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How To Measure Visitor Engagement on Your Website

Photoxpress_3400966High-traffic websites are only successful if visitors are actively engaged. Visitors who fail to take action aren’t helping the site achieve its goal. Whether the site’s objective is to sell a physical product, sell a service, generate e-mail signups, produce leads, etc., it needs engaged visitors to succeed.

But how exactly do you measure visitor engagement on a website? It’s not a visible metric in any analytics tools, leaving many webmasters to question the best technique to measure engagement on their site.

Average Time Spent on Site

One metric that is available for viewing in most analytics programs is the average time a visitor spends on the site (also known as average visitor duration). If visitors are engaged and taking action, they’ll naturally spend more time on the site.

Now for the million dollar question: how long should visitors spend on a website? This is something that’s going to vary dramatically based on the content type. Visitors may spend 10-15 minutes reading a page that contains a long, highly detailed article. On the other hand, they may only spend 15-30 seconds on a page if it contains nothing more than a short paragraph.

Consider the length of your content in relation to the average visitor duration. If a page on your site contains a long, descriptive article, then visitors should spend a greater amount of time on it. You can increase the average visitor duration by delivering quality, attention-grabbing content.

You can view the average time spent on your site using a variety of different analytics programs, including Google Analytics (recommended program).

Bounce Rate

Not to be confused with exit rate, bounce rate is an important metric that can be used to help measure visitor engagement on a website. Bounce rate is defined as the percentage of visitors who only access a single page during their session (visitors can access multiple pages with exit rate). If a third of your site’s visitors click the back button in their browser without clicking through to another internal page, your site would have a 33% bounce rate, which is pretty good for most types of sites.

A ‘bounce’ is triggered when a visitor performs one of the following actions:

  1. Clicks the back button in their browser (most common type of bounce)
  2. Closes their web browser
  3. Clicks on an external link
  4. Does nothing for 30 minutes (session times out)

Typically, a high bounce rate indicates that visitors aren’t locating the content they intended to find. When a large portion of a website’s visitors exit out of the site without clicking through to another internal page, there’s usually some underlying problem that needs to be addressed, such as irrelevant content, broken internal links, long load times or poor design, all of which results in poor visitor engagement.

How To Lower Your Site’s Bounce Rate:

  • Interlink your pages together using relevant anchor text and/or images
  • Include external links sparingly throughout your content
  • Perform an audit of your website to ensure it loads and functions properly across all devices
  • Create links to popular posts and pages in the sidebar
  • Encourage visitors to check out other pages on your site

Percentage of Repeat Visitors

You can also measure visitor engagement through the percentage of repeat visitors on your site. When visitors are engaged on a website, they’ll be more willing to return again in the future. A website that’s delivering quality content to its visitors will experience a higher percentage of repeat visitors.

Again, this is a metric that’s going to vary dramatically based on a number of different factors. Basic landing pages designed with the sole purpose of funneling visitors to an e-commerce checkout page will likely experience a low percentage of repeat visitors. A good rule of thumb that works in most situations is to maintain a minimum of 10% repeat visitors.

To determine the percentage of repeat visitors accessing your website, choose a time period in Google Analytics and select Audience Overview. This will display a wide range of information about the visitors who accessed your site during the specified time, including the percentage of repeat visitors.

Commenting

One of the lesser-known metrics for visitor engagement is the number of comments on a page (assuming your site has commenting enabled). Visitors who are interesting in your content will probably want to share their opinion in the comments section. Are visitors dropping comments on your website? Are they messaging with another? These are a few signs of a healthy website with an engaged audience.

It’s important to note that most comments will likely come in the form of automated spam software with the sole purpose of dropping a backlink on your site. Make sure your site’s commenting feature is set to approve before publishing; otherwise, you’ll end up with thousands of generic spam comments.