Optimizing Contents for Sales and Conversions through Profit Index

 

One of the most important and yet not so obvious difference between a low converting website and a high converting website is the volume of profitable contents on the site.

profit-index

 

Profitable Content

A profitable content is a piece of content which adds value to the business bottomline by providing smart and simple solutions to improve customers’ lives and at the same time influencing buying behavior.

If a piece of content is profitable for your business then it will have the capacity to trigger conversions and/or transactions. It will be most frequently viewed prior to conversions and/or transactions. So it is a no brainer that in order to improve the conversion rate of your website you need large volume of profitable contents on your site.

 

Measuring profitability of a piece of content

Google Analytics use a metric called page value (formerly known as $index value) to measure the profitability of a piece of content. It is calculated as:

Page Value =  (Total E-Commerce Revenue which the page helped in generating + Total Value of the Goal Conversions which the page completed) / Number of unique page views of the page prior to conversions and/or transactions.

Page value can also be calculated for group of pages. You can find this metric in the ‘All Pages’ report (under Content > Site Content in Google Analytics). Following are some facts about page value metric which you must know:

1. Google Analytics calculate page value only when conversion tracking and/or e-commerce tracking is enabled. Otherwise you will see a page value of $0 for every piece of content.

2. Page value is not useful as a standalone metric. It is useful only as a point of comparison. So page value of $7 doesn’t mean anything on its own.

3. Pages that were most frequently viewed prior to high value conversions and/or transactions get the highest page value.

4. Pages that were least frequently viewed prior to conversions or transactions get the lowest page value.

5. Pages that were not viewed prior to conversions or transactions get the zero page value. We call such pages as unprofitable pages. Every website has got such pages and it is perfectly normal to have such pages provided they constitute only a small fraction of the total pages on your website.

 

Profit Index

Profit index is a database of all the profitable pages on your website. It can also be the inventory of bestselling products on your website. You can visualize the profit Index by looking at the chart at the very top of this post.  If you are an avid reader of this blog you must have heard of profit index before. I talked about it in this introductory post, last year: Introducing Profit Index: Revolutionary Way to Measure your Content Marketing Efforts

I have come a long way since I last wrote about this topic and have become much better in translating this concept into conversions and sales. In this post I will explain the use of profit index in great detail and show you how it can be used to optimize contents for conversions and sales.

 

Why you need Profit Index?

Since profit index contains only those web pages which have the capacity to trigger conversions and/or transactions, you can dramatically improve your conversion volumes if you can isolate them from rest of the pages on your website and solely focus on optimizing them. This can help you greatly if you manage a website with tens of thousands of web pages and you are not sure where to start, what to optimize.

Profit index is based on the famous Pareto Principle (80/20 rule):

80% of your output comes from 20% of the input

80% of your sales come from 20% of the products

80% of your conversions come from 20% of the content pages

So what you need to do is to find that 20% and focus on it to increase your sales and conversions. Without profit index you will remain busy in optimizing 100% of the contents on your website which will not produce optimum results in a timely manner.

 

Creating and optimizing Profit Index in Google Analytics

Step-1: Set up all relevant goals, goals value and enable e-commerce tracking in your Google Analytics account. Otherwise you will see a page value of $0 for every piece of content and you won’t be able to create any profit index.

Step-2: Make sure you don’t have any data collection issues and you have not set up irrelevant goals or goals with random values. Such data can easily skew the page value metric.

Step-3: Now create a custom report in Google Analytics with following specifications:

Primary Dimension: Page

Metrics: Pageviews, Page Value, Avg. Time on Page, Bounce Rate, Goals Completion, Goal Value, Transactions and Revenue


Step-4:
Filter out all those pages which are not really content pages by using advanced filters on the reporting interface:

advanced-filter 
For example you can filter out following pages from the profit index:

  1. Checkout pages – These pages are always viewed prior to transactions, so they bound to have high page value.
  2. Add to cart Pages
  3. Cart Preview Pages
  4. Purchase History Pages
  5. Pages with URLs that contain session ids, visitor IDs and other query parameters which don’t change the content of the web pages.

