The important (and not so important) website metrics | Montreal Photographer


Trying to run a successful business in today’s digital world means having a good online presence.  One of the main components is probably your webpage or your blog.  It is many people’s first view into your work and your world.  You probably hopefully spent a good amount of time designing it, making sure it was responsive, showcases your work the way you want.  Fast, simple and easy to navigate.

But is it really? You probably asked a few friends for opinions and feedback (more than just “nice job”).  The best way to see how effective your site is is by looking at the statistics it generates.

WHAT?  You aren’t tracking stats for your site?  Ok….stop reading right now and head to Google Analytics and get yourself setup.

Yes, there is loads of information that can be tracked.  And each little tid bit serves it’s own purpose.  I don’t intent on giving you a run down of each and every stat and how it impacts your site… (that may come down the road) as I am in no way a professional website designer or metrics master.  But as with all projects I do, I like to be read up on what I’m doing and so I can have informed discussions when the time comes.

So here’s a quick run down of the stats that are good to know and start with – and some you can probably skip over (for now).


Bounce Rate

This is a biggy for me.  Your website draws people in, but how many people navigate around your other pages?  You made a killer blog post that attracted thousands of visitors… but did they all leave without going anywhere else?

Your bounce rate is the % of people who came to your website and then left without clicking anywhere else.

We spend time writing articles and posting photos to draw traffic, which you hope will lead to new clients.  If your website doesn’t have enough call to actions or isn’t easy to get around, people will leave quickly.  We are in the age of “if I need to wait more than 3 seconds, I’m leaving”.

What’s a good bounce rate?  It can vary depending on many factors, but generally:

  • under 40% = very good, trampoline-like bouncing
  • 41% to 60% = average, spring in the step
  • 61% to 70% = above average (and not in a good way 😉 )
  • 71% + = not so good, pretty flat footed.

** if you are running a blog, keep in mind that the intent is typically for people to hit your page, be informed, and leave.  A higher bounce rate on blog entries is normal.  If your overall website is netting 75% bounce rate, well, rethink your website design.


Exit Pages

The title pretty much sums it up…. these are the pages where viewers leave from after visiting multiple pages.  Not the same as bounce rate which is 1 and out.

Some pages have a high exit rate such as your Contact page.  People look around, check out portfolios, head to your contact page, send you a message, and then leave.

But what about your other pages?  Are some higher than the others?  Take a step back and think about why that might be and apply appropriate corrections.  Lots of people leaving at your portfolio?  Maybe it needs an update or the images you show aren’t in line with your target market.  How about your Pricing page?  You might want to see about other pricing strategies such as not listing them, making packages and whatever else might work.

Google Analytics has the Exit Pages listed under Behavior – Site Content – Exit Pages



Traffic Sources

Google Analytics breaks down the traffic sources as follows:

  • Organic = coming from search engines (ie Google)
  • Referral = coming from links to your site on other websites
  • Direct = coming from typing your address manually in their browser
  • Social = coming from social media

Here is a screen cap of a specific short period of my own site.


What is it telling me?  Well, my SEO is working well as I have a high amount of people who found me via google as seen in organic.  So my site is easy to find online.  My referrals are a bit low, so I might look into doing some more guest blogs or finding partners to link to my site.  But then, I usually have this one low.  I link direct traffic to loyal viewers, those who want to go straight to my page and know who I am.  I haven’t been that active on social media, hence the lower number, might need to see how I can push more traffic to my site via twitter, instagram and facebook.

I believe organic is the most important, and hardest to get up (dirty minds, don’t comment).  If you are already providing a great service and keeping clients happy (and making sure you are top of mind through point marketing), direct traffic will build itself.   Depending on your business, social may or may not be as important.

As a standalone stat it is interesting.  If you start looking at various points in time to see the changes, it gives you much more meat to chew on.



This is probably the most misleading statistic I see.  Many people link it to how many pages on your site have been viewed.  Technically, this is true.  However, websites can be tweaked so that a photo gallery (as an example) of 10 images can give 11 pageviews per person visiting the site (1 for each photo and 1 for the original post).  As a user scrolls a gallery of images, the pageview increases.

Pageviews are key when you are running ads on your site as companies like to see how many potential times an ad can be shown / refreshed.  I also find concert organisers (the large umbrella of all those involved behind the scenes) use this metric to establish if a media gets accreditation to a show.

It does have it’s purpose, as all metrics do.  But for the standard blog and website, it is pretty pointless, especially knowing that it can easily be artificially inflated.  And note that having new pages “loaded” per image in a gallery can be tricky as it can potentially slow down the site and hurt the user experience… which is way more important than an inflated number that doesn’t mean much.

So until you grow your website, I’d leave this one on the backburner.


Wrapping it up…

There are plenty more metrics that can be tracked, analysed and acted upon.  It can be (and is at first) overwhelming.  But making sure you have an interesting and well functioning website is soooo important.

Don’t try and tackle it all at once.  Select a metric a month work at it, see how changes to your site impact it.  Then move on to another.  You don’t need to be a master professional all knowing metric guru to make positive changes.