Wednesday, September 18, 2013

9/18/2013 12:53:00 PM

How to Measure the Success of Web Content?

How to Measure the Success of Web Content

What does a page view really tell you about how well your content performed? Putting qualitative metrics in place is the first step to creating targeted, refined, strategic content…

There are lots of different ways to measure web content.

Some data is very easy to collect, and some is very difficult. But there’s a mismatch between the ease of availability of data, and its intrinsic worth.

For example, according to this Sticky Content copy writing survey, content professionals said that the hardest thing about creating good content is measuring its impact.

And the metrics most people used, in order, were:
  • Unique visits/ page views
  • Conversions
  • Bounce rate
  • Shares or social mentions
  • Other info, like feedback from a call center
  • Balance of new vs returning customers
  • Ranks/likes on social
  • Inbound links from other sites
  • No measurement (19.9%)
But this seems like an accident of the fact that unique visits, conversions, bounce rates and social shares are simply the easiest things to measure, using tools like Google Analytics.

Conversions are clearly useful to monitor, but not every page necessarily leads to a conversion. You couldn’t accurately measure a blog post, for example, this way.

And what can be drawn from the number of views a page got? The SEO was good, there was a great referral link, the page was interesting enough to keep people coming back? Or a combination of all 3?

Ultimately, trying to take meaningful conclusions from these kinds ofquantitative metrics will always be a bit of a guessing game. Which doesn’t really help when it comes to planning your next batch of content.

Qualitative content metrics

Judging your content on its quality is the only way to get to the nub of what about each page was successful, and what wasn’t. That way, you can identify and fix any problems, and feed this knowledge into how you work in future.

First, you’ll need to decide what criteria is important. This needs to match up to your business goals – so, if one of your aims is to hone your online branding this year, a relevant criterion could be: ‘In the right tone of voice’.

Other criteria might be:
  1. Usability – how easy to use is the page? Is everything signposted well?
  2. Messaging – is the messaging on brand? Is it clear?
  3. Consistency – are the elements of writing style, imaging and design all consistent with each other?
  4. Copy writing quality – is it well-written? Is it in our tone of voice? Is it readable?
  5. Accuracy – are the facts correct? Do we over-claim or use marketing hyperbole?
  6. Structural quality – is the page easy to scan at speed? Do the design and writing match up to make the page easily digestible? Can I find all the information I need, fast?
  7. Time-proofing – is this page okay to remain live for a long while, or does it have time-specific references that will need updating? For example, ‘We will be rolling this out in 2010…’
Then, score each page on these criteria. You’ll be able to identify weak areas – for example, our pages are highly accurate but the messaging isn’t often on brand – and then implement solutions to target these specific concerns.

This is called a content audit. You can look at a sample of pages, or compile your whole site into a content inventory and go through each page one-by-one. It’s best for one person to do this, for consistency of judgement.

If you can’t find resource for this in-house, you could ask an expert digital agency to carry out a content audit for you. They’ll often have their own approach to judging content quality, or one they can tailor to meet what’s important to your business. This way, you’ll have a fresh pair of eyes on your site, and benefit from the expertise of a content professional.

How do you measure your content? Leave a comment.