The Clapping Dog Media Knowledge Base

9 Metrics that Successful Online Businesses Track

Dec 28, 2022

Knowing what success metrics to measure in your business can be intimidating.

Whether it is social traffic, the ranking keywords on page 1, or the most read blog post of the year – there is a lot of metrics that businesses can monitor to gauge how the business is doing.

Have you checked out Google Analytics 4 yet? There is an unlimited number of custom reports that can be made in the new version of Google Analytics— and that is just website traffic, which doesn’t include any keyword data or info from the Google Search Console.

Knowing what to measure, how to measure it and what to do with the data is one of the most intimidating problems of running an online business.

At Clapping Dog Media, we have worked with hundreds of clients since 2015 to help them to figure out this exact problem.

In this post we are going to outline the 10 most important site metrics that successful businesses monitor regularly and why they are essential for all businesses.

  1. Sessions
  2. Traffic Sources
  3. Most Popular Pages
  4. New Users
  5. Users from Google
  6. Time Spent on Site
  7. Engagement Rate
  8. Number of Ranking Keywords
  9. Ranking Keywords

1. Sessions
According to Google Support, a session is a group of user interactions with your website or app that take place within a given time frame.

A session is when a user comes to the site and does something – like viewing a page, clicking a link, scrolling through an article. In GA4 (the latest version of Google Analytics) these actions are called events.

An easier way to think of Sessions is by swapping out the word session with Traffic.

It is more nuanced than that, but in general sessions equal site traffic.

For sites that want to reach a larger audience, sessions should increase month over month. The percentage of monthly growth for traffic (or sessions) is directly related to marketing.

SEO, social media, ads, content marketing, PR etc will all contribute to the total number of sessions.

Why we love Sessions: Because it measures the success of all marketing efforts – getting more traffic is key to growing awareness and selling more products or services online.

2. Traffic Sources
Knowing where site traffic comes from is critical to traffic growth.

This  literally can not be stressed enough. In order to get more traffic, you have to understand where traffic has come from. 

The top two traffic sources should be Google/Organic and Direct.

Google/Organic is SEO. These users typed something into Google (see #5)  and should account for anywhere from 35-55% of the total traffic.

Organic traffic is the type of traffic that you should strive for because it is literally the best for growing your audience.

  • SEO drives 1,000%+ more traffic than organic social media. (BrightEdge)
  • 60% of marketers say that inbound (SEO, blog content, etc.) is their highest quality source of leads. (HubSpot)

The best way to increase the traffic Google sends to your site is through a strategic content plan, if you need one, we can help. 

Direct Traffic is when users go directly to your website. Generally direct traffic should be 10-20% of the total traffic.

We love direct traffic. These are the visitors that like, know and trust you. These are the visitors that return to the site again and again, there is not a target percentage for referral traffic but it should make up the rest of the traffic pie.

Traffic Source Pie Chart

Referral Traffic is traffic that visits the site FROM another website. Referral traffic can come from social media or another website. Understanding Referral Traffic is very important.

Let me explain.

If a business dedicates time and energy to Instagram, then the traffic from Instagram should be proportional to the effort put in. 

Why we love Traffic Sources: It tells us what is currently working and  where to put our marketing efforts in the future.

4. New Users
Tracking the number of new sessions that come to websites is important for growing.

New users are Brand New to you. It means that your brand awareness is growing. It means that you are casting a wider net. New users mean that your marketing efforts are working. 

These New users didn’t know that you existed prior to visiting your site. 

Why We Love New Users: Because it is a direct link to how well our business is doing. The more new people a site reaches is an indication of what is working. 

#5 Users from Google
This is one of our most favorite metrics, this measures how many visitors clicked on the site from Google.

The latest data shows that Google processes over 99,000 searches every single second (Internet Live Stats, 2022). This makes more than 8.5 billion searches a day (Internet Live Stats, 2022). 

Your audience is actively using Google every day. Successful business owners understand that they don’t have to be in all of the places to connect with their audience, they just have to be found by Google. 

Why We Love Users from Google: Because users who come from Google are actively looking for your expertise and are more likely to become a raving and paying fan of the business.

6. Time Spent on Site

7. Engagement Rate

These two metrics are very much related to one another and are important for the overall success of an online business.

Time Spent on Site and Engagement rate indicate how much a visitor engaged with the site. 

The Average Time Spent on Site across the internet is 10 seconds. 

Yes that is true.  Most of us on the internet have an attention span of 8.25 seconds. Therefore,  if you can keep users on the site longer than 8.25 seconds that is a positive step in the right direction. 

We tell our clients at Clapping Dog Media that a goal for Time Spent on Site is 90 seconds, after 90 seconds engaged users will remember things like the brand name, colors and images on the site, users will begin to build a new memory of the site in their mind.

The engagement rate is the percentage of sessions that were engaged sessions.

An “engaged session” is a website visit in which two or more pages were visited …OR the visitor spent more than 10 seconds on the website …OR they completed one of the goals. If any one of these three things happen, then the visit is an engaged session. 

The average GA4 (new analytics) engagement rate is 55%.

Time Spent on Site and Engagement Rate are clear signs that users like a website and if users like a site they are more likely to return to it, subscribe to the newsletter, share it and buy something.

Why We Love these Metrics: Because users who engage with the site are more likely to become raving and paying fans of the site. 

#8 Number of Ranking Keywords

Ranking Keywords are one of the most important metrics to track for business success, because it is a clear indication of the health of a website and online business. 

Ranking keywords refer to a web page’s position within search results for a particular keyword search query. 

The more keywords that a site ranks for the more Google traffic a site will receive. 

The number of keywords that a site ranks for is directly related to the number of content rich pages on a site; these are normally blog articles, podcast notes and video transcriptions. 

Why We Love Ranking Keywords: Because the more keywords that a site ranks for the more Google traffic a site will get, see #5 above as to why we love Users from Google.

#9 Ranking Keywords

Not only is it important to track the total number of keywords the site ranks for, it is also important to track what the keywords are.

Ranking on Google for the right keywords will be a source of ever-growing engaged traffic. If an online business is found for what they want to be known for it will continuously attract visitors who are looking for their services.

Why We Love Ranking Keywords: This is a key to understanding how Google and users see your site.

There are a million different ways to track the performance of an online business and it is hard to know where to start.

The data collected in these 10 metrics are the go to foundation for growing a successful online business.

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