How Do I Know If My Website Is Performing?

Christian Thomson
LinkedIn

Christian is a British-born entrepreneur and founder of Marwick. For over 19 years, Christian has successfully helped businesses excel in digital marketing.

How do I know if my website is performing as well as it should?
This is a question many business owners and marketing professionals ask every week.
In this 20 minute video, our CEO Christian Thomson dives into a number of tools and resources you can use to measure the performance of your website. You can expand the video below and also access any of the links mentioned in the video below.

Show Notes

Here are the links mentioned in the video;

Track & Measure Calls

We recommend using Call Rail https://www.callrail.com/ 

Setting up conversions in Google Analytics.

Visit https://analytics.google.com 

Google Search Console

Visit https://search.google.com/search-console

Monitor Backlinks

Visit www.semrush.com 

Visit https://majestic.com/ 

Audit Your Website For Free

Visit www.growwithgoogle.co.uk 

Measure Website Load Time

Visit https://pagespeed.web.dev/ 

Visit https://gtmetrix.com/ 

Visit https://www.pingdom.com/ Need more help drop us a line www.MarwickMarketing.co.uk

Transcript

Hey, this is Christian Thomson from Marwick Marketing. I’m jumping in to make this short video blog around a question we get asked a lot at our agency from business owners from all around the world, and that simply is, is my website performing as best as it possibly could be? It’s quite a simple question, but there are a lot of different angles and perspectives on answering that, so I wanted to jump in. I’m going to try and do this in one take. So apologies if there are some ums and ahs and sipping of coffee, but it’s just easier to get this content out there on video in one hit. So we’re going to dive in.

When we’re looking at the performance of the website, it’s a good idea to kind of take a step back and look at what are the key metrics that I want to measure for the performance of my website? What is it that my website adds value to my business for? There are some really obvious ones, like generating revenue from direct sales, so if you’re an e-commerce platform, that’s a pretty easy one to measure. Lead generation through forms being filled out, phone calls, real top level, top of the pyramid in terms of performance metrics.

Are we measuring PDF downloads? If you have a lead magnet, make sure we’re able to measure those as a KPI, a key performance indicator. Are we measuring our app downloads, and email subscribers? Are we measuring and tracking how we’re placed on Google and the other 52-odd search engines? Are we doing better than our competitors? The competitive business space is in the real world, but it’s equally in the digital world as well. So just because someone has a bigger shop than you down the road or a bigger factory, online, that shifts completely. So being able to measure that is highly important for the success of your business.

Are we tracking the performance of the traffic when it comes to the website? What happens to those people when they find the website, are they converting into sales, leads, contact forms, phone calls, and if not, how can we improve on that? Are we tracking our conversion rate? Faster load time, is a performance metric, for sure. Website conversion rates drop an average of 4.42% with each additional second of load time, so it’s critical that some of the best converting websites, regardless of the industry, are loading in less than two seconds. And for every second after that, your conversion rate is going to drop and drop and drop. And don’t forget, we’re using our phones a lot more and the signal is not always perfect, 4G, 5G, so making sure our websites load exceptionally fast, even when the internet or the Wi-Fi or the cell network isn’t particularly strong.

There are quite a few different to look at or define what is performance, and in this video I’m just going to go through and give you some tips and tricks and some resources that you can use to measure those. How do we monitor the performance of our website? One of the areas we can look at is tracking and measuring phone calls. Marwick Marketing, we are a CallRail partner. This is a fantastic tool, it’s not that expensive, but this will track any phone calls that come through your website, and also your other digital marketing as well. Social media, your Google Ads, you can even set up print specific phone numbers.

What this tool does is enable you to see specifically where those phone calls come from. So not only are you measuring the number of phone calls, but you can then attribute that to the marketing channel that those phone calls come from. A really insightful, helpful tool, and like I say, pretty inexpensive considering the wealth of information you get there. What I’ll be doing as well is, in the show notes, or in the comment section in the notes below, I’ll add all these links so you can go check them out yourself.

Tracking PDF downloads, app downloads, all that kind of more integral elements of the website, is definitely done within Google Analytics, and it’s actually very surprising to see how many websites don’t have this set up. So definitely, if it’s not something you have set up, this is one of the first places to start, because, without conversion tracking within Google Analytics, you really are shooting in the dark when it comes to tracking the performance of the website. Some very high level conversion tracking here, you can measure pretty much anything you want to. It could be as obvious as contact form submission. It could be a bit more specific, like you measuring which links people click on, and so on like that. So you can create different goals for different things.

