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Editorial Note: Please enjoy this guest blog post from our partners at OmniUpdate.
If you’re a marketing professional in the field of higher education, you already know how important your institution’s website is in terms of attracting prospective students. This audience is an important, if not the most important, segment of your website’s traffic.
Measuring your site’s traffic can be an intimidating task. But it’s not just traffic that you have to keep in mind—there are multiple ways to look at the visitors your website receives. To help you learn more about your prospective students, attract them to your site, and convert them into applicants, we’ve compiled a list of the seven most important traffic metrics to consider:
- Average time spent on site
- Bounce rate
- New visitors vs. old visitors
- Landing page rates
- Source information
- Geographic information
- Conversion rates
When you consider your traffic data in tandem with these other metrics, you’ll find yourself with a better understanding of your prospective students’ online experience. These insights can help you improve that experience, which will in turn improve your conversion rate. Let’s dive in.
1. Average Time Spent on Site
The first metric to consider is the average time spent on your site, or the length of a visitor’s stay on your site. When someone comes to your site, you want them to be immediately engaged with the content.
Average time gives you a better understanding of the quality of your page because it indicates how long a visitor is willing to interact with the content on that page. If you’re not sure that your site is attracting your target audience, consider revamping your SEO strategy with some easy best practices.
2. Bounce rate
The bounce rate of your website, or of individual pages, indicates the percentage of visitors that visit that page and then leave your website without looking at any other pages.
A high bounce rate indicates that your page is not providing what the visitor is looking for. However, when combined with a long time spent on the site, it indicates that visitors aren’t finding the right calls to action to navigate to other resources, like your lead capture pages.
While this also isn’t the ideal scenario, it just means that you need to provide more opportunities to stay on your site.
Not all website traffic is the same—it’s valuable to know if your website is drawing visitors back again.
A high percentage of new visitors means that your site is drawing in interested people, but that they’re not interested enough to return after that first visit. A high percentage of old visitors means that your website is doing a good job of providing value to prospective students, but it’s not as effective in reaching new audiences.
Aim to create a healthy balance between new and old visitors.
4. Landing page rates
A landing page is the first page on your site that a visitor sees. It’s important to track your top landing pages because they’re your best chance to make a good first impression on a prospective student.
If you know that your most popular landing page is your homepage, make sure that you check the bounce rate to ensure that you’re retaining your visitors. If your most popular landing page is a departmental homepage or admission FAQ page, make sure that they’re the best representatives of your institution.
5. Source information
Knowing where your visitors are coming from is as important as knowing what they do on your site once they arrive. Common sources include email, social media, organic search (like Google or Bing) and direct, which means they typed your website’s URL into the address bar.
Source information can tell you a lot, like where your marketing campaigns are paying off or how your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts are performing. If you find that certain sources aren’t driving traffic to your site, it’s time to head back to the drawing board.
6. Geographic information
Understanding where your site visitors are located geographically is a valuable insight, especially during application season. Whether you’re looking to increase your population of international students or searching for more out-of-state applicants, you should measure where your traffic is coming from, geographically.
If you find that a lot of your traffic is coming from other states, but your information pages for prospective out-of-state students aren’t getting many visitors, it’s time to make those links more prominent or improve your SEO strategy for those keywords.
7. Conversion rates
This metric is crucial for higher ed institutions. Your conversion rate measures what percentage of site visitors actually hit that “Apply Now!” button. The primary goal of your website is to attract prospective students, so this is the most important metric for making sure that you’re achieving that goal.
Measuring your conversion rate can help show you where your site excels and determine where your engagement strategies can be improved, especially when analyzed in conjunction with landing pages and time on site.
Understanding your college or university website’s metrics gives you solid data to reference when creating future content and will help you make your website the best it can be.
To be inspired by some of the best college websites, check out this list from OmniUpdate.
About the Guest Author:
Court Campion is director of marketing at OmniUpdate, creator of award-winning OU Campus®, the most popular commercial content management system (CMS) for higher education professionals. Check out the OmniUpdate blog for more information about university and college website redesign, accessibility, student engagement, and other topics of interest to higher ed marketers, developers, and administrators.