Welcome to 2018! This is my first post of 2018. Apologies all, it has been an extremely busy start to the year. I thought I would start off the year by going through the most important metrics visible through your website’s analytics tool.

Analytics are one of the most important tools you can use to monitor traffic and user behavior throughout your website. However the numbers can get overwhelming very quickly if you are not informed about what you are looking at.

I have broken down 5 metrics that you need to keep an eye on for any website – traffic sources, keywords, visitors, top 10 pages and enter and exit pages. I will then go through some design tricks you can use to improve user engagement in those areas outlined. (All the above metrics are present in the most popular analytics tools such Google Analytics and Bing Analytics.)

1. Traffic Sources

The most important metric in my opinion is; Where are my customers connecting to my website from? This traffic is grouped into the 3 categories below.

  • Referral – Users connect to your website from another (referrer) website such as Social Media (Facebook, Twitter) or Review Websites (TripAdvisor or Choice)
  • Search – Users connect to your website via a search engine (Google, Bing, Yahoo) through searching relevant keywords. This category is broken down further to Organic (through search terms) or Paid (Google Adwords)
  • Direct – Users connect to your site via typing the URL directly into their browsers

The majority of sites benefit from users that connect via all three sources. Organic Search traffic being the holy grail as it can direct users to the precise page they are looking for if your page is optimised correctly.

Design Tricks

Knowing your where your users are connecting from is a key element when considering design changes and tweaks to an already existing website. This will increase user engagement to help you understand the pages that are accessed less on your site and how to improve their visibility to users.

  • Referal – Design and write content for referral based users. This includes writing regular blog posts, posting images in a gallery or designing info graphics relevant to your industry. All these types of content can be shared across social media platforms which in turn will increase referral traffic to your page.
  • Search – SEO can be a science in itself. A good place to start is placing strategic keywords throughout your page titles, headings and paragraph text that are relevant to the sites context. Something that people commonly forget is giving images ALT and Meta Descriptions so that search engines can read what the image is displaying. For more information about SEO check out our blog post Why Isn’t Anyone Coming to My Website? 
  • Direct – This is an easy one. Make sure your domain name is something easy to remember and something that is relevant to your business. For example your business name (www.mikescapetcleaners.com)or a short sentence about what your business does (www.wecleanyourcarpet.com). This ensures your domain name is easily remembered for repeat visits and business.

The Asteroid

2. Keywords

How do users know what your website is about? Keywords.

There can be confusion generated between what you think a website is about compared to what other users perceive. The keyword metrics in your analytics tool will advise you on what keywords users associate with your website and content. This metric is useful when identifying which keywords users searched when they found your website. If the keywords match? Ask yourself are you getting meaningful traffic from users who really want what your website has to offer.

Design Tricks

Most analytics tools group users into two categories. “First Time” and “Return” Visitors.

Ideally you want an even mix of both. If you only ever have First Time users, it can suggest that your content is not engaging enough to bring back users. Vice versa if you have nothing but returning users, this suggests that you are not growing your audience.

Vans Off the Wall – Spongebob

3. Visitors

How do users know what your website is about? Keywords.

There are two types of website visitors: Those who are coming to your website for the first time, and those that are coming back for a repeat visit.

A mix of both types of visitors is important. If all you ever have are new visitors, then the website was not engaging enough to bring them back again. If all you ever have are returning users, you aren’t growing a potential user/customer/fan base.

Design Tricks

In order for your website to appeal to both types of visitors your website design will need to do a couple of things.

It has to have a strong visual appeal that will draw customers in and encourage them to explore the site. This can be achieved through interactive websites that respond to the users mouse clicks or their behavior. It will also need to be dynamic so that repeat visitors will continue to be engaged. Interesting and relevant images and videos are a good place to start.

Headings are also very important. Straight away they should outline to the users what the following content is about or how to find what they are looking for. Large bold headline tags, branding/logo marks and navigational elements can establish this.

With the improvements to HTML 5 and CSS websites are becoming more interactive with users. To create that lasting impression users should be encouraged to engage the page by – clicking a link, watching a video, playing a game or registering for an event, promotion or mailing list. The Call to Action for all these elements should be very obvious.

Chobani – Snack

4. Top Pages

One of my favorite metrics to check and one that gives me the most information about how users interact with my web pages is the Top 10 Pages List.

This metric will display the Top 10 pages users access and interact with the most. Usually you will find your websites Home Page and Blog Pages are the most accessed. Knowing what pages are most accessed can help you steer users to other important content and pages that may otherwise receive minimum user engagement.

Many website owners are often surprised by which pages are the most popular. The pages that users are accessing will also help you determine if your goals are in-line with the goals of users. Are they viewing the content that’s important to you?

Design Tricks

Once you have found your most accessed pages, include links and calls to action in the most visited pages from the homepage and other pages. You can say that this content is in demand and you want to make it as accessible to new users as possible.

Vice Versa on your most viewed pages, include calls to action that link to other relevant content on your site. Such as your Contact Page or your Services Page for example.

Gucci SS18 – Sunglasses

5. Exit Pages

Equally important as how do users access your website is, how do they leave?

Exit pages show the percentage of users that left your website on any particular page. Before we move on lets go over the difference between Exit Pages and Bounce Rates.

  • Bounce Rates – Reflect users who accessed a single page and then disconnected before navigating to another page.
  • Exit Pages – Reflect users who navigated around multiple pages on the website and then disconnected while viewing a certain page.

Now we have that clarified.

If a certain page has a high exit rate, it could be an indication of a problem with the user interface, such as an error or broken path. On the other hand, some pages should always have high exit rates, such as the checkout/order processed page on an ecommerce site that shows an order is completed.

If exit page rates aren’t in line with expectations, a redesign of the page is probably in order.

Design Tricks

Are you finding some of your pages have high exit rates? This could be due to a lack of engagement on that page. Try to engage users with interactive content such as a responsive slider or animated call to actions.

Link to interesting content on another page to increase traffic and visibility across the whole site. Be sure to check that you dont have any broken links as this is the major cause for an abnormally high exit rate.

If your website has a specific page flow that users follow to gain what they need. For Example, an eCommerce page where a user will need 1). add an item to a shopping cart 2) go through the checkout prompts 3)pay for the item. If you don’t have a loop link at the end of this workflow users will leave your site. Placing a link at the end of this workflow to return to a certain store page could ensure users are continued to be engaged.

Eventually all customers will leave your site at some point. The most important thing is to ensure your customers are leaving your site in the (natural) places. Such as Contact Us or after Check Out is completed. If a user exits in the middle of a process or flow of pages then either the content is not relevant or there is probably a design fault lurking in the background.

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