Traffic isn’t a definitive measurement of success when building a website. Your website may attract tens of thousands of visitors each month, but if none of them take action, your site will be destined for failure. You should still measure your website’s traffic, but measuring visitor engagement is arguably more important.
Visitor engagement refers to the visitors’ level of interest and desire to interact with your website. There’s no single metric that you can use to measure it. You can, however, measure visitor engagement by analyzing a collection of relevant metrics.
Your website’s bounce rate will reveal its level of visitor engagement. Websites with a low site-wide bounce rate often have a high level of visitor engagement. The opposite is true for websites with a high bounce rate. A high bounce rate is correlated with a low level of visitor engagement.
Bounce rate is the percentage of website visitors who only access a single page during their visit. Some visitors may access over a dozen pages. Other visitors will likely access fewer pages before leaving. Bounce rate represents the percentage of single-page visits for a period. Visitors who are engaged will typically access multiple pages, which manifests in the form of a lower bounce rate.
For a content-focused website with a commenting feature, you can measure visitor engagement based on how many comments it has received. Millions of websites have a commenting feature. They allow visitors to express their thoughts by leaving a comment. Whether you manage a blog, a news website or any other website with a commenting feature, you should monitor the number of comments it has received.
Comments are interactions. Visitor must interact with your website to leave a comment. Few or no comments means that visitors aren’t interacting with your website. Maybe your website is too slow, or perhaps the content doesn’t appeal to their interests. Regardless, disengaged visitors won’t leave a comment.
When analyzing comments, remember to filter out spam comments. Spam comments aren’t left by real visitors. Like other forms of online spam, they are left by bots, most of which mass-produce them for thousands of websites at a time. Only real, visitor-generated comments provide insight into engagement.
You can measure visitor engagement by tracking social shares. Visitors who are engaged are more likely to share your website on Facebook and other social media networks than disengaged visitors. They can log in to their social media profiles, after which they can post a link to one of the pages on your website.
To track social shares for individual pages, consider using sharedcount.com. Entering a URL in the tool will reveal how many times the page has been shared on Facebook and Pinterest. Your homepage will probably have the most Facebook and Pinterest shares. By using the tool at sharedcount.com, you can see exactly how many times your homepage, as well as your website’s top subpages, have been shared on social media.
Session duration is an engagement metric. It’s the average length of time visitors spent on your website before leaving or otherwise ending their session. You can measure it in Google Analytics. Available under the “Audience” tab, session duration can help you understand your website’s visitor engagement.
According to HubSpot, most websites have an average session duration of two to three minutes. A shorter session duration may indicate low visitor engagement. If visitors stay for less than a minute, for instance, they are probably disengaged. Therefore, session duration is a metric with which you can measure visitor engagement.
Time on Page
Don’t forget to track time on page as well. Not to be confused with session duration, it’s the average length of time visitors spent on a given page. You can find time on page under the “Behavior” tab in Google Analytics.
Time on page differs from session duration. A visitor’s session can involve multiple pages. And the duration for the visitor’s session will include all of these pages. Time on page, conversely, only takes into account the length of time visitors spent on a particular page If your homepage has a time on page of one minute, it means visitors stay on your homepage for one minute on average. Those visitors may leave your website after viewing your homepage, or they may access a subpage.
You can measure visitor engagement by looking at your website’s conversions. Conversions and visitor engagement go hand in hand. If your website generates a lot of conversions, it’s safe to assume that visitors are engaged.
All conversions require interaction. Whether it’s a product sale, lead generation, email signup or any other type of conversion, visitors must interact with your website to trigger it. Therefore, you can measure visitor engagement by analyzing conversions. If you’re having a hard time generating conversions, you may want to focus on making your website more engaging.
Another visitor engagement metric is exit rate. Exit rate is the percentage of website visitors who ended their session with a particular page. It will vary from page to page.
All sessions end with a page. Known as an exit page, it’s the last page a visitor sees before leaving your website. Exit rate reveals how many visitors ended their session with a page. If a subpage on your website has an exit rate of 50 percent, roughly half of all visitors will end their session with that subpage. The other half will continue their session by accessing another page.
A high exit rate isn’t always bad. Well-optimized sales pages often have a high exit rate. Visitors have completed their journey upon reaching a sales page, so they no longer have any reason to stay. But if you discover that other, middle-of-the-journey pages have a high exit rate, you may want to refine them.
Not all visitors will be engaged while accessing your website. Some of them will inevitably be disengaged. They may leave after accessing only one page, or they may abandon a piece of content without leaving a comment. You can measure visitor engagement using these metrics.