There are a number of ways to evaluate the success of a website. It all starts with the goals of the site.
Not all sites have the same goals. Some sites will be for brand awareness only, in which case, success can be measured in terms of traffic, that is, how many people visit the site.
Another goal might be to measure how “sticky” the site is, versus bounce rate. When a site is sticky, the visitors stay on-site for some time and might view more than one page. With a bounce, the visitor might click out a millisecond after arriving. They have not found the content interesting enough to stay.
Google Analytics can give you all this data about your site, and more. You can see where the traffic is coming from, which sites are referring it, how long people are staying at your site, what the bounce rate is, and more. The number of visitors and the site's bounce rate can make you feel good but you don't know if those visits helped grow your business.
Engagement as a goal
A better measure of website success are engagement goals. These could be:
- Newsletter signups
All of these are easy to track with the right tools. But first, you have to set the goals, both in your own mind, and in your software, if you wish to make the most of the really robust Google Analytics program.
You can set up goals in Google Analytics to trace a user’s actions from A to B. They can click on a social media share button, sign up for an email list, buy a product, purchase tickets or make a reservation, or make a donation. It’s just a case of using the right tools.
For shares, there are share buttons with counters so you can track how many people have passed along your information on Google, Twitter, Pinterest, and so on.
For leads online, you would use an email marketing service or lead management software.
You would set the parameters for your goal in Google Analytics. You would also match the actions on your dashboard to the reports for your business.
For example, if Google tells you that you’ve made 5 sales, and you only see 4, it’s time to troubleshoot your reports. Similarly, you would look at your email marketing list report to see that you got 10 new subscribers on the day in question.
For fundraising campaigns, check the activity at the end of each day versus the money you have banked. If there are any discrepancies, it’s best to check them when they occur, rather than months after.
Tracking and Testing
Decide what you want to measure, and set the goals you would like to achieve each month. Then use the right tools to track your performance.
If you meet or exceed your goals, great. If you don’t, you have reports that can point toward what needs to be fixed. The trick is to perform “experiments” to try to improve your results, so you will soon come up with winning content and sales letters that will help you achieve website success.