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What are the 10 most important website metrics to track?

Every business’ website will have its own unique objectives that require careful consideration to ensure the most relevant and appropriate key performance indicators are tracked and reported. For example, not all websites require a short conversion funnel.

  • Sites such https://www.news.com.au/ as are motivated by consumers engaging with content. Their advertising sales work around impressions. Increasing the website metric: ‘pages per session’ would be a key KPI for such a site.
  • An interactive gaming site is motivated to keep users on one page for extended amounts of time, playing games, of course. The most important website metric for them might be ‘average time on page’.
  • An affiliate marketing website or blog that’s incentivised for encouraging people to leave their site and visit a site that pays them commission might not be so worried about a high-exit rate on certain pages, where they are directing users to affiliate sites. This type of site would need to track external link clicks to ascertain with greater certainty what the real exit rate is. They might also use tracking from the affiliate network too that provides information on the traffic they sent to a retailer – like conversion rate.

It’s important to understand your conversion process and unique objectives before choosing metrics to monitor on your web analytics dashboard.

However, there are some key website metrics that all sites should care about. Here are the most important key website metrics that are relevant to all websites…

1. Traffic Source

Traffic source is part of the acquisition metrics. It measures the sources that drive traffic to your website. Traffic sources commonly tracked on any website are:

  • Direct: Visits to your website who don’t have a defined source or referring site attached to it. This could be PDF links, direct browser entries, bookmark clicks. Google’s browser can also autocomplete a URL and send you to the website ‘directly’.
  • Organic Search: Visits to your website from search engine results page(s) often because of strong SEO efforts.
  • Social: Visits to your website that comes from social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.
  • Referral: Traffic that comes to your website from an inbound link on another website that isn’t a social media site.

traffic acquisition screenshot from GA4

Monitoring this acquisition metric through traffic source allows you to double down on the channel/s that are working well, providing traffic and/or conversions.

You can also use this data to identify channels that are underperforming. For example, if you expect more traffic from social media, or more conversions, then it may be time to re-strategize your marketing campaigns.

2. Average Engagement Time

If you’ve used Universal Analytics in the past, you may have seen Average Session Duration. GA4 no longer reports on that. Instead it’s Average Engagement Time. 

UA calculated ‘session duration’ on the time elapsed between the first and last interaction hits of a session, often underestimating time spent, especially on the last page visited, as it fails to account for non-interaction events. GA4 focuses on “engagement time,” measuring the time a user is actively interacting with the site, including actions like scrolling and clicking. This method not only captures the time spent on the last page but also offers a more accurate representation of user engagement.

These numbers will be dramatically different. Where you may have seen session durations of 1-2 minutes, it may look like users are spending much less time on your site, but consider the way Google has changed its reporting methods. 

Average Engagement time screenshot

A higher Engagement Time on certain pages or after specific marketing campaigns can indicate successful content or strategies that resonate with your audience. Conversely, lower Engagement Times might signal areas needing improvement or content that fails to engage users. This can aid your content strategy, and marketing campaigns to foster deeper engagement. Additionally, segmenting Engagement Time by traffic source, user demographics, or behavior can provide targeted insights into how different groups interact with your site, allowing for more tailored marketing strategies.

“Is your content information keeping users engaged and moving them through the sales funnel, or do you need to improve your page content to drive longer sessions?”

It is important to note your engagement times will differ depending on the nature of your business, your goals and conversion funnel. Therefore, drilling down further to analyse the average time on page is also worth it. This is the time that users spend on a particular page on your website.

We suggest viewing these stats carefully, perhaps page by page or by grouped pages, as some pages are optimised for a longer average duration, for example blog articles and services pages. Whereas, for a login or checkout page, you’d prefer users to get through the process faster. In these circumstances, a longer average time on page could indicate a cumbersome/confusing process.

Finding the right benchmarks to aim for can be extremely helpful to improve your websites performance. Check out some average benchmarks by industry below.

GA4 is still pretty new and there aren’t many reputable resources for a typical engagement time across industries, so benchmark with your own data. 

3. Engagement Rate

Previously referred to as ‘Bounce Rate’, Engagement rate measures your ‘active’ audience – those that clicked on a link, downloaded a form, scrolled – etc. It is the opposite of bounce rate. 

engagement rate screenshot

It’s a useful metric to monitor. A high engagement rate indicates useful content, products, or services, prompting active interaction. Valuable information for shaping and refining your content strategy, marketing campaigns, and product offerings.

Engagement rates can help identify strengths and weaknesses in your digital marketing efforts. User attention is a precious commodity, and a strong engagement rate not only signifies successful content but also aids in boosting your brand’s visibility and reach, as platforms, like Google, prioritise high engagement pages and websites in their algorithms.

If your engagement rate is low, it could be a result of one or more of these factors:

  • Slow to load pages
  • Low quality content
  • Misleading title tag or meta description
  • Error pages
  • Content expectation aren’t met

Top Design Firms revealed that 42% of consumers will bounce because of poor functionality.

4. Views Per User

Previously, you may have utilising Page views, GA4 offers views per user – The number of app screen or wen pages viewed by a user. This metric allows you to track overall engagement – do users only visit one screen or do they browse around before ending a session?

pages per session screenshot

Views per user helps to indicate if prospects find your content and the website flow helpful and are interested in learning more from you. Their behaviour on your website can provide valuable insights on how compelling users find your content and the ease of access.

You can improve your pages per session by:

1. Intuitive interlinking: Hyperlink intuitive and action-oriented text to related pages. For example, when we write about our SEO services, instead of hyperlinking the actual word SEO, we could write something like’ “Great SEO will provide your business with the opportunity to increase sales via growth.”

