Page views per visit and bounce rate are important metrics for measuring the health of a website. Together, these two metrics let website owners know just how relevant, interesting, and engaging their content is. Properly monitored, these metrics can reveal important information to help webmasters convert good sites into great sites and great sites into stellar sites.
Measuring page views per visit simply tracks the number of unique pages that a visitor to a site engages with during any given session. This information can be used to assess interest, but it can also be used, in more complex ways, to assess things like conversion rate, bounce rate, and so forth. Having so many metrics that depend on the number of page views in a visit makes it difficult to say just how many page views are appropriate for a given visit on a given site. The simple answer is that it all depends on the nature of the site, the visitor in question, and the needs of the site owner. For one site, a few page views may be enough. Another site owner, however, may not be happy until reaching a few dozen page views per visit. Here is a look at how to to determine how many page views per visit appropriate for your website.
Audience, Topic, and Page Views Per Visit
To get an idea of how much traffic your site should be getting, you first need to determine who your audience is. Hopefully, if you already have a website up and running, you’ve thought about this some. In simple terms, the larger your target audience is, the more page views you should expect. A website for a restaurant in a town of 30,000 people probably isn’t going to get the same amount of traffic as a website for a restaurant in Manhattan.
A restaurant is also likely to have fewer page views per visit to its website than, say, a news outlet. People who visit restaurant websites probably just want to see a menu or get a phone number, both of which can be displayed on just one page. People who are interested in the news may want to read anything from weather to politics to crime. The topic you cover is going to greatly influence the number of pages per visit that each user views.
Once you have a good idea of who your audience is, you can start to think about average numbers of page views per visit. Restaurants may think that two page views per visit are great while a news outlet will be highly disappointed with a number like that. The best way to determine how many page views is appropriate is to gather information on your competitors. See how you stack up to other players in your industry. For those that are doing well, visit their websites and try to learn what they do different from you (and the same as one another) that makes them so successful.
Measuring Page Views Per Visit Isn’t Enough
Just using the number of page views per visit as a measure of your site’s appeal isn’t enough. After all, if you are getting an average of ten page views per visit, it may be that users are interested in your content or it may be that they can’t find what they are looking for and are just clicking around. Obviously, the latter effect is not a good one.
To really understand what the number of page views per visit is telling you, you need to keep track of other metrics like the time users spend on any given page (dwell time), conversion rates (ad clicks or eCommerce sales), and so forth. Metrics like dwell time will let you know if your content is engaging. Sites with high numbers of page views and short dwell times probably have low-quality content or aren’t organized well. Sites with high numbers of page views and long dwell times are the holy grail.
As important as page views are, they won’t make you any money. Depending on the purpose of your site and how you fund it, that may not matter much. For most people, however, they at least need to make enough money from ads to pay for their web host and perhaps a coder. Money comes from completion of sales and from people click on ads, neither of which is dependent on the number of pages a visitor views.
If your completion rates and click-through-rates (CTRs) are high, then you may not care about page views. In fact, you may prefer to have lower page views in favor of higher conversion (conversion to income that is) rates. If, however, your income depends on getting people engaged with your content (e.g. getting them to read enough to purchase a subscription), then page views and income may be tightly linked. Simply put, worry about page views per visit if such a metric impacts your bottom line and forget about it if you can afford to because there may be other metrics you are more interested in following.
In the advanced study of website traffic, there is a concept known as a Weibull distribution. A Weibull distribution is actually a metric used in quality assurance assessment of manufactured goods. It essentially compares the age of a manufactured item to its failure rate. When the odds of a product failing increase with age, it’s called positive aging. When the odds of a product failing decrease with age, it’s called negative aging.
It turns out that good webpages follow a negative Weibull distribution; the longer they are out there on the web, the more traffic they are likely to get. It is also true that web visitors follow this curve, which is to say that the longer people stay on a page, the longer they are likely to stay on the page (or the less likely they are to leave it).
You may be wondering what Weibull distributions have to do with page views, but the concepts are intimately tied. Web users generally have a limited amount of time to browse the web. If they invest more time into one page, they have less to invest in another. If you have really good content, then users may not have enough time to visit multiple pages on your site. In this scenario, if page views are important to you, then you need to chop your content up and distribute it across multiple pages. This is just one example of how measuring a single metric, like the number of page views per visit, often isn’t enough to tell you what is really going on with your website.
Measuring Page Views Per Visit to Get Ahead
The whole point of monitoring page views is to improve content. If you measure just page views per visit, however, you’re likely to be chasing the wrong goal, which can cost you time and money. For instance, an increase in page views per visit may mean that customers are interested in your content or it may mean that they can’t find what they are looking for on your website. You won’t know unless you monitor other metrics. Like every web analytic, page views per visit can’t be used in a vacuum. Before you fire off an analysis of your website, ask yourself first what your goals are and then tailor your metrics to ensure that they are actually measuring your progress toward those goals and not something else entirely.