Rebecca Bridge // Sep 6 2013
You’ve heard the saying “content is king!” so many times by now that it’s become a joke. A joke that isn’t funny and doesn’t even accurately depict the real role of content. Content is what your visitors see when they come to your site. It’s how you engage with them. It is the key to building long-term authority for the sites you work on. It’s what they remember about you. Content isn’t king. It doesn’t rule over other elements of the site. Content is the whole darn kingdom.
Okay, that’s great, content is a fiefdom, Rebecca, but what’s your point? My point is that if we need to take all of the content we create seriously, that means measuring the data, learning from what we’ve done, and tweaking and making improvements for future content projects. To that end, my co-worker, the Google Analytics Whisperer Michael Wiegand, and I designed this Big Content Real-Time Dashboard to help you do just that for your 10% content. And we’re giving you the template. For free. Download it here. (If you don’t know how to install a dashboard template, hold off on downloading it until you’ve reviewed the how-to at the end of this post.)
Hang on. 10% content? What’s that?!? There’s a great post about it here so I won’t go into too many details, but basically, 10% content is what we Portentites call the bigger, riskier pieces of content that can help draw attention to your brand, improve your reputation, and add lasting value to your site. Here at Portent, we’re increasingly focusing on producing some really awesome 10% content for our clients and we wanted an easy way to measure our success – or failure – starting right at the moment we begin our outreach campaign and through the lifecycle of the content piece. So we created a comprehensive dashboard.
You’ll find help on how to install and set-up your dashboard at the bottom of this post. But first, let’s take a closer look at the elements – what Google Analytics (GA) calls “widgets” – that make up this Big Content dashboard masterpiece and why they are important things to record and track.
There are both active and static elements to the dashboard.
The active ones are real-time and will change by the second. The static elements are dependent on the date range you have set. The real-time measurements will be important to monitor during your campaign to get an idea about how well your outreach is working. For example, if your active visitors on-site suddenly falls from 100 to 0, it might be time for a new tweet or Facebook post to get the content back in front of potential consumers.
The static elements will be important to measure over the lifecycle of the content piece. These metrics will give you an idea of how your content performs in relation to all of the other content on your site. You’ll be able to use the insight you gather to make improvements and tweaks for your next big piece of content. You can also use it to prove the value of the content to decision makers within your organization or your clients’ companies. You know what happens when they start to see the impact of big content? You get to do more. Booyah!
Front and center on the Real-Time Dashboard is a widget that shows your goal completions. By default the dashboard has all goal completions set. That means that any goals you’ve set site-wide will be measured on the specific piece of content this dashboard is measuring. We’ve put it first on the dashboard interface because it can have the most impact on proving the value of the big content you’ve produced.
Depending on the objective of your piece of content, you might want to only measure for a project-specific goal, though, especially if you’re working to improve brand awareness rather than get conversions. In that case, you’ll want to make Engaged Visitors your goal, which means you’ll have to create a goal just for this piece of content. Here’s how you can do that:
An engaged visitor is a visitor who spends more time than average on the site. To determine what that means, you have to first find how long your average visitor spends on the site as a baseline measurement. Check out the Audience > Overview report. The Avg. Visit Duration is the metric that gives you the site-wide measurement.
Next, you’ll need to create your new goal. In order to do this, visit the Admin > View Goals section and click “Create Goal”:
Choose anywhere from 2x – 10x your average visit duration for the goal setting, depending on what you believe will represent a truly engaged visitor:
The next real-time widget is your Active Visitors which shows you how many visitors are currently on your site. As I stated before, measuring this regularly can give you a good idea of when you might need to refresh your outreach efforts. It will also help you monitor how much traffic you’re getting from each outreach element and inform you of the best places to expend more time, energy, and resources.
Next up, you’ll find another real-time widget, the Active Visitors by Source widget. Keeping your eye on this metric will help you understand where your current traffic is coming from. Understanding this will help you make on-the-fly tweaks to your outreach strategy as you determine what’s working and what isn’t.
The New vs. Returning widget will give you a real-time look at what kind of consumer is currently active on your piece of content. If there are lots of new visitors, you know that your outreach is working to effectively drive traffic to the site. A lot of returning visitors, on the other hand, can be indicative that your piece of content is acquiring “content evangelists” – essentially that your content is engaging enough to draw people back to the site.
The Active Visitors by Location is another real-time widget that can help boost your content campaign. Keeping an eye on this data can help you understand the regional appeal of your content, where people are consuming it, and help give you some ideas to shift your outreach resources.
The final real-time widget is the Pageviews in the Last 30 minutes graph. This gives you a look at how your content is performing within a fairly short window. It’s helpful if you can’t monitor the dashboard 24/7 to at least get a 30-minute window into the not-so-distant past. By comparing this chart to your outreach efforts, you can glean some pretty valuable information on how each element of your outreach plan is working. For example, if you know that someone influential has tweeted about your content, you can keep an eye on your pageviews to get an understanding about just how much impact a single tweet from an influencer really can have. If it’s a lot, you can configure future outreach plans to have more social outreach and less email.
This is a static measurement and will give you an idea about how many people visited your piece of content over a specific amount of time. It’s a valuable metric for determining the overall appeal of a piece of content throughout its lifecycle.
This will measure the number of unique visitors your big content garners over a specific time period and is useful for determining the overall reach of the content. Essentially, it allows you to know how many unique pairs of eyes landed on your big content.
Next, the static Uniques by Source and Visitor Type graph is a simple way to determine how many unique visitors your piece of content drew over a specified amount of time and from which sources. This metric can be vital in understanding what outreach worked, who your content appealed to, and how you can tailor future content campaigns for maximum effectiveness and success. The blue and green in each bar is the New vs. Returning breakdown we discussed earlier.
Finally, you have static widgets Avg. Time on Page, Bounce Rate, and Exit Rate. Keeping an eye on these over the lifecycle of your big content can help you understand how site visitors responded to the content in comparison to all other content on the page. Are they staying on the site longer? Are they continuing on to other content? Did they just stop by for that piece and then leave? The better you understand how the public interacted with your big content, the more you can do to tailor it to your reader the next time you create a piece.
Installing this dashboard is a fairly straightforward process. Simply open up your GA page and then cut and paste the following link into your browser’s location bar—aka the spot where URLs usually go: https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/1068218
You will be prompted to add it to a profile. Add it to the profile where you’ll be staging your big content.
Since this is meant to be used for a single piece of content, all the widgets in the dashboard will need to be configured to the page on your site you want to measure.
In this case, I’m measuring our Title Maker.
Make sure you set every widget in the dashboard to only show the page exactly matching your URL:
Rebecca holds an MFA from the Iowa Writer's Workshop and writes, well, everything. Literally. Fiction, poetry, screenplays, memoir, and essays. She's won a slew of awards and fellowships. Here, she pours that creativity into top-notch content for our clients. She's also the co-author of Clear Out the Static in Your Attic: A Writer's Guide for Turning Artifacts into Art Read More