Top 7 Website Metrics You MUST Track In 2022

What are Website Analytics?

No matter what the content is if you own a website launching and filling it up with content is not enough. How do you know if your visitors are enjoying the site, which actions do they take the most, or how did they even find you in the first place? 

The answers to these questions and so many more lie in the website metrics. But on an analytics platform, it is easy to get lost in all the vocabulary and numbers. And more importantly, you should be able to choose the right data and extract the underlying meaning under them

In this article, I will talk about some of the top metrics that allow you to analyze and improve your website’s performance.

Session Duration 

What is “Session Duration” Metric?

The “session duration” metric essentially conveys the average amount of active time users spend on your website. Although not every open website counts in this duration. Each analytics and search engines have their own time limits (a.k.a. inactivity threshold). 

For instance, Google Analytics ends a session if a visitor has not been active for over 30 minutes. But different types of content have different styles of consummation. If your website is not based on interaction, e.g: a blog or an educational website, there is a higher chance that your visitors are going to remain “inactive” for over 30 minutes according to the algorithm. So depending on your personal goals and the content of your website, you can change this threshold to reflect healthier results. 

Many website owners hold this KPI very highly. Average session duration is the fourth most popular Google Analytics metric following users, bounce rate, and sessions.

Why is It Important? 

Yes, it is a commonly tracked metric, but why? When explained accurately, session durations illustrate the engagement of users more consistently than the number of views of a page. This is because, during the measurement of views, an hour-long session and a minute-long session have the same contribution to the data. Meaning it gives you no clues on the engagement of your page. 

Through misleading elements, the views can increase rapidly, but deceitful content also often has high bounce rates. Namely, they do not attract visitors to further see the content of the page. Therefore most such websites will have lower conversion rates

On the contrary, it is not possible to increase session duration through deceptive titles or photos. The main factor that affects the time a user spends on your page is how interesting the content is. Unless there is something there that convinces them that it is worth their time, they will opt to leave the page. So, you should bear this in mind when analyzing your average session duration data. 

Another point to remember when examining the session duration is the type of your content. If you are publishing content that requires less interaction while consuming, such as long blogs or videos, the users will be clicking less when active. And since sessions are dependent on interactions that happen with the page, the number of sessions is more subject to miscalculations. In other words, the data can be less reliable. 

Yet, if your website is more about displaying products and promoting services, while exploring users will click on different buttons and pages, continuing the session. Therefore, for such websites, session durations are a great indicator of how appealing your website comes across. 

How is it Calculated?

Even though it depends on the search or analytics tool, the total difference between the timestamps of interactions gives you the session duration. 

Average Time Spent

What is the “Average Time Spent” Metric?

As the name suggests, the “Average Time Spent” metric shows the average duration visitors spend on your page. Even though this number might sound close to session duration, unlike it, average time spent represents the entire time a visitor spends on your website. Whereas session duration is based on the time between a user’s interactions. 

Why is It Important?

Similar to session duration, the average time spent shows the interest people show to your website and specific pages. But because this metric does not take interactions with the page into account, there are some key points to consider when reading the data. 

As aforementioned, session duration has some cons for information-heavy websites since they contain less interactable pages. Since the average time session ignores the user’s activity and rather focuses on the time the page stays open, this metric is more ideal for such content creators. In such cases, higher time durations usually mean that users find your content enjoyable and it fulfills their expectations. 

However, this does not mean that websites focused on selling products or services cannot benefit from this data. By determining the pages visitors spend the most time on, they can assess if their purchase processes are user-friendly or not. 

For example, if customers spend a lot of time on the check-out or home page, this can indicate trouble they are having there. Instead, you want them to spend their time looking at the products themselves.

There is no certain optimal time people should be spending on your pages. Each website has different information and objectives. When analyzing the average time spent metric your industry, content, and goals will affect the conclusions.

How to Calculate It?

How Google Analytics calculates “Average time spent”
Photo by HockeyStack

Top Traffic Sources

What is the “Top Traffic Sources” Metric?

Any medium that leads people to your page is called a “traffic source”. And the ones that attract the most visitors are called “top traffic sources”. 

