Knowledge is power when it comes to your website. It can be the most valuable marketing tool you have. No matter your business, niche or space, your website has the power to give you the results you need to succeed. To do that, though, your website needs to be successful itself. That’s why it’s vital to have an understanding of the things that drive, or hinder, this success.
The following nine metrics are pivotal to understanding how well your website is performing – and more importantly, learn where you can improve. At Sumner & Co., these are some of the first things we look at when performing a website audit. From there, we ensure each metric is recorded and tracked over time on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, to ensure that we are always making tangible progress for our clients.
From how visible a website site is to its audience, to beating its competitors and actually generating leads, these metrics hold vital information to guide you towards success. Here are the top nine you should care about.
1. Domain Authority
Domain authority is one of the more complex metrics to understand. In simple terms, it is a way of ranking a website’s relevance within a given industry or subject.
Domain authority, also known as domain score and domain rank, is a compilation of different factors including a website’s backlink profile, which measures its overall strength. Scores range from 1 to 100, with 100 being the highest and best a website can score.
You can determine your website’s domain authority score using one of the popular SEO software providers such as Moz or Semrush. It varies from provider to provider, so it’s a good idea to stick with a single source when tracking progress over time.
Comparing to websites outside your space or niche isn’t typically a good use of this metric, as it is largely comparative (and logarithmic), but it is pivotal nonetheless and a great signifier of overall progress of your website over time.
Backlinks, which are links to your website from other websites, are a signifier of trust and quality to search engines like Google. They’re almost like votes of advocacy, or ‘likes’ from other sites. Backlinks can be tricky to measure, though.
The number of backlinks you have to your website is important, but in particular, the number of high authority backlinks is what really drives success. High authority backlinks are those from websites that are already deemed as credible and authoritative by search engines.
Years ago, and sometimes still today, SEO companies would focus on building as many backlinks as possible to help their customers’ websites to rank, not considering the quality of the sources. Today however, having small or spammy links isn’t particularly valuable (although nor is it dangerous, with Google’s advanced understanding of these spammy links) but, having links from bigger and more reputable sources can be monumental.
The best way to monitor backlink progress is to keep an eye on the sites that are linking to you, and how. Using backlink monitoring tools or even Google Search Console are great for this exact reason, as you can see what comes in by authority rank and track your number of links over time.
3. Search rankings and visibility
By using SEO tools that track search rankings, average position and overall visibility of your website, you’ll have a world of valuable information at your disposal. These figures show you how your website ranks for its target keywords, and how these rankings change over time.
These are absolutely vital metrics to track. They will show you when you’re moving in the right direction, and highlight when there is a problem. Whether it’s a gradual decline due to poor content, or plummeting from the results because of a site error, you need to know about any declines as soon as they happen so that you can take the necessary steps to rectify the problem.
Similarly, it pays to know when you are doing well and moving in a positive direction. Tracking your rankings for your particular target keywords will show you which content and pages on your site are being well received, which can inform your future content and website strategies.
4. Organic search traffic
Just like search rankings, another important success metric for a website is its amount of organic traffic. This is a clear indicator of how many people are finding your website via search results.
Organic search traffic simply means any visitors to your website who have found you organically via a search engine, without any redirection or paid advertising influence. These are essentially ‘free’ visitors that have found your website by searching for your business or its products and services. A health volume of organic search traffic, relative to your industry and audience, is a great sign that your site is ranking well and likely beating competitors.
It’s important to note however, that this can also be a metric of vanity rather than success. In some cases, your visitors may be finding your website through irrelevant search terms, thus making them useless towards your commercial goals.
If you have a solid SEO strategy in place to ensure that your site is optimised for the right search terms, this metric will show you just how well your SEO efforts are going. You’ll be able to understand the value of your target keywords and see how well you are performing in search rankings for each subject.
5. Bounce rate
Bounce rate is a simple yet effective metric that instantly tells you a lot about a website or specific webpage. It represents the percentage of visitors that leave your website without interaction, as soon as they’ve landed on it.
