You can't judge a website by its cover. Your healthcare organization's website, for example, may contain beautiful photography, an uncluttered appearance, and be filled with user-friendly content for healthcare consumers, but if you haven't dived into its analytics, you truly won't know if it's doing its job as a successful representation of your organization. Take a look at the top 10 metrics your hospital website should track for optimal performance:

1. Unique Website Visitors. If you build it, they will come. That's the point of having a website, isn't it? So this important metric measures how many unique visitors your site sees per month. Within this metric, you'll look for how your visitors found you and where they come from. Analytics show you whether they came from referrals, a Google search, or social media channels and can help you strategize more optimal ways of attracting visitors or alert you to the need for more exposure. You can also track whether you have spikes or drops in the number of visitors throughout the month, and figure out why, in order to correct these problems in real-time.

2. Overall Sessions. Just how long do visitors stick around on your site per session? That's what this metric shows. The success of this metric will depend on the goals for your healthcare organization's site. Do you want users to engage with your content for the longest amount of time possible, phone for an appointment, get directions, sign up for a newsletter or event, or some combination of these factors? Each transaction may have a different metric goal, but if you'd like users to stick around engaging in content as long as possible, measuring their overall sessions will help you determine how long they interact on your site and if you're successfully getting them to engage.

3. Bounce Rate. Is your content sticky? This important metric can show you whether your visitors linger on a page and dive deeper within other pages or leave your site quickly by clicking the back button, entering another URL, closing the browser, or even letting a session time out. If your bounce rate is high, you'll need to take steps to assess why. Have you made confusing changes to the site, updates that left users perplexed, or perhaps your content isn't effective at enticing visitors to remain longer?

4. Average Page Views Per Session. This metric measures the depth of a user's visit and their level of engagement. While this metric must be interpreted based on your site's goals — whether that's a call to action like phoning for an appointment, or a click through to watch an informational video, the average page views per session shows if your website is reaching its goals by having users click multiple number of pages per viewing session.

5. Average Time on Page. Like a guest for coffee and donuts, once your visitors stop by, you want them to stick around a bit. The average time on page metric shows you how long users spend with your content and can be helpful in determining if your message is clear and coming across as you intend. If video or infographic content takes six minutes to watch or read, and visitors leave after two, you'll need to know why. Similar to bounce rate, this metric may help determine if the quality of the information you offer is resonating with users.

6. Top Landing Pages. To track the traffic and leads for your landing pages, this metric creates data that allows you to monitor landing page campaigns in real time. Which pages are the most popular entrance pages for your site? How do specific landing pages perform in comparison to other pages? Over time, you'll be able to see trends in which pages draw the most traffic for your site and iterate on those to create more pages on the same model or theme that will, hopefully, be just as engaging.

7. Click Through Rate. Click through rate (CTR) can be a little tricky to measure on pages that don't have a measurable form or button to click on (which can be measured through form data or goal completion data), but an approximation can be useful to see which pages or types of pages offer the most meaningful engagement on your site. You can back into CTR by calculating the opposite of Bounce Rate, and you'll be able to see whether your provider directories encourage consumers to read more about your physicians and specialties, for example, or if your Women's Services landing page needs a content refresh with a more relevant linking strategy to keep visitors engaged.

8. Onsite Search Queries. This metric tracks how many times users click your onsite search button, and can help you determine visitor behavior patterns and how easy it is for your users to find the content they're looking for. Heavy use of your search button could mean healthcare consumers cannot locate the information they seek or that they skip reading to get to their goals like phone numbers, directions, procedures, or a specific clinician. In contrast, a low number of online search queries can mean your content is complete, easily navigable, and user friendly.

9. Top Exit Pages. It might be low on your to-monitor list, but exit rates or top exit pages could help by taking the last page viewed in each user's session and trying to find the common denominator between why they exit and where. While it may be a difficult metric to get a grip on, it's important to understand what your users may be doing when they exit. Did they get the information they were looking for? Did they contact your organization, or did they leave because of usability issues? It's important to differentiate how users engage with various pages, including the exit page, before implementing changes.

10.Conversions. No matter which type of industry a website represents, everyone needs conversions, where passive visitors turn into identified leads or consumers who "purchase" (schedule). This is probably the truest measure of your site's success. Conversions may measure visitors to leads, email sign-up conversions, landing page conversions, or leads to customer conversions. No matter, making conversions is crucial to both revenue and bringing in consumers. If you're already using Google Analytics, all it takes is a defined goal and a special URL that reveals the source of the click.

Tracking these metrics and others may provide critical information about the success of your organization's website and how your audience engages with your content. Measuring and adjusting when necessary, based on these analytics, is the benchmark for determining the success of your site.

Want to learn more about creating a website that performs? Read our Definitive Guide to Healthcare CMS.