing’s biggest advantage is its track-ability. You can know what’s working, and do more of it, and what’s not working, and stop it.
But often, real insights get lost in the noise of the hundreds of different ways you can shape the data, and it becomes impossible to know if you’re doing great or… not so great.
Use these 5 metrics to help you focus your digital data exactly where it needs to be, and make decisions that improve your website performance.
The answer’s in the numbers. You just need to know where to look.