Whilst bounce rate is technically not a ranking factor itself, it is representative of a number of other factors that do influence rankings. Essentially, bounce rate is a clear and simple metric that informs you about the value of a page to its audience.
If a page has a high bounce rate, meaning a lot of people leave the page as soon as they land on it, there could be many reasons. Perhaps there is a technical issue that is stopping the page from loading quickly or correctly. It might be that the content is just not useful to the user. Or, the page being delivered might not be aligned with the user’s intent, thus breaking the prospect’s journey.
Whatever it may be, understanding your website’s bounce rate, particularly on a page-by-page basis, will help you to make highly informed decisions about what is and isn’t working on your website.
6. Time on site
Time on site is another simple metric that tells you a lot about how useful your site is to its audience. As suggested, time on site is the average amount of time a user spends on your website. There is no one size fits all and it varies wildly by website, industry and subject matter, but it gives you valuable insights about your website’s content and overall performance.
Typically, a longer average time on site is better, particularly when your website focuses on delivering a lot of valuable information, such as on our financial adviser client’s blog here. However, it’s not always that simple. If your audience is spending too long to find what they want, that’s not a good sign either.
Inversely, if you set up a high-budget PPC campaign with a landing page geared around fast conversion, then you’re likely shortening the overall time on site, even with successful results. It all needs to be considered in relation to the goals of your site, particularly on a granular, page-specific level.
7. Pages per session
Just like time on site, average pages per session is a useful tool to understand a bigger picture. It is the number of pages, on average, that your users visit whilst on your website.
Without reiterating, both low and high numbers can mean good or bad things depending on your website and its goals. You just need to find out which is the better case for your business and the particular situation or user journey that you’re analysing.
If numbers are high, you may have an engaged audience, but you may also have unclear content or untrustworthy positioning, making people question your authority. If numbers are low, you may have ultra-clear and direct content giving your audience exactly what they want, or they may not be interested and leave too soon. It’s all relative to your goals, but an insightful metric to track nonetheless.
8. Load speed
Load speed does what it says on the tin – it tracks how long it takes your website to load. It’s no surprise that faster is better – and it has a big influence on almost all of the factors mentioned above.
Load speed can make or break a user’s experience. Even the sleekest design and the best content on the web will be let down by a slow load speed. Typically, anything over 2 or 3 seconds is already too long and your users won’t hang around – they’ll be on a competitor’s site before you know it.
Load speed is also a broader term for a modern ranking factor; Google Core Web Vitals. This is a combination of site speed-like factors, such as layout shift, time to interactive and content appearance time. It sounds complicated, but these metrics can all be tiebreakers when it comes to rankings, so don’t just assume they are only for web developers.
Conversions are the ultimate goal for a website or webpage. Conversions are, of course, the metric that tells you how many times your audience has converted to provide you with sales, enquiries, sign ups, or anything else you want them to do on any given page. This metric can be used to determine which pages, traffic sources, campaigns and products are performing the best, which will inform you about what you need to do more, and less, of.
Whilst conversions really are one of, if not the most important metric to track, they need to be used properly in order to be beneficial. The main issue we see is when conversions are set up incorrectly, and thus reported incorrectly. Most websites use Google Analytics to track conversions, so you need to make sure that the goals being tracked are aligned with your real-world commercial goals.
Whilst softer conversion metrics are insightful and can be important, at Sumner & Co., we focus on hard conversions – such as those that result in an active sales enquiry or new engaged member of your mailing list. We don’t just rely on Google Analytics to give us the data either. We cross reference our figures with the number of leads or enquiries that are actually tangible, and of value to you as a client. It’s not all about reporting large numbers, we know the importance of quality, particularly when it comes to converting these enquiries to sales.
How does your website stack up?
This can be a lot to take in, particularly if you’re a business owner with a whole company to look after. If you’ve read this far, we’d be happy to offer you a free assessment of your website, where our experts will conduct a full audit of these factors and tell you where your strengths are, as well as where improvements need to be made.
To get your free website audit, contact us by clicking below.