9 Metrics to Follow Before Launching Your Next Conversion Optimization Test

November 2, 2015 | Basic SEO

Do you run A/B testing on a regular basis? If you do, research and strategy (and understanding your data) are key for success! Another important aspect to increasing conversions is emotional targeting – learning about your users and targeting their emotions in order to move them to buy, or leave their email, or read your blog and comment. To make your site the best it can be, with the conversion rates you want, you have to understand your visitors and see where you need to run your next test. In order to do that, you have to look into the data.

You’ve already purchased Rankwatch (or you’re thinking about it) and you’re collecting the data – but how do you know where to look and where to start?

Assuming you are collecting data from Google Analytics (which can be integrated with your Rankwatch account to make the most of the data you collect in one place), you must make sure your Google Analytics is set up properly. Here’s what you need to check:

  1. There is only one tag on all the pages.

  2. That you are using the latest version of Google Analytics.

  3. That you’ve set up goals, you are tracking events, and/or have connected Ecommerce Tracking.

Without proper measurement, the metrics won’t mean anything.

Once you have everything functioning smoothly, there are a few metrics we recommend. They will help you get to know your users better and understand where you want to focus your next Conversion Optimization test:

  1. Sessions:

A session is a group of interactions on your site within a given time frame. This means that a session could include multiple page views and different events and interactions on your site. A session usually ends when 30 minutes of inactivity pass or when someone exits the site (these can be changed and edited per your preference).

You can find these under “Audience” – and in almost every single window of data, from Demographics (age & gender) to Technology to Mobile to Location to New vs Returning, etc. It is rough data but it should always be looked at in relation to a dimension -device, page, location, language, etc. You can use it to understand the amount of traffic coming through your site.

  • Sessions – In overview, this will include every session that was on your site, whether first-time or repeat visitor and it will change depending on the dimension at which you look. So in the last month, Bob may have visited your site for the first time once, whereas Jane has visited it for the first time this month, but returned 7 times. In overall sessions, you’ll see 8.
  • New Users – First-Time visitors during the selected date range. So in the above scenario, you’ll see 2 sessions – one for Bob and one for Jane.


  1. Traffic Source:


Traffic Source (Under “Acquisition” on Google Analytics) shows  where your users are coming from. It can be split up into “Channels” and into “Source/Medium”. I like to look at both. But to understand where your traffic is coming from, it is very useful to look at Source/Medium. Go to Acquisition> All Traffic > Source/Medium.


  • What’s nice about Source/Medium is that it not only shows you the Channel (Direct, Organic Search, Paid Search, Referral, etc) but it also shows you further details. For example, “Google/Organic” means that these users came from searching in google and clicking on a link that linked them to your site, but not an ad. There can also be “Yahoo/Organic” or “Bing/Organic” so that you can see where your visitors are coming from.“Direct” means that they put the site domain straight in, and came directly to your site. But there are several other types of traffic that Google will attribute to Direct Traffic such as improperly tagged marketing campaigns, whenever a referrer is not passed, word/PDF documents that link the the side, and some redirects.Referral means they came from a link from a different site. But you can get Facebook/referral from a link to your site on facebook, and you can also see Shopping.com/referral. If you see that a lot of people were coming from shopping.com, you may want to reach out and invest in that connection in order to maintain it and perhaps increase users from that site! If a lot of users from a referral source are buying more than users from search, you can use that to learn about your users as well.

Acquisition-channel-example-GASource:Medium GA Example.png


  1. Landing Pages:

    1. A Landing page is the page that people first land on when they arrive to your site. This may be your homepage, a blog post, or a product page. You can find this under Behavior>Site Content> Landing pages. It can also be added as a secondary dimension to other reports such as Traffic Source, Geo, and Technology.


  1. Checkout your top 10 (or top 50) pages. You can learn a lot about your users here. You can see which pages convert most by setting up goals or enabling ecommerce tracking in your google analytics account. You can see which landing pages have the highest bounce rates (when users only view your one page without going on to a different page, and without interacting with a tracked event), and where most people are coming from to reach these landing pages.

    Based on this data, you can decide where you want to start optimizing. When you optimize a popular landing page, you can increase conversions by leading people through the right flow on your site.


On this landing page, you can see that 85% of sessions are new sessions, and that out of the 10,419 transactions made during this time, 3558 of them were from people who landed on this page. It has a very high revenue, and a 2.58% Ecommerce rate which is lower than the average among the landing pages.

The second landing page in this table, while it has almost half of the sessions of the first one, has more transactions, more revenue, and a higher ecommerce rate. We would want to look into this – how this landing page has increased conversions? How can we improve the homepage (the first page on the list) using this knowledge?

  1. Exit Pages:

    1. An exit page is the page on your site that users are leaving from. You can find it under Behavior> Site Content >Exit Page.


