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How to Measure Website Success

Written by Taylor Hawes

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

measuring website success

Every website is different. What might be considered successful results for one website may be lackluster for another. To measure your own site’s success, you must first define what success means to you and develop a clear picture of how your website is performing according to these metrics.

 

What is the Purpose of Your Website?

To start, ask yourself about the purpose of your site. Was it created to sell products? To boost fundraising efforts? To engage consumers in a particular niche? Defining the purpose of your website is essential to defining its success.

 

Setting Good Goals

Next, you need to set some clear goals that coincide with your website’s purpose. When devising goals, consider the following questions:

  • Are your website goals tied in to the overall goals of your organization?

  • Are your goals measurable?

  • Are they challenging, yet realistic?

  • Are they set in a specific time frame?

  • Do your goals depend on specific website visitor actions? (Signing up for a newsletter, buying a product, etc.)

 

As an example, say you’re a business owner who sells jackets online. Your organizational goal is to generate revenue through jacket sales, so one goal of your website is to get visitors to buy jackets (a specific website visitor action). Your goal might be to sell 500 jackets per month through your website (which is both measurable and constrained by a specific time frame), up from the 400 you sold last month (which is challenging, yet realistic).

 

Metrics That Matter

Website metrics are a way to measure how people are interacting with your website. When you keep track of web metrics, you’ll be able to see what’s working on your site and what needs improvement as far as web traffic and conversions go. Here are some metrics that you should be tracking – no matter the purpose of your website:

  1. Conversion Rate: This metric measures how many people are performing your website visitor action. Conversion rate is given as a percentage, and is based on the number of people who convert versus the number who leave your website without taking the desired visitor action.

  2. Exit Pages: This statistic lets you know what pages your visitors are exiting your website from. This data, along with the conversion rate metric, can help you to optimize your sales funnel. Know what pages within your sales funnel people are exiting on and improve on those pages in order to maximize conversions (although, keep in mind that some pages – like your “Thank You” page – are natural exits).

  3. Unique Visitors: This numbers tells you the number of individual people who visit your website in a given time period, usually daily. This is more significant than just measuring page views. Page views can tell you that you had three visits to your website in a day, but not if it was the same person visiting three separate times.

  4. Referrers: This data tells you where your visitors are coming from and can be extremely helpful in measuring and strategizing your marketing efforts.

  5. Top Keywords: This important metric tells you what search engine keywords are leading people to your website.

  6. Top Internal Search Keywords: Don’t confuse this with top search engine keywords. This data tells you what people are using the search box on your website to search for. This could be helpful in determining what content on your website is most popular, or if there’s something you’re missing on your site that people are expecting to find.

  7. Top Search Engines: This metric tells you what search engines people are visiting your website from, which can be useful when it comes to prioritizing SEO activities.

  8. Average Time Spent: This number lets you know how much time people are spending on your website and individual pages, and it’s a good way to measure the quality of your website.

  9. Bounce Rate: Your bounce rate is a measurement of how many people visit your website and then leave after only viewing the page they landed on. In other words, it tells you if your website is driving traffic away before engagement can occur.

 

When you measure your website metrics, you gain valuable information that will help you to achieve the goals you’ve set. If, for example, you see that the most visitors to your jacket sales website arrive by searching Google for “winter down jackets,” you can use that information for both marketing and optimization purposes.

 

Measuring Metrics

Given the importance of a website’s metrics, there are plenty of tools to choose from when it comes to measurement. Google Analytics is free and perhaps the most popular tool for measuring website metrics. Google Analytics not only lets you measure the success of your website, but also lets you perform split testing, helping you to turn your analytics data into actionable steps towards improvement.

Piwik is another free tool that can be hosted on your own web server. It offers many of the same features as Google Analytics, but since it’s hosted on your server, you’re the only one that sees the stats.

If you master Google Analytics and want to get deeper into your website’s analytics, Deep Log Analyzer is a good option. It’s not free, but it’s easy to use and could prove useful in further optimizing your website for conversions.

Remember that measuring the success of your website is two-fold. First, you must set your website’s goals, and then you must measure how your website is performing. Consistently revising your goals, measuring your website’s performance, and making improvements are surefire ways to improve the success of your website.

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