How's your website doing compared to everyone else's?

Your website’s Google Analytics tell you how much traffic you’re getting. But not how much that is compared to other websites. Well, now, in a way, it does.

Google compiled data from hundreds of thousands of opting-in websites from around the world from November, 2010, through February, 2011, and compared them with the same data from the same period one year before to spot trendlines. So now, even if you you have just a local Richmond website, you can compare it to how other sites are benchmarking around the world.

Less time per Website

One worldwide trend is that people are spending less time on sites, looking around less and reading fewer pages. Average time on site is down by 26 seconds, from five minutes 49 seconds to five minutes 23 seconds. Visitors are visiting fewer pages – 4.5 vs. 4.9. Even worse, they’re more likely to bounce out of their first page – 47% now vs. 48.2% a year before.

Results may vary

Those are average results, but they’re not uniform from one country to the next. Of six major nations, the British go to the most pages per visit (4.9) but Americans stay on site longer (6: 06), even though we visit slightly fewer pages (4.7) and have a slightly higher bounce rate (42.5% vs. 41.5%). The Japanese are the least patient, averaging only 3.9 pages per visit and staying just three minutes and 47 seconds – almost three full minutes less than the year before. Maybe it’s something about the leisurely pace of life in the Caribbean, but in Aruba and the Bahamas, Saint Lucia and Anguilla, and the British Virgin Islands, they take their time on websites, averaging 11, 12 and over 13 minutes, respectively.

Where they come from affects how long they stay

The highest number of pages visited (5.6) – and the lowest times on site (3:57) come from cost per click (CPC) searches. Referrals from other sites are almost as good on page visits (5.0) and substantially better on hang time (6:36). The same is true, but to a lesser extent, for organic word or phrase searches (4.9 and 4:43).

Though direct traffic – someone keying in your URL or clicking a bookmark – averages only four pages per visit, visitors average stays of 5 minutes and 21 seconds – longer than any source but referrals. The biggest share of traffic is direct traffic – 36.5% – which only goes to show that anyone interested enough to key in your URL will be interested enough to stay with you. (How you get people interested enough to key in your URL is food for another article.)

So what’s this got to do with marketing?

The metric that really counts in your website analytics is called goal conversion (which means goal achievement), and of the three types of goal – time on site goals, pages visited goals and URL destination goals – from a marketing standpoint it’s the last that counts most. Because that measures how many of your site’s visitors get to a page acknowledging some sort of sales-related action, like the page thanking them for opening an account or the page showing the receipt for an online purchase.

Here, too, results vary with geography. In the US, goal conversion rates average 1%, which is a bit pathetic compared even to direct (paper) mail’s 1.3% average response rate and e-mail’s 1.6% or so. The world’s highest goal conversion rate – about 4% – comes from the Vatican City, and there’s probably a pun in that somewhere.

How do you compare?

So check your site’s analytics against the worldwide and American benchmarks. If you’re not getting enough organic search or CPC traffic, look at your optimization or crank up a sponsored link campaign. If people are coming but not staying, make your pages more interesting. And if people are coming, staying but not buying, read this to stop being descriptive when you should be persuasive and to stop telling your brand’s story in terms of your wants and needs instead of your audience’s.