How to tell if your content is successful

Pageviews is by no means the only measure of success for your content. Get familiar with the analytics that you’ll want to shout about.  

You’re wide-eyed, staring at the screen, finger hovering perilously above the ‘publish’ button. Click! It’s live. Now what? As you spend your next few days glued to your Analytics software, what should you be looking for?

Unique pageviews is the classic marker for success – the thinking being that views = interest. But pageviews can be as much a mark of how much you paid to market the article, or how good your headline is, as how well it supports your sales funnel or how interesting or useful it is to the reader. So, what other measures can you use to tell if your content has been successful?

Dig in to the source

It’s as important to consider the source of the pageviews as it is to consider the volume. First thing to check is what percentage acquisition was via your funded Facebook/Insta/Twitter campaign versus organic Google traffic? This matters because it all comes out of the bottom line. If you’re producing content that is organically successful, then you’re not having to invest as much in paid campaigns.

Of course, it’s not the noughties – nowadays organic success is hard to come by, but when you find it, it’s a cause for celebration.

Next, look into how much of your traffic has come from a referral? Referrals are a sure sign that your content is highly rated to the extent that other organisations and individuals endorse it by linking to it. Keep an eye on the organisations that are linking to your content and consider building on the connection. They may want to make it a regular referral, which will boost your visibility and your kudos.

Watch the clock

When they’re on your page, how long are they spending there? Google recognises dwell time as an important measure of success, because it shows that people are engrossed in your content, rather than quickly clicking out as it’s not useful to them. The longer the better, so check the ‘time on page’.

Stalk the journey

If your content is doing its job, it won’t be the end of the line when the reader lands on it.

Onward links in your content help the reader to continue their journey, either on to more editorial content or to service or product pages. There’s three metrics that can tell you if that’s happened: Bounce rate, exit rate and next page path.

Bounce rate tells you the percentage of readers that haven’t interacted at all with your page or moved onto a next page. The higher the bounce rate, the fewer the onward journeys. Not ideal. Exit rate shows you the percentage of people who landed on that page and ended their journey through your site there. Also not ideal.

The Next Page Path is a more positive measure – it shows not just that your readers have gone onto a next page, but where they’ve gone. If they’ve carried on to a sales page, you can safely conclude that your content has been an important part of convincing them that you’re worth spending their hard-earned cash on. Nice job!

You can still have a high bounce rate but a high conversion rate from your content. And you can have a long dwell time with a high exit rate. It’s important to remember that no measure should be taken on its own to mean success or failure. Analytics can be read in different ways, and so conclusions are best taken over time and with rigorous testing and comparison to benchmarks.

Once you have your benchmarks, you can begin to compete with yourself on metrics to improve your results. And when you see improvements you can start to look forward to hitting ‘publish’.

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(Thanks for the retro computer on roller skates image Morning Brew on Unsplash)

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