How “Sticky” Is Your Website?

Unlike my 2-year-old's hands after snack time, when it comes to your website, being "sticky" is a good thing. Simply put, sticky just means people stick around and spend time on your website and/or visit it frequently.

Continued Success, Optimizations

sticky website

Kyle Van Deusen

OGAL Web Design owner and WordPress educator helping businesses succeed with design, development, and marketing since 2003.

Filed Under: Continued Success, Optimizations

Have you ever clicked on a link from Facebook or Twitter that looked really interesting, only to find yourself quickly regretting the decision?

Articles full of ads that seem to take forever to load causing the content you’re trying to read to jump all over the page.

One of those “Top 20” lists that make you click a “Continue” or “Next” button to see each item on the list.

Or, perhaps the most annoying, the constant and neverending popups coming from every direction.

There’s no quicker way to get someone to leave your website than to annoy them or make it hard for them to enjoy your content.

Of course the examples above are pretty exterme, and it’s unlikely you’re employing any of those tactics (hopefully, anyway!) — but it’s still important to make your website as enjoyable as possible.

In this article I’m going to discuss three ways you can measure how “sticky” your website is, and provide you with plenty of suggestions along the way on how to improve its stickiness.

What is a “sticky” website?

Unlike my 2-year-old’s hands after snack time, when it comes to your website, being “sticky” is a good thing.

Simply put, sticky just means people stick around and spend time on your website and/or visit it frequently.

Of course you want people to spend more time on your website, and come back often. It means more engagement from your visitors, which is always a good thing.

Beyond it being a positive for your marketing (and likely ending up in more sales), Google and other search engines who pay close attention to how sticky your website is — and the stickier the better!

There are hundreds of factors that can determine how sticky your website is, but before you start making abitrary changes, don’t you think it’s a good idea to find out how sticky your website is now?

How to Measure Website Stickiness

There are three key metrics you can look at when you’re evaluating how sticky your website is, which we’re going to cover next.

Before we do, it’s important to realize that every website is different. What might be good scores for one website, could be disasterous for another.

These metrics are all relative, and the best way to figure out what a good score is for you is to start measuring and tracking these metrics so you can analyze how they change over time.

Gather The Data

In order to uncover these metrics on your website, you’re going to need some sort of analytics platform, like Google Analytics (which is, by far, the most widely adopted analytics platform).

If you’re not sure if you have Google Analytics (or any other analytics software) installed on your website, talk with your web developer or the person who built your website. It’s standard practice to install Google Analytics on any published website.

Google Analytics

If there aren’t any analytics running on your website, you’re going to want to start by installing Google Analytics, which is 100% free. 

Here’s a great video on how to install Google Analytics if you want to do it yourself, or you can reach out to me and I can handle it for you for a small fee. 

The analytic data will start collecting as soon as you install it, but it won’t bring in historical data. This means if you’re just now installing analytics, you’re going to need to give it some time to collect enough data for it to be meaningful. 

You’ll likely want to collect at least 1,000 visitors worth of data before you make any deicisions, but the more data the more reliable it will be. 

Assuming you’ve collected enough data, let’s take a look at the three metrics you can use to measure your website’s stickiness.

1. Bounce Rate

Bounce rate is measured as a percentage (like 55%). This percentage represents the number of people to enter your website but leave it before any sort of interaction (like clicking a link, navigating to another page, etc.).

Typically you want your bounce rate to be as low as possible (though there are some exceptions to this rule).

As I mentioned earlier, this is a relative metric, and bounce rates can vary widely from industry to industry, but as a rule of thumb, 26-40% is considered excellent, 41-55% is around average, and anything above 70% needs some attention.

A sticky website will have a lower bounce rate because people are sticking around and making secondary actions after entering. 

2. Pages Per Session

The second metric you’ll want to pay attention to is pages per session (sometimes labeled “Pages/Session”). 

A session is recorded on a single visit to your website, whether the user visits only one page or all of them. As soon as the visitor leaves, the session is over. If they return later, that’s the start of a new session.

How many pages your visitors view in any given session provides great insight into the stickiness if your website. 

An argument can be made for people landing directly on the inforamtion they were looking for, getting it, and leaving (like a restaurant menu) — but as a general rule of thumb you’d like to see people explore at least a couple of pages on your website. 

Keep in mind that pages per session bottoms out at 1, as a session can’t start without viewing at least one page.

According to Littledata’s survey anytthing between 1.8 and 4.4 is considered average. Getting 5.7 pages (or better) per session would put you in company with the top 10% in the world.

If you’re seeing numbers below 1.4, then this is certainly a priority to address.

3. Average Session Duration

Now that you know what a session is, this one should be easy. Average session duration is simply the amount of time people spend on your website per person averaged out across all your visitors.

Like pages per session (and opposite of bounce rate), generally you want to be working to increase this number.

Again, there are outliers (like a Q&A page where someone might get their answer in a matter of seconds and that still be a successful visit).

Another thing you’ll want to keep in mind with this metric is that people (you and I included) spend less time on websites than you think. 

We don’t read websites like we would a good novel.  Most of our time on websites is spent skimming information reading only headlines and bits and pieces that catch your eye. 

2-3 minutes is considered average, but these numbers can vary greatly depending on the type of website you have and the inforamtion you are providing.  It’s not uncommon to see average session duration measured in only seconds. 

What’s Next?

If you’ve followed the suggestions in this article then you’ll understand your bounce rate, the average number of pages visited per session, and the average amount of time people spend on your website.

It’s important to gather this data before making arbitrary changes to your website. Having this data in place gives you a great starting point to making user experience (UX) improvements to your website to improve its stickiness.

If your bounce rate is high, it’s possible that you’re not targeting the right traffic to your website. 

If people aren’t visiting more than one page, perhaps you need stronger calls-to-action on your most visited pages.

If visitors aren’t sticking around for long, perhaps your content is too thin.

Of course, it’s not that simple. As I mentioned, these metrics can vary greatly from website to website.

Unless you have a deep understanding of what these numbers mean, and more importantly, why they are happening (at least a hypothesis) you could end up making a lot of changes and wasting a lot of time for nothing.

That’s why it’s important you consult with a UX specialist who can help you analyze those numbers and your websites structure, design, content, and layout to help suggest improvements that can improve your metrics and make a stickier website.

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