Are You Using the Wrong Numbers to Evaluate Your Website?

by Ed on February 4, 2014

rss-website-small-businessAs a small business website owner, you’ve no doubt heard from countless authorities that you should be tracking your website’s performance and then making changes based on your results. It’s certainly tempting to look at your stats and comments as an indication of your success.

However, the indicators of website success aren’t always what we would expect. Lets look at some of the wrong metrics for website success before looking at some far more reliable numbers.

The Wrong Numbers for a Website

While a big bounce in page views and a lot of “retweets” on Twitter can bring in new followers and website viewers, a big day on Twitter alone will not do all that much for your business. By the same token, a huge traffic day may mean you’ve connected on a hot topic or provided useful information, but that doesn’t mean you’re on the right track for your website.

Your business website needs steady, long term growth. So don’t look at your stats alone as the bench mark of success. You may get some clicks because your post titles are provocative, but those viewers may not stick around to read the whole post or to become customers. Here are some far more reliable numbers to track:

E-Newsletter Subscribers

One of the first places you should look to measure your effectiveness isn’t your website stats. It’s your newsletter subscriber count. More newsletter subscribers will let you market your content directly to readers as well as promote future events, sales, and product releases.

In addition, subscribers can get the inside track on your business and will become more involved as fans of your work. If you’ve created a loyal following of subscribers, you’ll be in a better position to handle the ups and downs of business. A big burst of traffic will only help you if you can collect more subscribers to your newsletter.

RSS Subscribers Count

Even with Google Reader down and out, you can still reach millions of readers through Feedly. An RSS reader delivers your latest blog content right to a customer’s feed reader page. They don’t have to visit your site directly and will be notified of the latest posts as soon as they go live.

While you probably want customers to visit your page every day, the simple challenge is that many won’t. An RSS subscription is a non-invasive way to stay connected with readers. Best yet, they’ll see the images and links in your posts, so if you work hard to put together a solid call to action, you’ll still be able to direct a lot of traffic to your site with each new post.

Trackbacks to Your Website

When someone reads your website, writes a post about it, and links back to it, you’ve made a valuable connection with the online community that will reach a wider audience and potentially raise your Google ranking. While Google is always changing its search algorithm, you can still benefit from a concentration of links back to your site.

Make sure you have “trackbacks” enabled on your settings and that you drop by to thank the blogger for the link.

Product Purchases and Downloads from Your Website

If website visitors are actually buying products, clicking through on links, or filling out contact forms, then you’ll know that your website is effective. However, most website owners aren’t keeping track of which links get clicks and which products are selling the best from their sites. If you’re not selling your products or getting enough inquiries into your services, then it’s time to revamp your website or to at least reshuffle some of your links and call to action images.

The effectiveness of your website is tied to advancing your bottom line. It should at least help potential customers find your business, whether that’s through SEO marketing or providing an address and contact information. However, the greater goal is to convert traffic into sales. You can improve the effectiveness of your business website by tracking your click throughs and sales each day and then moving things around according to what you want to sell.

Social Media Followers

If you’re drawing in new visitors to your website, you should gain new social media followers. While it’s hard to quantify the value of a new Twitter follower since the real value of Twitter comes from engagement, there is value to creating enough critical mass to drum up buzz for a product release.

Keep in mind that the value of a Facebook page is limited at this current time since Facebook has diverted a lot of traffic away from pages.

What Marks a Good Day on a Website?

While a day with a lot of traffic is certainly good and necessary for growing an online business, make sure that you can turn a high traffic day into a high conversion day. The number of conversions, whether with social media, subscribers, or sales is the mark of a successful website.

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