Analytics cannot do anything in their own right for your website. Like adjectives in a sentence, analytics merely describe your website. It is up to you to do something about your site after looking at these descriptors. Sometimes this can be quite tricky. What do I do with this measure, that measure, and what does this actually mean for my website? It can hard at first to know exactly what to do with a certain analytics measure besides stare at it and hope it gets better. No need to fear. Below I outline some ways to interpret analytics to figure out how to better your site. Interpreting analytics and session recording technology can help you find what works on your site and what sets your site back.
How well does your site engage your audience?
Pair bounce rate metric with average time spent on site
How users get to your site?
Understanding traffic sources
Who is your audience, what do they like?
What are your top content pages?
The first thing many site owners think to monitor are visits. Visits tell you how many individual browser sessions of your website took place. It doesn’t show you how many people actually viewed your website, but how many instances your website was viewed. Don’t assume that if your site has a high number of visitors it’s engaging. All those browser sessions mean little if the user clicks out of your sight almost immediately. So you want to take visitor data with a grain of salt, and instead pay attention to bounce rates and average time spent on your site.
Bounce rates tell you how many times someone lands on your website, views one page, and leaves. High bounce rates usually mean your website’s landing page needs work: either you need to improve your content to mesh better with your target audience, or you need to improve the layout of your page elements so that users can better navigate it. If your website has the right content and you’re still seeing high bounce rates, maybe your page navigation buttons need to be more clear.
The average time spent on site tracks how long the average user stays on your site before bouncing. This metric can be interpreted to determine how much content users view on your website before leaving. Successful websites shoot for 30-50% bounce rates and 3 minutes for average time spent. To reach this goal you may want to ask what types of info do my readers want right away, and am I giving it to them? You want to make the value your site provides apparent from the get go, so when people don’t stay on your site for very long it tells you your site needs to provide more value.
You want eyes on your content, bottom line. So make time and cultivate a productive relationship between your website and your website’s traffic sources. Four sources make up your site’s traffic: direct traffic, referral traffic, search engine traffic, and campaign traffic. Direct traffic means typing your website’s URL into a search bar and pressing enter, referral traffic entails traffic that comes from other sites, search engine traffic comes from hits from search engines, and campaign traffic comes from campaign you run like newsletters, email lists, and direct marketing.
Ideally you’d like to see a balanced amount of traffic from all 4 sources. However, when a lot of your traffic comes from one type, you want to make it even easier for your users to find you that way. So if you get a lot of referrals from one website you may want to pay for advertising space on that site, or even write guest blog posts from time to time for the referring site. Interpreting traffic sources to better your site is all about determining how your user’s best reach your site and then accommodating that method to maximize the eyes on your site.
You want to maximize and highlight everything that user’s love about your website to keep them coming back. Tracking your site’s top pages metric, sometimes called top content, will show you which pages on your site are viewed the most. This really shows you what content works for your users and what needs work. If your users view certain pages a lot, you should consider how you can add elements that worked on those pages to the lower performing sections of your website.
You might be surprised at first when you see what pages users tended to like more than others, and this is a good thing. Analytics are like that person who proofreads something you wrote who finds errors you never saw. So when you review user behavior analytics it is best to drop any preconceived notions you have and just let the numbers tell you the story.
Hopefully now you can venture out into the world of analytics measures with a better understanding of how to interpret them to improve your site. If you have any other tips, please comment them below!