There are plenty of online tools that will help you measure various website metrics and analytics – such as visitor numbers, how long they stay, which pages they look at and so on. None of them, however, measure the most important metric so it is easy to forget that there’s only one that really matters.
Before I explain what it is, let me also pick up on a couple of other related points.
I have long questioned the point of simply counting the number of visitors to an accountant’s website. What matters is the number of RELEVANT visitors. This means firstly identifying the type of people you want to visit the site. It is all too easy to create content that attracts dozens or even hundreds of time wasters; for example people who simply follow links offering ‘free tax advice’ but who have no intention of ever engaging an accountant.
Equally, for most accountants, the key traffic numbers are those visitors from your local area (or from your target locations if you have a niche that is intended to attract people from further afield). Website visitors from further afield will rarely choose you as their accountant once they realise you are not local. All other things being equal someone in Brighton, for example, who looks for an accountant online is unlikely to pick one in Blackpool. So visitors to your website from afar are not as valuable as those from nearby.
I also think it’s important to consider ‘time on site’ only in connection with other metrics. It’s a good thing, not a problem, if someone who visited your site in error ‘bounces’ off very quickly once they realise their mistake. And what if visitors are keen to get in touch but are unable to find the name of the person to contact even after visiting a number of pages, so they then give up? Better they find it quickly and then get in touch without exploring the site any further.
My slightly heretical view is that too many accountants have too many pages with too much boring looking content on their websites. It should all come back to who is the target audience, what do they want or need to find and what do you want them to do when they find it?
Are your detailed content pages intended to help existing clients or would you rather they get in touch when they need help? In which case the only reason for all that content is to impress prospective clients and third parties. Does it though? Does it help convince them to get in touch? I wonder whether people looking for a new accountant want to download info, read it and then get in touch later or do they want help NOW? Different visitors will have different needs, often depending on whether they are looking for their first accountant or a replacement accountant. If you know who you want to attract you can tailor your content accordingly.
Copying what everyone else does is boring and pointless unless you are sure it is going to generate something of value for your practice.
The bottom line is that the one website metric that really matters is how much business your website generates.
The most important metric to measure therefore is: How many website visitors contact the office and become profitable clients? Do you have any procedures in place to track this metric? If not, why do you bother with all the other less important ones?