Generally, traffic sources can be divided into four main categories: 

  • Direct: direct URL-typing of the website
  • Search: organic search engine results
  • Referral: clicking on the website’s URL on another website, e.g: internal links and newsletters
  • Campaign: Paid advertisements like click-throughs, social media accounts

Why is it important?

Categorizing your traffic sources also inadvertently creates pools of your visitors, e.g: Facebook users and blog readers. Thus, you can see how different types of users engage with your website and assess how they respond to your marketing tools and outreach instruments

Additionally considering this data directly shows how many visitors each medium brings, you can decide whether your promotions and campaigns are functioning as efficiently as you expected. 

Also, most of the other statistics represent the average user. Whereas this metric illustrates the performance of each tool and channel on its own. Especially combined with the data that are less useful on their own, these traffic sources can help you make sense of that information as well. 

How to Calculate It?

There is no mathematical formula dedicated to calculating the top traffic sources, it is just a matter of ranking. 

Interactions per Visit

What is the “Interactions per Visit” Metric?

Also known as “events”, interactions are every action users take on your website. Each button they click, each letter they type, or purchase they make, all compose interactions. Of course, the types of events are not limited to them, there are countless variations of interactions. 

The “Interactions per Visit” metric is the average number of events that take place on a page/ website within a specific timeframe for each visit. Essentially, it portrays the engagement an average user makes

Why is It Important? 

Displaying how users are roaming on your site, this metric can tell you more than just the average number of events taking place on a site. Some examples are: parts of the page are they using the most/ least; actions they take on a page most/ least frequently; most/ least frequently clicked buttons and links; and social engagement rates such as likes, comments, and shares. 

Not limited to these examples, it is safe to say that the “interactions per visit” data gives an extensive idea about the activity of users. With the help of reverse engineering, you can deduce how you can improve your website to attract more new users and preserve the existing ones. 

For instance, if the usage frequency of the “Remove from Cart” or “Unsubscribe” buttons is higher than expected, you should consider what prompted the users to click them. Or, when the reaction to a particular part of the page does not meet your goals, changing the interface or design might help. 

How to Calculate It?

Photo by HockeyStack

Exit Pages

What is the “Exit Pages” Metric?

Exit pages are the final points of users’ sessions, namely the last page they viewed on a website. Depending on the page’s content, you can tell a lot whether the conversion rates are close to your objectives. 

Why is It Important? 

With the right data, top exit pages can either point out issues users face or if they appear after a successful conversion, through scrutiny you can see what you have done right. 

When your conversion rates are lower than aimed, assessing the top exit pages can help you figure out navigation or content issues. Because most of the time, visitors leave a website as soon as they face an issue that either confuses them or is time-wasting. So the point they decide to leave is usually the point where they encountered a hardship

For example, if the customers are leaving before completing a purchase, could it be because the process is too complicated, or is the interface not user-friendly enough? Try to look at some top exit pages through the eyes of the user. 

On the other hand, if one of your top exit pages is the “Purchase Successful” page, then you know they reached satisfaction at that point and feel safe to leave the site. This indicates the point of fulfillment for users.

How to Calculate It? 

There is no mathematical formula dedicated to calculating the top exit pages, it is just a matter of ranking. 

Bounce Rate

What is the “Bounce Rate” Metric?

Bouncing happens when a user exits the website without any interactions after viewing only one page. The lack of interactions sets the difference between bouncing and exiting. So, if a person exits the website through the same page they entered but makes an interaction, this would not be considered as bouncing, but rather as an exit page. 

Why is It Important?

As mentioned previously, exit pages and interaction rates are quite essential to understand the room for improvement with your website. Bounce rate contains both data for specific situations: when people exit without interacting. Interaction also covers any previous or further pages on your website. I.e: the visitor looked at the page, did not find the page and the website satisfactory, and decided to leave. 

If your bounce rates are low compared to your industry and content type, that is great! This usually is a sign that customers do not disengage swiftly and interact before deciding to exit. Additionally, this means that they were closer to conversion. 

