Many editors feel that once content has been created and
uploaded, their job is done. That’s not true. If you don’t measure,
you can’t analyze. If you don’t analyze, you can’t improve.
And the easiest way to analyze is by implementing Google
Analytics. It's free, so there is no excuse not to use it. And,
yes, it works for intranets, too.
Using Web analytics, you can measure the effectiveness
of content. It is possible to measure how well the content is
performing even for purely informational websites, including
intranets, that are not supported by advertising or product
One of the first things you need to do — a step that is
easy to miss — is to make sure you filter out writers and editors
from your statistics. Otherwise, your data will be
bloated and inaccurate. Do this by filtering individual or a
range of IP addresses within your analytics account.
You are not allowed to store personally identifiable information
(such as social security numbers or names) in
Google Analytics. You may, however, store data that can
group visitors together in different clusters. For intranets,
that may be categories such as divisions and departments.
For websites, it could be consumers and businesses.
By using custom variables to group visitors together, you
will be able to analyze how different groups of visitors
behave. From there, content can be optimized to best fit
its target audience.
Keep in mind that file downloads are not automatically
tracked by Google Analytics. For example, if you want to
track PDF downloads, you need to trigger a virtual page
view when a visitor is clicking on links to them.
Six measurements to maximize impact.
There are many different key performance indicators (KPIs)
that can be measured. Those best to track varies from company
to company, and site to site. If you feel uncertain, talk
to a Web analytics consultant.
Too many pages and don’t know where to start? Prioritize
what pages to optimize by looking at such indicators as
bounce rate, read rate, $-index (monetary or goal-value contribution)
and satisfaction. Also check page-view volume
(which will tell you something about impact) and number
of entrances (which shows how relevant the bounce rate is).
Some of those metrics, however, require additional configuration
Below are six KPIs to measure and analyze to make sure
your website’s content is meeting your business objectives.
1. Readings per writer and writer impact
Find out how many times a particular writer’s articles are
being read, the number of conversions taking place as a result of those articles, how long those visits lasted (best
measured in intervals — use the Length of Visit report
under Visitor Loyalty), and more. This is done by segmenting
and creating reports based on a custom variable,
as described below.
How to measure it: Start by editing the tracking script on
your website that is used by Google Analytics.
• Trigger a page-level custom variable after a certain number
of seconds on a page.
• Base the timer on a reasonable amount of time it takes
to read an article.
• Add the name of the writer to a custom variable and the
URL + “(read)” in _trackPageview(). This will result in
the writer’s name being tied to the page and the page
being marked as “read.”
• In “Top Content” you'll have two entries for article1
that look like this: “/article1/index.php” and
“/article1/index.php (read)”. You can filter the Top Content
report by “(read)” to see how many times different
articles have been read.
• If you only want to look at articles by a specific writer,
use an advanced segment based on the custom variable
containing the writer’s name.
Keep in mind that triggering an extra page view, as will
be done above, will affect other metrics such as number of
page views, page views/visit and bounce rate.
2. Page impact
By configuring goals, you can find out how frequently, and
during which visits a certain page was viewed and led to goal
completions, and the total goal value for those visits. How
well have those visits performed compared
to other visits?
How to measure it: Create an advanced
segment including only visits
during which a specific page, or a certain
group of pages has been viewed.
Measuring visitor satisfaction per
writer and page adds an important dimension
to your analysis. Imagine if
you could find out how satisfied readers
of specific writers are? You can.
How to measure it: There are two
ways. You can incorporate the possibility
to give a rating for an individual
page, or you can trigger a survey after
the user has completed certain actions,
spent a certain amount of time on the
site, or left the site. The key is to store
the grade in Google Analytics. By combining
behavioral and attitudinal data
in Google Analytics, you will be able
to see how frequently certain pages or writers have been involved in high- and low-satisfaction visits.
Survey data can be stored as custom variables or virtual
page views, depending on what works best for you.
4. Time spent writing vs. reading
This measurement can show if there are pages that readers
spend less time reading than the writers and editors spend
creating. It is particularly valuable for intranets or websites
with low traffic. If you spend a lot of time on an article and
few people read it, you’ve either failed at marketing the article
or it’s simply not appealing to readers. Besides learning
what content works best, this KPI will let you know how
well writers are spending their time.
How to measure it: This requires a CMS hack. The company
I work for built a simple plug-in for EPiServer (a .Net
Web Content Management System) showing how much
time has been spent editing individual pages and groups of
pages. You may be able to build something similar in your
Caveat: It will paint the true picture only if all writing is
done directly in the CMS.
5. Unread pages
Pages need to generate at least one page view to be included
in Google Analytics. Pages with no views will not be listed.
If you do not track unread pages, you cannot accurately
measure the average amount of page views per article or the
average amount of readings per article. Both of those metrics
are valuable to evaluate content. This may not be an issue for
everyone, but for websites containing thousands of pages,
it’s not always the case that every single page has been
viewed at least once during any given time period.
How to measure it: To find pages that did not generate a
single page view or reading, you need to match a list of pages
from your CMS with page-view data from Google Analytics.
I recommend using Excellent Analytics, a free plug-in for
Microsoft Excel, when combining data from Google Analytics
with data from other systems. You can download it for
free from: http://excellentanalytics.com/.
6. Cost per reading
Some organizations have goals stating that writers need to
produce a certain amount of articles per week. I believe that
it is more important to measure the impact of a writer’s articles,
rather than sheer volume of articles created.
How to measure it: Cost per reading = writer cost/number
of times the writer’s articles have been read.
Better articles should generate more readings. Writers
should strive to achieve a low cost per reading and a high
About the Author: Lars Johansson works for Mark Red (www.markred.se,)a
Google Analytics Authorized Consultant (GAAC) and Google
Website Optimizer Authorized Consultant (WOAC). He blogs
about web analytics and testing at www.WebAnalysts.Info.