Content Marketing Analytics via Google Analytics

Last Updated: May 26, 2022

What makes content great? 

Is it the uniqueness, informativeness, visual appeal, social shares, tons of backlinks, or all of the above?

If you think that the greatness of content can’t be measured and the definition of great content is subjective then I strongly suggest you reconsider your views, especially if the content you are developing is for commercial purposes.

Because if a piece of content is not adding any value to your business bottomline then it is not great content. It can’t be.

You may have a hard time justifying the cost of its production sooner or later especially if you are spending a crazy amount of money in content development and marketing each month with no apparent return on investment in monetary terms.

Commercial definition of great content

A great content is a piece of content (blog post, infographic, video etc) which is most frequently viewed prior to conversion(s) and/or transaction(s) on your website.

Here is the formula to calculate greatness:

Great Content =

[Total Value of the transactional conversions (i.e Revenue) which are completed by the content +
Total Value of the non-transactional conversions (i.e Goal Value) which are completed by the content] /
Number of unique pageviews of the content prior to transactional and/or non-transactional conversions 

I have not made up this formula. 

That is how Google Analytics calculates the economic value added by a piece of content to your business bottomline in monetary terms.

In Google Analytics, the metric which is used to calculate the greatness of a piece of content is known as ‘Page Value’:

page value

Note: Total Value of the transactional conversions is called ‘Revenue’ in Google Analytics.

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Prerequisites for calculating and/or relying on the ‘Page Value’ metrics

Before you can measure and rely on the ‘Page Value’ metrics for your analysis, you need to set up:

#1 Ecommerce Tracking or Enhanced Ecommerce Tracking (provided you run an ecommerce website). Your ecommerce tracking should be absolutely free from any tracking issues esp. duplicate transaction issues.

#2 Goal Conversion Tracking (where you track all important non-transactional goals like ‘newsletter signups’, ‘form submissions’ etc). Your goal conversion tracking should be absolutely free from any tracking issues.

#3 All non-transactional goals should have the correct value assigned to them.

For example, if you are tracking ‘newsletter signups’ as a goal conversion then determine what that signup means to your business bottomline in monetary terms. Usually a ‘newsletter signups’ is worth $1. But it could be different for your business.

You would need at least 30 days of clean data before you start using ‘Page Value’ metrics for your data analysis.

Purge your Google Analytics Data before your measure Content Marketing

I have seen many analytics accounts where marketers set up and measure irrelevant goals (like ‘pages/visit’) and add a random value to the non-transactional goals they are measuring.

Such practice can greatly skew your website goal conversion rate, page value, per session goal value and various other metrics across several analytics reports esp. multi-channel funnel reports.

So, always question how the data is collected in the first place.

It is wise that before you measure your content marketing efforts, make sure you are measuring only those goals which are beneficial to your business.

Make sure that the correct value is assigned to each goal.

If you don’t purge your analytics data then you will make wrong business decisions which can result in loss of revenue.

Some facts about Page Value Metric

#1 If you run an ecommerce website then ‘Page Value’ metric is not useful for you unless you have set up ecommerce tracking for your website in GA.

#2 If you run a non-ecommerce website then ‘Page Value’ metric is not useful for you unless you have set up Goal Conversion tracking for your website in GA and each non-transactional goal has been assigned correct value.

#3 Without ecommerce tracking and/or Goal Conversion tracking, Google Analytics will report ‘Page Value‘ of $0 for every piece of content.

#4 Pages that were least frequently viewed prior to transactional and/or non-transactional conversions,  get the lowest page value.

#5  Pages that were not viewed prior to transactional and/or non-transactional conversions, get the zero page value.

#6 Pages that were most frequently viewed prior to transactional and/or non-transactional conversions, get the highest page value.

#7  Page value is not useful as a standalone metric. It is useful only as a point of comparison.

#8 Do not measure the success of a piece of content only on the basis of ‘page value’. Also look at the total economic value added by the content to the business bottomline.

Note: You can get more details about, how Google calculates page value metrics from here: https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/2695658?hl=en

Let us understand ‘page value’ through a case study.

Case Study: What is my infographic worth?

Let us suppose that the production cost of your infographic was $400

Let us suppose the marketing cost of the infographic was $100 (the time it took to promote the infographic * marketer’s salary/hr)

So the total cost of the content production and marketing = $500

Now once you have published this infographic on your website, you need to measure what your site visitors did after viewing this infographic.

I am not talking about measuring social shares (number of tweets, Facebook likes etc) here or the number of backlinks the infographic acquired.

I am talking about determining the number of people who completed a conversion or made a purchase after viewing the infographic.

Let us suppose that your site visitors made a purchase worth $121 and completed non-transactional conversions worth $50 after viewing the infographic.

Let us also suppose that your infographic got 171 unique page views in total, prior to transactional and/or non-transactional conversions

The greatness of your infographic

= (Total Value of the transactional conversions which are completed by infographic +

Total Value of the non-transactional conversions which are completed by infographic) /

Number of unique pageviews of the infographic prior to transactional and/or non-transactional conversions 

= ($121+ $50)/171= $1

Google Analytics measures this greatness in terms of ‘Page Value’.

Now navigate to the ‘All pages’ report (under Behavior > Site Content) in Google Analytics:

all pages report

and sort the report by ‘Page Value’:

sort by page value

From this report, we can conclude that the maximum value added by a piece of content to the business bottom line is $71.

