Website traffic: A quick guide to the key numbers

Sookio's Digital Strategist, Clark Chapman, breaks down the website traffic metrics you need to know if you want a busier site and happier customers.

hand holding a computer mouse

Sookio's Clark Chapman writes:

Sherlock Holmes once said, “it’s a capital mistake to theorise before one has data,” and you don’t get much cleverer than the pipe smoking man himself.

But for your website, it’s now rarely a lack of data that’s the problem. Grappling with it all can feel like traversing a minefield. Blindfolded. Wearing a sack.

Once you’ve set up a website traffic checker like SEMRush, Ahrefs, or SimilarWeb, the real investigatory work begins. The amount of data can be a little overwhelming at first, so we’ve outlined 10 key website traffic metrics to look out for, and what they really mean for you.

Overall visits

Lots of visits to your website is a good thing, right? Well, yes and no. Remember, this metric looks solely at the number of visits to your website. Not who, not how, not when; certainly not whether they’re relevant to your business.

On its own, this metric doesn’t tell you a great deal but should always be your first port of call. It’s your gateway into the next nine metrics.

Unique visits

Unique visits break down the number of actual individual humans that visit your site in a given period. Even if someone visits 20 times, they’re only counted once. Oh, and don’t ever buy website traffic from online bots to try and game this metric, you’ll be heavily punished by Google.

Pages viewed per visit

This is the average number of pages an average visitor to your site will see. Google likes to see happy users spending lots of time on a site, exploring lots of useful content. This metric gives you an understanding of website relevancy and the overall user experience (UX).

But beware, this metric should always be read within the context of how you expect and intend users to behave on your site. If you’re driving the bulk of your customers to a single landing page, this figure will appear artificially low compared to other sites.

Bounce rate

Bounce rate is the percentage of visitors landing on one page on your site and leaving without going to another. A high bounce rate, above 70%, may mean potential customers aren’t seeing content that matches their expectations.

Your website needs to be filled with relevant keywords related to your product or service. Use Google’s own Keyword Planner to find out what people are searching for.

It’s worth noting that like other data, your bounce rate can be high if an online promotion is driving the potential customer to one page. For example, if I click on a Facebook ad that leads me to a landing page with a podcast player, I am unlikely to leave that page but the website is still doing its job.

Traffic share

Mobile vs desktop is no longer the Ali vs Foreman scrap it once was. Google is mobile first, meaning website crawlers will always favour websites that look good and work well on phones.

In my experience, desktop usually yields B2B website traffic and mobiles are used more for personal consumption. But even if 99% of your traffic comes from desktop, still focus on getting it mobile friendly.


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