When it comes to website performance, there are thousands of metrics you could track. But which website metrics are the most important? If you spend all day looking at figures, you might get overwhelmed by the enormity of what’s happening in your digital space.
Here is why your website’s performance is vital to the success of your online business. Beyond that, we’ll give you a list of several key metrics you should watch and some tools that you can use to track them.
Why Website Performance Matters
To learn more about why your site’s performance matter’s, it’s a good idea to ask the authority – Google. According to the search engine giant, there are four reasons that your website’s performance should be a priority:
- Performance is about retaining users. When pages have slower page loading speed, they have much higher user abandonment rates. Specifically, sites that load within 5 seconds have 70% longer session and 35% lower bounce rates than those that take four times as long to load.
- Performance is about boosting conversions. Faster sites make more money for businesses. One site that cut its page load speed in half boosted sales by up to 13% at the same time.
- Performance is about the user experience. When someone visits a website, they expect it to load and tell them certain information. If your site doesn’t perform, you’re disappointing your visitors.
- Performance is about people. A poorly-performing site costs users time as well as money in the form of wasted mobile data and other resources.
Website Performance Key Metrics to Watch
You’ve likely invested a lot of time and resources in your business and website and would like to get more customers than you currently have. Tracking these six website metrics can help you achieve those goals if you also use them to make improvements.
1. Time to First Byte (TTFB)
TTFB is the time that elapses from when a user requests access to a site and when their browser receives the first bit of information. This can often be a function of server speed, but that’s only part of the equation.
Yes, your web host’s server plays a role in returning the data to a visitor’s browser. Google PageSpeed Insights recommended under 200ms for your server response time. If this figure is through the roof, you might want to investigate whether your hosting is up to par or consider switching your website hosting.
Other issues can tie back to the content management system (CMS) that you’re using. With a CMS, the server must load the database, decipher the different elements of the page, and send it to the browser. Although choosing the right hosting is important, you can sometimes reduce your TTFB with WordPress by using a different theme or lowering the number of plugins that you use.
2. Speed Index
Your page’s Speed Index is another metric that you’ll want to measure and track. It’s more of a score than a figure, and you’ll get different scores from different websites.
But, a higher Speed Index score, or a lower grade, indicates that you need to do some work on your site. You might have a ton of images loading above the fold or too many processes running at once. To improve your speed index, you can eliminate unnecessary assets on your site, optimize the images or make use of caching.
With the measurement tools available, you can make use of them to help drill down into the issues that are causing bottlenecks in your site.
3. Document Load
Your Doc Load, or Document Complete, time is how long it takes for all of the visual elements of the website to load. This is generally defined as the loading of text, images, and other HTML elements that make the website visible and usable.
It may not include certain clickable forms or animations, but many website users will begin reading and browsing a site before these elements are in place. The number that you want to hit might be relative. For example, an e-commerce page would generally have higher numbers than a static landing page.
4. Bounce Rate
If users are arriving at your website and then immediately leaving, something is making them click the back button. This metric is your bounce rate, and the lower it is, the better.
Google refers to these as “single-page sessions,” and too many of this type of visit can impact your search engine rankings. The underlying cause of a bounce rate sometimes can be complex. For example, visitors can instantly found the answer they want and left your site. This can be a positive experience.
On the other hand, visitors can also leave your site immediately if they can’t get what they are looking for and this would be a negative situation. Generally, the possible causes of high bounce rates include slow page speed, poorly targeted keywords, and bad website design.
5. Error Rate
Another metric that you’ll want to track is your site’s error rate. This is the average number of requests that are “problems” compared to your total number of requests. This metric can indicate that there is a problem with your website’s code, but it can also be indicative of a hosting issue.
If you have a ton of concurrent users (people requesting the same actions at the same time), and your host isn’t handling those requests efficiently, you’re going to get more errors. One of the errors you often encounter could be server downtime, you can use the monitoring tools available or simple formula to calculate server uptime in a given month:
( time in a given period – downtime ) / time in a given period
So if you experienced 30 minutes of downtime in the last 30 days, the equation would be.
( 43,200 minutes – 30 minutes ) / 43,200 minutes = 99.93% uptime
You’ll want to analyze the others error closely to see where the errors are coming from and how to address the issue(s).
6. Conversion Rate
The goal of most websites is to maximize conversions, so this is something you should be tracking closely. Your conversion rate is the number of website visitors that turn into customers, subscribers, or qualified leads (you decide what counts as a “conversion”).
When your website visits are high, but your conversion rate is low, you need to take a closer look at what visitors are doing once they reach your site and when they leave. If your conversion rates are increasing, what are you doing right so that you can do more of it?
How to Track Your Website’s Key Metrics
Now you have a list of key website metrics, but what’s the best way to measure them. The good news is that there are several free and simple to use website performance tools for measuring and tracking improvements.
The first two are Google properties, and website owners should make extensive use of them. The others are useful, feature-rich tools for tracking your website’s performance, and some allow you to match up your site against competitors.
Regardless of the goals for your website, you’ll need to focus on the right website metrics to achieve them. Having a site that performs well is the first step, and then making sure that your traffic is taking the desired action is second. These key metrics can help you do both.