At first glance, analytics pages appear to be a collection of numbers and percentages, seemingly without rhyme or reason. However, once you understand the methods behind the metrics, website analytics can provide valuable insight into how your website is currently performing, and more importantly, what improvements you could make.
Understanding each and every statistic is a challenge for anyone new to managing a website. So, in this post, we have gathered the most important metrics, what they measure, and what they mean about your website. Whether you are using Google Analytics, Clicky, KISSmetrics, or any other analytics tool, below are the top five metrics you should pay attention to:
Unique Visitors/Page Views
These two analytics are similar but not the same. It’s important to understand the difference when tracking your website’s popularity. Unique visitors is the number of people viewing your page. Page views is how many times a page is viewed, even if it’s by the same visitor. Each time a back button is pressed or a page refreshes, it is logged as a page view. Unique visitors is only logged for each individual person who views your page, no matter how many times they view it.
Traffic sources may be your most important marketing analytic because it will show you which campaign is working best. This analytic explains where your traffic is originating before finding your website, whether it is organic (searched from Google or Bing, for example), social media (perhaps Facebook or Twitter), or from a pay-per-click (PPC) campaign that you have created. By paying close attention to this metric, you can decide which marketing source is a better bang for your buck.
The demographic metric will show you who is visiting your website. The reliability of this analytic is questionable at times, but it can usually at least clue you in on gender, approximate age, and some interests. Demographic data comes from cookies left on websites as users browse the web. From these cookies, analytic tools can make some general assumptions about the user. However, if you are looking for demographic data to base major marketing campaigns on, you may want to do some additional digging rather than taking basic analytics as truth.
Average Session Duration
The session duration measures how long people are spending on your website pages. This metric can tell you a lot about the quality of the content you are offering. As a general rule, the longer users are engaging with your page, the better your website will perform. You do not want to see a high number of page abandonment, especially if you are an ecommerce website. To increase your average session duration, consider adding additional content like videos and blog posts to your website. Detailed product descriptions can also add value to an ecommerce page that is experiencing high bounce rates (or people clicking away from a page).
Location is a very important metric for two reasons. First, you want to see where your audience is coming from. Second, you need to be sure that your website infrastructure is able to reach those looking to view your page. You may notice that high amounts of website traffic are coming from a part of the world you hadn’t considered. It is worth spending some time working to engage with your new audience. Also, if your website is a continent away from those trying to view it, it is worth investing in a CDN (Content Delivery Network). A CDN will help you be sure that your page loads quickly and reliably.
If you’ve ever taken a look at an analytics dashboard, then you know that these few analytics are not the only information available for your website. However, if you are new to the world of website management, then the tips above will help you get your feet planted firmly on the ground. Use the information available to guide your small adjustments to get the best website results possible.