But now that it is live, how can you measure website performance? If your site doesn’t yield the results you expected, it is of course essential to understand the reasons why, but even for websites that are a resounding success and bring in a lot of business, knowing how many visitors your site has is essential to calculating your conversion rate from visitors to buyers, which has a direct impact on the profitability of your business.
It Doesn’t Have to Be All Singing and Dancing…
If you sell goods or services online then orders will give you a clear picture of how your website is doing, on the whole. If you don’t, then it can be trickier to evaluate its success. Customers may contact you after visiting your website but unless you ask, you won’t know and you may undervalue your site. So ask every person getting in touch with your company where they heard about you. It may sound like the most obvious thing you have ever heard, and yet very few businesses do it.
… But Sometimes It Has to
Of course, this is only useful in addition to in-depth analysis of your website. Some hosting companies will automatically gather data, or metrics, on your website which you can consult, but if not, some online tools such as that provided by www.alexa.com, or the very popular Google Analytics and all their Webmaster tools will provide a wealth of information – perhaps too much some might say! Alexa is very useful in that it will show you how many websites link to yours, which can help you monitor the progress of a link building campaign for example, or simply keep an eye on who is talking about you.
Whichever site you use to check your data, the key indicators to look at are:
- The number of unique visitors: gives you an indication of traffic driven to your site.
- The average time a visitor stayed on your website: it will show you how successful your website is at capturing traffic.
- The average number of pages visitors viewed before leaving: visitors will spend no more than 7 seconds on one page before deciding to stay or leave, so the more pages are viewed in one session, the more successful at drawing people in it is.
- Which pages are entry points (the page through which a visitor gets to your website), and which pages are exit points: they can help you refocus your Search Engine Optimisation, and can be an indication of weaker pages that confuse visitors or cause them to lose interest.
There are many other factors that can help you understand your website’s performance in depth, but one principle to keep in mind is that how these numbers evolve over time is as important as the data itself, so do monitor key indicators regularly, weekly ideally, especially after making changes, to assess their impact so that you can keep refining your site until it fulfils its purpose.