2. Complement the user journey: It’s important that your website maps out the user journey and guides them towards a new page or a desired action. You can read exactly how to optimise your landing page to ensure you not only generate traffic but ensure that traffics stays and converts.

3. Use effective CTA’s: Call-to-actions (CTA’s) have the power to make or break your conversions. Without a clearly placed CTA, users may be unsure of the next steps to take, or less persuaded to follow through with their initial intentions, therefore leaving your site sooner.

Call-to-action button

5. Conversion Rate

Conversion Rate is one the most important website performance metrics to track. Conversion rate measures the percentage of people who convert (aka do what you want them to do). The most popular conversion methods tend to be:

  • Submitting a form
  • Making a purchase
  • Downloading a lead magnet
  • Downloading an app

Your conversion rate has a profound effect on the success and value of all your marketing efforts. An increased conversion rate directly reduces the cost-per-acquisition (CPA) of your paid campaigns. Analyse the rise in lead conversion rate with the effect on cost per lead with this example below.

Example of the impact of lead conversion rate on cost per lead

By optimising your conversion rate, you can ensure that you are getting as many of your website visitors as possible to take the action you desire.

Conversion rate can be calculated by dividing the number of conversions by the number of visits to your website or landing page.

6. Conversions

Another valuable website metric to track is Conversions, previously called Goal Completions in Universal Analytics. This performance metric lets you know how many users complete a defined goal/s. Conversions can be tied to sales, as well as specific objectives like filling out a form or signing up for an email list.

This is figure you can be used to determine your conversion rate. The alternative would be transactions (for an e-commerce site).

Tracking the number of conversions on your website will indicate whether users are completing your defined goals, i.e., making a sale, therefore becoming a customer. If your visitors aren’t completing your defined conversions, you can evaluate your pages to see how to improve.

Overall, you’ll want to optimise the number of conversions to help support your conversion rate.

7. Cost Per Acquisition

Cost per acquisition (CPA) is another key website performance metric all marketers should track.

Why? Your CPA gives you an estimate of how much your new customers are costing you and helps ensure that you’re investing in the most cost-effective channels, as well as helping to gauge the success of various marketing efforts.

Unlike the conversion rate, which is an indicator of success, CPA a financial metric which can also help gauge the success of your marketing efforts.

Your CPA can be found within Google Analytics and is automatically provided by the data sent from your website, however only if there is cost data available.

Some ways to lower your cost per acquisition:

1. Obsess about CRO: As we mentioned previously, an increased conversion rate directly reduces the CPA of your paid campaigns. Optimising your CRO is guaranteed to positively affect your CPA, increasing your ROI. Typically, the nature of CRO requires there to be a test-and-learn mentality the below process tends to loop over and over again until the desired outcome has been reached

Conversion rate optimisation process

2. Optimise your landing page(s): Your landing page(s) has a profound impact on conversions because it is the first thing your customer sees after clicking on your ad. Ensuring your landing page is well optimised to convert your visitors is going to make a big difference on your conversion rate and your CPA. Ensure you are following the 7 best practices for landing page optimisation here.

3. Retarget your website visitors: Retargeting/remarketing efforts help you reach users who have already visited your website. Perhaps they visited but did not convert. By retargeting them to connect again, you can hopefully convert them into customers. As a result, increasing your conversion rate by using retargeting techniques can reduce your CPA.

8. Percentage of New Visits

New visitors are those navigating to your site for the first time.

Typically, websites tend to have a higher proportion of new visitors over returning visitors. However, it’s the returning visitors that tend to have higher engagement – they bounce less, view more pages per session, and have higher session durations. You can also expect to see a much higher conversion rate and purchase rate from your returning visitors, in comparison with your new ones.

new users figure in GA4

For any website, returning visitors are important because they indicate how successful your marketing campaigns are, your loyal customers, and the strength of your brand.

But every website needs both new and returning visitors.

To do this, you need to feed the funnel with new users so you can turn them into returning users. Some marketing initiatives encourage new visits like search engine optimisation, and some encourage return visits like retargeting campaigns on Meta.

It’s important to grow both your new and return visitor rate to see overall growth in your website.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]

9. Devices Used

It should come as no surprise that mobile device use is increasingly pervasive. In fact, mobile devices now account for over half (59.4%) of website traffic worldwide (source). So, tracking the breakdown of all the devices your website visitors use is best practice.

Monitoring this will help you determine if you’re meeting the needs of your website visitors, based on their device choice. This data is available in your Google Analytics dashboard under Audience.

device used data on GA4

If you’re not looking at this data and optimising your website for mobile usage you would miss out on converting those users into paying customers.

10. Most Visited Pages

Using User Behaviour statistics within GA4, or Google’s Search Console, you can monitor which of your pages are viewed the most.

For example, there may be an old blog post you wrote an forgot about that has generated a lot of organic search traffic. If you notice that, and utilise the information, you can adjust the page to direct that traffic towards CTAs and potentially collect some leads/customers.

In contrast, you may have built a product, collection or service page that is essential to your business, but not drawing the level of traffic you need. You can address why, tweak the page and monitor the progress.

Summary

Accurately tracking website performance metrics allows you to determine which metrics define success for your business, so you can better understand your company’s performance over time.

When it comes to tracking the website metrics discussed in this article, Google Analytics will be your best friend. It is the internet’s most popular analytics measurement tool for most, if not all website KPI’s. It’s free and can display the data most important to your website at any given timeframe.

If you want to double down on your website KPIs and set your business up for long-success, chat to one of our Digital Strategists today. Book in a FREE digital strategy session here.

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