The 6 Most Important Web Metrics to Know for Your Business Website

When you log in to Google Analytics, you’re faced with a sea of numbers, charts, and menu items. It can be downright intimidating to anyone but a seasoned analytics professional.

But, it doesn’t have to be as overwhelming as it looks. If you are new to web analytics, the key is to start with tracking some basic numbers. Once you get a handle on these key metrics, you can expand your data portfolio and build your expertise.

Here’s my list of the top six metrics you should be looking at on a regular basis:

1. Visitors

Specifically, I like to focus initially on unique visitors. This is the number of people that visited your site during a specific timeframe (e.g., yesterday, last week, last month). Unique visitors represents the count of individual people that visited your site regardless of the number of times they visited your site. So, if person A visits your site once and person B visits your site five times, you will have two unique visitors and six total visits.

These numbers are important because they represent the size of the audience that you are reaching. As you expand your marketing efforts, you will want to see if they are effective. This is especially true if you do offline marketing that can’t get tracked explicitly in Google Analytics. So, if you run a magazine ad in the October issue and don’t see a corresponding jump in visitors during that month, perhaps that portion of your marketing budget could be better spent somewhere else.

As you get a handle on tracking unique visitors, you can expand to look at repeat visitors. If your number of repeat visitors is growing, this means that people are visiting your site once and then deciding to come back again to shop or read. This means that your site was compelling and useful, or “sticky” in online marketing lingo.

2. Referrals

As you get a handle on your visitor numbers, your next question will be, “Where did these people come from?” The referrals report is the answer to that question.

Referrals track users as they click on links in search engines, on other blogs, and other websites to your web site. The referrals report will show the number of visitors you are getting from social sites as well.

Understanding where you traffic is coming from is the key to understanding how the work you are doing to promote your business is working. Are people mentioning you on their blogs and linking back to you? Are your social efforts paying off?

The referrals report is also useful to find other companies or blogs that you might consider forging a stronger relationship with. If you are getting traffic from a specific site, you might want to consider reaching out to that site and establishing a more formal relationship.

3. Bounce Rate

A “bounce” is when someone visits your site and immediately clicks the back button or closes their browser tab. What this usually means is that that user didn’t find what they were looking for on your site and decided to leave. This is the equivalent of someone walking in the front door of a store, taking a quick look around, and immediately walking back out the door.

Obviously, sometimes people just end up on the wrong site by accident, so getting your bounce rate down to zero is impossible. But reducing the rate is critical. Every lost visitor is a lost opportunity, so you’ll want to figure out why people are leaving and try to add the right content or navigation on your site to keep users around.

If you combine the referral report with your bounce rate data (Google Analytics does this for you) you should be able to see what sites are generating the highest bounce rate. Unfortunately, Google is no longer sharing search term data, so you don’t get to see what search terms have a high bounce rate.

4. Exit Pages

People often confuse “bounce” and “exit,” but they are very different metrics for you to measure. Unlike a “bounce”, when a user visits your site and barely views one page, an “exit” is when a user visits multiple pages and then leaves your site.

Some pages on your site may naturally have a high exit rate, such as your order receipt page. After all, a visitor is probably done with their purchase if they have reached the order receipt page after successfully completing a purchase.

However, having a high exit rate on other pages on your site may indicate that you have some problems. Take a look at your pages that have high exit rates and try and hypothesise why a higher number of people than average are leaving your site from that page. Are they not finding the information they need? Why are they choosing to leave?

5. Conversion Rate

Of all the metrics you might track, conversion rate is probably one of the most important. Conversion rate is the percentage of people who achieved a goal on your site. Goals are things like completing a purchase, filling out a contact form, or viewing a certain page on your site.

The reason conversion rate is so important is that it is the ultimate measure of how successful your site is. If your site has a low conversion rate, you are either attracting the wrong kind of visitor to your site or your site is not effective at convincing your visitors that you offer the right solution to their problem.

Monitoring conversion rate can also tell you if something is broken on your site. For example, if your conversion rate suddenly drops, that might mean that there is an error in your shopping cart or a problem with your sign-up form.

6. Top 10 Pages

Finally, it’s important to know what pages your visitors think are the most important on your site. By viewing your top ten pages report, you know which pages to focus on as you look to improve your site and which pages will have the most impact if you make changes.

If you run a content site, your top ten pages report may change frequently. In this case, the report will tell you what types of content your visitors find most useful and engaging, and which headlines you’ve written were the most successful. Use this knowledge to help determine what kind of content to create as you move forward with growing your site.

Start Small

Web analytics and metrics can be overwhelming. The key to avoid drowning in the sea of numbers is to start small. Pick a metric that matters to you and your business and track that one metric and try to improve it. By focusing on only one thing as you get started, you’ll get a better feel for the numbers and how you can impact them. As you get comfortable, you can expand the metrics that you track.

