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Technology / Business websites

Measuring website performance

A website is like a salesperson that never sleeps. Well, in the same way that you’d set clear targets for a salesperson, it’s important to identify your website objectives and put time into regularly measuring website performance against them.

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Once you have a couple of month’s worth of data in front of you, you’ll be in a good position to tweak your site to ensure it delivers on its most important function – helping you secure more sales!

Since every aspect of your website’s performance is measurable, identifying and monitoring its performance is easy – many soloists can manage the process of measuring website performance using a simple Excel spreadsheet. First though, take a step back and evaluate exactly what you want your website to do for you.

Gary doesn’t have very ambitious goals for his website – he’ll be happy if it helps him land just one or two extra landscaping projects each month. He’s designed a simple brochure-style website showcasing a gallery of his work, and hopes that visitors will come to the site, look through the beautiful photos, and be so impressed that they immediately request a quote through the site’s contact form.

Gathering data

Just a few pieces of information are sufficient to help Gazza assess whether his website is meeting these targets.

"Since every aspect of your website’s performance is measurable, identifying and monitoring its performance is easy."

Firstly, he needs visitors – but more specifically, he needs unique visitors who are interested in landscaping their gardens, so the first two columns of Gazza’s spreadsheet will be unique visitors, and relevant search terms, in other words the total number of search engine queries that successfully found his website and the search terms that brought them there, for example landscaping, gardener, landscaper or gardening.

Once people arrive at his site Gazza wants them to look around, so he’s recording average time on site and average pages viewed per visitor.

The next column tracks the number of visits to his enquiry form. He gets an email each time the form is filled out, and saving each of these in a separate folder in Outlook means he can quickly tally them at the end of the month when he fills in his spreadsheet.

Of course, the final goal is to land more projects, so Gazza also tracks the number of quotes he writes from his website enquiries against the number of jobs that he actually lands.

Tracking this information takes Gazza just 30 to 60 minutes each month, and gives him a very real picture of whether his efforts to promote his business online are effective.

Want more articles like this? Check out the business websites section.

Analysing the data to improve results

Now that Gazza has an overview of what’s going on, he’s been able to identify some areas where his site’s performance isn’t up to scratch.

For example, although relevant search terms are delivering more than 400 visitors to the website every month, there are only about 30 hits on the contact form page over the same period, so Gazza has decided to make the Contact Us button bigger, and place it in a more prominent position.

Just one or two of those 30 visits to the contact page each month result in the form being filled out, so Gazza has reviewed the form, made it shorter, and is offering a free garden gnome to everyone who completes it.

He’ll assess the results of these changes in a couple of months, and if necessary, will be able to make a few more tweaks to improve the outcomes.

This is very obvious stuff, but without the data in front of you, it’s difficult to determine where your website is letting you down. By tracking each component you can create a chain of events that all lead to a final goal.

Write a description of exactly what you hope a customer will do when they visit your own website, then break that perfect visit down into measurable components. Take a browse through your website statistics to assess how many visitors are responding to your website the way you hope they will, and once you’ve identified areas for improvement, make some changes, and then test and measure their effects.

Had any experiences like Gazza’s? Share your tips and learnings about measuring website performance with others by adding your comment below.

Tristan Boyd

is a professional beach volleyball coach on the FIVB world tour, and an experienced business owner and internet entrepreneur.

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