Is your website successful? The answer to that question depends partly on how you define success. Without clear and measurable goals, you cannot say how well your site is performing.Once you set those goals, you can track and evaluate your site's performance to determine if you are getting a good return on your investment. Website ROI is not always measured strictly in financial terms, as many of the overall goals and benefits (such as customer loyalty, brand awareness and retail foot traffic) are fully realized offline. However, there are still ways that you can track website ROI and work to improve it over time.
Ways to track your site's performance include:
- Number of visits from each source. The number of visitors to your site is clearly important, but it is much more meaningful if you consider the source. Website tracking software, such as Google Analytics, will clearly tell you how your visitors found the site. The amount of traffic from search engines will help you determine the return on your SEO efforts, while referral traffic from social networks can be useful in evaluating your social media program.
- Number of page views. Divide the number of page views by the number of visitors, and you have the average page views per visit--which gives you an indication of how engaging your site is and how interested your visitors are. And the number of views each individual page receives can help you determine what types of content are most effective, as long as you are comparing pages that are otherwise equivalent (such as individual blog posts).
- Comments and sharing. Though not exactly scientific, the number of comments on a blog post is one measure of engagement and an indicator of effective content. Another good indicator is the number of shares a page receives on social media sites, or inbound links from other blogs or websites.
- Search rankings. High search engine placement for relevant keywords or queries is the basic measure of SEO effectiveness.
- Conversions. A conversion occurs whenever a visitor takes whatever action you are promoting. That action could be buying your product, but it can also simply be signing up for an email newsletter or downloading a free e-book. The number of conversions is therefore a key driver of ROI, while the conversion rate (the percentage of visits that result in a conversion) is a key indicator of how effective your site is.
Using Tracking to Improve ROI
The main benefit of tracking these measures is that they can help you diagnose areas that need improvement. For example, if you have a low number of visitors, it is because of poor SEO or website promotion. Having a high number of visitors but a relatively low number of page views means that you either have a problem with your site design and content, or that your SEO efforts are successfully targeting the wrong types of search terms or customers. Such insights allow you to focus your efforts where they will be most effective--and therefore give you the biggest return on your investment.
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