For much more detail and help with web metrics, I highly recommend Avinash Kaushik’s books: Web Analytics: An Hour a Day and Web Analytics 2.0.

What web metrics do you track in your business? Let me know in the comments.

Simplify Your E-Commerce Experience With Shopify

Over the past year we’ve built a number of new Shopify stores and have experienced first hand the company’s growth towards a user-friendly e-commerce solution. As we receive more and more inquiries about Shopify based stores I thought I’d cover a few key points of why we find ourselves recommending this solution regularly.

Shopify solves the problem of entry-level e-commerce

In the past decade and beyond e-commerce solutions have either been cheap, and basically garbage, or expensive, requiring a hefty investment. What Shopify has been able to solve is bridging this gap in a manner that works for everybody. They have given the market a product that works for budgets and works for developers and designers. They’ve done this by addressing their users needs: The client needs a simple, easy-to-manage solution, and the developer needs access to code for customizing.

They filled a niche e-commerce market by allowing developers to create robust solutions on a budget. WordPress is great for e-commerce, but its original intent was not for e-commerce and it can take time customizing it in such a manner. This costs the client money. Magento is a major heavy-hitter when it comes to e-commerce with companys such as Nordstrom, Adidas, and North Face using it’s platform. However, Magento development starts in the tens of thousands of dollars and is not nearly as easy to manage.

Shopify development can get started at a fraction of these costs.

Shopify is fun to manage and use

The administration UI is amazing for Shopify and other systems should take note. When managing a Shopify store, everything is where it should be. Navigating to update and add products is simple and intuitive. Adding additional managers, re-ording products, and receiving sales report is literally a few clicks away. I’ve found that when training clients on how to manage their store, the learning curve is far less than other management systems.

Shopify takes away the security headache

One of the great things about Shopify is it’s self-hosted security solution. This is something that I particularly love as a developer because it makes my job a lot easier. When you order a Shopify account it comes PCI compliant out of the box. This creates a win-win situation for the client and developer. The client saves money and I don’t have to spend extra time fortifying security measures because it’s already been done for me.

Shopify is also self-hosted, which means no one has to worry about server management either. If your Shopify store goes down (which it never does) just give shoot them an email and they’ll take care of it.

Shopify is optimized for SEO

Out of the box Shopify comes with a built-in SEO management tool. These tools are integrated into product management as well as other areas of your site to boost your SEO. Shopify theme coding is also optimized for SEO to make sure you get the best bang for your buck.

If you’re interested in a Shopify store, drop us a line or head over to our project planner.

7 Reasons Your Business Needs a Responsive Website

The mobile revolution is in full swing. Have you checked your Facebook chat lately? There’s a feature now that displays whether your friend is viewing on a computer or a mobile device. Sifting through the list, I noticed just about everyone is using their phone to view Facebook. The mobile revolution has made browsing the Internet extremely easy. Instead of sitting down at a computer, navigating to, and entering a username and password, all one has to do is pull out their phone and click their Facebook app.  Here’s 7 reasons to jump on the mobile bandwagon.

7 reasons your business needs a responsive website

1. Google now favors websites that are mobile-friendly.

Google recently announced they are making changes to their search results algorithm to favor websites that view better on mobile screens.  This change, taking affect April 21, 2015, could improve or hurt your SEO based on your websites mobile performance.  If you already have a responsive design, no need to worry – you might actually bump up in ratings, however, if you’re still on a fixed layout your site could suddenly appear lower in the search results for mobile users.

2. 60% of ALL Internet usage is done on a mobile device.

That’s right – the tipping point of mobile vs desktop has officially occurred.  That means more people right now are connected to the Internet using a mobile device than a computer.  This number is also projected to keep growing.

3. A Responsive website decreases bounce rates.

I do this all the time – navigate to a website on my phone and immediately leave it because it is not mobile-friendly.  I’d rather find the information I’m looking for on another site that is responsive than spend my time zooming in, zooming out, trying to click on links, etc. on a site that was made solely for a computer.

4. Responsive websites load faster.

It can take longer than expected for a mobile device to load a traditional website.  This can cause potential users to leave before your site even had a chance.  A responsive design is tailored not only for desktop browsing but mobile browsing as well, creating a faster and more dynamic user experience.

5. Content and social media marketing attract mobile users.

Your marketing efforts toward content marketing and social media bring in mobile users.  Again, just take a quick look at your Facebook feed – almost everyone is using it on their phones.

6. Improved Brand awareness.

Your brand assets will resize and automatically fit the mobile viewers screen in an appropriate way.  This means you won’t have images, logos, and text that are so tiny they are not viewable.

7. Future Proof.

A responsive design is not only optimized for smartphones, but all screens.  The coding language has a few breakpoints that determine screen size and re-position your content and layout based on the screen.  This means if a new screen size suddenly comes into play – we’re already covered!