Young business woman is pleased with information she sees on her laptop and takes notes.
Website analytics help you understand what’s happening on your website and provide data you can use to accomplish business goals. — Getty Images/ GaudiLab

There is more to a successful website than just a pretty design. Collecting and tracking analytics is key to knowing how well your website is working in terms of business goals — whether that’s traffic, leads, sales or credibility.

There is a wealth of available data to help you understand and optimize your website’s performance — but how do you know what to track? This guide to website analytics will cover nine important website metrics to track and analyze, regardless of your industry.

What is website analytics?

Website analytics involves collecting and measuring certain data about your website. More specifically, these metrics offer insights to how your website is performing and how people are interacting with it.

Tracking website analytics requires placing a short snippet of code on your website to allow ongoing data collection. The information is then measured and reported by an analytics platform such as Google Analytics, Adobe Analytics or Matomo.

[Read: Google Analytics: A Beginner’s Guide to Tracking Your Website Traffic.]

Why tracking website analytics is important

Website analytics can play a vital role in your website’s success, as well as your business success as a whole. Learning details like who visits your site, from where, and what pages are most popular allows you to understand your customers so you can provide a better user experience for them. With website analytics you can:

  • See how your site performs when it comes to speed, security, and user experience.
  • Know which channels or campaigns drive traffic to your site.
  • Learn which actions lead to sales or other conversions.
  • See what’s working and not working in order to identify areas for improvement.

Based on what you learn, you can take action and measure the impact of your changes.

Learning details like who visits your site, from where, and what pages are most popular allows you to understand your customers so you can provide a better user experience for them.

What metrics should you track?

The most important benchmarks for your business will depend on your business and the goal(s) of your website, such as attracting visitors, making online sales, generating leads or collecting event registrations. The following nine website metrics can be useful to almost any business in any industry.

  1. Sessions. The sessions metric measures the number of visits to your website. Keep in mind that a single user could trigger numerous sessions, if they access your site from numerous devices, for example.

  2. Page views. Page views refers to the total number of times a page on your site has been viewed. If a single user views a page once today and again tomorrow, it’s counted as two page views.

  3. Unique page views. This metric counts how many times someone views a page within a certain session. For example, if a user visits your home page, then the contact page and then the home page again, it counts as one unique page view.

  4. Percentage of new sessions. New visitors indicate whether your marketing outreach is driving new traffic. Meanwhile, repeat visitors are a good indication of customer retention and whether your site content inspires repeat visits.

  5. Traffic sources. You can better understand your audience when you see where your visitors are coming from (e.g., another website, organic search or a link on social media) and the behaviors that visitors from each source display.

  6. Bounce rate. This is when a user visits a single page of your website and then leaves. Knowing your bounce rate points out issues such as poor content or site performance; however, bounce rates don’t always indicate a problem. Some visitors may visit one page with a specific purpose, such as getting your phone number.

  7. Conversion rate. Conversion rate measures how often users complete actions you’ve identified as valuable. For an e-commerce store, your most valuable conversion will be a completed purchase. For another type of business, it might be the number of newsletter sign-ups or new client inquiries sent.

  8. Average engagement time. Measuring the length of time a visitor spends on your site suggests how engaging your website is; however, long engagement doesn’t always mean you’re sharing interesting content. It can also mean visitors are spending time searching for what they need.

  9. Views by page. With this metric, you can understand exactly which pages get the most views. Learn what types of content drive traffic and give your audience more of what they want.

What analytics tool should you use?

With a number of free and paid analytics tools available, the right one depends on your budget and business needs. Website analytics company, Hotjar, outlines 20 popular web analytics tools here.

Google Analytics is the most widely used analytics service on the web. The platform recently got a major update, with Google Analytics (GA4) replacing the long-used Universal Analytics (UA) version. You may have heard the talk about the end of third-party cookies or new privacy laws like GDPR and the California Consumer Privacy Act. GA4 is designed with these changes in mind.

Remember, though, Google Analytics is far from your only option. Many popular marketing platforms like Hubspot and Marketo have a built-in analytics component with basic metrics like traffic and conversion rates. Meanwhile, product-oriented businesses might want a tool like Mixpanel or Amplitude that focuses on product usage analytics. SEO-focused website analytics tools like Moz and SEM Rush are popular for measuring traffic and page ranking. And still, other companies may want a privacy-focused tool like Matamo or Fathom.

The right analytics tool has the power to help you improve not only your site, but also your sales, marketing, product development and customer service.

[Read: Best Services for Online Marketing Analytics]

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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