Congrats! Your site is up and running, connecting your business with customers searching for what you have to offer.
But how do you know if your site is performing well? With the long list of metrics to track, you’re probably wondering which ones are the best measure when determining how your site's doing against other competitors, or what you'll need to do to grow.
To help you optimize your blog and take your inbound marketing strategy to the next level, I surveyed over 400 web traffic analysts in the U.S. (including web managers and marketers who track website growth) to get an idea of how they measure website performance and the top strategies they use to rank on search engine results pages.
Along the way, we also picked up data on a wide variety of metrics like bounce rate and monthly traffic, so you can see how your website stacks up against the rest.
But before we dive in, here are three quick facts to get you excited for the research and recommendations below:
- Participants are focused on optimizing content for search intent.
- Nearly half of all web traffic comes from mobile devices.
- Direct traffic beat out organic traffic as the top traffic source of participants.
Below you'll find key data points to help you assess your site’s performance. How does your website compare?
2023 Website Benchmarks and Trends to Know:
1. Few sites see six-digit monthly unique visitor counts.
While looking at total traffic or visits can show you the overall performance of your site, looking at unique visitors can give you a better idea of how big your site's audience is and how different members behave when they hit your website.
In our survey, we discovered that half of websites average receive less than or equal to 15,000 unique visitors per month. Meanwhile:
- 31% of websites average over 50,000 unique visitors per month
- Only 15% of websites average over 100,000 unique visitors per month
If you aren't receiving 50,000-100,000 unique visitors, don't panic. A lot can play into your average traffic, including the size and age of your website, how big the team managing it is, and how much you publish content on it. For a deeper dive into web visitors, check out this post with more data from the survey.
2. Visitors stop on multiple pages during a website visit.
When visitors come to a website, they usually don't just stop at one page. My research found that:
- Almost 50% of websites get 4-6 page views per visit.
- 35% of websites get 7-10 page views from each visit.
- Just 17% of websites get between 1 and 3 page views per visit.
Ultimately, once you get a visitor to your site, they'll likely click on more than one page if you give them the opportunity through strategies like linking to other site pages, offers, or blog posts in your content.
3. Organic isn't the only traffic source to optimize for.
Now that you've seen how much traffic the average site gets and what visitors do when they get there, you might ask, "Where do all these visitors come from?"
If you're a seasoned web marketer, these results might not be too surprising, but if you're building your website for the first time, this data is important to keep in mind.
Our research shows that the biggest source of traffic is direct (traffic that comes from your own site). Nearly one-fourth of web professionals surveyed say it's their top source. This aligns well with the data above showing that most visitors will click through multiple website pages when visiting a website.
Organic search (17%), social (16%), and email (14%) are the next web traffic sources on the list. This also isn't incredibly shocking since my past research has shown that online marketers leverage SEO, social media, and email marketing the most when building awareness for their brand. Be sure to make use of these channels, as well as direct traffic, as you continue to grow your web strategy.
4. The need for mobile optimization keeps growing.
While knowing key traffic sources will help you determine where to place traffic-generating campaigns or initiatives, you'll also want to consider what devices people are using to access your website. Below you'll find the top devices that web traffic comes from, according to our participants.
As many seasoned marketers might expect, mobile devices are responsible for 41% of web traffic, making it more critical than ever to optimize your website for a mobile-first experience. This data follows up past research done by HubSpot and many other publications in previous years showing an increase in mobile device use, especially in millennial and Gen Z generations.
While you're not expected to be a mobile development expert or app creator on day one of launching your site, mobile optimization will continue to be key for traffic growth, search optimization, and great user experiences in the future. So, be sure your web designs and page themes are accessible and aesthetically pleasing across mobile devices like smartphones or Ipads, as well as on a desktop.
5. Bounce rates are unavoidable -- but still manageable.
While visitors might want to click through your site and read a bunch of your content when they initially land on your page, we’re living in a fast-paced world where a long list of distractions are competing for your visitors’ attention. This makes it extra challenging for websites to keep visitors engaged, which can impact bounce rates.