 

Step-5: Filter out all those web pages (using advanced filters on the reporting interface) whose page value is $0 and pageviews is less than 30 in a month. If a web page is getting less than 30 pageviews a month then it is not worth focusing on at this point. May be later we can target these web pages.

advanced-filter2

 

Step-6: Save the report as a shortcut (by clicking on the shortcut button) and name it ‘Profit Index’. The advantage of using shortcuts is that it can save all the settings like ‘advanced filters on the reporting interface. In this way you don’t need to set the advanced filters every time you look at your report:

profit-index2

 

Step-7: Note down the number of pages in the profit index. These are the most profitable pages of your website at the moment. The number also represents the size of the profit index.

number-of-pages

 

Step-8: Determine pages that get low volume of Page views but have a high page value. You can find such pages by sorting the page value column in descending order:

pages-highPageValue

Find ways to increase the traffic to these web pages. Start from the page which has the highest page value and then focus on the page with second highest page value and so on. Since these web pages are most frequently viewed prior to conversions and/or transactions they can greatly increase your sales and conversion volume if you send more traffic to it.  

Following tips can help you to send more traffic to these web pages:

1. Do intra-site linking so that more link juice pass to these pages. Frequently reference pages with high page value in your contents.

2. Kill all those web page which don’t add any value to the business bottomline. This can help in passing the link juice to more important pages.

3. Create and submit a sitemap which list only the pages in the profit index (also called Profitable Sitemap). You want to make sure that these pages are easily found by Google.

4. Get links to these pages through link building so that more of these pages can act as landing pages and attract higher traffic than usual.

5. Keep these pages evergreen by constantly updating them. Google also seem to boost ranking of the pages which contain fresh content.

6. For most profitable pages (pages with constantly high page value over a period of 3 months or more), consider reducing the number of clicks it takes to reach to these pages from the home page. You may need to make some changes to your navigation structure. This will pass more link juice to the most profitable pages.

 

Step-9: Determine pages that get lot of page views but have low page value. You can find such pages by sorting the page view column in descending order:

pages-highPageViews

Find ways to increase the page value of these pages.  Scan the content of the pages and ask yourself this simple question:

Does this content provide smart, simple solution which improves customers’ lives and at the same time influence buying behavior?

I consider this question as the holy grail of content development and marketing. Don’t let questions like “is this content unique, credible and informative” fool you.  While it is all good to have unique, credible and informative contents but they don’t necessarily results in conversions and sales.

First and foremost your content must serve your customers and that too in a way which influence their buying decision. However if your answer to the above question is ‘No’ then you need to redevelop your contents .

Following tips can help you in building profitable contents:

1. Develop contents which align with your business goals.

2. Find a niche you are passionate about and then just stick to it.

3. Follow the 10000 hour rule.

4. Hire a subject matter expert and not a purist.

5. First priority should always be Quality and then quantity.

6. Improve user experience.

7. Ensure you consistently produce high quality contents.

 

Develop contents which align with your business goals

So if you are primary a link builder, you would be better off developing contents only on topics related to link building and content marketing because this is what you sell.  Similarly if you are a wedding planner, you would be better off developing contents only on topics related to wedding management.  If you develop contents on topics which don’t really align with your business objectives then you are just wasting your time and resources.

 

Find a niche you are passionate about and then just stick to it

Until last year I was blogging about everything from keyword research, local SEO, Social Media to Link building. It didn’t help me in building authority in any of these fields. I was writing about topics I am good at but not passionate about. My blog started to get traction only when I found my true passion in web analytics and started blogging about it in every single post I published.

If you look around in the search industry, you can find many people who seem to follow this practice and are considered authority in their respective fields. Bill Slawski is a recognized authority on Patents and he has been writing about patents for almost a decade now or may be more.

Both Jason Acidre and Jon Cooper are widely known for link building and both persistently write on link building topics. Joost de Valk (yoast) has become almost a synonym for ‘wordpress seo’ and he also persistently writes on topics related to wordpress.

Everywhere you look around you can find people who are considered authority in a subject field. But you will rarely find anyone who is considered an authority in multiple subject areas/disciplines.

In fact it is almost impossible and also impractical for any individual/business to try to build authority in multiple subject areas. So stick to just one niche. Building authority in a single industry vertical is relatively easy and is something which is possible through hard work, dedication, networking and bit of luck.  You also need to show lot of passion to carry on esp. during difficult times otherwise you will give up sooner or later. So find an industry vertical you or your client is passionate about and then just stick to it.

 

Follow the 10000 hour rule

Malcolm Gladwell made an interesting observation in his book ‘outliers’. This observation is that the people who achieve extra ordinary success in their field spend at least 10000 hours perfecting their craft. I have been practicing this rule since last year. Though I have spent only around 2000 hours so far in perfecting my skills in web analytics, the results are in front of you.

So I can tell you first hand that this rule really works. It helps me in providing smart simple solutions to my readers and clients.  Though you can’t follow the 10000 hour rule on behalf of your clients, you can certainly hire people who have been following this rule and have spent at least 1000 hour in perfecting their craft. We call such people as ‘Subject Matter Experts’.

