Google Analytics: the 9 most important KPIs for the website

9/11/2019 | Google Ads optimization

Google Ads optimization

Google Analytics: the 9 most important KPIs for the website 


To measure the success of a website, it's necessary to do more than simply monitor your sales. KPIs (key performance indicators) are also important when assessing the success of websites. It would be impossible to determine the success of a website without using measurable parameters.

What are the most important KPIs?

There is no one, correct answer regarding which parameters should be considered in detail. The KPIs that you should monitor on your website are solely dependent on the goal of the website. Before starting the web analysis, you must clearly define your objectives:what do you want to achieve with your website? There are two types of objectives: macro objectives and micro objectives.


Examples of macro objectives:

As many product sales as possible

Display of as many advertisements as possible

Examples of micro objectives:

PDF downloads

Newsletter subscriptions

Product video views


Figure 1: Define your website's goals with mico and macro objectives


What Google Analytics KPIs should I track on my website?

It is easier to derive the right KPIs for your website if your goals are clearly defined. Many such KPIs can be monitored using the free Google Analytics tool . To do this, you need to sign up for Google Analytics, integrate a code snippet on your website, and begin analyzing.


Below, we provide a list of the 9 most important pre-defined KPIs to track on your website, as well as an explanation on how to use the analytics tool to monitor these parameters. The KPIs are arranged according to the different categories in Google Analytics: Audience, Acquisition, Behavior, and Conversion.



In the 'Audience' category, you find all reports related to your website visitors. You can view details regarding your users' demographics, interests, behavior on your site as well as information about the technology they use to access your website.


Figure 2: Analysis criteria within the audience segment.

  1.  Ratio of new/returning visitors

Google Analytics uses cookies to determine whether a user has visited your site before, or whether they are a new visitor. You can see this information in the "New vs returning" report in the "Audience" section.


Figure 4: Use the 'New vs Returning' report in Google Analytics to see the proportion of new and returning visitors to your website


Cookies can be inaccurate as the user might have deleted their cookie, the cookie may have expired, or users might have viewed pages on a different device or browser. However, the trend is more important than the exact number. If you have a large number of returning visitors, you can conclude that your website is interesting for visitors, and that your site provides good content. If you have more new visitors than returning visitors, this could indicate successful branding campaigns and that your website is ranking well in the Google SERPs. Draw a conclusion between the ratio of new/returning visitors and your marketing measures, and review the content of your website.


By clicking on the diagram symbol in the report, you get an even more precise overview of the ratio of new and returning visitors.


Tip: Compare which channels are most effective at bringing your new and returning visitors to your site by clicking on the button 'Secondary dimension' and selecting 'Source.'


Figure 5: Add 'Source' to analyze the effectivness of marketing activity


From this figure, you can determine the effectiveness of different marketing activities and optimize accordingly.


3. Session duration

Below 'Audience,' 'Behavior,' and 'Engagement,' you can see how long visitors stay on your website.


Google Analytics organizes the visitors in groups based on session duration. The first group of visitors are those who stayed on your website for up to 10 seconds. This also includes users who immediately left the page, most likely because your website didn't meet their user intent.



Figure 6: See your visitors by session duration in the 'Engagement' report


Tip: You can filter out users who immediately left your page by clicking on '+ Add Segment' and selecting 'Non-bounce Sessions.'




Figure 7: Filter out 'Non-bounce Sessions' in the 'Engagement' report


The result is a view in which the visits without bounces are show in relation to all sessions within the analysis period. As you can see, most bounces occur between 0 and 10 seconds during visits.



Figure 8: Overview of 'Non-bounce Sessions'


Long session durations show that your website is interesting for visitors. If a large majority of your visitors do not stay on your website for very long, you should evaluate whether or not they can actually find what they are looking for.


4. Bounce rate

The bounce rate is an important measure for all website operators. This KPI shows what percentage of visitors leave your page after visiting only page..


The bounce rate not only shows you that visitors quickly leave your website, it can also work against your website in search engine indexes. If many visitors immediately leave your page, this could mean they did not find what they expected. This can send negative signals to search engines, resulting in an impact on your website's ranking in search engine results.


