The Only Metrics You Need to Optimize Website Performance

    by Pamela Vaughan

    Date

    December 30, 2011 at 9:00 AM

    traffic sources Your website is the hub of your inbound marketing efforts. Every piece of content you create or campaign you run should be designed to drive traffic to your website and landing pages, giving you the chance to convert visitors into leads and customers. It makes sense, then, to start by looking at insights from your web analytics platform, such as Google’s free Google Analytics, or a paid platform like HubSpot . Let's review the 8 essential metrics you should be tracking on your website and its landing pages, and how you can use these metrics to optimize and improve your website’s performance .

    1. Unique Visitors

    Definition: The total number of individual visitors to your site during a specific period of time, not counting repeat visits by the same individual

    How to Use It: Unique visitor data shows whether your content and campaigns are successfully driving visitors to your site. Look for a good upward trend over time, or in conjunction with specific marketing campaigns. If your unique visitor count isn’t rising, you may need to reassess your marketing tactics .

    2. New vs. Repeat Visitors

    Definition: A comparison of your unique visitors vs. the number of visitors who came back more than once

    How to Use It: The more repeat visitors you have to your site, the more “sticky” it is (i.e. prospects are finding valuable content that keeps them coming back for more). If your repeat visitor rate is only in the single digits, your site might not offer enough valuable information to capitalize on the link or campaign that attracted a new visitor in the first place. Conversely, if your repeat visitor rate is higher than 30%, you’re probably not growing your audience enough to generate new business. A healthy rate of repeat visitors is about 15%.

    3. Traffic Sources

    Definition: A breakdown of the specific sources of traffic to your website, such as direct, organic, or referral

    How to Use It: Direct traffic comes from people who have typed your website’s URL directly into their browser, visited your web pages via a bookmark, or clicked on an untagged link from an email or document you produced.

    Organic traffic comes from a link found on a search engine results page. Referral traffic comes from a link on another website. Checking your traffic sources tells you how well your search engine optimization (SE0) efforts are performing. For example, you’ll want to see your share of organic traffic rising until it reaches 40%-50% of total traffic. Likewise, you can gauge the effectiveness of your link-building efforts by tracking referral traffic. Aim for referrals to deliver 20%-30% of overall traffic.

    4. Referring URLs

    Definition: The specific, non-search engine URLs that send traffic directly to your site. They represent the inbound links that are crucial for boosting your site’s search engine rankings

    How to Use It: Track changes in your referring URL list monthly to see if your SEO link-building efforts are paying off. You want to see the list of referring URLs growing steadily over time as you produce more content that other site owners and bloggers deem worthy of sharing with their audience. You also can study your referring URLs to determine which types of sites or bloggers are linking to your site and what type of content they tend to like. All of this information can be fed back into your SEO strategy, helping you to produce more content that is likely to generate inbound links .

    5. Most/Least Popular Pages

    Definition: A comparison of the pages on your site that receive the most and least traffic

    How to Use It: Studying your most popular pages helps you understand what kind of content visitors and prospects find most interesting. Popular pages also are good places to focus your database building efforts. For instance, you can add an email opt-in box or offer a registration form for a content download on those pages.

    6. Indexed Pages

    indexed pages Definition:

    How to Use It: This metric tells you how many of your pages are being indexed by search engines and are getting found by users. Know this, and then you can drill down to see which landing pages receive the highest percentage of visits.

    Popular entry points into your website are great places to optimize for lead generation by adding calls-to-action for content offers (e.g. ebooks, webinars, or other downloads). You should also track the number of unique landing pages your website has monthly in order to discover pages that perform poorly in organic search that may only generate a few monthly visitors but may turn out to be highly converting pages. Once you have identified these pages, you can take measure to optimize them for maximum conversions.

    If you’re not satisfied with your site’s unique landing page count or if the list stops growing,
    consider ramping up your blogging efforts. Business blogging is one of the best ways to create new pages that can be indexed by search engines. Furthermore, having more indexed blog pages means more opportunities to get found via organic search, making it more likely that you’ll generate new leads and customers through your content creation.

    7. Landing Page Conversion Rate

    Definition: The percentage of visitors to your site who take a desired action, such as purchasing a product or filling out a lead generation form

    How to Use It: By monitoring your conversion rates, you’ll know how well you’ve been capitalizing on the traffic coming to your site. You can monitor several different types of conversion rates, including:

    • Visitor-to-Lead Conversion Rate: the percentage of visitors who become leads
    • Lead-to-Customer Conversion Rate: the percentage of leads who become customers
    • Visitor-to-Customer Conversion Rate: the percentage of visitors who become customers

    Tracking each of these conversion rates is like giving your marketing funnel a checkup. You’ll see where you’re doing well -- such as converting visitors into leads -- and where your funnel may be leaky, such as failing to convert those leads into customers.

    8. Bounce Rate

    Definition: The percentage of new visitors who leave your site almost immediately after arriving, with no other interactions

    How to Use It: A high bounce rate means your pages aren’t compelling or useful to visitors. This could be a reflection of problems with your marketing strategy, such as having inbound links from irrelevant sources or not optimizing landing pages for specific campaigns. A high bounce rate could also indicate problems with your site itself, such as confusing architecture, weak content, or no clear calls-to-action.

    What other metrics do you find critical for measuring and optimizing the performance of your website?

    This post is an excerpt from the An Introduction to Inbound Marketing Analytics , a free ebook that covers the essential metrics marketers needs to measure and improve their marketing. Download the complete ebook here .

    analytics-ebook

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