What is your primary criteria in measuring website success? Does it number of visitors per day, Entrance Paths, Subscriptions ?? There are lots of metrics upon which you can test your website but the essential ones that are used to reflect true benchmarks fall into a common group. You should focus on these metrics on the day one of your optimization and keep a watch on them as they show fluctuation with the passage of time. I believe almost all popular website analytic programs have these set of metrics to measure. Below are the top 5 website success metrics that you should always monitor and control.
People confuse hits with the number of visitor coming to a website. In fact, one server or one IP address can have many hits to a website from one particular location and may be probably only one unique visitor. So you need to separate Hits or page views from unique visitors. Google Analytics can be used to check for the unique visitors to your site. You need to increase your unique visitors by providing fast, attractive, relevant, and navigable web pages. Tracking recent unique visitors can help you track audience growth of your website.
Metric 2 - Average time on site
This website success metric cannot be ignored at any cost. How long are your visitors sticking to your content and reading it? According to ClickTracks, Average time on site is one of the finest measures of user engagement to your content or what so ever you have to offer them. Again you should have relevant and informative content that is useful and attractive to the visitor in making a purchase to your product.
Metric 3 - Pages per visit
The number of pages that were surfed during a particular visit is a simple measure of user engagement. Average time on site and Pages per visit are the two measures that can point to possible flow states of high engagement.
Metric 4 - Bounce rate
The bounce rate is the proportion of users who left your website without browsing to another page and closed your website instantly or after some time without navigating to any other web page. This is a very important website metric to check the loyalty of your visitor to your website and you should monitor pages with high bounce rates closely for improvement and enhancement to content.
Metric 5 - Conversion rates
The percentage of the number of Goals accomplished (e.g. sales, cart additions, sign ups etc.) when compared to unique audience is your conversion rate. There are a number of ways to optimize conversion rates and different techniques fit for websites with different contents. But the key point here again is the relevancy of content to your niche area. No matter in which primary business are you involved in you should have your landing pages optimized for better conversion rates. Because landing page is the one which search engines will send traffic to and which will get attention if you have launched some campaign through any program like Adwords.