Obviously, with e-commerce, you can get a lot more detailed as well, and you want to understand what happens to people as they go from landing on the homepage, to the product page, to putting something in the cart or the shopping basket, and then going to checkout, and then actually buying. In this example, we only actually see 30.23% of people actually buy something. So there’s a lot of information that can be taken from those drop off points. And this is all within Google Analytics, which is free. It’s fairly straightforward to set up, and it’s something that, if I had an e-commerce website, this would be something I’d be looking at pretty much every day, looking at how I can improve those metrics there. So, that’s conversion tracking.

The other performance metric that I mentioned there is the positioning on Google of your actual website. A real common thing that happens is, as a business owner, obviously we’re super busy. We might Google our company name and see our website come up nice and high. That’s great, but it’s not really serving its purpose in terms of does that mean we’re going to gain more clients from that? Because number one, if they’re searching for you by your brand name, they already know about you, so they’re typically not a new lead or a new potential customer. So then we start Googling non-branded terms. It could be a vet clinic, or it could be law firm in my local city. The problem with you Googling it constantly on your own laptop or computer is that Google starts to recognize your own search history and will customize search results based on what you’re searching for and the websites you’re clicking on.

So if you’re constantly clicking on your website and you’re in a certain location, the results that you see will become more customized to what you’re doing, and that can kind of give you a bit of a false reading in terms of how well your website’s performing in the search results. So using tools like Ranktracker and this internal tool at Marwick, where we will track specific keywords in a location, because search results change depending on where you are in the world, from country to country and city to city, but from a neutral perspective, so the very first time someone searched that keyword. That gives you a good idea of how the website is either climbing up Google, so the Google change, which is highlighted in this slide, or if it’s dropping down, and it will give you a sense of what groups of keywords are performing better than others.

This example here is actually the Marick UK website. We launched that one in September 2021, we’re now May 2022, and you can see that typical SEO, it takes a few months to get going, and then as we start to improve, it’s kind of like a snowball effect, so that as the snowball gets bigger and you’re making that snowman, you’re picking up more and more snow, it becomes easier. So we’re kind of at that cusp now, where we’ll expect this website to continue to do really well and improve its search rankings over the next 12 months. Because the hardest bit, actually, is this first six months, getting it recognized by Google. Being able to track that from a neutral perspective is very important because it will give you a sense of how is Google and other search engines responding to this?

Another thing you’ll notice, is that I do reference Google a lot when I’m actually speaking about search engines. There are indeed over 52 other search engines around, it’s just Google is used 95% of the time. So when I say Google, I actually do mean all search engines. We can cross-reference the improvements of the website on Google and other search engines by retrospectively looking at how often our website’s called up. So we can track where the website is on Google in terms of placement, whether that’s 20th place on Google, or third place on Google, and then we can cross-reference that to make sure that what we’re seeing there is actually what’s happening. Within Google Search Console, we can go to Performance, which is just on the menu on the left, then Search Results, and then Filter by Impressions, which I’ve done here in this screenshot.

What this shows is the website being called up. So when someone’s making a search that’s relevant for, in this case, Marwick, so maybe it’s an SEO agency, every time that website’s been pulled up into the search results, that becomes an impression. So it doesn’t matter if we’re on page 10 or number one, every time the website gets pulled into the search results, it’s counted as an impression. So you can see as the previous slide showed, that the website has gone from being brand new, unindexed, to now starting to place higher, what’s happening is our impressions are increasing on Google as well. So it’s a nice way to just measure the performance of the website from an organic traffic point of view. Organic traffic is one of the leading sources of high quality leads because people trust it, and this is a smart way just to have comfort in the knowledge that your website is performing as it should on search engines.

While you’re in the Google Search Console, you can measure a lot of other things as well. It’s really important to keep an eye on. I’d probably jump in here at least once a month. Again, if you’re a busy business owner or a marketing professional, at least coming in here once a month. It’s kind of like the garage for your car. It’s the garage for your website. You can measure the total number of clicks, impressions, click-through rate, average position, and so on. What’s also really important is if you’re finding that some pages aren’t indexing or if you’re building out landing pages, there’s a section within Google Search Console that will actually tell you whether those pages have been found by Google and indexed, or if they’ve been just found by Google, but not indexed just yet, and so on, or if there’s any errors with the website, this is where you’ll find that out.

