Author: Tom Cottrill | Date Posted: Apr 5, 2022
When you’re running any sort of marketing or SEO campaign for a client, performance metrics are crucial to help determine return on investment, conversions, and how a particular campaign is performing. By measuring performance, clients will know exactly how your work is paying off, and you’ll know what you could be doing differently that may perform better. As an SEO professional, you know this and are probably already tracking many crucial performance metrics, but are you tracking them on the website and adjusting that accordingly as well?
Let’s face it: Google has never been a fan of being transparent about what they look for when it comes to rankings aside from basic factors because they don’t want people to skirt the system and provide less-than-stellar experiences for website visitors. Because of this, user experience and content are always, always of utmost importance for your search engine rankings, and measuring your website performance ensures that you will not be penalized by Google—at least for the user experience portion of their ranking process.
Websites that perform slowly or have other poor performance metrics almost always cause a negative user experience. When a site is inaccessible, slow, difficult to read, or not mobile-friendly, the user will not have a good time and will probably bounce. Google sees high bounce rates as a sign that your site is not relevant for the people searching.
If you’re not keeping up on your website performance metrics regularly—ideally monthly—you won’t be able to adjust any problems that need fixing in a timely manner. How many leads will you lose that come to your website and have a negative experience? What if Google crawls your site when it’s performing less than ideally? Since Google crawling can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, it’s impossible to know exactly when they are coming through to check out your site.
Page speed is a crucial website performance metric. If you think about it, when you’re going to a website and looking for particular information or to learn more about a company, if you have to wait for than a few seconds, you’re probably going to leave that website and go find one that works better. We live in a society where people expect instant gratification, and that is especially true when it comes to looking for information. Seeing a blank screen or the little loading wheel is incredibly frustrating for a person who wants information right away, and this is even more true on mobile devices. Everyone’s internet speed is different, and while someone with a fiber optic network might not have a problem, most people don’t have that fast of a speed, and your website should not take longer to load for those users.
Page speed includes the entire time it takes for an HTTP request to be sent to a server and then display the website, and many factors play into this speed, including how large the page is that’s trying to load, the internet of the user, the server your site is on, the browser trying to find the site, etc. Most users will accept a load time of just 2 to 3 seconds. It probably took you longer than that to read these two sentences. We are an incredibly impatient society, and your website needs to make sure to serve that mindset or risk losing people. Page speed can be measured using tools like Pingdom or GTMetrix.
Bounce rate is a pretty common website performance metric, and it literally means people who are bouncing from—or leaving—your website. This metric matters because well, you don’t want people bouncing from your client’s website, and if this number is high (a bounce rate above 40%), something needs to be changed on the site to ensure fewer people are bouncing.
The first metric to consider with a high bounce rate is page speed, but other factors that can affect bounce rate is lack of relevance to ranking keywords, poor content, a site that is not mobile-friendly, poor navigation, or broken pages or links. Since it’s difficult to know exactly why visitors are bouncing, installing a heat map to your pages can help see what people are looking at and where exactly they are leaving.
Sort of like bounce rate, a conversion rate tells you how many unique visitors convert into customers. Depending on your idea of a conversion (schedule an appointment, buy a product, send a message from the forms), the range for what is a good rate will vary. Assuming we are trying to convert your client’s visitors into customers, the rate is simply the number of unique site visitors divided by the number of conversions. Factors that play into this rate are user experience, content, CTAs, good speeds, a strong value proposition, relevance, and so much more.
The problem with making becoming a customer the requirement to calculate a conversion rate for a company that is selling services, rather than products a person can purchase right from the site, is that many other variables come into play in this situation, such as the sales process, response time after a message is sent or call is made, prices, relevance to customer, etc. That’s why to better judge your client’s site, it may be easier to look at appointments scheduled. This weeds out spam messages sent because appointments are only scheduled if a serious consideration is being made, and additional conversion rates of sales closed can be tracked based on how many appointments are scheduled and how many customers are obtained.
Once website performance has been measured, a website can be adjusted or redesigned to ensure better metrics. The adjustment made will depend on which measurement is not up-to-par, but generally speaking, images and videos should be compressed, the site should be properly cached and mobile-friendly, navigation needs to be updated and clear, content should be written by a professional content writer, website layout should follow the buyer’s journey of that particular target audience, and a website needs to be generally well-built.
We know, this is vague, but it is difficult to give a treatment for an illness without a diagnosis. However, regardless of the fix, performance metrics need to be measured on a site regularly.
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