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David Jackson
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I'm founder and CEO of Seeking Alpha. I started Seeking Alpha after working for five years as a technology research analyst for Morgan Stanley in New York. Seeking Alpha is now the dominant crowdsourced equity research platform, with thousands of contributors and millions of monthly visitors,... More
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  • How to Measure a Website's Success 8 comments
    Jun 25, 2009 4:43 AM

    Usability expert Jakob Nielsen (pictured above) has a must-read article for anyone running a web site or investing in online businesses. He writes:

    ...ever-more users are arriving deep within websites rather than entering them through the homepage...

    For many sites, the deep-dip increase has an unfortunate consequence: much bigger bounce rates.

    The bounce rate is defined as the percentage of visitors who turn around at the entry page and immediately leave the site. Such visitors "bounce" out and never see additional pages.

    Given growing bounce rates, we must stop using "unique visitors" as a metric for site success. Site tourists who leave a site immediately ratchet up the unique visitor count, but don't contribute long-term value.

    On the contrary, bouncers should be considered a negative statistic: the site failed to engage them enough to entice even a second pageview.

    To measure site success, you should count only loyal users who return repeatedly...

    Chasing higher unique-visitor counts will undermine your long-term positioning because you'll design gimmicks rather than build features that bring people back and turn them into devotees and customers.

    At Seeking Alpha, we focus on two metrics of user engagement: average time on site and page views per visit. Average time on site this month is over 14 minutes per visit; but that number includes those who Jakob Nielsen calls "site tourists".

    Those who came directly to Seeking Alpha this month spent an average of 22 minutes per visit.

    The chart below shows the second broad metric for user engagement -- page views per visit.

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Comments (8)
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  • Pax Americana
    , contributor
    Comments (198) | Send Message
     
    Average 22 minutes per visit! woh! ...I must have a serious problem, as
    I am averaging 6 hours, must be an addict.
    25 Jun 2009, 05:21 AM Reply Like
  • Michael Eisenberg
    , contributor
    Comments (279) | Send Message
     
    David - This is spot on. I think twitter, ajax and videos are also forcing people to rethink this. Any suggestions on the best metrics? I think UUs is borrowed from TV and Nielson ratings as a measure of reach but in the attention-stressed medium we now live in, it is a particularly poor measure. Although, on the other hand, lots of people have built good businesses using SEO.
    25 Jun 2009, 08:41 AM Reply Like
  • Zack Miller
    , contributor
    Comments (72) | Send Message
     
    Is there a way to measure engagement in terms of activity during the avg time spent/month. Meaning, you want to see that these people are actually involved. I guess the pageviews/visit tells you that they're consuming content.
    25 Jun 2009, 08:49 AM Reply Like
  • David Jackson
    , contributor
    Comments (1229) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » Zack, you're right: We also track other metrics that directly measure activity: number of instablogs set up, number of instablog posts, number of StockTalks, number of comments, number of comments per article, number of comments per user. But many people are highly engaged as readers and not as content creators. Average time on site has the advantage that it includes them as well.

     

    On Jun 25 08:49 AM Zack wrote:

     

    > Is there a way to measure engagement in terms of activity during
    > the avg time spent/month. Meaning, you want to see that these people
    > are actually involved. I guess the pageviews/visit tells you that
    > they're consuming content.
    25 Jun 2009, 09:15 AM Reply Like
  • David Jackson
    , contributor
    Comments (1229) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » Michael, you're right about ajax and videos that don't generate page views. They do tend to show up as time on site. But there's a related issue that's harder to solve: more and more activity is happening "off site". For example, engagement via a widget or client won't show up as time on site, but is a critical metric for many companies.

     

    On Jun 25 08:41 AM Michael Eisenberg wrote:

     

    > David - This is spot on. I think twitter, ajax and videos are also
    > forcing people to rethink this. Any suggestions on the best metrics?
    > I think UUs is borrowed from TV and Nielson ratings as a measure
    > of reach but in the attention-stressed medium we now live in, it
    > is a particularly poor measure. Although, on the other hand, lots
    > of people have built good businesses using SEO.
    25 Jun 2009, 09:18 AM Reply Like
  • Peter Cooper
    , contributor
    Comments (790) | Send Message
     
    Yes this is very true. My problem is with non-Net advertising houses that compare dodgy readership audits with web-stats. One is straight from the source, the latter from goodness knows where.

     

    Print audits really bug me because they count the magazines coming off the press and not those that actually get to the readers. One publisher recently complained to me that the audits were now costing him a fortune in waste paper! But I suppose in time the most efficient media will win and ad-men and women are not idiots either. However, I think Unique Users are still the best comparison to print circulations as both have a considerable redundant component.
    25 Jun 2009, 09:49 AM Reply Like
  • pagealizer
    , contributor
    Comment (1) | Send Message
     
    bounce rate is a great indict but has it limitations when measured in landing pages. There is a big difference if a visitor read your page for 5 seconds or for 5 minutes. In the first case the page is not attractive enough for a visitor to read and in the 2nd case the visitor gives the page a lot of attention but apparently the conversion funnel is not optimized. in both cases common web analytics will record a bounce, wont be able to record visit length (since only one page is seen and visit length is calculated time between 2 page visits) and site owners miss on important information.
    This is why we created www.pagealizer.com . With pagealizer site owners can see how long are page visits, how far visitors scrolled down the page and where they clicked. Based on these parameters site owners receive feedback and suggestions on how to make their landing pages better.
    28 Jun 2009, 01:02 PM Reply Like
  • marck_don
    , contributor
    Comment (1) | Send Message
     
    Great information. Thanks for sharing
    12 Jun 2010, 06:05 AM Reply Like
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