Having a slick looking website is key. Having quality content is key. Having an SEO strategy is key. Having an enviable UX journey is key. But what use is all of that if you can’t, or aren’t, monitoring your results?
Measuring traffic is a monumental part of running a website - without it, all your efforts are essentially a guessing game. The benefits of meaningfully measuring your traffic are almost endless, but here’s a summary of our top six. It:
- Identifies which pages are and aren’t working for you
- Shows you where improvements can be made
- Presents your business’ peaks and troughs
- Allows you to identify trends and patterns
- Provides a benchmark to continually evolve
- Puts tangible data behind future design, journey and content adaptations
If you’re new to this data-driven side of things it can be daunting, but it needn’t be. To help you start your web traffic measurement journey, we’ve got four easy-to-use tools to share with you.
1. Google Analytics
Given it’s the leader of the pack, it only seemed natural to start with Google Analytics (GA). GA is a completely free tracking and reporting platform provided by Google, and it’s an absolute beast in the world of web traffic measurement.
So, let’s take a look at some key metrics you need to be getting the most out of:
Sources: Whether it’s email, SEO, PPC, social, referrals or otherwise, with GA, you can keep abreast of exactly which campaigns are driving traffic to your site, and how much of it they’re bringing in. This will help you to understand which campaigns are working, and which ones are falling flat.
Bounce rate: this is the number of people who land on your site and then ‘bounce’ straight back out. With this one, the lower the number the better. The bounce rate is a really good indicator as to how visitors interact with your site.
A high bounce rate could mean that people find the corresponding page difficult to navigate around, that they don’t like what’s on the page, or that the page isn’t what they expected it to be. Conversely, a low bounce rate shows that visitors have engaged with the page, so much so that they’ve gone and had a look elsewhere on your website.
Time on page: this one ties in nicely with what we’ve just been talking about. A high bounce rate and little time spent on page is the worst combo. Why? Because it’s a sign that the visitor is highly disengaged with what they’ve landed on.
On a more optimistic note, long page durations will show you which pages and content types visitors are interested in, which may help steer the direction you take other pages of your site.
Exit pages: quite simply, this’ll show you at what point visitors are abandoning your site. So, why is this so important? Of course, everyone will leave at one point or another, but if there’s a trend emerging that lots of your visitors are leaving on x page before they complete a conversion, it may well be a sign that some form of action needs taking to rectify it.
Such is the size of GA’s traffic tracking capabilities, we could literally go on forever. But hopefully we’ve given you a flavor of how it can steer your overall strategy.
2. A/B testing
A/B testing lets you change what your traffic sees when it lands on your site - this could be anything from the text on the page to the color of a button.
So, why’s this so great? Because it puts real-life data behind which variations work best, which can subsequently steer your marketing efforts - for the better.
With A/B testing under your belt, you’re no longer sticking your finger in the air and implementing changes based on what you think might work. Instead, you can make informed decisions using a reliable and representative source of data.
One thing worth mentioning is that’s important to be patient and wait until you’ve built up a decent pot of data before coming to any conclusions. As with any type of research, the numbers need to be statistically significant to add value. Not sure what this means? Check out this calculator to help you with the maths.
Another method you can use to measure your web traffic is setting up heatmaps: enter Hotjar (they’re big guns in this arena).
Heatmaps are a really handy way to monitor how your traffic interacts with pages on your site, by tallying up numbers for things like clicks, taps and scrolling behavior.
What does this tell you about your traffic? Well, it tells you where on your page visitors are losing interest. It tells you where people are clicking most, which might steer the placement of your page’s assets. It tells you if certain elements on your page are getting lost. And it tells you which part(s) of the page are drawing the most attention.
All of these learnings can form the basis of navigational, design and content decisions.
As with A/B testing, you should wait until you have a meaningful amount of data before interpreting your numbers and coming to conclusions. Heatmaps work by adding a snippet of code onto chosen pages, so if you’re after quick wins, it might be worth starting with sections of your site that you know receive large volumes of traffic.
4. Visitor videos
Last but not least is the use of visitor recording tools. Admittedly, some of the perks overlap with that of a heatmap, but while heatmaps provide valuable numbers, videos let you actually see your visitors in action.
This helps you monitor and measure your traffic by:
- Understanding visitors’ movements
- Seeing how visitors interact on an individual level
- Getting under the skin of why people get stuck in certain sections
- Seeing exactly where visitors abandon you and forming a picture of the ‘why’
- Allowing you to test new designs and journeys and how they impact your user experience.
The end result? Ample learnings to feed into your website strategy. If you’re unsure of where to go for video recording support, tools like UXPin, Inspectlet, Hotjar and Mouseflow do it well.
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