Website performance monitoring is a critical aspect of website search optimization because you can use the tools available to tell you exactly how you are doing and perhaps more importantly how you are doing it.
The how you are doing it part comes from examining the parameters that will reveal where your traffic is coming from and how the visitors ended up on your website or blog. The following is a list of parameters you need to be aware of and how you can use them: –
- referring sites – these are the sites that have links to your website that people are clicking on
- geographic sources – where in the world your visitors are coming from
- bounce rate – how long your visitors stay on your site
- Number of visitors – ideally you would like to know how many unique visitors you get and how many loyal followers you have that are making repeat visits to your site, this is not easy for any software to sort out and often you can only really believe the number that says how many visitors you get in a day
- What keywords were used to land on your site
If you notice that there is a site that sends a lot of traffic your way then it is worth focusing in on that site to see if you can further enhance the relationship and get even more traffic, for example you could contact the webmaster and offer to write some articles to post there offering a reciprocal arrangement or, if you think it is worth it, paying for some advertising on that site. Basically you need to identify what it is about the site that encourages people (the referals) to come to your site and see if you can give them exactly what they want.
You need to know where your real market is and where they are coming from so that you can optimise your site for their needs, for example if all your traffic is coming from international sources rather than a local market there would be no point offering products that can only be obtained locally, you need to provide international options. So if you are in the UK and your visitors are from the States you might have links to amazon.com rather than amazon.co.uk.
This really is an indication whether people visiting your site found what they were looking for i.e. if you have a low percentage on your bounce rate and they stayed a while looking at your pages then you know they found something of interest. If on the other hand the bounce rate percentage is high it means they left almost as soon as they arrived. There really are 2 reasons for this, either you didn’t have the items your keywords promised or they couldn’t find what they were looking for due to poor page layout or navigation options. Either way you need to resolve those problems to deliver on the promise or make it clear where to find the information.
Number of visitors
This number is an indication of whether your keywords and SEO optimization are working, i.e. this is the traffic that is arriving on your website as a result of all your efforts to optimise your site. There are two types of visitors, unique and repeat, they are both important because you want to see both varieties although any software program will struggle to differentiate between them fully and there are likely to be errors in the data presented.
You should really only use the number that gives you the overall quantity in combination with page views to assess how much traffic you are getting. A word of caution, do not mix up page views with hits, they are different, hits are how many times images and files get viewed, so a page with multiple images and files may appear to be having a lot of traffic but really this a multiplication of the page views that is inconsistent depending on which pages have been viewed, that is why it is page views and total visitors that give you your real indication of traffic, these numbers are not skewed for any reason.
You should look at what keywords actually delivered your traffic for 2 reasons: –
- To make sure that you provide you visitors with what they were looking for when they arrive
- To see if you should be optimising your site for different keywords
Not only should you know which keywords are delivering traffic, but you should take action on what you find. You have to deliver on the promise by changing content or by changing your keywords so that you get different traffic that wants the content you have in place. Website performance monitoring allows you to do that.
Using Google Analytic’s for Website Performance Monitoring
My recommendation is that you use Google analytics to extract the information you need for your websites or blogs, everything I have discussed here and much more can be found using analytics. You will need to register and put tracking code on your site but as you can see the potential benefit from using these statistics and indicators are enormous.
Other useful indicators for website performance monitoring are knowing your page rank (and that of competitors) and your Alexa ranking. Both these indicators can be posted in your browser by downloading the Google toolbar and the Alexa rank.