- Is my website successful when compared to others?
- Are the users staying longer or shorter on my site when compare to my competitors?
- What are the website users in my industry’s normal pattern of behaviour?
These are huge questions with the smallest bit of insight into the answers revealing a great deal. So what is Benchmarking and how does it work in providing me with the answers to these questions?
Benchmarking is a feature which forms part of the Googles Analytics product. Analytics is a free service offered by Google to monitor your website traffic, and is by far one of the most powerful website traffic monitoring tools on the web today. Besides providing vast amounts of data on your users, when linked with other free Google products, the service becomes an very effective website performance evaluation tool. More information on analytics can be found on Wikipedia.
So what is Benchmarking?
Through the broad adoption of Analytics across various industry sectors, Google has been able to create the Benchmarking service which aims to share analytics data between website owners. Website owners have an opt in option to join the Analytics data sharing service which will add your website performance patterns in Analytics to the benchmark service. “Google will remove all identifiable information about your website, then combine that data with hundreds of other anonymous sites in comparable industries and report them in an aggregate form”. Once opted in, you will have access to the benchmarking service which will provide you with industry yard sticks such as Length of Visits, Bounce Rate, Number of Page Views, Average time on set and New Visits.
In each instance the service will be able to tell you if you are ahead or behind in each metric. I have listed two examples from unrelated sites to demonstrate the end results.
These metrics are extremely powerful and although they provide some insight into the working of your site, interpreting the data is what will make the benchmark service valuable. Each website still has its own unique circumstance and this point should not be lost when reviewing the performance metrics.
Benchmarking was launch about 4 weeks ago and I believe that it will become a widely discussed topic on the web in the next few months. The biggest concern that any website owner and operator is whether anonymously sharing their performance data with a particular sector might be detrimental to their website in the long term. I am of the opinion that it would not, although with the service only being a few weeks old there is plenty of time for debate. Let’s see how things unfold.