Measuring the success of your site or social media efforts normally boils down to one thing: How impressive the metrics are. That's one of the great parts of online content, the ability to measure your progress and development right down to the finest detail. With so many different analytics tools out there for both the Web and social media, you're pretty much spoilt for choice.
However, when you're measuring progress, you should never rely on the one metric alone. While some metrics may hold greater importance than others (unique visitors would have more weight than say, bounce rate), all of them are relative to each other meaning that if one is down, it's related to another metric and vice versa.
It's not a case of what metric you should pay attention to, but what collection of metrics. But instead of picking out which ones you should focus on, you should first look at the reasons why your site is working and the metrics that correlate to this.
To do this, the questions you should be asking are relatively simple. Like any good story, you should be asking yourself the five W's. That is:
- Who is visiting your site?
- What brings them to it?
- Where are they coming from?
- When are they arriving?
- Why are they visiting?
Who's Visiting Your Site?
Google Analytics mightn't be able to tell you who exactly visits your site, but there are other ways of seeing who links to you. For one, Twitter search is a brilliant place to start. Provided you have a blog and you're posting content on a regular basis, it's good to see the type of users who are sharing your content. Where are they from? What's their background? What are they saying about your content? These things can tell you a lot about how well your content is being received and who you're reaching out to.
There's another handy way of checking who has tweeted your articles. Depending on what widgets you use, you may be able to click on the number beside the tweet button and see what conversations are taking place around your content. This will give you a search result for anyone who has linked to your post and what they've said.
Ultimately, you need to ask whether this audience is the kind you want visiting your site in the first place. Every business has different aims so does this demographic tie into your overall aims. Is the site there to educate users, is it to attract new business, or just to promote yourself?
What Brings Them To Your Site?
Writing the content in the first place can take a lot of time, but what's good to identify is how exactly they find your site. Usually the most popular way would be through search engines like Google and Bing - in which case checking what keywords are used is of priority - but you shouldn't neglect the other ways in which people find your content.
For one, social media is a great place to generate referral traffic, but also other ways like referral traffic from other sites, sharing bookmarks like Stumbleupon and forums can generate traffic too, depending on how you present your content.
Where Are They Coming From?
Your business or company might be based in one city or country, but the power of the Web means that your audience could be based anywhere in the world. If your content is primarily local and you're getting traffic from a different country, maybe it would be worth considering writing about more general topics so that geographical boundaries isn't as great an issue as before.
That doesn't mean you should switch from local to general topics immediately - it's usually better striking a happy balance between the two - but broadening your content could open your site to a whole new audience so keep it in mind when you're planning your content schedule.
When Are They Arriving?
Again tying back into the last point, where they're based has a significant impact on what time they'll see your content. Most people will visit your content when it appears on their feeds so you want to check which times get the most traffic.
If your audience is mostly from the one location (e.g. Europe or America), then you only need to worry about posting it at a time they will see it like the afternoon. However, if it's a case where it's it varies, you should consider posting at a time where all audiences will be awake to read it as soon as it goes live.
If that isn't possible, then you should schedule your content to be tweeted or posted on social media at times that both audiences will see it. Tweeting the same thing twice isn't a bad thing provided you space them out.
Why Are They Visiting?
Perhaps the most important question out of the five here. When someone boots up their computer or opens the browser on their laptop, what is the reason they're visiting your site. Is it for your insight in your industry? Is it because you provide all the latest and funniest videos out there? Do you offer an opinion that you won't find anywhere else?
Your most visited pages will give you an indication of what your audience will look for, but don't rely on just the top ten alone. Instead, broaden your search and check to see what the most popular pages were for certain months. You may find that the results will differ greatly over time, but more importantly, you will be able to identify what topics generates the most interest and views.
Once you've answered those questions, you can start thinking about which metrics you should be focusing on. While views may be seen as the most important, don't neglect the many others metrics that contribute to it.