Should you be tracking sessions, or page views? Do you know how many pages each of your visitors should be looking at? We take a look
When we first began seriously monitoring our growth we were totally focused on visitors.
You probably are too.
A steadily increasing number of people arriving on your site is certainly an indicator that you are doing something right.
But it can also be a little misleading
At one time, we barely gave pageviews time of day. We now take this metric much more seriously.
In many respects, isn’t the number of visitors that counts, its the number of pageviews.
Let’s compare page views per session
One hundred people arrive on website A, and each visitor looks at a single page and leaves.
That is one hundred pageviews.
In the same timeframe, fifty people arrive on website B, browse an average of three pages each and leave.
That is one hundred and fifty pageviews.
If you site is like Website B that is great for two crucial reasons
- Reason one – Your site doesn’t suck
- Reason two – Your site is more valuable
Your site doesn’t suck
Those hundred people didn’t think much of Website A did they? They upped and left without bothering to look around.
You know the feeling when you walk into a shop, take one glimpse of the interior, the faintly dank smell, the dated decor and the desperate assistant waiting to grab you.
The products may be great but the experience isn’t. And you leave as soon as is decently possible. You probably won’t go there again.
Those fifty who came to your site – website B on the other hand, loved what they found.
They stayed and looked around.
They’ll probably come back again to see whats new. They’ll even tell their friends about you.
Those pageviews tell you your site doesn’t suck. And that is great news.
Your website is more valuable
If you have more pageviews and you want to earn money with display advertising, you can make more with blog B.
Most advertising revenue is calculated on the basis of the amount paid per thousand page views (CPM).
Advertisers are not so much interested in how many visitors you have. They want to know how many pages have been viewed.
Page views drive advertising sales and Website B, with its fifty visitors, is making more money than Website A with double the traffic
How to track your page views per session
You need to install Google Analytics on your website. This will track page view per session for you (and a million other things besides).
You are unlikely to be able to continue to grow a website successfully without Google Analytics and trying is a bit like trying to swim with one hand tied behind your back (doable but difficult).
If you’ve ever had a glimpse into someone’s analytics dashboard it may seem daunting, but don’t be put off.
I waited several years before getting acquainted with Google Analytics, pretending to myself (and anyone that would listen) that my simple stat measuring software was superior
It wasn’t. And you need Analytics from the get go
How many pages per view should I get?
Page views per session, or the number of pages, on average, that each visitor to your site looks at, is one of the metrics we now track carefully.
We have observed variations that are associated with different stages in the life of our blogs
Most people want to know what is normal or average. And are surprised to find that figure is quite low.
Especially for a blog, where people often come just to read a particular article.
On most blogs with a hundred or more posts – you’re looking at somewhere between 1 and 2 pages per view.
If you are hitting 1.4 or 1.5 pageviews per session you’re not doing too badly.
What if your page views per session is falling!
It’s important not to panic about a gradually falling page per view count. At certain stages in your blog’s life this is normal.
The key point is to understand where you are and whether or not the fall is relevant
Is the drop in page views per session caused because your visitors are unhappy, or for some other reason?
The page views per session of any blog changes as the website develops and matures
In the very early stages, there are not many articles available to view and page views per session tends to be quite low. 1.1 or 1.2 is normal in the first year.
Then, if you publish regularly and have a hundred or more quality posts on board, properly linked with a good navigation system, sometime during the second year you could break the 2 page views per visit barrier.
A high quality authority site with little or no display advertising, and a very relevant audience, may even touch on 3 pageviews per session at some point.
This would be pretty exceptional in a pet blog though.
Once a site is monetised, and traffic is being directed elsewhere (to advertisers and affiliates) your page views per session is likely to fall back below 1.5 page views per visitor again
This is only natural because a proportion of your visitors are clicking on your adverts and hopefully earning you some money.
Pages viewed per visitor, or more precisely per session, is important but needs to be considered in association with all the relevant factors.
If you’ve a two year old pet blog with three hundred articles and no adverts, you really should be getting more than 1.3 page views per session
We’ll be talking later about remedies to help you if you are not hitting this target
If you have a one year old blog with less than a hundred articles, or a four year old blog with adverts all over it, then 1.3 or even a bit less is probably to be expected.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try harder to keep people interested in your site once they have arrived of course.
How about you?
Are you happy with your pages viewed per session? Do you have a target for increasing them? Share your progress in the comments box below
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