Meeting the needs of internet users has never been more challenging. People expect lightning-fast load times, clear and concise display, professional website design and even interactive media. Creating an optimal user experience for your website’s visitors is more of paying attention to specific performance metrics that can help to increase traffic and ultimately user retention.
Key Metrics for Website Performance = What are Web Performance Metrics?
They track the efficiency or lack thereof, of any aspect of your website’s performance. Once your website is live, you need to monitor, improve and maintain it. You would want to know if your website is doing fine. So, the first step would be to measure such metrics.
All these metrics are Key Performance Indicators (KPIs – Key Metrics for Website Performance) which help ensure your website is optimal. Once you have started gathering these web performance metrics for your website, inefficiencies (if any) will become clearer and you can further improve it.
Page Load Time
Since everything today is all about speed, this is one of the key metrics in web performance monitoring. Every second translates into revenue earned or lost. Page load time measures the time to load all content on a webpage.
A shorter page load time could increase chances of retaining your customers. There are speed test tools available that can help you measure your website’s speed. Remember, a faster page = greater user satisfaction = higher user retention = higher income.
You might come across the following parameters:
Time to Title
This is the amount of time between the instant a visitor requests your website, and the moment your website’s title shows up in the browser tab. Seeing a title right away is essential to building your credibility and trust in the user. This is largely influenced by your web hosting server. So, ensure you get a good and reliable web hosting solution provider.
Time to Start Render
This is the time elapsed between a user’s request and the moment when content appears in the browser. This is also a crucial metric as the faster a user sees the content appear, the more likely the user will wait for the rest of the page to load.
Time to Interact
This is the time taken between a request and the moment when a user can click on links, type in text fields or scroll the page. Of course, a shorter time to interact will help retain your visitors on your page longer.
Time to First Byte
This is the time it takes for the first byte of information to reach a user’s browser after a connection to the server has been established. You’ll notice that the order in which users receive information is important. You can do some slight alterations in your code to help with your website performance.
Eg: Static content should be separated from dynamic content that is specific to the visitor. This helps users to receive content faster while waiting for the slower personalized content to load.
Time to Last Byte
This is when the user’s browser finally receives each and every byte of your website. This value can help measure the quality of your code and database queries, not forgetting your web host as well.
Measuring Your Website Weight
This is an important performance metric that is intricately linked to speed. Your website’s overall weight is measured in bytes; this is the total number of bytes the user receives. The ‘heavier’ your website is, the slower it takes to load.
You can try to reduce the load by reducing the number and size of graphics used or removing unnecessary widgets. However, web pages sizes have continued to expand year after year. Therefore, it’s a good practice to regularly re-look your website, take a step back and see what are truly necessary and what aren’t.
Measuring Your Audience
This is essential as it tells you more about the number of visitors coming to your site in a predefined time frame. An upward trend will indicate that your website is doing well and is attracting more visitors. This means that you’re doing something right. You can track your visitors via Google Analytics or any other analytic tools.
You can visit Google Analytics as shown above and use it for free. Additionally, you will also need to determine the number of new vs. returning visitors your website receives each day. When you consistently measure all these numbers, you can compare them periodically and determine if your audience is growing.
Take note though that returning users are a positive sign, as they indicate that people are deliberating about your brand and may be thinking about making a purchase.
Analyse Your Traffic Sources
Not only is it crucial to determine the numbers but it is equally important to know how your visitors are getting to your website. These are the questions you should be asking:
- Are they coming through Google?
- Is it because of social media marketing campaigns?
- Is it because of an email blast?
- Maybe a pay-per-click (PPC) Ad?
- Key Metrics for Website Performance
These questions help you narrow down the possible traffic sources, so you can effectively adjust accordingly.
These are the types of traffic sources:
- Organic – Due to relevant keywords/your business name used
- Referrals – Websites that link to your site
- Direct – Typing the exact URL into the browser
- Email Marketing – Links in email marketing campaigns
- Paid Traffic – PPC search engine Ads, retargeting ads, etc
- Social Media – social network links or Ads
Google Analytics can group visitors into different categories based on demographics, geography, interests, and others. Additionally, it can also segment visitors by traffic channels source/medium, referrals and more. Analyse this information regularly and gain a more in-depth understanding into your traffic sources and audience behaviours.
This allows you to know your potential customers better and to improve your marketing strategies and techniques. Do more of what has worked and experiment with what hasn’t.
Bounce rate is a behavioural metric. It is the measurement of the % of visitors to your website who navigate away after viewing only one page. A high bounce rate generally means that a website does not contain information valuable enough to a prospective customer.
Mobile Page Speed with Bounce Rate (Source: thinkwithgoogle)
The image above shows that when the mobile page load time increases, the bounce rate increases significantly. So, if you want to retain your users, you have to ensure that your page speed is high.
Bounce rate is computed by the number of one-page visits divided by the total number of entries to a website. A high bounce rate, generally could be due to poorly targeted keywords used, poorly designed landing page that has unattractive graphical design, no clear calls to action buttons or could be due to your website taking too long to load.
When your bounce rate is high, it will negatively affect your website’s SEO. If you make the appropriate changes and your bounce rate starts declining, then you’re on the right track.
Average Session Duration
As long as your website is relevant, user-friendly, and easy to navigate, a user will likely stay and view several pages on your site. The longer you are able to keep them on your site, the more likely they are to make a purchase.
Average session duration is obtained by dividing the total duration of all sessions by the number of sessions. Basically, it measures, on average, how long users spend interacting with your site before exiting.
So, when you track the average session duration, you’ll be able to ascertain whether your audience is finding value in your website. Longer session times could increase your search engine ranking statistics, which increases the likelihood of your website being found.
The next thing in mind should be determining what your visitors are doing once they get to your website. This is where conversion rate comes in. It is a metric that measures how many visitors actually engage in the action that you would like them to do.
The goal of every website is to have a high conversion rate because it means that your website is running effectively on all fronts. This could be the most important of all your performance metrics as it is intimately connected with your bottom line.
Getting people to your website is half the battle but in order to get your visitors to ‘do’ what you want on your website, you need to have clear call-to-actions (CTA) in the places where people are likely to look for them. Simple CTAs like “Learn More”, “Get a Quote”, “Contact Us” or “Download” are good enough.
A low conversion rate could indicate a possible inconsistency in your marketing strategy or an inefficient call to action. Remember that engagement and conversions go hand in hand. Google Analytics can help track this information over time.
There are undoubtedly many website performance metrics which you can track to help measure how successful your website is. However, it is almost impossible to track them all in a sustainable and actionable way. So, it is essential to narrow down on the performance metrics that are most relevant and useful for your website.
Every websites’ goals are different and there is no one size that fits all. However, the above are the common metrics that can be used to measure and analyse your website to help increase your overall profits by adjusting the results of these metrics.