Benchmarking for Website Performance on Search Engines

Dealing with questions like what is a good bounce rate for a web page, what is the average number of visits, how much traffic from different sources is normal are not easy until you evaluate your website performance with others. Now, Google Analytics is making things much easy by bringing a new type of analytic report - the benchmarking report.

Also read: SEO - What Search Engines Love and Hate About Websites

What is a benchmarking report?

This is not a completely new tool in Google Analytics. In 2011 Google closed this report and left marketers to rely on their knowledge and intuition when assessing the average market situation. Now the benchmarking report has returned! Users can get an overview of channels, location and devices for 1600 areas and 1250 different markets.

Read also: Search Engine Manipulation: What It Is And Why Google Frowns At It

Why is Benchmarking Important

The benchmarking report compares the company's web site with the average on the market. This gives quite a reliable understanding of what is the competitiveness of the company’s web site.This means that companies have sufficient data for setting realistic goals and assessing performance. For example, if you know that the bounce rate of the average web site in your field or area is 40% and your rate is better than that, there is no point in focusing on reducing bounce rate. Better to put your focus somewhere else where it is more crucial. So, the benchmarking report shows what are the strengths of the company and what could be improved.</p>

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How to use it?

You can find the benchmarking report under the Audience tab. This can only be seen by users who have configured the Universal Analytics and who share their data with Google. You can configure this setting at Admin > Account Settings and by putting a tick next to the Anonymously with Google and others box.

The report can be seen in 3 variations:

- Channels - compares the sources of your web site visits with your competitors
- Location - shows what countries are your competitors visits coming fromthose countries. Important for exporting companies.
- Devices -  compares your web site's operation and activity on different devices compared to your competitors

Before diving into to the data, check if your settings are correct. Google has automatically categorized your company into a field which describes your company the best. Select the market and the average daily number of visits. If you would like to receive information about the local market, you need to take into account that the more specific you become, the less comparable data is available and it is possible that the report will not give you an adequate match.

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How to interpret the report?

The channels report that shows where the visits for your web site and for your competitors' web sites are coming from will probably be the most important tool in this regard. From this you are able to conclude which channels are your competitors mostly investing in and where you still have some room for development. The report itself is colorful and reminds us of the heatmap, meaning that positive and negative trends have been marked accordingly which gives the user a quick overview of the company's position.

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1. Channels report:
Channel report will give insights into where competitor traffic is coming from. The report will give some insights into the impact of social media visits and the people who have come to the web site via direct traffic. The report will indicate which strategy in these channels should be reviewed and modified accordingly.

2. Location report
The location report is useful to exporting companies mostly. In this report you can see the data for only the selected location. This is useful only when you select all regions from the settings. Then you are able to compare how well your web site is operating in different markets and it is possible that you will find potential new target countries, where the consumer behavior promotes export.

Also read: How to build your website trust and credibility

3. The Devices Report
The devices report is currently especially beneficial as the relevance of mobile devices is growing rapidly. The devices report will tell you if there are significantly more visits with mobile devices than the market average or not.

3.1 Why is a Mobile-Friendly Website Important?
With more and more visitors accessing your company website on mobile devices, it is important to make sure that all of your visitors have a positive experience, regardless of what type of device they're using to get there. If your website is not easy to use on a mobile device, your visitors and users may move along to a competitor. Having a mobile-friendly website brings with it several key advantages, including:

    Improved search visibility
    Improved user experience
    Increased lead generation
    Improved brand identity

As of April 21, 2015, Google began giving preference to mobile-optimized sites (AKA Mobilegeddon) in mobile search results. If even a small portion of your target visitors are on mobile devices, this could be quite significant for your online visibility. Ultimately, the better an experience you can provide for your mobile visitors, the better the chance they will convert into new business. You never know where or when your target visitor will arrive on your site, so it is important that your website is ready to work on any device they may be using, wherever they may be.

Also read: 7 SEO Tips That Will Help Your Website Rankings, Yet Are Not Often Talked About

3.2 How Do I Know Whether Our Company Website is Mobile-Friendly?

Generally speaking, you will be able to tell whether your website is mobile-friendly. if it scales to display content and navigation in a way that is optimized to be user-friendly on smaller screens. If you're not sure, Google offers a Mobile-Friendly Test that makes it easy to check - simply enter your URL and Google will tell you whether or not your site fails or passes the test. If it passes - you are in good shape; if it fails you should look into converting your site to a mobile-friendly format sooner rather than later.

Test Your Site Mobile-Compatibility with Google

Also read: A Complete Guide To Good SEO For Beginners

What is a Mobile-Friendly Website?

Generally speaking, a mobile-friendly website is a site that is designed to display properly on smaller screens, such as iPhone or Android smartphones, or intermediate sized tablets. Standard desktop websites do not render well on these devices, whereas a mobile-optimized site adjusts to the smaller screen size and formats the content and interface in a mobile-friendly manner, including:

    Larger, easier to read text
    Mobile-friendly navigation
    Touch-friendly buttons and page elements
    Faster download speed

Also read: WordPress Performance: How to Find a Slow Plugin

What Is Involved with Creating a Mobile-Friendly Website?

If your website is not currently optimized for mobile viewing, converting it into a mobile-friendly format will require some level of development. Unfortunately, there is no simple switch you can flip to make your site instantly mobile-optimized. However, if your current website is well-designed, well-coded, and utilizes a database-driven content management system (CMS), the process may be as simple as updating your existing page templates. In other cases, your site may require more significant development and will need to be rebuilt in some fashion. In either case, you can maintain your existing design scheme and content, or if you've been contemplating a redesign anyhow, combining a design upgrade with a mobile-friendly update is a practical opportunity to elevate your organization's entire web presence in one consolidated effort.

Also read: 20 Ways You Can Reduce Your Website Bounce Rate

The two most common approaches to mobile websites are to either design a separate mobile site optimized for handheld devices, or to develop your main site so that it utilizes a responsive design that scales to any screen size. While there may be particular cases where a separate mobile site may make sense, responsive design has increasingly become the modern standard. Having a single website that scales across all devices - from desktop down to tablet and handheld - may be more involved to develop up-front, but over time the improved efficiency of maintaining a single site, rather than two, is undeniable.

Conclusion

The benchmarking report is a great tool for marketing both in setting realistic goals and in working to achieve them. With the help of the report, online marketers are able to identify the strengths of the company online and find new opportunities of development. We also will like to note that there has to be some care in using the report because it could also be misleading especially because of the complexity of dealing with information for different areas on a local level. Our recommendation would be to take it as a useful tool for making general conclusions about the performance of your web site.

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