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The truth about KPIs: There’s no such thing as standard website KPIs

We all use KPIs to track the performance of a website. But, KPIs aren't all made equal, and some may not be as vital to your business as they seem. We're looking at some of the biggest myths and misconceptions surrounding website KPIs, and revealing the truth about which matter most.

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KPIs or Key Performance Indicators are absolutely vital to understanding how your business is performing.

But there are a lot of myths and misconceptions surrounding KPIs, and it's really important that you avoid those pitfalls when you're putting together digital marketing objectives and KPIs to measure website performance.

So, this series is going to take you through some of the biggest myths about digital marketing KPIs, explain why they're not actually true, and why they became so widely accepted.

We're starting with:

What are KPIs?

What are KPIs?

Key Performance Indicators are used to analyse and assess how your business is doing. They can apply to every aspect of your business, from how productive the staff are to the return on investment for a marketing campaign.

When it comes to your digital marketing strategy, KPIs are used to assess how well both your website and your online marketing campaigns are performing.

Why do KPIs matter?

Why do KPIs matter?

If you've invested in a new website, or started a new SEO campaign - how do you know your investment is actually paying off?

And even if your website isn't a key part of your business, KPIs can tell you if you're overlooking opportunities or falling behind your competitors.

When your website doesn't directly sell, it can be difficult to understand how well it's performing.

If you run an ecommerce or booking website, you'll at least be able to track sales and see if people are buying or spending more. But even these metrics could be masking underlying issues or opportunities.

KPIs give you ways to measure different metrics on your website, to see if you're getting more users, better users, engaging them more or making their journey easier. 

In short, KPIs tell you whether your website or SEO campaign is doing a good job.

What are standard website KPIs?

What are standard website KPIs?

When you're looking to establish performance metrics for your website, you'll find the same "standard" measurements coming up time and again. These tend to be:

  • Bounce rate
  • Unique visitors
  • Time on page
  • Pages per session
  • Conversions

But these website analytics metrics don't always give you the full picture.

There's no such thing as a "standard" website, so how could there possibly be "standard" website KPIs?

Let's have a look at an example.

Company A is a consultancy that wants to get better leads by enhancing their reputation. Their SEO company has suggested a content marketing plan to promote their expertise as well as bring in a wider audience. 

Company B is an ecommerce business that has just redesigned their website to make the buying process faster and easier. 

After a few months of their new content marketing campaign, Company A sees an increase in Time on Page, and Pages per Session. That's because people are spending more time reading their content and then clicking to other pages to read more.

After the website redesign, Company B sees a fall in Time on Page and Pages per Session. That's because they've improved the user experience so it's easier and faster to buy, so visitors need to spend less time on fewer pages to get what they need.

Both companies are actually achieving their objectives, but with opposite KPI results.

That's why you need to set out KPIs that will be meaningful to your business, website and marketing campaign, and why blindly using "standard" KPIs actually doesn't mean much at all.

Over the next few months, we'll be exploring some of these standard KPIs in more detail, so check back or subscribe on the right to follow our digital marketing KPIs series.

How do I choose KPIs for my website?

How do I choose the right KPIs for my website?

To work out the right metrics to measure your SEO or website performance against, first you have to establish what your goals are with your website, and with your marketing campaigns.

Then you have to think about the performance indicators that might show whether those goals are being met.

Let's look at our earlier example companies, and the KPIs that might be useful for each one.

Scenario 1 - content marketing campaign

This company has started content marketing to bring in more visitors, but also to showcase the company as experts in their field.

In this case we're hoping that the articles are bringing in a wider audience, and that the audience are finding the content valuable.

Useful KPIs might be:

  • Unique visitors - to show that the articles are bringing more people to the site
  • Time on page - to show that the articles are actually being read
  • Pages per visit - to show that visitors are reading beyond the initial article

Scenario 2 - ecommerce website redesign

For our ecommerce company, they want to assess the performance of their new website.

Useful KPIs for them might be:

  • Conversion rate - to show that a higher percentage of users are purchasing
  • Cart abandonment rate - to show that a lower percentage of users are dropping out during the buying process

In both these scenarios, we're tracking KPIs to assess the performance of a specific project, like a redesign or an SEO campaign.

But KPIs can also be useful for regular monitoring of your website's performance - even if you don't actively use your website to promote your business or sell your products.

For example, big rises in bounce rates or falls in unique visitors are warning signs that something on your site or within the search engines is no longer working for you.

Keeping an eye on KPIs can tell you if it's time for a website upgrade, or if you need to start seriously thinking about SEO.

Why tracking the right KPIs is essential

Why tracking the right KPIs is essential for your website

When you've found the right KPIs for your website or SEO campaign, it gives you invaluable feedback about how well they're performing.

That's why it's so important that you're looking at KPIs that actually matter to the issues you're trying to address, or the goals you're trying to achieve.

And of course, over time you can expect your key performance indicators to change. If you start focusing on a new area of SEO, move into a different market, expand your website or if Google makes an algorithm update, that might mean that you need to re-evaluate your KPIs.

So don't fall into the trap of assuming that there is a standard set of KPIs that will work for your website. Make sure you or your digital marketing agency is focusing on the important metrics that are really going to matter to your business.

And if you're looking for a little help with your SEO or website performance, we'd love to hear from you!

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Hannah Laird

Digital Marketing Manager