How to measure content effectiveness


A content marketing dashboard measures how well the content on your website is performing. Here I’ll share with you a dashboard I have created, which you can easily use with your own website data in Google Analytics.

A Google Analytics dashboard gives you a quick look at only the information you want to see, so you don’t have to wade through lots of other data. You’ll see the top 10 best or worst performing pages for different metrics.

This dashboard shows you how to measure content effectiveness by looking at:

1. Whether your content is converting visitors
2. How much your content is engaging visitors
3. What sources are driving traffic
4. How well your content is doing in social media
5. Who the audience for your content is

After signing into your Google Analytics account, you can start using the content marketing dashboard right away by following this link, selecting the view, or profile, you want to see data for, and clicking “create”.

You’ll see a number of widgets, which are tables, graphs or charts that show specific data about your website. Once you’ve taken a look, I’ll be running through the five things the Google Analytics dashboard shows you about your web content.


1. Content effectiveness: conversion

Before you can use the first content marketing widget, “best converters”, you’ll need to have a goal, which lets you measure how often visitors complete actions that meet your objectives. If you don’t have goals already, take a look at this post about how to set up a goal in Analytics.

The “best converters” widget shows the pages on your site that have the highest percentage of conversions to the goals you have set. It can be used with goals such as:

• Contact form completions
• Newsletter sign-ups
• Account creations
• White paper or e-book downloads

You won’t be able to use the widget, however, if your goal is the completion page for an ecommerce transaction, as this is not measured from your content pages.

Sometimes, there are pages you don’t want to see in a widget – for example, the “thank you for contacting us page” when your goal is contact, as this tells you nothing about your content. You can easily stop particular pages being shown:

• Click the pencil symbol in the top right corner
• Go to the “filter this data” section
• Select “don’t show” from the first drop down
• Select “page title” from the second drop down
• Enter the title of the page you don’t want

Dashboard filter


2. Engagement and content effectiveness

Lots of the metrics in Google Analytics tell us about engagement with content, and some of these are shown in the two widgets at the top right of the dashboard.

One gauge of popularity is how many pageviews a page receives. On its own, though, this metric doesn’t say much about engagement. Lots of pageviews might show you how well your page ranks for a high volume keyword, or how good the title is, but not how well it performs past the entrance stage.

The exit rate metric helps qualify this, showing you the proportion of visitors who leave after finding your page, and those who are intrigued enough to view some more of your site. Lots of page views combined with a high exit rate means that you are doing a good job of bringing the punters in, but perhaps not offering them exactly what they were looking once they arrive.

The second page engagement widget looks at the pages that retain visitors for the longest amount of time. While a long average time on page lets you know that your page is being read, one page having a higher average time on page than another doesn’t necessarily mean that it is more engaging.

For example, the page on our site with the highest average time is a whopping 1,430 words long, and includes a video and five pictures. The second is a mere 741 words long, with no pictures or videos, and would clearly take less time to read Looked at in this light, the second page’s average of 30 minutes seems far more impressive than the first’s 38 minutes.

Dashboard widget


Looking at the exit rate confirms this – the second page did a slightly better job of generating interest in the site. A lower percentage of people left the site after reading the second page than the first.


3. Know your sources

When considering how to measure content effectiveness, you need to know where your visitors are coming from. This will help you evaluate what you are doing well, and whether there are things you can improve on. Different sources say different things about your content:

• A great deal of organic traffic from organic Google indicates that your content generally does well in the search results.
• Fewer organic visits than you’d hoped for can let you know that you need to improve your content’s optimisation.
• Lots of results from a “direct” source means you have large numbers of visitors who already know about your brand, and find your content by typing your address straight into the search bar.
• Referrals from high quality domains indicate some good link building, or content that has naturally attracted the attention of other site owners or content writers.
• If you have a newsletter, you might aim to bring lots of people to your content through it. If you aren’t already, find out how to track things like newsletters as a source by using campaign URL tagging.


4. Social success

Social sharing means success in a world where everyone and their mother is using social media.

The “social sources” widget shows you where your social traffic is coming from. The volume of visits is an indication both of the popularity of the social media source, and your presence on it. Like pageviews, though, it needs to be combined with another metric to be really useful.

While Twitter and Facebook refer far more visitors to our website, it is LinkedIn that generates the most pageviews during each visit. If you get a lot of visits but not many pageviews from a social source, you might want to consider how you can better take advantage of the high referral volume coming your way.

The “social content” widget looks at how many “social actions” were taken while viewing your content. These can include:

• Google+ shares
• Google+1s
• Facebook shares
• Facebook likes
• Twitter tweets

This is a useful performance measure, as it shows that visitors didn’t just passively leave the page open for an amount of time, or click though to other pages because they were bored, but appreciated your content enough to share it with their contacts.


5. Who is your audience?

The audience-related widgets on the Google Analytics dashboard give you actionable information about your audience.

The “returning visitors” pie chart gives you an idea of what proportion of your visitors return because they like your brand, and who followed links or found well-optimised content in search engines.

“Visits by weekday” helps you understand when visitors are engaging with your content, so you can publish it or make social manoeuvres at influential times.

Lastly, “visitor location” shows you where in the world your visitors are. You can use this data to inform your content in all kinds of ways, such as:

• Language use
• Cultural concepts
• Competition inclusion areas

Now you know how to measure content effectiveness using real data, you can look at the best and worst performing pages to see what was done differently. Then you can let this inform your content marketing strategy, using what is effective and avoiding what isn’t.

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