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Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Minimum Common Baseline Web Performance Metrics

MetricDefinitionHow to Use ItBenefits and Considerations
Total VisitsVisit is an interaction by an individual viewing one or more pages on your websiteProvides high-level information on the breadth of traffic to a given digital serviceMost universal, fundamental, and accurate way to measure volume of traffic. Also most popular and widely reported metric for cross-comparing traffic from various websites. Most common question about your website traffic is, “How many visits does your website get a day or month?” Tracked over time, total visits create a historical trend of your website traffic and a baseline that can be used to compare against future traffic patterns and changes. Caveat is that total visits is sometimes confused with number of unique individuals who use your site (data that can only be measured by unique visitors).
Total Page ViewsPage view is number of times a page was viewed during the designated time period (e.g., monthly)Provides high-level information on the breadth of content usage of a given digital serviceInvaluable for measuring overall volume and how much content people use on your website. Can give you a number of
“eye balls” for your content at a high-level. This metric is also universal and cross-comparable with other websites.
Unique VisitorsUnique visit is one person (or a computer/IP address) who visits your website at least once during a designated time period (e.g., monthly)Provides high-level information on the breadth of traffic to and content usage of a given digital servicePowerful, invaluable metric because it’s the only measure that accurately calculates how many individual people (or physical computers) actually visited your website in a given time. Combined with total visits, it can tell a comprehensive story about your customers and their visit patterns. Gives you unique “universe” or population of visitors vs. aggregate totals.
Page Views per VisitNumber of page views in a reporting period divided by number of visits in the same reporting periodMeasures depth of a visit and level of engagementVery important for understanding engagement level of a visit. However, because there are different types of websites (e.g., transactional, navigational, directional, etc.), this metric should be used and interpreted within the context of each website’s goals. For example, a directional website’s goal may be to send its visitor from point A to point B, and point B happens to be a different website. In that case, you may only have one page per visit as your desired average. In other cases, a website’s goal may be to provide a high volume of content (multiple page views) within the same website. In any of these cases, this metric will help determine if the website is doing its job by providing the desired number of pages per visit.
Average Visit DurationLength of time in a session (activity on a website during a specified time period)Measures extent of a visitTells you how long your visitors stay on your website. Should be interpreted based on each website’s goals. For example, is your website’s goal to get your customers the information they need in the least amount of time? Or send them to a different website? Or, are you trying to engage them with your website content so that they stay on the website as long as possible? This metric will help you determine if your website is meeting those goals.
Time on PageTime visitors spend on individual pagesMeasures extent of a visitCritical for measuring effectiveness of specific pages (e.g., content campaigns, transactional pages, etc.) that carry a specific purpose. For example, your website is launching an awareness campaign by placing key content on your website’s home page. Because visitors can view multiple pages within the same visit (e.g., home page and others), you’ll need to know how much time was devoted to each visited page to measure each page’s effectiveness.
Bounce RatePercentage of visitors who looked at only one page and immediately left the siteMeasures depth and quality of a visitMeasures percentage of people who come to your website and leave instantly. Invaluable metric to determine if your website is doing a great job (e.g., for directional sites, you may be looking for a high bounce rate because you want to direct visitors off to an external site), or a poor job (e.g., for content-heavy sites, if the bounce rate is high, the website may not be appealing, interesting or have other issues that make visitors leave without trying another page).
New vs. Returned VisitorRatio between first-ever site visitors to returning visitors, a User that Visited the site prior to the reporting period.Measures visitor loyalty and site stickinessDerived from “unique visitors” and used within a set time frame to compare new visitors vs. returned. Depending on your website’s goals, you always want to measure and differentiate between those two types of visitors. Will help you understand if your website is attracting the same audience on a consistent basis, driving new visitors to the site, or a balance of both. Especially valuable when trying to expand reach to different types of audiences with varied interests from various locations. Note: Requires tracking unique visitors, as described above.
Visits per Visitor for a given time frameNumber of times a Visitor visited your website during the designated time period (e.g., monthly)Measures visitor loyalty and site stickinessDerived metric that uses “Unique Visitors” and “Total Visits.” Important for determining how “sticky” your website is and whether your content is compelling enough. Regardless of your website goals, you probably want visitors to come to your website more than once. Allows you to track and trend average visits per visitor against a set time frame, identifying the time(s) when your visitors tend to come back more or less often. Can be used to track content releases and campaigns to determine what factors contribute to more frequent visits per visitor.
Total Number of On–Site Search QueriesTotal number of times site search was usedExtent to which a visitor uses the site’s search engineGood indicator of visitor behavior patterns and ease of finding content. Heavy use of an on-site search engine could mean visitors are unable to quickly find content they expected to find when they first landed on your site. Or, could mean visitors don’t want to read through content and would rather skip to search box to find specific information. In contrast, low number of search queries may mean content is readily available and complete. This metric will help determine if any of those scenarios apply to your website.
Definitions above are derived from the Web Analytics Association’s Definitions of Common Metrics Terms (PDF, 111 KB, 34 pages, January 2008)