It is well-known that these days, content is king. It’s recommended ad nauseum as a way to build credibility with search engines and drive additional traffic to your site. But beyond just increasing traffic, the real goal should be to attract a qualified audience. These are visitors that exhibit engaged intent and measurable outcomes beyond just visits to your site. If you’re not trying to attract the right audience with your content, then you might as well hang a sign on your homepage that says, "Easy Thru Access." To see if you are attracting a qualified audience, we can use tools like Google Analytics to dig deep into your site data and track the performance of your content.
If you’re not trying to attract the right audience with your content, then you might as well hang a sign on your homepage that says, "Easy Thru Access."
As an example, the table below is a custom report exported from Google Analytics that shows performance data for two articles that were posted on Facebook for the previous month. The metrics used for this table cover Acquisition, Behavior, and Conversion. Each are a key part of the story about your website’s visitors and we will be using all three to compare the audiences attracted by these two articles. While these numbers are somewhat low they still provide a valuable example for measuring content performance.
Right off the bat we can see that this article attracted 15 visits to our site, and 11 of those were brand new viewers. Excellent, this content is attracting new people to the website. New people can mean new customers. Now let’s examine how these visitors are behaving when they land on the website.
Here is why it so important to measure metrics beyond acquisition. There is an 80% bounce rate and visitors only spent an average of 20 seconds on the site. This is not great to say the least. It appears people clicked the link, skimmed the article, and left without much interest in seeing the rest of the site. The 1.33 pages per visit average confirms these suspicions.
It should not be much of a surprise that a 20 second visit duration average does not lead to conversions.
Article B attracted not as many viewers total and a much lower percentage of new viewers than Article A. Already, we can tell that this article is attracting the type of people who are already familiar with this business and what they do.
While not as many new visitors are being attracted by this article, the behavior of those that are brought to the site is much more engaged. The bounce rate for Article B is 45%, these visitors spent over a minute on the site, and viewed over three pages on average. This is exactly what you want, individuals engaged with your content and compelled to spend more time exploring the website.
Here we can see that this article is really bringing in the right audience. In addition to spending a good amount of time on our site we also see some of these visitors completing goals we have set (converting). Success!
Using content to attract traffic is only part of the battle. It is extremely important to look beyond just pageviews and visits by closely examining behavior and conversions as well.
Not only is it crucial to discover what posts have brought in the right traffic and which haven’t, it’s also important to ask the question why. Why did Article B bring in more qualified traffic than Article A? To answer this, you need to examine the content of both articles. The key here is the difference between in-depth content and light, quick-hit content that piggy backs on current events.
Article A was a brief look at a company’s involvement in a trending topic that was very popular the month the article was posted. However, this article had nothing to do with the core competencies of the company and was unrelated to anything else on the site. This lead to the short visits and high bounce rate. And while attracting new viewers is crucial, it is only crucial if these new visitors are potential customers and most of the new viewers in this case were clearly not potential customers.
On the other hand, Article B was far more relevant to the organization’s core competencies. While it brought in a smaller percentage of new viewers, it did so because it attracted those who were already familiar with the company and its services. The article’s closer alignment with the business’ services also meant visitors attracted by its content found many more related topics on the site. This lead to the longer visit duration, higher pages viewed, and goals getting completed. In the end, it is far more preferable to gain new viewers slowly this way with positive behavior and higher conversion rates than it is to attract a lot of new viewers with poorer behavior metrics and little to no conversions. If the goal is to build a relationship with your audience, then you must offer them something of substance.
Another key factor in the difference between these two articles is their length. Article B was what we might call a “deep dive” article that explored its topic at length and with great detail. It was also twice the length of the light and breezier Article A. There has been some study (1, 2) into the effect of article length and what has been found is that both readers and search engines prefer lengthier content. So as long as is it does not lose its focus, lengthier articles can actually be preferable to their shorter counterparts.
Measure your content’s performance. With this actionable data you can make informed decisions about the kind of content that works best for your website and your audience. You can then be confident that the content you invest in will attract not just more visits, but will engage a qualified audience.