Luckily, those we surveyed are keeping their bounce rates fairly low:
- Nearly 2 in 3 websites have an average bounce rate under 40%
- Just 11% of websites have an average bounce rate over 60%
If you’re struggling to understand your bounce rate or not sure if you need to pay attention to it, we will dive into more details below.
6. Brands that rank high on SERPs find it "easy" to do so.
Everyone wants to be on the first page of Google search results, but unfortunately, there are only 10 spots on each. Here's how our participants are faring on SERPs (search engine result pages).
Only 31% of the web traffic analysts we surveyed say their site ranks on the first page for the keywords they target. This isn't surprising as the first page has become highly-coveted and competitive real-estate over the past decade.
Of those that rank on page one, 47% of those on the first page rank in the first one to three search results. On top of that, 58% of respondents describe ranking in the top 10 (or the first page) of SERPs as easy.
Although SEO might be easy for some web managers and marketers, it might still be challenging for less established websites or brands that are building their web presence. So, if you don't find this process as "easy" as our survey participants, don't panic.
While the data above demonstrates that ranking highly on SERPs is an attainable goal, this likely didn't happen for our high-ranking participants overnight -- and it won't happen that quickly for you either.
You’ll need to establish your blog or website as a credible and helpful source in the eyes of a search engine, for it to rank you highly. That means consistently publishing quality content that is relevant to those who choose to click on your website after searching up a question or phrase.
7. Sites with high rankings leverage search intent.
Now that we’ve talked about metrics, let's dive into the top SEO strategies. We asked web analysts about the most effective strategies they use for ranking on SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages), and as you can see below, the top three strategies are optimizing content for search intent, optimizing on-page content around target keywords, and writing compelling title tags and meta descriptions.
Optimizing content for search intent is not only the most effective strategy, but it is also the most popular, used by over 50% of web analysts. So let's take a closer look at why this is so important.
Optimizing for search intent, like all of these strategies, starts with conducting keyword research, which 47% of web analysts say is the most effective strategy they use.
Once you have your target keywords in mind, place them throughout your article -- this is a great way to optimize your content around your target keywords, the second most effective strategy for ranking on SERPs.
You can also place keywords in your title, meta description, and even in your URL. Writing compelling title tags and meta descriptions is the 3rd most effective strategy for raking on SERPs, and 45% of web analysts say optimizing their URL is the most effective strategy they use.
That said, don’t overdo it or stuff your blog posts with irrelevant tags, which could lead to a high bounce rate and a drop in SERP ranking.
8. SERP clickthrough rates rarely go over 40%.
While getting your content on page one of search results can be a major challenge, SEO optimization doesn't stop there. You'll still need to convince people to click on the content when it comes up in search results.
Our research found that:
- Nearly 1 in 4 websites have an average SEO click-through rate between 10-19%.
- Just 14% of websites have an average SEO click-through rate over 40%.
9. When it comes to tracking, website analysts focus on the bottom line.
With so many metrics to take into account, it can be hard to know which are most critical to focus on.
I asked web analysts which of the metrics they track are the most important and found that sales, leads, and conversions, bounce rates, and total monthly visitors are among the most crucial for measuring website performance. Here's what they said:
- 58% of those who track bounce rates and sales, leads, and conversions say they are the most important metrics they track when measuring website performance.
- 70% of web analysts track total monthly visitors, making it the metric tracked most, and 52% of them say it is the most important one to track.
Diving Deeper into Web Metrics
68% of web analysts track bounce rates, or the percentage of people who land on your website and leave without taking any action. And, 58% of them consider it to be the most important metric they track.
What causes bounce rates? Maybe there isn’t enough content for visitors to interact with, they’re leaving because what they’re seeing isn’t helpful to them, or they aren’t the right audience in the first place.
Understanding why your bounce rate is high is open to interpretation and usually depends on the type of website. But it’s important to get to the root of the issue -- because your bounce rate is a factor in how search engines rank your site.