 

Hire a subject matter expert and not a purist

We often hire content writer with good language and literary skills to develop contents on ……..any topic. Now the problem with this approach is that at the end of the day quality of the contents suffers in terms of value added to the business bottomline. Perfect grammar is not going to help you get sales and conversions, value proposition will.

Anybody can develop (or dare I say rehash) contents on any topic these days through little research on the web. That’s why internet is jam packed with poor/mediocre quality contents. In order to stand out, you need to demonstrate high level of subject matter expertise and for that you need people who are expert in their fields. Without the help of these subject matter experts there is no way to build authority in any niche.

So if you want to build authority in say skateboarding field then you need to hire bloggers who are passionate about skateboarding or hire skateboarders who are also bloggers. I know it is not easy to find and hire such people but then it is not easy to build authority either and without authority you won’t get high quality links and desired user engagement and exposure, which all are required to increase page value and eventually the business bottomline.

 

First priority should always be Quality and then quantity

If you have been following me since last year or so, you must have noticed great improvement in the quality of my contents. There are three main reasons behind this. First I blog only about one topic now i.e. web analytics. When you are blogging about same topic day in, day out, you are in a do or die situation. You have to come up with new ideas otherwise you risk failure.

Second I follow the 10000 hour rule which has exponentially improved my subject matter expertise and this expertise reflects in my blog posts. And third I spend lot of time in deciding how to structure my posts. How to present it to you so that it is incredibly easy to understand and at the same instantly useful.

For example it took me around 50 hrs (around one and half month) to write this blog post: Introducing Predictive Marketing – The next stage of Business Optimization. This blog post is around 45 pages long and one of the most technical posts I have ever written. Read it and you will find out why : )


I remember, once I spent around 2 months researching on legal contracts for this post: SEO Contract | Sample SEO Contract Template.  This post though several years old now, still gets rave reviews to date. The whole point of telling you about my story is to reinforce the fact that developing contents which actually drive sales and conversions require huge amount of time and resources.

You can’t expect to move corporate needle or build authority by writing 5 blog posts in one hour or churning out mediocre contents every single day. So roll up your sleeves and get ready to spend some serious amount of time and money on hiring subject matter experts and developing great resources for your target audience.

 

Improve user experience

Improve user experience on your targeted pages through A/B testing and by following best practices of a typical landing page optimization program. Look at the user engagement metrics like avg. time on page and bounce rate. If user engagement is low then scan the contents to determine ‘why’. So if bounce rate is high then figure out what can be done to reduce bounce rate.

Check out this post: Two Powerful ways to reduce bounce rate for more details.

 

Ensure you consistently produce high quality contents

1. Hire subject matter experts. Only they can bring expertise on your website and ensure high quality contents on a regular basis.

2.  Develop contents which provide smart, simple solution to improve customers’ lives and at the same time influence buying behavior. Just developing unique, easy to understand contents is not enough.

3. Create editorial guidelines and content calendar and follow them religiouslyEvery aspect of your content development and marketing should be planned out well in advance. For example i know since last month that today I will be publishing this post.

4. Constantly measure the performance of your contents. If you won’t measure the performance you will never know what works and what doesn’t and you may end beating a dead horse.

5.  Do more of what works and less of what that doesn’t work. It is not a rocket science.

6. Keep an eye on popular blogs in your niche and get ideas/inspiration from them.  Reading can spark lot of new ideas and topics to blog about.

Related Post: Measuring Content Marketing Efforts – Understanding Great Contents

 

Step-10: Increase the size of your profit index – Bigger size means more profitable pages on your website and higher probability of generating sales and conversions without spending more on traffic acquisition. You should always monitor the size of your profit index on monthly basis:

profit-index-size

If you try to correlate the size of profit index with conversion, you will generally find a strong positive linear relationship between profit index size and conversions volumes i.e. when ‘profit index’ is larger than average, ‘conversions’ tends to be larger than average. Similarly when ‘profit index’ is smaller than average, ‘conversions’ tends to be smaller than average.

If you are managing a very big website then you may get tens of thousands of web pages in your profit index. In that case you need to segment your profit index and create several smaller profit indices by using the steps outlined in this post. In any case you first priority should always be to focus on optimizing pages with highest page values because these are the pages which can generate maximum conversions and/or transactions on your website.

Other Posts you may find useful:

 

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  • rajesh

    Really valuable post for any business field. I learned lot from here and very impressive way of explaining. I am sure it will help every reader..

    • seohimanshu

      Glad you find the post useful.

