63% of the human population uses the Internet regularly. Most brands hope to harness a fraction of that traffic in order to succeed online.
How can you tell if your website is succeeding, though? What counts as ‘good’ or ‘bad’? How do you know if your investments in SEO, marketing, content, and design are paying off?
That’s why you should measure website performance. We’ve assembled a guide to the top 6 key performance indicators that will demonstrate how your website is doing.
Let’s get started!
What Are Key Performance Indicators?
Often abbreviated as KPIs, key performance indicators, are measurements that calculate the performance of an activity. Usually, the term is used to gauge success for websites, ads, and so forth.
However, it’s important to define KPIs in more detail. For starters, they need to measure factors that have a real, quantifiable impact on the overall success of the brand.
Think of KPIs like SMART goals. If your KPIs aren’t timely, actionable, and so forth, then it’s more difficult to derive value from them.
Key performance indicators should also be limited to 5-8 factors, at most. An exhaustive list of KPIs won’t help anyone. Instead, you should limit it to enough factors to provide educational factors, but few enough that you can take real action based on the data presented.
The value of these KPIs should also be indisputable. They shouldn’t be ‘nice to know’, instead, they should contribute undeniable value to the success of your website.
They should also be tied to real goals and targets that your brand has. That will help demonstrate how your online site is contributing to your real-world success.
Avoid Vanity Measurements
Before we delve into the top 6 key performance indicators, it’s important to caution users against putting too much stock in vanity metrics.
Here’s an example. You could measure your conversion rates, or you could measure email subscribers. In this case, email subscribers are the vanity metric.
It’s important to make sure that people subscribe to your emails. Otherwise, why would you go through the time and effort of putting them out? But, they don’t lead to direct conversions, revenue, or website success.
That’s why it’s important to measure KPIs that really matter, not the ones that might temporarily boost morale about your website’s performance.
1. Track User Sessions
Once users land on your site, what happens next? They might click around. Or, they might see your home page and leave immediately. Or, they could purchase something.
Each user session is unique, but it’s important to track each session. When it comes to website performance, a session is quantified as the activities a user performs on the site within a given time period.
Say someone visits your site, clicks through a few product descriptions, and downloads a white paper. This entire set of activities could be quantified as one session.
A session begins when someone lands on your site. However, people might not always exit a tab or leave a page when they’re done. That’s why any given session will end after thirty minutes of inactivity.
Why Sessions Matter
If that same user revisits after thirty minutes, it’s counted as a different session. Depending on how engaged that user is, one visitor could be responsible for lots of different sessions on your site.
Why do sessions matter? Tracking this metric helps you gauge whether site visitors are engaged or not. If users keep returning, that’s a good sign. It shows that your customer funnel is working and people are investigating your products and services.
However, if you’re receiving as many sessions as you are visitors, that means your site is generating a lot of one-and-done visitors. That means you need to revisit your site design and content to see if there’s a reason people aren’t coming back.
2. Conversion Rate
Are you Googling terms like ‘measure website performance’ and ‘improve website’? In the end, it all boils down to conversions. That’s the process by which leads become paying customers.
Conversions are the bread and butter of your website. If you aren’t getting a decent number of conversions, that indicates a bigger problem that you need to solve—fast!
Start by measuring the traffic-to-lead ratio. This metric calculates what percentage of your overall website traffic is turning into leads. Why?
For starters, the traffic-to-lead ratio helps you define whether you’re reaching your audience on the right platforms. It will also help you optimize your content, create the right content for your prospects, and so forth.
The MQL to SQL ratio is also important. What percentage of MQLS are actually turning into SQLS? This helps determine whether your marketing team is targeting the right audiences. What content and resources are they putting out, and is your audience engaging with it?
Before you partner with a website development agency, know that they have one main goal: to generate leads. After all, traffic turns into leads and leads turn into conversions. With the right approach, conversions turn into customers!
Leads are organizations or individuals (depending on whether you are B2C or B2B) that demonstrate an interest in your business. The goal is to leverage their curiosity and interest and turn them into actual customers.
Depending on their qualifications, they likely fit into two types of lead categories. The first category is marketing qualified leads, often abbreviated as MQLs.
MQLs enter your funnel in lots of different ways. Say that these leads have been engaging with your content by downloading white papers, signing up for newsletters, and visiting your site on repeat. At this point, MQLs should be passed to the sales team.
MQLs vs. SQLs
Measuring MQLs is a crucial way to gauge website success, but it’s important that sales qualified leads don’t get ignored, either.
Often abbreviated as SQLs, these are potential customers that are ready to buy. To further narrow it down, your sales team will often categorize SQLs by whether they have the need, timeframe, authority, and budget to purchase from you.
