For website owners and business execs who are not trying to be analytics gurus, here are some key website metrics you should keep an eye on… in addition to the usual suspects like # of visitors, # of sessions, # of new visitors, # of returning visitors, user flow, etc.
What are people typing in on the search engines that brings them to your site?
You can find out by accessing this data in Google Analytics (GA) under Acquisitions → Search Engine Optimization → Queries.
There you will see a tabulation of the top queries (search terms or phrases), their impressions (how many times a link to your website was displayed on the search engine results pages (SERP) when a specific query was typed in), the number of clicks it received, your position in the search results for that query, and its click-through rate (how many times it was clicked as a percentage of its number of impressions).
Very key data to know!
You can also view your search Queries in Google Webmasters Tools (GWT), but the data in GA is quite comprehensive for “Queries.”
How are people flowing through your site? You can view this in graphic form in GA by clicking on Audience, then User Flow. You will see where people enter, how many leave from that entry/landing page, and where they go if they continue through your site. And each point in the flow lines shows how many visitors dropped off at those pages, and for those who stayed, where they went next.
This is in GA. How long are visitors staying on your pages? If your overall average is low, visitors are just flitting in and out. This is a sign that your pages are not “sticky” enough to keep them interested and engaged with your content. You need to spend some time and figure out which pages have very short durations, and why that is.
Google defines Bounce Rate as the percentage of single-page sessions (i.e. sessions in which the person left your site from the entrance page without going to any other page). Or as Avinash Kaushik, often billed as the “digital marketing evangelist” for Google has said, “A bounce rate means I came, I puked, I left.”
To find your pages’ Bounce Rates in GA go to Behavior, then All Pages. There you will see a table showing several key metrics for your pages, including their Bounce Rates.
Note: As a few coders and others have pointed out, there is one thing that is “off” about this stat. Google tracks a couple of things in its Bounce Rate calculations: Page Views and Events. If there is no interaction with the entrance page within 30 minutes, and the visitor leaves your site from that page, you get a “bounce.”
If you have one or more “events” that can be interacted with on a page, but don’t have any code for those events in your page, they won’t be tracked. So a visitor entering your site on a particular page could click to view a video on that page, which is an interaction or event. But it wouldn’t be counted, and if your visitor left that page after watching the video, you would get a “bounce” recorded.
It will look like someone came and just left after a single page view without any interaction, which would be false.
But, generally speaking, pages with the highest bounce rates usually need some work. One thing to note, however, is that sometimes people bounce out quickly because they found the info they were looking for right away.
But if you don’t think that’s the case, you need to fix the content on those pages that have very high bounce rates. Is the content relevant to what the people you are trying to attract are searching for? Is the page too spammy, without really providing useful information that aligns with the search queries?
Entrance and Exit Pages
In GA you can find these Landing and Exit pages, under “Behavior.” Are there some pages from which a lot of visitors exit your site? Why is that? Is there a logical reason for that, or is the page just not “sticky” enough? For instance, when people leave your site from your Contact Form or Shopping Cart “thank you” confirmation page, that’s to be expected in most cases.
But what about your other pages? You can get some good metrics under “Landing Pages” and “Exit Pages” that will give you some clues as to what pages need or don’t need some improvements.
GWT: Crawl Errors
Last, but not least in this small list, in GWT you need to keep an eye on “Crawl Errors.” As Google says, “The Crawl Errors report for websites provides details about the site URLs that Google could not successfully crawl or that returned an HTTP error code.”
So…these are messages from Google that point up errors its bots are encountering when they “crawl” through your website. So monitor your crawl error reports and make sure that Google’s search bots can get the data they need about your site so your pages get indexed properly and your SEO efforts are not being impeded.
Written by Bob Nelson
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