Like you, I’m in the business of creating content. We both need content to attract new consumers, nurture current readers and grow our customer base. When I jumped into this role I went on a rampage of creating all kinds of one-off pieces for our Publisher Services team. After we had a month of content under our belts, my manager asked me to write up a report on how our content was performing. I pulled some reports in Google Analytics and our social media platforms and presented the data. We realized immediately that we were focusing on the wrong topics. It turns out that a majority of our readers were interested in a topic we had only briefly discussed. They were also coming in on mobile devices, not desktop. These insights prompted me to completely reorganize my editorial calendar so I could focus on the topics our readers were interested in, and in the medium they wanted to consume it.
It’s simple: give your readers what they want and how they want it.
The first step to creating content that promotes user engagement is understanding your site metrics. Good ways to identify high engagement include:
- Comments and Shares: Engagement first, traffic later. People love to share great content and get involved in the conversation. Just make sure you are monitoring comments (either manually or through a comment plugin) to keep the spam away and join the conversation when the time is right!
- Pageviews: Since page views can help to estimate the size of sites, which is the value of them on the advertising market, it is generally used as criteria to decide the unit cost of advertisement and the most famous metrics is CPM.
- Traffic Breakdown: understanding who is visiting your site and how they’re getting there is absolutely crucial to creating better content. If you don’t dive into the analytics behind this, you might not know who your major audience is, or that they’re actually coming to your site from a mobile device instead of a desktop. This kind of data will help you know where to focus when creating content.
- Top Posts: paying attention to the posts that are performing well will allow you to create the kind of content your readers want. This ties into understanding your audience and traffic breakdown. When you know your audience and how they’re coming to your site, you can create specific content for those segments.
- External Links: Extremely important for SEO and overall website viewability. Any time one of your pieces of content is being published on someone else’s website, be sure to request that they link back to your website. Show me the link love!
- Low Bounce Rate: bounce rate is the number of visitors who land on your page and then immediately exit (by closing the window or going back to the previous page in their browser). Pages with low bounce rates indicate that readers are not only reading the post, but are so delighted that they are going on to other pages in your site once they are done.
- Hits Your Time on Page Goal: once you publish an article, read through it three times – one at your normal speed, once a bit slower, and one time just skimming it. Time yourself each time, and that will help you pick a good time on page goal for that particular page. Pages that are hitting at or around that number are highly engaging posts.
- High Page Authority (PA): Page Authority is a metric created by the SEO junkies over at Moz. This number between 1 and 100 tells how many other sites on the web are linking back to that particular page. More links is a good indication that your content is engaging enough for other publishers to send traffic your way! Focusing on increasing PA also has extreme SEO benefits; external backlinks are one of the most influential elements of Google’s SEO algorithm.
Once you look at all these metrics, you can act on it by creating more of the kind of content your publishers are connecting with. Whether you’re trying to figure out which piece of content is driving the most amount of traffic, which social media platform works the best for your site, or what time of day is the best time to publish content, you need the right tools to do the job. Which is why it’s so important to work with partners that are transparent with their data and are willing to help you understand it. If you’re in the business of monetizing your content, you’ll see the manifestation of all these metrics in your CPM and Fill Rate.
At the end of the day, it all boils down to understanding and acting on your data. If you can do that effectively, you’ll be creating targeted content that promotes user engagement, which will help make your inventory more appealing to advertisers, resulting in higher CPMs for all your hard work.