Website key performance indicators – what to measure

Last Updated on November 19, 2020

Is your website a success? Not sure of the answer? You’re not alone. Website owners around the world are scratching their heads and wondering if their website should be doing better than it is.

It starts with your expectations. What was the intended purpose of the website? Perhaps you just wanted to have something online because you felt you had to. Maybe you had high hopes that the site would generate leads, real prospects, and eventually lots of new clients.

If what you hoped for and what you’re getting are two different things there are two possibilities:

  1. Yes, your website has failed to realize its potential, or
  2. Your expectations were too high

Let’s assume that your expectations were not too high, and you just have a general feeling that your website could be doing more but you need some data to back up your suspicions. So, what key performance indicators should you be analyzing to get some ‘intelligence’ to work with?

A good place to start is with the following performance areas:

  • The website statistics
  • Your search engine rankings
  • Your link popularity and Google PageRank
  • The number of enquiries or emails the website generates

Your Website Statistics

Assuming your website has a statistics package (and most will), you will be able to login to the statistics service and view your visitor information.

Web statistics can be mind boggling at the best of times and a lot of the data recorded can be ignored. The information you do want to analyze includes:

Unique Visits: The number of actual and unique visitors you are getting to your site each month

Referrals: What websites referred visitors to your site this will include general websites, directories and search engines.

Keywords: What terms people are using to find your website on the search engines.

Analyzing this information will reveal a lot about the state of play with your website. Ideally you should see a natural growth in your website visitor numbers over a 6 month period. If the visitors are dropping off each month then your site needs immediate attention.

Your Search Engine Rankings

Ok, so here is the truth about search engines. They don’t always send the bulk of traffic to a website. But, the visitors they do send are usually highly interested in your service – in marketing speak they are ‘well qualified”.

Your goal is to rank in the top 30 for your keyword phrases. Make sure you are going for realistic keyword phrases, for example if you are a Christchurch book shop its going to be impossible to rank for ‘books’. Instead you will need to add in geographic references and analyse those terms.

A position on page 1 of the search engine results pages (SERPS) is the best position to be in, position 1 on page 1 is the top spot and if you secure it you will soon see the results.

Essentially there are three search engines worth monitoring as they account for the majority of search referrals to a website, they are (in order of importance):

  • Google
  • Yahoo
  • MSN

Don’t worry about analyzing the other engines unless you actually get visitors from them.

Now, pick the five keyword phrases you think you should rank for and put them into an excel spreadsheet. In the next column put in the date you searched for that term. Run your search and just go up to page 3 (or position 30). As you find your site enter its rank into the spreadsheet, if you don’t find your site in the top 30 enter in a number over 30 that indicates your site was ‘not found’ for example you could use ‘50’. As you track these results each month you will soon see a trend and can plot this against your search engine referrals from your website statistics.

Add a separate row for each keyword term and tally up the total for each column. The smaller the number the better. For example, if you are analyzing 5 keyword phrases then you are aiming for a column total of 5 (which is 5 first place positions). You can do a lot with just this data to spot trends and make predictions. If you are very reliant on your visits from Google (as some e-tailers are) then you need to keep a close eye on these rankings.

Wondering what keywords to target?

Visit Keyword Discovery, WordTracker or NicheBot.

Analyzing Link popularity and PageRank

How many websites link to yours counts towards how much link popularity you have – or what PageRank Google is going to assign your website and its pages. More link popularity is better, as is a larger PageRank score. If you want to know what your link popularity is go to a site like or if you have the Google toolbar installed look at the green slider bar – if it is halfway across then you have a PageRank of 5 which is quite good. Over time you will naturally gain links to your site (assuming it is ‘link worthy’). Though you can help it along by getting listings on website directories and requesting reciprocal links.

The Enquiries or Emails you Get / Visitor to Enquiry Conversion Rate

The number of enquiries you receive can be dependent on many different aspects of your website and the industry you are in. You probably have a fair idea of what you should be getting.

If you are not achieving your goal enquiry rate then it could be a lack of traffic (simply not enough eyeballs) or it could be that you don’t have enough calls to action to prompt visitors to contact you. You should keep a record of each enquiry you receive so you can work out how many enquiries you receive as a percentage of your visitors. Get 100 visitors a day and 10 enquiries – then you have a 10% conversion rate (to enquiry).

If you want to be really clever track how many of those enquiries you then go on to close. If you have an e-commerce site you want to track the conversion from visitor to sales. Frequently e-commerce sites have a 3-4% conversion rate though sites like Amazon do better than average.


It’s best to always think of your website as a work in progress. The objective is to have information at your fingertips which will help you to make informed decisions rather than guessing.

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