Friday, 12 April 2013

The Importance of Measuring Trends

In an earlier post I highlighted the importance of using Google Analytics to measure the activity on websites and blogs. Also, in another post, I discussed the importance of being able to pass the 8-second test.

Today's post is looking at how the first, Google Analytics, helps to measure whether the second, the 8-second test, is being achieved. Plus it considers if performance is going in the right direction.

In the diagram below is a trend analysis taken from my Google Analytics report. 

This part of the report provides some useful data. Not only does it tell me the result from each performance indicator, but also the trend of that indicator. Apart from the page views, which are on the increase, the other four indicators are also improving. On three I'm looking for an upward slope, and the the fourth (Bounce Rate) a downward slope. The 8-second test I mentioned earlier is about a website's 'stickiness' - the ability to keep a visitors attention for more than 8-seconds. 50% of websites loose their visitors before 8-seconds is up. My results show that visitors are staying on this site for almost two and a half minutes, on average. That isn't too bad as an average, particularly for a relatively new site, and the trend is increasing. They are also viewing on average three postings per visit. The site is also attracting plenty of new visitors, but also 30% of the activity is people returning. Currently the number of visitors is growing rapidly, but as it matures I'll expect to see the 'New Visits' drop slightly as the returning audience grows. Finally the bounce rate. This is a very important indicator. The bounce rate is calculated my measuring the number of visitors who leave a site from the same page they entered the site, without visiting any other page. Poor 'landing pages' push up bounce rates, so make sure your audience is sent to the right page. (Again, the 8-second test post discusses this issue.)
Depending on which research you read, the average bounce rate for a website is just over 40%. My current bounce rate, from my Google Analytics report is showing it to be under 16%, and the trend downwards, which is also very positive and encouraging. 

A final point on why trends are important 
Let's say you have a website where the bounce rate is currently 30%. That's better than average, and you may be happy with that result. But what was it, say a month ago? If it was higher than 30% then the performance of the site is improving. If it was lower than 30%, the performance of the site is dropping off. Current performance is just an indicator of what is happening now. A trend indicator helps to identify if things are getting better, or worse. 

One key tip with lowering bounce rates is to ensure all links on your site, which go to another website, open the other site in a new window. If they don't, clicking the link takes your visitor away from your site, perhaps never to return.


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