  • http://www.mardiros.net/ Carmen Mardiros

    I’ve made a recent discovery in Google Analytics that is closely related to the topic discussed here. GA inflates Goal Completions associated with a page (when that goal is an event/virtual pageview that captures a visitor interaction, ie click on a button). As a result, Page Value is also skewed. This makes Page Value inaccurate at best, misleading at worst. The symptom is if you have higher Goal Completions compared to Unique Pageviews for a page in your GA reports. Both should be calculated once per session.

    The discussion is on Google+ https://plus.google.com/101413897062565650238/posts/Cmx8ELKEjWr (would be great if you could contribute your thoughts Himanshu)

    It’s how Goals are assigned to the page that causes the faulty calculation (whether it’s a recent bug or it’s always been like that, I don’t know). According to GA, a page that is seen 3 times before a Goal is reached should get credit for the goal, but only once. I have carried out a controlled experiment which was corroborated by others and in reality the Page gets assigned 3 goals in this case. So you may have only 1 goal in that session but that page gets credit for 3 goals! and its Page Value metric is also 3 times what it should be.

    As it stands, any content-level analysis using Page Value simply cannot be trusted.

    • seohimanshu

      Hi Carmen

      I have not verified your observations yet. But one thing that i can say for sure is that GA data is not 100% accurate anyways. The bounce rate, average time on page etc are all faulty metrics.

      I use GA premium and deal with data sampling issues all the time with majority of metrics anywhere from 10% to 80% off the mark. So even if what you have mentioned is true, it won’t really impact my analysis and it should not impact the analysis of any other person either. This is because we focus on trends and look at the big picture and not the actual numbers in any analysis.

      In my introductory post on ‘profit index’ http://www.seotakeaways.com/introducing-profit-index-revolutionary-measure-content-marketing-efforts/, i clearly mentioned not to rely on ‘page value’ metrics alone. In fact relying on any one metric alone is sub-optimal. Even in the present post, if you look at the screenshot of profit index, you can clearly see the use of other metrics like goal completions, transactions, bounce rate etc and all these metric influence the decision making process.

      • http://www.mardiros.net/ Carmen Mardiros

        I agree with some of the points you are making. GA is not accurate and that’s something analysts have to deal with. However, you can only trust the big picture and trends if the known faults and inaccuracies in the tools are spread equally across all data points i.e. all data suffers from the same inconsistencies.

        In this case, though, it appears that the metrics are skewed when Goals are events/virtual pageviews are visitor interactions captured using JS/jQuery which means that data will not be uniformly affected.

        Moreover, this bug (for lack of a better word) affects not only Page Value but also Goal Completions and Total Goal Value – so most of the outcome metrics available (unless you’re ecommerce).

        • seohimanshu

          I am not sure i will agree with this statement:

          “you can only trust the big picture and trends if the known faults and inaccuracies in the tools are spread equally across all data points i.e. all data suffers from the same inconsistencies.”

          For example in case of ‘data sampling issues’ not all data points suffer from same inconsistencies. Same is the case with attribution modelling issues. In fact there is no way that you can get data from any tool in which known faults and inaccuracies in the tools are equally spread. So that doesn’t mean we can never trust the data trends then.

          You will never get perfect data from anywhere and marketing decisions will be wrong only when data discrepancy is of considerable amount and data interpretation is based on small time frame, few raw numbers and one or two metrics.

          • http://www.mardiros.net/ Carmen Mardiros

            No, but in sampling each data point has an equal chance of suffering from inconsistency (the whole basis of random sampling). Quite different to the case where pages which collect events/virtual pageviews using JS/jQuery have a 100% chance of showing inaccurate data.

            Ultimately, the point I was making with my finding is that it contradicts even Google’s own definition of how metrics SHOULD be calculated (See here http://analytics.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/understanding-and-using-page-value.html).

  • Loris Schumann Symp.me

    This article goes beyond optimizing pages. You included some of the very basic, very fundamental laws of business (subject matter expert) and you had the balls to put the focus on improving customers lives, which translates to buying behavior which translates to $.

    Best read I have had in weeks

    Best

    Loris Schumann
    http://www.symp.me

  • ronmartin05

    Using the (TM) or (R) on branded kws has provided a boost in CTR for many of our ads in a recent test. Really, any special characters, aside from the overused “!” have helped differentiate our ads from the competition and given us an immediate boost. Our style is quite aggressive, and there are a few more suggestions I can make on your campaign. Below is my contact info. Email me (or give me a quick call)! Thanks and good luck! 256-398-3835, simon.b@resultsdriven.org