One of the most effective ways to measure how well your website is performing is to track user engagement directly in WordPress. However, it can be a challenge to decipher and compile the data that means the most to your website.
Some of the most important analytics to track user engagement include identifying your most popular content, your bounce rate, and page views per session. Using this information, you can discover what is and isn’t working for your website.
The benefits of tracking user engagement in WordPress
User engagement is simply a measure of what users do when they visit your website. This information can help you to identify patterns and discover what elements provide the most engagement on your website.
Armed with this information, you can see the exact process users take to convert, as well as identify which aspects of your website are most effective. From there, you’ll be able to tweak your website or emphasize your best content to optimize its success.
For example, say you find certain content that performs well. You could edit your site to direct more visitors towards this (and similar) content. In addition, this will give you an idea of what kind of content works best with your audience, and hopefully let you produce more of it.
How to track user engagement in WordPress with Google Analytics (in 5 steps)
Before we get started, you may want to familiarize yourself a little with Google Analytics. If you need a refresher, check out our guide to the Google Analytics interface. If you haven’t installed Google Analytics yet, you can also follow our guide to install Google Analytics on WordPress.
Once you’re ready, let’s dig in…
1. Identify your most popular content
As we said, identifying your most popular content can be very important information to know, as you may be better able to plan a content strategy around what’s already working.
To ascertain which pages and posts are your most popular, your traffic metrics will be key. Fortunately, Google Analytics makes this simple via Behavior > Site Content:
Here, you’ll be able to see the number of views each page on your website has received. Once you find your top pages, you can optimize them for maximum conversions by utilizing content upgrades. This technique, according to Syed Balkhi, increased his conversion rate by over 27 percent.
2. Track your bounce rates
Another important metric to track is your bounce rate.
Your bounce rate is the percentage of visits where a user only visits a single page on your website. A “bounce” could be someone clicking the “back” button, but it could also be someone clicking an external link on your site (like a link to an affiliate product that you’re promoting).
When your bounce rate is too high, it’s usually an indicator that the page may not engage well enough and needs some work.
We say usually because some pages will naturally have a high bounce rate. For example, if your goal is to get people to click on that affiliate link, it’s actually not a bad thing to have a high bounce rate because that’s the purpose of the page.
However, if you want people to engage with your site and read your other content, then a high bounce rate shows you’re not achieving your goal – so context definitely matters here.
To analyze your bounce rates, go to Audience > Overview within Google Analytics, scroll down, and take a look at your overall results:
According to RocketFuel, a bounce rate of over 70 percent isn’t ideal for everything outside of blogs, news, events, etc. However, there are a number of things you can do to help lower your bounce rate, such as improving your site’s loading time and segmenting your target audience.
3. Consider the time users spend on your website
Once your bounce rates are under control, you can dive a bit deeper and look into the time users spend on your website. In Google Analytics, this is called ‘session duration.’ If users are not spending very long on your site, there may be some adjustments needed.
You can see the average time users spend on your site per session on the same page as your bounce rates by going to Audience > Overview within Google Analytics. Additionally, for stats on individual pages, go to Behavior > Site Content > All Pages:
An average session duration to shoot for might be anything above three minutes, according to Databox. To improve yours, consider breaking up your text with engaging images, including videos, and employing an effective linking strategy.
Side note – pages with a high bounce rate will naturally have a low time on page because Google counts bounces as 0:00, even if they spent a minute reading your content before they bounced.
4. Analyze page views per visit
Another great engagement indicator is page views per visit. A visitor who goes to multiple pages on your site is likely spending more time with your content. However, you’ll need to qualify this metric with others to be sure your results are not skewed by those rapidly clicking through your site.
To be sure you’re using this data effectively, track it along with page views per session. In Google Analytics, head to Audience > Overview:
This helps to show you which traffic channels are best at converting. With this data, you can focus your efforts on areas that are actually driving results.
5. Choose a suitable plugin to display engagement metrics within WordPress (optional)
One final thing you might consider using with your WordPress website is a plugin to help show at-a-glance metrics on your dashboard. A plugin can assist your organizational efforts, as well as make it easy to enable Google Analytics tracking figures on your site. Plus, having all of this information at your fingertips can help you to make quality data-driven decisions.
Two of the most popular options include ExactMetrics and MonsterInsights, both of which are maintained by the same developer. Either of these plugins can be used to integrate Google Analytics with your WordPress website.
Current Version: 5.3.9
Last Updated: August 20, 2019
For starters, ExactMetrics displays the most important metrics on your WordPress dashboard. It provides performance details for each page and post, and can also be customized through options and hooks. In addition, it gives you control over permission settings so you decide who can view specific reports.
Current Version: 7.9.0
Last Updated: October 2, 2019
MonsterInsights is another great option that includes a number of easy-to-use features. It shows you actionable data to help you improve your website’s engagement, as well as a number of customized reports.
In a nutshell, either plugin will make the process of analyzing your data easier. Whichever one you choose may depend on the needs of your website, your personal preferences, and more. Our advice is to try both and see which one fits into your workflow.
Tracking user engagement in WordPress can help you discover ways to improve and optimize your website. With this information, you can identify the patterns of your site’s users, and ascertain how highly-engaged visitors convert. From there, you can apply your findings and increase engagement across the board.
In this piece, we’ve shown you how to track user engagement in WordPress with Google Analytics. Let’s recap the five steps quickly:
- Identify your most popular content.
- Track your bounce rates.
- Consider the time users spend on your site.
- Analyze page views per visit.
- Display metrics in your WordPress dashboard for easy access.
Do you have any questions about how to track user engagement in WordPress? Ask away in the comments section below!