But don’t despair, you can learn a lot from bounce rates, occasionally higher rates can be invertible for some sites, and it’s just one of many factors search engines weigh when it comes to ranking. As long as you pay attention and learn from your bounce rate, it doesn't have to be your biggest burden.
New vs. Returning Users
57% of web analysts track new vs. returning users, and 49% of them say it is the most important metric they keep an eye on. So why is it so valuable to compare the two groups?
Well, new and returning users behave differently. Returning visitors have higher conversion rates and higher sales. They also bounce less, have longer session durations, and view more pages per session.
On the other hand, every returning user was once a new user. Understanding your new users is key to growing your business. Look into where new user traffic is coming from (and which traffic source converts best), as well as what types of content new users are engaging with, to turn them into returning visitors.
Keyword Ranking & Search Traffic
43% of web analysts who track ranking and search traffic for their targeted keywords say it is the most important measure of website performance, and there are plenty of good reasons to keep a close eye on these.
A web page is going up or down in ranking can be a good indicator of what is working and what isn’t. But keep in mind that fluctuations in your SERP ranking can happen for a wide number of reasons, from search engine algorithm updates to a broken link on your website, or the actions of your competitors. The more monthly search volume (MSV) a keyword gets, the more the competition will be clamoring for a top spot on search engine results pages.
On that note, tracking search volume for your targeted keywords can help you understand why your website is seeing a sudden spike or drop in traffic. If your targeted keywords related to a specific topic are seeing more search volume, you may want to write more blog posts on it as people are clearly interested. On the other hand, if the monthly search volume is plummeting, you may want to pivot to another topic or keyword.
Which SEO tactics set effective and ineffective websites apart?
While we mentioned tracking SEO initiatives and leveraging search intent above, there are many, many more SEO strategies that web teams can and should implement to help their site hit goals related to traffic, leads, or sales.
So, we also gathered data on the strategies that set effective and ineffective web traffic analysts apart. Iasked web traffic analysts how effective (or ineffective) their web strategy was for reaching their overall business goals in 2021. Here’s what I found:
In short, the use of keyword and website optimization strategies makes all the difference.
While web analysts who had an effective website strategy in 2021 are more likely to use all of these strategies, the largest gaps between the two groups are found when looking at those who optimize content for search intent and optimize website load speed.
This means that web analysts who had an effective website strategy in 2021 are 25% more likely to optimize their website for loading speed and 19% more likely to optimize content for search intent.
The Most Popular Tools For Site Performance Tracking
When tracking web analytics, there isn't a one size fits all approach. Depending on your site's unique goals, you might need to build a tech stack of tools that caters to all of your needs. And, according to our research, that's fairly common. A whopping 59% of web traffic analysts use more than one website analytics tool.
Among the tools used by survey participants are Google Analytics (the top tool leveraged), followed by HubSpot – used by one in four web analysts.
And, just because we were curious about how our own tool's effectiveness compares to that others, we asked participants about their experience with each.
I found that 40% of HubSpot website analytics tool users say their website strategy has been “very effective” for reaching their business goals in 2021, compared to 29% of Google Analytics users. We also discovered that89% of HubSpot users say their website strategy was “effective”for reaching their business goals in 2021.
Lastly, I dug a bit deeper and looked at the website stats of analysts who said they used HubSpot. Through this analysis, I also discovered that websites using HubSpot's Traffic Analytics Tool also get more page views per visit.
While the numbers above are great to see as a HubSpotter, it's important to note that Google Analytics and many other analytics tools out there can be effective and powerful for your brand growth when using them with HubSpot, or an alternative if HubSpot isn't the best fit for you.
Next Steps for Building a Great Web Experience
Inspired by this data and want to leverage the traffic sources, optimization tips, or other strategies mentioned in this piece, but don't know where to start on building or improving your website's SEO? Dive into our deeper list of web traffic benchmarks or test your site against our Website Grader.