Again, the Google Search Console, just Google Analytics, is free. So there’s no excuse not to have it all set up, regardless of the size of the business and size of the website. Just make sure you’re using it. One item I didn’t really mention at the top in that initial slide, but something to monitor when we talk about performance, which is massively linked to the organic position of a website, is the quality and quantity of backlinks. This is surprisingly unmonitored by a lot of businesses, and it’s actually quite critical to the success of a website. There are a number of tools out there, I’ve listed two of probably the most recognized ones, Majestic and Semrush.

The reason we want to monitor backlinks is simply twofold. One is if it’s done right, it has a significant improvement on the organic position of the website. Done right basically means gaining links from websites that have high authority or are trusted, and they pass that trust onto the website, your website. And on the flip side, you don’t want to gain lots of poor backlinks or untrusted links, because that will have the same effect, where it will negatively impact the trust and the trust flow of our website. So being able to monitor who’s linking to us and just getting a good sense of what’s going on is really important for any website as well. This one I’d probably check in maybe every six to eight weeks, just to make sure it’s all looking good. Again, there’s some tools there. I’ll add the links in the comment section below.

While we’re on the subject of the performance of the website on Google and other search engines and SEO, one area that we can keep a track on quite nicely is just auditing our websites. This is important. I would probably have this set up maybe once a week, or at least maybe twice a month. When we talk about website audits or SEO audits, we’re talking about software that can very quickly scan a website or your competitor’s website and come back to you with a range of KPIs, metrics, performance metrics. It’s looking at things like, it’s looking at your website in the eyes of how Google would see your website, or other search engines. So it’s looking at website load time, it’s looking at keywords, it’s looking at onsite SEOs. So your page titles, your meta descriptions, all that kind of stuff, making sure it’s as optimized as possible.

We use the website GrowWithGoogle.co.uk. It provides free audits. They’re generated within 15, 20 seconds. You don’t need to sign up, there’s no sale. It’s just so simple to use. The nice thing about it as well is you can add competitor domain names and it will give you a like-for-like. So in this instance, you can see we’ve actually used the Marwick UK website against a local friendly competitor, but it will give us an indication of how fast our website loads compared to theirs, and so on. These audits are, I think they probably cover about 30 different items as well, and you can choose the keyword, you can test it as many times as you like, so a really good tool. A good thing to do is to audit your website on a regular basis, because as we add more pages and we add images and maybe we remove products, things break and fall apart, plugins become outdated, all that kind of stuff, and that can lead to a website underperforming.

Christian Thomson:
It’s not something you would do once and just leave it, it’s something you want to do, or at least check in on, on a regular basis. It’s kind of like a servicing of the car. So if Google Search Console was the garage, auditing your website is just maintaining your car and giving it a good service, making sure it’s performing as best as it can do there. On the subject of competitors, I did bring that up in the first slide, if you’re the only company in the world doing what you do, it’d be really easy to be number one on Google, and you’d be a billionaire. Unfortunately, you’re going to have competitors in the digital space, whether they are local to your geographical business or whether they’re just competing with you for the real estate that’s online.

Using Semrush, there are a number of cool tools that you can do that will pitch you against your competitors. In this instance, we take another friendly competitor here and we’re measuring our traffic sources, so the number of people that come through things, like typing in our website directly into Google, and comparing it to a competitor. This just gives you a sense of how your website’s performing against other websites, and that’s a really important metric to measure, because in the real world, it’s kind of easy to see because you can see branded vans running around or people on jobs, and you get a sense of who’s busy and who’s not. So this helps us get a good idea of who’s busy and who’s not in the digital space, in the online world.

All right, and again, the last one on competitor tracking, it’s probably one of the most important. This is an example for, again, our UK website which was only recently launched, and a metric you want to keep an eye on, despite it being very slow to move, is trust flow. Trust flow is a score that’s given to websites. I always think of it as like it’s the highest level metric there is. It’s the most overarching umbrella metric. Simply put, trust flow is a score that’s given to a website, the higher it is, the more likely a search engine is going to trust your website as a resource that it can deliver to its customers. People search, and if it trusts your website, it’s going to place it higher because it trusts that what you’re providing in terms of a resource is unique, is informative, is detailed, is fast to load, so it’s going to provide a good user experience, the website is secure.

All these things go into how a search engine perceives this website, how much it’s prepared to trust it. The more a search engine trusts your website, the more likely it is to place it higher on Google and other engines. In this example, there is one factor that does come into trust flow that you can’t control, and that is the age of the domain name. So in this instance, we have someone, a company that is above us with a trust flow score of 31. This domain name, seochaps, is 12 years old, and that adds value to the trust flow score because it’s not a new website. And so the age of the domain does go into trust flow, whereas marwickmarketing.co.uk is only a couple of years old there. It’s quite an important metric to track there as well, trust flow.

