On the surface, website metrics seem to be telling you a lot about your website. Lots of traffic and pageviews may indicate that your website is performing optimally. But it’s not always obvious which metrics best reflect how a site actually performs in terms of achieving your business and marketing goals.
In this article we discuss several popular metrics you may want to use to assess your website’s performance and why, or if, they matter.
Traffic: Traffic metrics measure the number of visitors coming to your website. While more traffic to a website may appear to be a positive, it is important to consider the sources of the traffic and also what visitors do after they arrive. For example, a poorly designed ad or marketing campaign may deliver a lot of traffic to your website. But the traffic may be of low quality, leading to low conversions and high bounce rates. Raw traffic statistics usually do not provide much information about your website's performance unless combined with other metrics.
Page views: Page views, much like traffic, often do not have much meaning as a stand alone metric. Many visitors (traffic) will, by itself, translate into many page views. A more meaningful metric, such as average page views per visitor, may be relevant to a publication or advertising website. But for most websites, page views need to be considered alongside other metrics to provide meanful insight into a website’s performance.
Time on site or page: Metrics measuring the amount of time site visitors are spending on a site may be relevant in some cases, such as a blog, but by themselves these types of metrics do not indicate whether the time spent was meaningful or not. Some visitors may be visiting your site but not actually doing anything. Tracking the visitor journey may add context. For example, visitors who land on your homepage, spend time on several interior pages and then move to your contact page, may indicate a website where the time visitors spend is driving conversion - even if the visitor doesn’t take direct action on your contact page. They could be collecting contact information from several vendors, with the intent to contact you later.
The "time on site or page" take away is that you need to consider what visitors are doing on the site for this metric to have meaning.
Unique visitors: Unique visitors measures the number of visitors regardless of how many times a visitor has visited a site. Unique visitors may indicate the overall popularity of a website, but similarly to “time on site” metrics, unique visitor statistics require context. What are visitors doing, viewing and clicking? Where did they come from and how did they end their journey? Unique visitors may be a stronger indicator of a website's performance then the aforementioned metrics, especially if visitors are returning multiple times. But like most other metrics, you need to consider whether visitors are actually completing the goals you’ve built into your website, such as submitting a contact form, downloading a PDF or purchasing a product.
Conversions: Conversions are king. It’s all that really matters. A website that frequently converts traffic into sales and leads, but has low traffic, page views and unique visitors statistics, could still be considered a high performing website. But even then, you need to take a deeper dive.
For example, do some web pages convert better than others? How many conversions turn out to be qualified leads? How many qualified leads turn into actual customers? Focusing on metrics that really matter will give you a much better understanding of your return on the investments you are marking on your website and marketing campaigns.