Over the years, the world of SEO marketing has progressively armed itself with a multitude of metrics that help marketers meet their goals. While these metrics have come a long way, there is still a shadow of nuance that make the most relied upon metrics suspect.

Site metrics are used to help marketers in diagnosing tactical challenges. Which is why it’s essential for SEO marketers to have a thorough understanding of the many nuances in the metrics that they’re working with. Here’s a list of common metric misconceptions that your team could be reading incorrectly:

  1. Bounce Rate

When a question arises about a page’s performance, the first metric that most webmasters check is the bounce rate. For most analytical tools, a page’s bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who leave a site after viewing one page. If a page has a relatively high bounce rate, it’s often times a symptom of poor content quality.

Although the bounce rate can be effective as a broad-view metric, the purpose of the page should come into consideration when analyzing its performance. Some content types will naturally have a high bounce rate, such as:

  • Content pages that encourages visitors to use external links.
  • Pages with purpose-specific content like an address, phone number, recipes, or instructions.
  • Checkout pages that follow after a purchase, subscription, or goal.

If the visitor has found what they’re looking for or clicked on an external link, their last page will show an inflated bounce rate.

  1. Pages Per Visit

Pages Per Visit has similar diagnosis issues as the Bounce Rate. As a rule of thumb, the higher your site’s Pages Per Visit, the more compelling and user-friendly your content. However, like the Bounce Rate, any analysis on Pages Per Visit should be made through the lens of a visitor.

It’s possible for an extraordinarily high Pages Per Visit to speak negatively about the navigability of your site. Sites with extensive catalogs for their product pages and blog articles will have a naturally high Pages Per Visit. As users browse through the catalog, they’re bound to wonder through multiple tags and titles until they’ve found what they’re looking for.

However, an extraordinarily high Pages Per Visit could be a sign that your catalog scheme is confusing to users or your content quality is poor. Users who go through multiple product pages or blog articles are navigating too many pages to find what they’re looking for. This could result in a lowered likelihood of them converting. Comparing the Pages Per Visit numbers and the Exit Rate of navigation pages can help you determine your content’s navigability.

  1. Average Time on Page

The value behind Average Time on Page is often time debated as the metric can neglect a range of possible actions. Most analytical tools measure Average Time on Page in one of two ways:

  1. Pages in Sequence: If a page sits within a sequence, then time starts when the visitor lands on the first page and stops when they’ve moved into the next.
  2. Time Spent on Page: If the visitor lands on a single page and leaves, then the value measures the time between entry and last engagement.

If a page is sitting within a sequence, then the Average Time on Page will be accurate. As visitors move between pages, the metric will measure how long they’ve spent on the pages within the sequence. However, if the page is the last page within a sequence or if a visitor exits the site, the Average Time on Page is questionable.

If a visitor spends time on a page and doesn’t engage with an event, then the metric will read as “0”. For content heavy pages at the end of a sequence, the Average Time on Page is inaccurate. Regardless of whether the visitor spent 1 minute or 1 hours, without an engagement, Average Time on Page will record zero data.

When working with visitor behavior, having accurate metrics is crucial for smarter decisions. Understanding how each metric is measured and how it applies to your site will help your digital marketing team stay on the straight-and-narrow of meeting its goals.

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