“Hi and welcome! I’m Lindsay, and I do the cooking, writing and photography around these parts. This is my husband Bjork – he’s in charge of the tech support and income stuff for Pinch of Yum. Plus he’s cute and I like him. Together we’re the Pinch of Yum and Food Blogger Pro Team!” When you visit Pinch of Yum and go to their About page, this is what they have to say to their new audience. This kind of spark and quirk is exactly what Sovrn looks for when engaging with new publishers, it’s also very targeted at the kinds of readers Pinch of Yum is trying to attract.
Most of our competitors like to focus on sites that live in the ComScore 1000. While there is nothing wrong with that, we’ve discovered that there is an unbelievable amount of niche sites that thrive in the Independent Web that don’t fit inside the top 1,000 websites. These publishers range anywhere from emerging bloggers who might just be looking for a venue to share their everyday thoughts, to expanding publishers looking to grow their influence to the online community.
One of the many reasons we seek out these niche sites is because of the audiences they accrue. More often than not, the content these expanding publishers create attracts unique readers that are genuinely interested in that specific piece of content. This means they’re more likely to engage with it, share it and advocate for it.
Why does this matter to you?
Reader engagement is one of the most reliable ways to determine traffic quality/uniqueness, which is what advertisers are looking for when bidding on publishers’ inventory. The more engaged and unique the traffic, the higher the CPM & fill.
Think of it this way…
high volume of traffic + unique & (human) engaged readership = best possible yield
Whether you’re an up-and-coming emerging publisher, or an eager expanding publisher, you’ve probably thought about different ways you might be able to increase your traffic. While increasing traffic is an important step to furthering your monetization efforts, so is ramping up your reader engagement – something many publishers overlook.
Once you have a basic understanding of how the ad:tech ecosystem works, you’ll see that what matters most to the advertisers is the quality of traffic they’re bidding on. Therefore, in addition to focusing on increasing the amount of traffic you’re seeing, you need to pay close attention to the quality of the traffic. How can you do that? By creating the kind of content your readers want to see. Does your content promote user engagement? Are you getting comments on your articles? Do you see a steady uptick in social sharing/likes/followers? These are some of the metrics you need to pay attention to because these are the things advertisers are looking for.
4 Site Metrics for Gauging Engagement
The first step to creating content that promotes user engagement is understanding your site metrics. Good ways to identify high engagement include:
- 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.
- Comments and Shares: 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!
- 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 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.
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.