You probably already know that tracking WHERE your web visitors are coming from, and seeing WHAT they interact with on your website, is a necessary first step to improve how well your site works for you.
And hopefully you already have Google Analytics (or some other tracking software) installed on your website.
If so, good for you!
In this article we’re going to take a look inside the number, with a focus on:
- Bounce rate
- Average time on page
- Percent exit
- Pages per session
Because most of my clients admit that they don’t know what the data is supposed to tell them. After all, having stats and knowing what they mean are often two very different things. And by understanding better what each category means will give you a better idea of what is working, and what needs help, when it comes to your website.
Of all the statistics this one may be the easiest to understand, and the most important one to check.
That’s because Google has recently added “bounce rate” to one of the factors they consider when it comes to ranking sites for search results. And as you can imagine sites with a high bounce rate (i.e. > 50%) will have a hard time getting to the top of the rankings and page 1.
But more than that, checking your bounce rate can give you a good idea of what pages and articles on your site are working, and which ones are not.
For instance, I recently completed a website update for a hypnotherapist and found that her “Contact” page was getting roughly 60 visits a month, with a bounce rate less than 25%. Yet, few people, if any, were completing her web form.
The question then becomes “why?”
In other words, when people landed on the page they weren’t bouncing off, so they were taking more than a couple of seconds to “look around.” But they weren’t doing much more than that. So looking at your bounce rate becomes the important first step to figure out the pages that are, on some level, engaging your target audience.
Average Time on Page
This metric is very helpful when it comes to web page optimization, because knowing approximately how long people stay on your pages gives you a good idea “where” you start to lose their interest.
Think of it this way…
If you post a 5 minute video on YouTube but people only watch 30 seconds, then you can look at the “30 second mark” to see why they might be leaving right around there.
Does that make sense?
In the case of the client whose “Contact” page was getting a good amount of visitors but no leads, I checked her average time on page. It turns out they were on the page long enough to read the copy above her contact form, but they weren’t completing it.
Now, had it been the case that there were only on her page for 20 seconds or so I would have read the copy, timed how long it took me to get to 20 seconds, and they see what “stumbling blocks” might be in the copy where people lost interest.
In her case they were reading the copy OK but not filling out the form. So I made a couple tweaks to her form (including changing the wording of the questions, and their order), and now she routinely gets about 6 leads per month through the form (not counting phone calls).
Looking at this metric can give you a better idea where on the page you are losing people’s attention. And then make tweaks and changes to see if you are improving their experience.
This metric is important if your site is not performing as well as you like.
But the results can be a bit misleading, so let me explain a bit more.
If you have a lead capture form or your sell a product online and you use a “Thank you page” to track your conversions and give your new client or customer important information regarding “next steps” in your process, then you can expect your “thank you page” to have a high “Percent exit” percentage.
And it makes sense, right?
After all, they’ve already bought your product or signed up for more information, what else do you want them to do? But percent exit is extremely helpful for evaluating which pages people tend to exit your site from.
In other words, it tracks the last page someone was visiting when they left your site. And if you see that the same page is responsible for most of your “exits” guess it’s time to roll up those sleeves to figure out WHY they tend to leave your site from that page.
This is especially true if they are leaving from your homepage, and if your pages per session is less than 2 (more on this next)…
Pages per Session
Pages per session simply tells you the average number of pages your web visitor views.
This is a good metric for figuring out just how “sticky” your website is, i.e. how well your site keeps someone engaged looking for more “stuff” on your site. And where the first 3 metrics were a tool for evaluating specific page performance, this metric is more about your website as a whole.
So what’s a good number?
Well, the bigger the number the better for you. Ideally you’d like to see this number more than 2, preferably up near 3 or more pages per visit because this means they are staying on your site long enough to possibly become a lead.
And that’s the point, right?
Schedule your website review today
Since early 2008 I have worked with dozens of clients and helped them get more than they thought possible from their websites. And I know I can do the same for you…
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Online success starts by taking the first step…
In working with clients I have been able to diagnose problems, road-blocks, issues and oversights that have prevented business owners like you from achieving their goals. To discover how I can improve your current web-marketing efforts to generate MEASURABLE results for you let me review your website, and then we can set up a time to discuss my analysis by phone.