Measuring MQLs and SQLs is a great way to gauge whether your website is actually generating money, especially given all the time and effort that you are putting into it.
3. Dwell Time
If you want to make improvements to your website design, dwell time will tell you a lot about how your home page looks. Let’s talk about it.
For starters, consider how most journeys on the Internet will begin. A user types something into the search bar. The pages of responses that come up are referred to as search results.
If a user sees something that looks both relevant and interesting, they will likely click on it. If the page looks relevant, they’ll stay on it and click around. (As a side note, this is the start of a site session, as we discussed earlier!)
Dwell time measures something different. If a site doesn’t show you the information you are looking for, what’s the next step? You typically hit the back arrow and return to the page full of SERP results.
The dwell time calculates how long someone spent on your site before jumping ship and deciding that your content wasn’t relevant to your needs.
Why Does Dwell Time Matter?
This is a valuable KPI for two reasons. To start with, it helps with your SEO rankings. Search engines leverage dwell time as a metric that shows your authority on a given subject.
If your content isn’t credible, authoritative, and relevant, it will rank lower in response to that given search term. This will lower your rankings and mean that fewer people will click on your page.
It’s also important because it shows what the first impression of your site is. If someone sees your site and their first impression is to leave, that’s a solid indicator that you still have more work to do.
4. Page Speed and Load Time
There are lots of studies these days about the average person’s attention span. Many experts bewail the fact that people ‘can’t focus on anything’ for more than five seconds at a time. Often, they blame technology for this easy distraction.
However, most people can focus on something if they want to. They are just used to content being tailored to reduce the cognitive load, which is important information for someone creating a website. If your design is hard on the eyes, or your content is convoluted, there is always going to be another website that does it better.
In fact, this is true for every aspect of website performance. It’s especially true when it comes to page speed and load time.
The Impact of Page Speed and Load Time
People are used to pages loading instantly. Millions of Google search results come p in less than a second. If your site is taking multiple seconds to load, that presents as lag time.
Humans don’t like lag time. It’s frustrating, and worse, it makes you look unprofessional.
No one is going to sit around waiting for a site to load when they could easily get this information elsewhere. That’s why making sure your load time is short matters.
Why does this KPI matter? The longer your page takes to load, the more leads you lose. It also directly impacts the bounce rate. If a site doesn’t load, people will promptly leave to find a site that will. Page speed and load time also have a direct impact on SEO.
5. Bounce Rate
When you measure website performance, you need to account for the bounce rate. Here’s how it works.
Say that a visitor lands on your site. Then, they immediately exit. They may not even hit the back button to view other results or click further to see if another page might answer their question better. Instead, they just leave.
This works when it comes to ad landing pages, too. Say that someone sees your LinkedIn ad and clicks on it. The CTA for this landing page is downloading an eBook. If someone leaves that page without downloading the eBook, it contributes to the bounce rate.
When your bounce rate is high, this indicates that you’re losing a lot of potential leads, conversions, and customers. If you manage to reduce your bounce rate, that indicates that you’re taking steps to generate interest and demonstrate value.
If your bounce rate is high, it’s crucial to dig into the experience to see what is offputting to people. Whether it’s a difficult design, complicated content, or a poor user experience, fixing it will make a big difference in your bounce rate.
6. Traffic Sources
When people visit your site, where are they actually coming from? Some users will come from direct traffic. This occurs when someone types in your URL and goes directly to your home page. There’s no Google search, clicking around, or interacting with an ad.
Organic search happens when someone types a query into a search engine and finds your site. This is likely a result of your SEO efforts that caused your page to be ranked as a credible source for users to find.
Email is another source of traffic. Whether you’re doing email marketing or sending out dedicated email campaigns, this is a great way to get people to click on your links and interact with your site.
Gaining Traffic from Multiple Sources
Another traffic source is social media. When you post ads or content on popular platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram, people will click on that content. This is a great way to generate attention and get website visitors.
A final source of traffic is referrals. When you guest blog, review other sites, or partner with influencers, you’ll get referral traffic. Often, your audience will check out the other site that you partnered with, and vice versa.
When you treat traffic sources as a valuable KPI, you’re able to see what channels deserve more focus and attention. It also helps you see which channels deserve less, as you concentrate your energy on the channels that give you real results.
Learning to Measure Website Performance
When you measure website performance, it’s important to remember that success is cumulative. You won’t succeed overnight, but every step in the right direction will help propel you toward success.
If you want to enhance your success and take your brand to the next level, contact us today! We’ve got you covered