Tip: A high bounce rate can be the result of many different things.


Poor design

Poor usability

Users not immediately find the information they were looking for

Technical errors such as slow loading time

A high number of visitors who only view a single page does not always have to be negative. For example, a high bounce rate for a magazine or blog article is perfectly fine - in this case, a better indication of success would be a long average time on page. Nevertheless, if your website has a high bounce rate, you should conduct a more in depth analysis of your website. Read this article for some tips about how to reduce your bounce rate.



The "acquisition" area in Google Analytics deals with the traffic sources of your website.



Figure 9: 'Acquisition' tab in Google Analytics


5. Number of users from organic SERPs

Under 'Acquisition' and 'Overview,' you can view the number of visitors who come to your site through organic search results.



Figure 10: Easily see your organic search performance in Google Analytics


6. Number of newsletter opens

In the 'Acquisition' category under 'Campaigns,' you can monitor the performance of all campaigns, not just Google Ads campaigns.




Figure 11: See the performance of your marketing channels in Google Analytics


For example, you can monitor newsletter campaigns by adding the corresponding tracking parameters to the URLs in the newsletter. These are then identified by Google Analytics.


Tip: Google Analytics assigns the conversions to the last campaign an individual had contact with.


To get an overview of traffic per channel, you click on "All channels", and then "Source/medium"



Figure 12: Segment traffic according to channel



The 'Behavior' reports provide details about the use of your subpages as well as how users interact with the content on your page.



Figure 13: 'Behavior' tab in Google Analytics


7. Average page speed

The average page speed is found in the overview under 'Behavior' and 'Site Speed.'



Figure 14: 'Site Speed' report in Google Analytics


Tip: Long loading times negatively effect both users' and search engines' perception of your website. If visitors have to wait too long for a page to load, they will most likely just leave the page and may even go to a competitor’s website. For search engines, the loading time of your website is a criteria for ranking. Read this article for to find out how you can test your page loading times.


You should, therefore, always ensure that the loading times are as short as possible. Long loading times can also have an effect on other KPIs such as the bounce rate.


8. Average time on page

Another important parameter is the average time a visitor stays on your page. This can be viewed under 'Behavior' - "Website Content - "All pages".


Figure 15: Check Avg. Time on Page in Google Analytics


Here, you can monitor the average time visitors stay on your website, and therefore, assess whether the users found the information they need on the respective subpages.


9. AdSense revenue

You can directly monitor sales figures in Google Analytics. For AdSense campaigns specifically, you can view these under 'Behavior' and 'AdSense.'


Tip: To use this function, your AdSense account must be linked with your Analytics account. You can do this under 'Admin,' 'Property,' and 'AdSense Linking.'


Figure 16: Link your Google AdSense account



The 'Conversions' segment analyzes your defined objectives and whether they have been achieved.


Figure 17: 'Conversion' tab in Google Analytics


10. Conversion rate

Under 'Conversions,' you can view the conversion rate for your defined goals and determine how many transactions took place within a certain period. Examples of such transactions include:


Purchasing a product

Subscribing to a newsletter

Reading an article

Sendinga contact form

Each of these examples can represent a conversion. This is because a conversion refers to the achievement of a specific goal.




Figure 18: See your conversion rate in Google Analytics


Tip: You must first define your website goals in Google Analytics. To do this, click on 'Admin,' then 'Goals'. Here you can click on 'New Goals.' To collect e-commerce data and evaluate these conversions, you must customize the e-commerce settings in your Google Analytics account and the tracking code. You can also find the settings in the "Data view" and in the property settings.



Figure 19: Define your goals in Google Analytics


Don't just rely on one KPI!

You now know how Google Analytics can help to assess the performance of your website, but be careful! Never rely on just one parameter. Just because the sales of your online shop are increasing, that does not necessarily mean that you are making more profit. Maybe the number of returns has also increased, maybe even more than the sales. This would result in less profit, and you may have missed it by being focussed on sales only.


You should define the appropriate macro and micro objectives of your website and from this, you can derive which parameters and KPIs you need to monitor to improve the performance of your website.


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