  1. If your landing pages are the same as your exit pages – you can see the high bounce rate. This way you can see which pages are engaging and cause people to click through, and which pages make people leave. You can look at the page and try to figure out why.

    It is important to note that some pages will have a high exit rate which is normal and it is supposed to be like that. For example, the “Thank you/Order Confirmation” page should  have a high exit rate because it’s the last page in the funnel. But if the second page in your purchase funnel has a high exit rate, then you should go into that page and see what is causing people to leave- a slow loading time? Spelling mistakes? Lack of trust? There are a lot of ways to answer that – so start testing!


  1. Conversion Rate:

    1. Conversion Rate is the rate at which users are completing what you want them to complete – whether it is signing up for a newsletter or completing a purchase order. You can track this on Google Analytics either by setting up goals or by enabling Enhanced Ecommerce Tracking. This way you can track conversions, making Google Analytics far more useful to you!. You can see which pages led to more conversions and which to less and then focus on optimizing the pages in order to increase further.


  1. Demographics:

  1. Knowing your users as a target audience can help you understand who your users are, from their age group to their gender to the place they are located or the language they speak. This can help you create your marketing persona and understand how to market to this audience and thereby increase conversions.

  1. Demographics are age and gender data on your users and can be found under Audience> Demographics. By knowing this, you can get to know your target audience better. You may have designed your copy to match your target audience of 45+ but you find out that, actually, ages 25-35 are coming to your site more and converting more. You may want to change your strategy to target that age group, or see why they are converting more and change your strategy to target the audience you meant to. Same goes for gender.



  1. Another aspect of demographics and learning about your target audience is Geo-location which you can find under Audience>Geo. Here you can track the location and language of your users. You can see whether 97% of your users come from the US or only 48%, and where the rest of the traffic is coming from.

    If your orders are being made from abroad, you may want to emphasize your free shipping worldwide! You can personalize your site by welcoming your guest with “Hello to Brazil!” or “Free Shipping to Canada”, depending on where your user is coming from. This adds a personal touch, connection, and incentive for the user to convert on your site! You can also offer your site in multiple languages if you see that a large amount of users speak another language.


In the example above you can see that 39% of traffic comes from the US, with the next closest being 6% from Mexico and 5.57% from Australia. We can see with US, Australia, UK and Canada being up in the top 10, that we should focus on English speaking countries.

  1. New vs Returning Users

    1. New vs Returning Users is just what it says – the number of your users in a selected period of time who have been first time or returning users. This can be found under Audience> Behavior > New vs Returning. If you see that your new users are converting more than returning visitors, you can focus on gaining traffic and increasing those conversions. If you see that returning users are converting more, you can find ways to increase returns – such as focusing on optimizing email newsletters, incentives, etc.

New-Vs-Returning-VisitorsNew Vs Returning Visitors GA

As you can see in this image, Returning Visitors have a much higher conversion rate and bring in substantially more revenue for this company than new users. This means working on turning New Users into returning users. You can also think about why New Users don’t convert. Is this an ecommerce site? Are they leaving to compare prices? Are they not purchasing the first time around because it is time-consuming and they don’t have enough time?

You can also see where these returning visitors are coming from by adding a secondary dimension of Source/Medium (a metric we mentioned earlier) – it’s always good to learn more!


  1. Device & Browser –

    1. If you go to Audience>Mobile> Overview, you can see a clear breakdown of the different devices people use in order to view your site.


  1. You may have more visitors from Mobile, in which case you’ll want to focus on your mobile site and running tests there. You can also check the Operating system to see whether you should focus on Apple Iphone users, or on PCs, and make sure that your site runs smoothly.


  1. Site Speed

    1. This may be one of the first things you want to check when connecting google analytics to your site. You can find it in Google Analytics under Behavior> Site Speed. This tells you how long it takes your site to load on each browser. In today’s world, sites that take longer than 3 minutes can be left very quickly, which may result in people not even seeing your site before leaving it. You may see a very high bounce rate because of this.

      The beauty of Google Analytics is that they will tell you what is slowing down your speed so that you can fix it! It can also tell you that while your site is loading quickly on Internet explorer, it is taking over 14 seconds to load on Chrome, and  40% of your traffic is coming from Chrome, so you will want to invest time working on that site speed.


Site Speed browser GA

You can see in this case that Chrome Browser takes a whopping 11.82 seconds to load!



Optimizing your conversion rates does not mean just creating a bigger button and testing it, or improving your copy, or implementing engaging imagery. It also means understanding your user and building your marketing personas and strategy based on the analytics data- from their age and location, to their loading time experience, to the amount of time they spend on a page to where they click, how far down the page they scroll, and where they leave your site. Before you start testing, you want to make sure you are testing on the right page -where there will be more impact -and to do that, you have to look into the data.

What metrics do you find most useful when looking at your data?

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