All right, so moving on to what happens when people come to the website. We’ve talked a lot about the placement of the website on Google and other search engines and how we can measure that and the performance of the website itself in terms of the mechanical aspects of SEO. But what happens if we have a thousand people a month come to the website, what percentage turn into a lead or a sale or a PDF download? That is our conversion rate, and that’s something that we can improve on. Obviously, if you have a consistent 1,000 people a month come to the website and you go from a conversion rate of 3% to 6%, you’re doubling your business by simply changing this metric. This is a really important metric to keep an eye on, because obviously we think a lot about increasing the volume of search traffic, increasing the number of people coming to our website, but at the same time, we actually want to make sure that the people coming to the website are converting into either sales or leads.

One way of doing that is to work on what we would call conversion rate optimisation, and that’s the ability to use some of these tools. Hotjar is probably the most well known one. A fierce competitor to that is Smartlook. Basically, just they’re tools that allow us to look at where people are getting stuck. So if you think of it as a funnel, someone’s come to the website, they’re looking for what you do. That’s great, but from that intent to them either filling out a contact form or buying something, where are they getting stuck? What are the hurdles, and what are they missing? Is it the pricing? Are they just missing where to sign up? Are they struggling with the filling out the form? There are so many little things that we don’t think about. Again, if you think all we’re trying to do is go from 3% to 6% to double our business, this is an area of performance that we really want to spend some time. For the most part, Hotjar and Smartlook, they offer free trials and it’s worth investigating these platforms. Really easy to set up as well. Really great tools.

What can improve conversion rate is load time. This has been talked about for years, but more recently in the last couple of years, Google and search engines have very specifically said if you have a slow loading website, we’re not going to put you high on Google. So it doesn’t matter how much you audit the website or the content you have, if it’s painful to load, expect it not to do very well. And if you think about it from Google’s perspective and other search engines, it’s just about user experience. If Google is sending the majority of its website traffic to websites that are extremely slow and annoying, Google is kind of failing at its one job, and that’s to find the best resources on the internet to bring forward to answer your question or to answer your search query.

Ideally, faster, the better. Anything over five seconds is really bad. Anything under two seconds is great, but ultimately, it’s about having your website load as fast as possible. The nice thing about load time is there are a few different resources out there that are free and really easy to use. We’ve got Google PageSpeed Insights, GTmetrix, and Pingdom. I’d start with Google PageSpeed Insights. It will give you results based on whether someone’s searching on a wired desktop or on their phone, on a mobile or cell phone. Again, that’s just something that you want to be constantly looking into because just like the audits, it will change. As I mentioned, as you add more blogs and pages and links and new products and remove products, it will mess with the load time, and that’s something you want to keep an eye on.

You don’t want to go a few weeks having not noticed that your website’s been running extremely slow, because that will have a direct impact on the performance of the website and the lead generation and sales as well. So you can reflect back using Google Analytics, and look at were there any moments over the last week, six weeks, last year where my website was slow? In the current Google Analytics, on the left menu, you simply go to Behavior, Site Speed, and then Overview, and then change the date range to what you want to look back on. This will give you a sense of how the website’s performed in terms of load time or page load time. If you see really erratic changes in the load time, it may also be linked to where and how your website’s hosted. Sometimes, if you’re on a slightly cheaper hosting plan, that can be shared with other websites that are all having a piece of that pie.

So if you have quite a high volume website and speed is essential to you, which it should be, sometimes it’s nice to move to a dedicated server within a hosting package, just so that isn’t coming into effect when we talk about page load time or website load time. With the onset of Google Analytics 4, this won’t be something that is going to be part of it, sadly, but there are workarounds to be able to measure in this, including integrating Google Lighthouse with Google Analytics. I’m sure we’ll do a video on that in the future.

That kind of concludes the video, and really it’s simply you can’t measure what you don’t track. The nice thing about digital marketing and search engines and all that kind of great stuff is that there’s no excuse. We can track literally everything, and it’s really a case of finding out what metrics are important for the success of your business, and making sure that we’re tracking them on a monthly basis. That we can feel confident as business owners that our website is moving in the right direction. It’s never an overnight success. It’s just a constant step forward, up the mountain of success. So, that’s the video. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to us at Marwick or post a question below. Always more than happy to help, and as mentioned through the video as well, I’ll be adding all the links to everything that I’ve gone through below, depending on what platform you’re watching this video on. I hope you enjoyed that, and we’ll catch up soon again.

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