User engagement metrics are strong indicators of how relevant your site’s content is to a user. These metrics not only help Google determine your rankings but also help you identify what elements of your site work best.
Now before we tackle the top user engagement metrics you should be tracking, your first step should be benchmarking current user engagement with your site. Without knowing your current metrics, you’ll never know which metrics need to be improved first.
Using Google Analytics to Identify Current User Engagement
Google Analytics is a powerful tool for you to learn more about your site’s visitors. Once tracking is enabled on your site, you are able to dig deep into areas such as:
- Audience demographics
- Traffic by channels
- User behavior on your site
- Conversion tracking
By identifying every aspect of the above items in relation to your target audience, you will have a better look at the actions users are taking on your site. You can then use this data to formulate the best strategy to improve your metrics.
What User Engagement Metrics Should You Track?
The top website metrics you should be measuring on your site can be dependent upon your business’ goals. Someone looking to become a thought leader in their industry could have slightly different goals than someone who owns an ecommerce website.
What is it? Sessions measure the number of total visits to your site. This includes both new and returning visitors.
Who benefits from this metric? Anyone looking to increase traffic to their site should track overall site sessions. But, take this metric with a grain of salt. More sessions could be great for brand exposure, but a high number of sessions paired with a low conversion rate could mean your site isn’t matching a user’s search intent.
% New Users
What is it? This metric measures the percentage of new users in comparison to the number of overall site visitors.
Who benefits from this metric? New users are extremely valuable to a site focused on brand awareness as well as those looking to increase their authority in the industry. A higher % of new users could result from a variety of reasons including being linked to or mentioned in an external resource.
What is it? Bounce rates measure the percentage of users that entered your site then immediately exited before moving on to a second page.
Who benefits from this metric? This metric helps site owners understand who is interacting with multiple pages of their site. For example, if an ecommerce site notices their bounce rate is high, this could show that users aren’t browsing many of their products in one session.
On the other hand, if a site creates evergreen content that answers a certain question, users might visit their site for the answer and immediately leave once they found what they were looking for. This doesn’t mean the content didn’t align with their search intent. It just means the site could benefit from creating content that encourages users to continue reading other blogs.
Goal Conversion Rate
What is it? This metric measures the rate of goal completions in relation to the number of total sessions.
Who benefits from this metric? Goals are crucial to set up in order to track your online key performance indicators (KPIs). You can set goals up directly in Analytics as well as set up funnel tracking to get a deeper look into the buyer’s journey. Every business owner should track the goal conversion rate of their site. You could be receiving all the traffic in the world, but if it’s not converting, is it worth it for your business?
For ecommerce site owners, tracking checkout pages could help you troubleshoot users may have with the checkout process.
For industry thought leaders, tracking newsletter subscribers could be beneficial to stay updated on your following.
What is it? This identifies the average number of pages a user visits in a session. This metric is closely associated with bounce rate. If users are only visiting an average of one page/session, your bounce rate will skyrocket.
Who benefits from this metric? Anyone wanting users to interact with their entire site will be interested in this metric. If your site isn’t easy to navigate or your site content is irrelevant to a user’s search intent, then your average pages/session will suffer.
What is it? Pageviews are the total number of times a specific page was viewed. This includes repeated pageviews. As an alternative metric, you can measure unique pageviews if you’re interested to see how many unique visitors look at a page.
Who benefits from this metric? Content creators should be mindful of this metric. It can help you identify which content tends to have the most impressions and can help guide future content creation.
Average Time on Page
What is it? This metric measures the average time users spend on your site each session. You must be careful when reading this metric because it tends to under-report average time on page.
In order for Google to calculate this metric, they need the timestamp of the following page. For example, you visit Page A at 10:30 am, go to Page B at 10:35 am, then exit the site. Google would calculate the time on page as 5 mins. What if you spent another 10 mins looking at Page B? Unfortunately, since there’s no timestamp for the third page, Google was unable to identify the additional time spent on Page B.
Who benefits from this metric? Average time on page is another useful metric for content creators to identify how well users interact with a specific page. A shorter duration of time spent on a page could mean the topic wasn’t addressed in as much detail as it could have been.
Top Entrance Pages
What is it? This metric measures the number of times a specific page was the first page a user navigated to on your site.
Who benefits from this metric? This is useful for all site owners to determine which pages of their site tend to have more visibility in a variety of channels. The content present on this page could possibly be replicated to help increase visibility for other key pages of your site.
Top Exit Pages
What is it? This metric measures the number of times a specific page was the last page a user navigated to on your site.
Who benefits from this metric? Site owners can also benefit from this metric to identify what changes may be made to discourage users from exiting the site. At the same time, if an exit page tends to be a thank you page or at the end of another goal completion, it would make sense that this is a top exit page.
How to Improve User Engagement
Improvements to these metrics will not happen overnight. Your time, the proper tools, and testing are needed to ensure you’re making the appropriate changes to your site that will benefit users navigating your site. In the end, the most crucial element of establishing good user engagement metrics is to create content with users in mind.
Speak to Your Audience
“Everyone” is not your audience. Let’s say your website sells sneakers. Everyone wears them, but depending on your brand, your audience could include traditional athletes, style-conscious shoppers, or outdoor adventurists. You would want to speak to each audience segment in a different way.
Encourage Engagement On- and Off-Page
Providing calls-to-action on your site can provide that nudge in the right direction when it comes to generating qualified leads.
For future industry thought leaders, allowing comments in your blog posts can improve discussions in your online community.
For businesses looking to increase brand awareness, you can benefit from sharing your products, services, or blogs on social media to get your brand name out there.
Whatever your needs may be, encouraging users to engage with your site both on- and off-page can help tremendously.
Don’t Be Afraid to Test
Whether we’re talking about product pages, blog posts, or podcasts, the variety of content you produce on your site lets your brand’s personality really shine. Don’t be afraid to experiment with new strategies to improve engagement. At the same time, don’t go overboard. Keep your audience and their values in mind at all times.
With the right strategy put into place, you can improve every user engagement metrics that are applicable for your business. By looking deeper into each metric, you will be able to better identify which areas of your website you can improve upon.