3 basic Google Analytics metrics you need to watch

Written on 30 March, 2012 by Clancy Clarke
Categories Search Engine OptimisationWeb Design & Content

As long as Google remains the number one search engine, it is going to be important to understand how your site can rank successfully within its searches and what traffic analytics can tell you about how visitors interact with your site.

In the past, emphasis was placed on simply using the right keywords and back-links. While these remain important tools, the recent changes to Google’s algorithmic system dubbed the ‘Panda Update” now place the highest importance on user experience. In other words, quality sites that offer their visitors real value will ultimately rank highest in Google searches.

Google Analytics can help you understand whether visitors consider your sites content as valuable and therefore a head-start in achieving a higher rank in search engines. With Google’s content farm algorithm change, understanding how your website can best perform is more vital than ever.

Bounce rate

One of the most important tools within analytics for determining your visitor’s experience is the bounce rate. Bounce rate refers to the percentage of visitors who looked at only a single page on your site before leaving.

Understanding bounce rate requires an appreciation of how information is searched. When a person enters certain search criteria, they are most likely to click on links that appear on the first page. If your site ranks on the first page, it is more likely to be visited.

However, simply ranking on the first page is not enough to keep visitors on your site. Visitors will stay if they find what they are looking for and enjoy the experience. If not they will immediately ‘bounce’ from the site. A high bounce rate can indicate that the content on your site is not relevant to the search term the visitor used or the visitor is not enjoying the experience on your website.

Making sure your website is relevant to the search terms as well as ensuring a positive user response on your website through good interface and user experience design is vital.

Time on page

The 'Average time spent on a page' is a direct extrapolation of an extended stay on your website and a higher degree of interaction. Whether this means reading a blog post, filling in a form or making a purchase – the longer someone stays on your website the better. The aim is to attract the visitors and keep them there.

Pages per visit

Next, the 'Number of pages per visit' stat will give you not just an indicator of whether visitors are enjoying the content, but whether the links within your site are effective. If you find that visitors are clicking a link and quickly returning to the previous page, it could help you determine which pages need refinement – depending of course upon their purpose.

So what can you do if analytics inform you that bounce rate is high and average time on site is low? Begin by beefing up your content. Make sure that your visitors are finding the information they want as fast as possible. The keyword tool is a marker for this. By learning the keywords visitors used to arrive at your site, you can see whether your content is meeting those criteria.

One useful tip to discover whether your content is beneficial is to add a paragraph or two of an article onto a second page. If your visitors click through, then you know they were enjoying what they were reading and wanted to continue.

What metrics do you use to analyse traffic? Do you have any tips and tricks to determine how well your websites is performing?

For more tips and tricks on how to improve the experience for your website visitors, take a look at Netregistry and talk to their friendly and professional staff about what steps you can take.