What Metrics Should You Be Tracking And What Tools Are Best?
One of the very first things you should do with your new website is set up a tracking system. That way, you’ll be able to tell how well your site is performing against the goals you created. But what are the most important web metrics? Which ones should you care about, and how should they be tracked?
As we mentioned in the Website Optimization 101 guide, you should definitely be tracking your website traffic and all of the data around those visits to your site. But not all website analytics tools are equal.
In this article, we’ll dig a little deeper to help you understand the following:
- What are the most important web metrics to track?
- What tools should you be using the track the metrics?
In the next post in this series, we’ll cover what to do with that data and how to really use it to continue to optimize your site. So make sure you subscribe to our blog so that you can get the update.
In addition to our Website Optimization 101 article covering 10 basic steps to getting more traffic and conversions, One & Zero offers a completely Free Site Audit. We’ll take a look at what’s working and what’s not working, and offer some suggestions. Just contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and ask for the Free Site Audit to get started.
What Are The Most Important Web Metrics?
If you’ve ever sat down in front of Google Analytics first time and had your mind blown at all of the data available to you, you’re not alone. Everyone is like that the first time they get a hint at what a very robust web analytics tool can do, and what it can track.
You’ll find that good tools track tons of information. But the only way to make sense of it all is by breaking everything down into manageable sizes. Too much information that you don’t understand is just going to overwhelm you.
Instead, you should approach it differently and think of the most important web metrics as those that tell you how your site is performing against the goals that you have for it. That’s it. Everything else is noise. Or, it can be useful but only as secondary information to the primary things you want to know.
In other words,
- What do you need to find out in order to know if your site is performing well?
- How will you know know if your goals are being reached?
- What kind of data would tell you that?
We’ll cover two primary groups of metrics in this article, though there are many, many more than this. This first set are metrics that measure SEO performance, and the second set are metrics that measure how well your site converts visitors into leads or customers.
Metrics that measure SEO performance
In all likelihood, you want to know if your site is getting any traffic from search engines, and how much. Most small business owners want traffic from search engines, and this is why there’s so much focus on search engine optimization (what we call search experience optimization).
Experts at Moz.com discuss a number of things that are the most important web metrics for measuring SEO performance.
You should measure:
- Referral Share: How much of your traffic is coming from search engines
- Referring Engines: Which search engines are sending the most traffic
- Top Queries: What keywords are generating the most traffic (also, whether or not your target keywords are generating any traffic at all)
- Top Pages: Which pages are getting traffic from search engines (According to Moz: “From this number, we can get a glimpse into indexation — the number of pages from our site the engines are keeping in their indexes.”)
Those metrics will give you a better picture of how well your search experience optimization is working. But tracking conversion metrics looks a little different and uses different metrics.
Metrics that measure conversion performance
You measure conversion differently than SEO, because SEO helps your target audience find your site, while conversion ensures they become leads and customers.
Your site can be doing much better in SEO than in conversion, or vice versa. But what you want is a balance — you want both to be working well for you. Ultimately, you need quality traffic that results in conversions. A site that gets great traffic but cannot convert is just as bad a site that gets no traffic to convert in the first place.
Based on expert advice from OptinMonster, a company that develops conversion plugins, you should take into consideration some additional metrics, like:
- Exit Pages: From which pages are people most often leaving your site?
- Landing Pages: What are the most common landing pages and their related metrics?
- Loading Time: Your site’s load time and the load time of certain pages
- Session Duration: The amount of time your audience spends on the site or a page, particularly your target audience.
What Are The Best Tools For Tracking Website Metrics
Everyone in the SEO business is pretty much aligned on this one thing: for tracking the most important web metrics for SEO and conversions, the best tool out there is Google Analytics.
Google Analytics is free, easy to implement, and there are multiple tools out there that will take the data from Google Analytics and show in simpler ways if the raw data is too difficult to understand.
While Google Analytics tracks all of the metrics mentioned above, there are some other tools you really need to use and have. Google Search Console is becoming a major player in SEO, as it helps website owners understand how much of their site is being indexed, any issues with crawling or indexing, sitelinks, and managing XML sitemaps.
See Search Engine Land’s, “SEO’s Guide to Google Search Console” and you’ll understand just how powerful a tool it is. It’s like Google Analytics, but for your sitemap. You need to track errors (especially things like “Error 404: Page Not Found”) so that your site is kept free and clear of issues that would impact search engine traffic.
Your best bet is to know what’s important to you to track right from the start. That’s how you get to know the most important web metrics to track and the tools to track them. As we’ve talked about before, here at One & Zero, everything we do is strategic and with intent. Websites should never just be built, they should be purposefully designed and developed from the ground up. It doesn’t make sense to build a website with a specific purpose and then neglect to track metrics in order to see if the website is doing its job.
Like a annual performance evaluation, website analytics tools tell you the good, the bad, and the ugly about what’s going on with your online marketing. Except, you don’t do it once a year. You regularly check in and make adjustments along the way, and that’s how you ensure your website stays optimized 100% of the time.
Need help? If website analytics and tracking metrics were easy, everyone would be doing it right all the time, and they’re not. Our mission is to optimize your search experience for maximum results.
Originally published at onezeronyc.com on May 16, 2017.