The Analytics Measurements You Must Track

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They say that what gets measured, gets managed – so if you aren’t yet doing a good job tracking your website’s analytics and making decisions based on the data you uncover, chances are good that your website isn’t yet as successful as it could be!

In this article, we’ll list the key measurements you should be taking from different areas of your site. Ideally, you should be tracking each of these metrics on a week-to-week basis in a spreadsheet on your computer, so set aside a chunk of time (20-30 minutes should suffice to gather all of this information) each week to dedicate to tracking these important statistics.

On-Site Statistics

The following measurements refer to on-page data that can be generated using a website analytics program like Google Analytics or Clicky. Both of these programs are free to use and can uncover a goldmine of information about visitor behavior on your site.

Here’s what you need to track:

  • Number of Visitors – This refers to the overall number of visitors that stop by your website every day. Track this number on a week-to-week basis and keep an eye out for any anomalies. Ideally, your average number of visitors should be going up over time if you’re expending effort on building up your traffic, but any odd drops in your normal traffic levels could indicate problems with your site.
  • Bounce Rate – Bounce rate refers to the percentage of people who arrive on your website and depart from the same page, without engaging with any of your other content. This signal is currently being used as a ranking factor in the Google algorithm, so it’s best to shoot for a bounce rate of 50% or less.
  • Average Time on Site – A high average time on site means that your visitors are happy and engaged – and happy, engaged visitors are more likely to spend money on your site! If you see a low time on site, it could be that you aren’t providing the information your visitors are looking for. Address this by polling them about the types of content they’d like to see or mimic the most popular articles on similar industry sites.

Social Networking Measurements

The tracking of social signals as actionable metrics has gotten a bad rap in previous years, as it can be difficult to understand the monetary value of having more Twitter followers or more Facebook fans. As Rand Fishkin of SEOMoz states:

“While social's an exciting new area for online marketers, its value isn't always commensurate with the effort required and even when it is, it's tough to prove that point to clients or executives asking for justification.”

However, since these signals are now being included as additional ranking factors by both Google and Bing, it’s a good idea to start measuring them now. Here’s what to add to your metrics spreadsheet:

  • Number of Followers – This metric is quick and easy to track, and as your brand grows – ideally – your number of followers on each social networking site you’re active on should be growing as well. If not, consider investing your effort in a different site or changing your approach to sharing information and marketing your business on social sites.
  • Amount of Traffic Received from Social Sites – Again, if you’re investing time in participating on social networking sites, you should be seeing traffic back to your site as a result. To find this information, search your on-page analytics program for details on how much traffic each specific social networking site has sent and focus your efforts on the social sites that send the most traffic.
  • Number of RTs or Shares – The point of being active with social networking sites is to increase your audience in a viral way. That is, instead of having to promote your content to every social networking site user individually, the goal is that a reader will find your article and share it with others through a Twitter re-tweet (RT) or a Facebook share. Track the number of times this occurs and adjust your strategy if your content isn’t being shared virally.

Conversion Numbers

I’m assuming that you have a website for a purpose – not just to share information willy-nilly with the world. But whether you’re trying to sell products online, build an email list or generate leads for an offline business, there are a few standard conversion metrics you’ll want to track to ensure that you’re meeting your sales or leads goals.

  • Value per Visitor – This simple measurement can be calculated by dividing the number of visitors to your site in a given period by the number of sales that resulted during the same time. If you’re paying for traffic to your site, it’s important to ensure your value per visitor is higher than the amount you’re spending to attract these visitors.
  • Cost per Conversion – Similarly, you’ll want to consider “cost per conversion” when analyzing your sales metrics. According to Neil Patel of KISSMetrics, “It doesn’t matter if you have high conversions and high value per visit if your costs are so prohibitive that your net income is zero or even negative. While trying to increase conversion, keep your costs per conversion and overall margins in mind.”
  • Interactions per Visit – This metric is related to bounce rate, but instead of considering the number of people who only visit one page on your site, it looks at the average number of pages each visitor views or the average number of actions he takes. This information can be found within Google Analytics and demonstrates how engaged your audience is. Keep in mind, the more engaged a visitor is, the more likely he is to buy from you!
  • Opt-Ins – If you’re building an email list as the primary or secondary goal of your website, it’s important to keep an eye on the number of visitors who enter their information into your opt-in forms. If you have multiple opt-in forms on your site, check your autoresponder account to view the number of impressions versus signups for each form in order to find the forms that aren’t performing up-to-par on your site.

As Neil Patel states in the article linked above:

“If you have a useful product or service (or even a content site), the utility of it is bound to attract an audience. However, your ability to retain and covert that audience into loyal customers or users depends on how well you use and optimize for the right metrics.”

Use the metrics described above as a starting point and expand on them as you identify new metrics that should be tracked on your website. Taking the time to set up web data tracking services and record your metrics every week isn’t always fun, but it’s darn useful when it comes time to make decisions about how to move forward and improve your website.

Image: iwasafatbride

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