Yet, if your bounce rates are higher than expected, it may be time to rethink your web design or freshen your content up. When visitors find designs to be overwhelming or underwhelming, they take it as a preview of the content and find the page unworthy of their time and effort, exiting the page. Or after skimming the content they might conclude that it is boring or unoriginal, thus, again, making them bounce back.

Another parameter to take into account is the source of the traffic. If your bounce rates are higher in the traffic from a particular referral, consider whether that source accommodates your target group. When a specific traffic source has higher rates of bouncing, it may be time to reconsider its value.

How to Calculate It? 

Photo by HockeyStack

Returning Visitors vs New Visitors

What is the “Returning Visitors vs New Visitors” Metric?

Returning visitors are those who return to your website within a specific timeframe from the same device. For Google Analytics, this limit is two years. 

New visitors are either visitors who revisited your page after the specified timeframe, or who are navigating to your page for the first time on a device. 

The metric is made up of the comparison of these two separate metrics. Even though these numbers make sense alone as well, the relationship between the two paints the bigger picture more clearly. Thus, you can make your strategies more consciously.

Why is It Important?

Considering returning visitors put an effort to revisit you, it is safe to say that you made a place in their minds, and they regard you as a valuable source. What you want to achieve is to keep them coming back and strengthen the set connection. 

As for the new visitors, because they are potential “returning visitors”, you should aim to attract them to revisit. It is important to give new visitors a reason so as to circle back to your website. It can be your distinctive design, a catchy slogan, or detail about your product (if you have one). In other words, you can attract them again through both content and the user interface. So try to think out of the box! 

Additionally, through reverse engineering, you can assess how fruitful your outreach efforts are and apply what you have learned to increase engagement. For example, if after changing your home page’s style, the number of new visitors increases, then you can assume that you are on the right path. 

Yet, it is important to remember that this metric is about the comparing of two different data. That means that if as the number of new visitors increases your returning visitors remain practically the same, you still will have a hard time increasing your conversion rates. This is to say that it is all about the big picture, not just about singular data. 

Ideally, as your the number of your new visitors, the same trend should apply to your returning visitors as well. And if your “new visitors” rate can not catch up with the returning visitors, you might want to rethink your marketing plans. Meanwhile, make sure not to disturb the relationship you have with people who keep coming back. 

Conclusion

As you can see, there are many ways to measure how your website is doing. Here, we just mentioned some which can inform you the most and thus help you reach better stats. They inform on the actions within pages as well as the overall performance. This means, with the right interpretation, you can specify certain optimizations. 

Of course, this is not to say that other metrics are meaningless. The ones we mentioned are just to help you get started with website metric analysis. Depending on your industry, goals, and content, you can combine other data and leave out some of these. 

Also, keep in mind that most website metrics make the most sense when you look at them as a whole. Individual numbers can be often misleading. For example, bounce rates of customers from certain traffic sources will show how accurately you are using these platforms. 

At the end of the day, you will create your own action plan based on your professional or personal goals. 

FAQ

What is a good conversion rate for SaaS?

Though all are categorized under SaaS, each company has different objectives and business models. So conversion rate might mean a few things. Generally, it refers to users becoming paying customers after trialing (a.k.a. Free trial conversion)
In free premium (freemium) offers, the numbers vary between 4 – 30%. When free trials do not ask for credit card information, an 8-10% conversion rate is the industry average. 
When asked for a payment tool, these numbers vary drastically. But a conversion rate of 26% seems to be typical. 
All things considered, the consensus seems to be that the overall conversion rate for SaaS stands between 3-5%. And most people consider an 8% to be fairly great.

What is a good page loading speed?

As you can see above, page loading speed affects many of the website metrics. Considering the average attention span for Gen Z is 8 seconds, you definitely want to achieve shorter loading times than that. 
Walmart found that for every 100 milliseconds of improvement, their total revenue increased by up to %1. And for every improved second, they saw up to a 2% increase in their conversions. 
The average seems to be between 2.8 to 6.2 seconds. A loading speed of less than 2.3 percent would place you in the top 10%. Whereas if it takes longer than 7.9 seconds for your page to fully load, your site would be considered among the slowest.

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