Your website is a big investment in time and money. It needs to be working for you, otherwise, it’s time to pitch it to the curb and start anew. But, at what point do you pull the plug on your current site? I compare a website’s performance to classic Western movies – is it attracting a crowd like a raucous saloon on a Saturday night, or is it sitting on the barren prairie with nothing but tumbleweeds rolling by?

While your site doesn’t serve drinks, we can tell how busy it is on Saturdays, and any other day of the week. A detailed analysis of some key metrics can give us all the information we need to determine if a website redesign is needed to rustle up more business for you.

Google Analytics is a powerful tool for measuring a multitude of metrics so we can analyze your website’s performance. Here are some of the things I look at when evaluating my clients’ sites:

Researching Your Searches

An important area to focus on is where your website ends up on search engine rankings on sites like Google and Yahoo. Do you show up at the top, near the bottom, or are you conspicuously absent from the results? There’s an important reason your site may be failing you on searches. Google is constantly updating the search criteria in their algorithms, so a redesign will help you take advantage of their latest revisions.

Creating a new website to improve its SEO would focus on two areas: content and design. For content, search engines love fresh content, so be sure to include a blog on your site and post new blogs at least once a month. Blogs also increase your visibility on your social media sites, like Facebook and Twitter, which can drive more people to your website to help you rank higher. Keywords and phrases are also important components of your content. Google Analytics allows us to find out what search terms are working for you and which website pages people are landing on. That means you could have a website that’s performing poorly overall, while several pages are getting positive traffic. That’s great. We can then dissect the better ranking pages to determine why they’re more effective than the rest of the site. What’s driving people to those pages? Perhaps it’s a particular keyword or term that people are using to search with. Maybe it’s a long-tail keyword like, “How can I use Google’s new algorithm to improve my SEO?”

To improve the design of your site, your web designers will need to dig into the inner workings of the software code. They’ll work on streamlining the HTML code to make it easier for Google’s search bots to navigate through it to pull out content. Google also places an emphasis on page loading speed, so the redesign will need to make sure all the elements of a page – copy, photos, videos – display quickly. The website also needs to be designed for optimum performance on both desktop and mobile platforms. That’s because over 50 percent of web searches originate from mobile devices. I’ve talked previously about Google’s decision to rank websites based on their mobile site first, so if your website design translates poorly to a mobile device, it will hurt your SEO.

Content and design work together to increase your search ranking. If you’re not satisfied with your search engine rank, a redesign may be in order. Before you decide, let’s look at a few more metrics.

Follow the Bounce Rate

Your website’s bounce rate is another key metric to keep an eye on. Basically, the bounce rate measures the percentage of people who leave your site after viewing only one page. So, a low bounce rate is good, high is bad. Obviously the next question is, what constitutes a good bounce rate? If you look online, you’ll find numbers anywhere from 25 percent to over 50 percent as being acceptable. I’ve found an average bounce rate is around 40 percent, so if your rate is lower, you’re doing pretty good.

Now we need to figure out why people are leaving your site so quickly. There are a number of reasons this could be happening. It could be loading slowly. We know from research that almost 90 percent of visitors will leave a site if it takes more than three seconds to load. Is it a navigation problem? Perhaps your site doesn’t make it clear to visitors where they should go after they reach a particular page. Is it a content issue? Do you have engaging copy on your website? Maybe people just think your site is as ugly as a possum. Also, don’t forget about the bounce rate on your mobile site. Remember, over half of Google searches originate from a mobile device, which is why Google’s algorithms are focusing more on your mobile site than the desktop site. Any one of these bounce rate issues may make a redesign necessary.

There are pages on your website where a high bounce rate can be expected. For instance, if someone lands on your “Contact Us” page and fills it out and leaves, it counts into your bounce rate. But guess what? You just got a lead. Another instance is if someone is on your mobile site and presses the “click-to-call” button. That also counts as a bounce. The bottom line: You sometimes have to dig deep into the bounce rate for each page to determine if a page is doing its job.

What’s Your Call-to-Action?

Your conversion rate is perhaps the most important metric. This is how the website pays for itself. How many leads from your website are you turning into sales and revenue? If you’re not getting the results you want, maybe you’re focusing on the wrong elements of your site. A survey done by Digimax, a London, England-based web design firm, found that less than 10 percent of small-business websites are geared toward converting visitors to sales. That’s crazy. Conversions should be the number-one focus of your site.

To begin, you need to define what constitutes a conversion. Is it a sale, lead, or signing up for your e-newsletter? Then, it’s time to figure out what’s hurting your conversion rate. First, look at the pages people are landing on. Are any of them dedicated landing pages designed for a specific product or service? An average conversion rate for landing pages is a little over two percent, so an effective website should certainly be able to beat that. Your call-to-action should be crystal clear to visitors. Do they have to click on a button? What words are you using on the button? Some good ones include “Sign Up,” “Join”, and “Get Started,” to name a few. Does the button stand out? Are there multiple ways to reach the call-to-action, such as a button and a link in the text? These can all affect your conversion rate.

Put it All Together

When it comes to analyzing a website’s performance, the numbers don’t lie, but they can be confusing. These three metrics can tell a lot about a website’s performance, and whether it just needs some tweaks or a whole new design. If you find your website’s numbers don’t add up, it’s probably time to send in the cavalry.