photo showing web stats for website

Most marketing folks don't check Google Analytics very often to gauge how well their website is performing. Nor do they check how well that performance compares to previous months, quarters or year. Even if they do check Google Analytics, they might not come away with the right interpretation. It depends how well of an understanding they have of Google Analytics.

If you want to present your peers or boss(es) with a report of how well your website is performing, you might want to familiarize yourself with some of the more important metrics. Following are some of those metrics, and some detail about how to interpret them.

Check Google Analytics for Number of Sessions

The "Number of Sessions" may not be the best thing to measure, because it's difficult to determine how many of those were really qualified prospects. But even more important that the number of sessions, is how many people actually "converted" on your website. You can set up your conversions to be any number of things:

  • How long they spend on your website
  • The number of pages they visit
  • Whether they submit a contact form
  • Whether they request information, or
  • Whether they sign up for your e-newsletter

Engagement is what really counts. So while having 2,000 visitors  over a month might sound good, if no one requests information or signs up for an e-newsletter, high numbers of sessions may not be the best metric to go by.

Takeaway: set up metrics for your website so you see how many of those visitors did something measurable compared to the number of overall visitors.

Average Session Duration

What is the average session duration for a website? A lot less than you'd  think: it's about 1 minute, IF you're lucky. You might see your average session duration as a disappointingly low minute, but think about how long you spend on a website. Probably a lot less than that.

Be sure to check Google Analytics' Behavior > Engagement section. As you can see from the screenshot below, the average session of one minute is made up of mostly extremely brief sessions.

check Google Analytics session durationGoogle calculates the time someone spends on a page of your website based on whether they do something on that page. For example, someone needs to either click a link, fill out a form or maybe watch a video. That way, analytics won't measure someone's time on a page if they took a bathroom break or phone call while your website was open.

Takeaway: it's safe to not consider the bottom number of sessions for the average since those might have been bots anyway. Yes, bots do visit website and you can read about that here. Removing the bottom group does drive up your average and is more accurate. You should also want to remove the top end of session duration as well. In this example, 1800 seconds is 30 minutes, an unreasonably long time for someone to truly be on a website.

Read more about session duration here.

Check your Bounce Rate

dog bouncing on tramoplineIf your site has a bounce rate of 66%, there's no reason to  worry, because the average bounce rate of a website is about 50%.  Very few websites have a bounce rate of 25%. If your website's bounce rate is over 75%, then it might be something to worry about because a high bounce rate can affect your Google rankings.

Two reasons to have a higher bounce rate is:

  • If you're running a  promotion or an event, someone would come to your website to register and leave, or
  • A blog could have a high bounce rate. That's could be an instance where someone comes to the page, reads the content, then leaves.

You can read about bounce rates from Google's perspective here. If you really want to get into the details, there's also an Exit Rate which is different than a bounce rate.

Takeaway: A website with a high bounce isn't a site Google wants to send people to, so it'd be time to update the look  of, and content on, your website.

Stay tuned for Part 2 in a couple of weeks.