Our infographic added a value of just $1.

Since page value is a ranking metric that is useful only when you compare it with the page values of other landing pages, our Infographic has added very little value to the business bottomline when you compare it with another piece of content on the website.

You need to do these types of comparisons when you are measuring the greatness /profitability of a piece of content.

The page value of $1 doesn’t mean anything on its own.

It is a ranking metric which means it is a metric which is useful only when you compare it with others.

If you are still in doubt about the performance of the infographic, I am sure you are, then check the performance of the landing page on which you published your infographic via the ‘Landing Pages‘ report:

infographic performance

From the report above we can conclude that the infographic resulted in a sales (revenue) of $121

If you are a super Geek, you will of course head to the ‘Assisted Conversions’ report (under Conversions > Multi-channel Funnels in Google Analytics), to determine whether the infographic also played any role in assisting transactional and/or non-transactional conversions:

assisted conversions

When you are in the ‘Assisted Conversions’ report, select ‘Landing Page URL’ as the primary dimension:

landing page url dimension

and then note down the assisted conversion volume and assisted conversion value of your infographic (provided it is reported by GA):

infographic performance2

Here the assisted conversion value of our infographic is $41

Here, the ‘Assisted Conversion Value’ is the Total Value of the transactional and non-transactional conversions which are assisted by the infographic

So total economic value added by our infographic to the business bottom line

Total Value of the transactional conversions (i.e. Revenue) which are completed by infographic +

Total Value of the non-transactional conversions (i.e Goal Value) which are completed by infographic +

Total Value of the transactional and non-transactional conversions which are assisted by infographic (i.e. Assisted Conversion Value)

=  $121+ $50 + $41

= $212

Since the total economic value of $212 is less than the production and marketing cost of our infographic ($500), we can conclude that we have a negative return on our investment:

ROI = (Total economic value added by the infographic – Production and marketing cost)/production and marketing cost

ROI = ($212 – $500)/$500 = -57.6%

At this point, you can report the back-links and social shares your infographic helped in generating which improved brand awareness and the SEO down the line and which may help in generating, some indirect sales in the future.

You, however, don’t really have any solid data to back up the claim that the infographic was worth the time and investment.

I have a huge content marketing budget. How do I justify my spend?

Say your content marketing budget is $25000/month.

In that case, reporting just social sharing and links is not going to help, if the economic value added by the contents to the business bottom line is very low or worse $0.

Reporting social shares and links can be equivalent to adding icing to a cake provided you have the cake.

Here ‘cake’ is your report which shows the total economic value added to the business bottom line and ‘icing’ is the secondary benefits like: ‘back-links’, social shares, brand visibility, etc.

I called them secondary benefits because you can’t easily prove the impact of  ‘backlinks’, social shares, brand visibility, etc generated by your content on the business bottom line in monetary terms.

If you present a cake without icing it may work. But if you present icing without cake then it not going to work.

If the contents you are producing are not adding any monetary value to the business bottomline then sooner or later, you will have a hard time justifying the cost of its production and marketing.

One quick way to determine all those pages on your website which are not adding any value to your business bottom line is by looking at their ‘page value’. 

A page value of $0 means they have not added any value to your business bottom line.

We often take content consumption and engagement (average time on page, pageviews, number of tweets, number of Facebook likes etc) as a measure of success in content marketing. But this content consumption and engagement maybe for all the wrong reasons.

Maybe you are developing and promoting content that has got nothing to do with your target audience, niche or the products you sell.

So while you may be getting a lot of content consumption and engagement, they are not really adding any value to the business bottom line.

Before you declare content consumption or engagement as a success, look at the ‘page value’ metrics. 

If it is a big $0 for every piece of content published on your website then your contents are not adding any monetary value to the business bottom line, at least not in the manner which you can easily prove and you should then seriously reconsider your content strategies.

Social Media Hit does not always mean Success

Your content marketing efforts can’t be considered a success just because it got a lot of tweets, pageviews, backlinks, Facebook likes, etc.

Of course, social shares give a warm, fuzzy feeling but businesses don’t run on warm, fuzzy feelings. 

So unless you develop content for personal delight, you need to calculate the economic value added by your content to the business bottom line.

Social media hit is not a guarantee of success.

Your content must add value to the business bottom line in monetary terms and you must be able to calculate and show the monetary value-added.

I have found the following pieces of content do not add any considerable economic value to the business bottom line:

  • Curated Contents
  • Interviews
  • Ego Bait
  • Contents which moan about the industry, criticize other bloggers, businesses
  • Infographics
  • Contents which have got nothing to do with your target audience, niche or the products you sell

So if your content marketing strategy is heavily focused on producing such type of content then I would strongly suggest reconsidering your strategy.

Of all the contents I have analyzed so far, I have found infographics to be the least profitable. 

The chances of their success are generally bleak, cost per acquisition is usually high and above all, they can be very costly to produce.

The biggest mistake marketers make, is by producing content that has got nothing to do with their target audience or niche.

If you won’t align your content marketing goals with your business goals then you can’t expect to improve your business bottom line. It is as simple as that.

This article is in conjunction with the article: How to measure the ROI of Content Marketing where I have outlined the definition of great content and how this greatness can be measured in monetary terms.

I would strongly suggest you read that article first (if you have not already) to get the most out of my present article.

Today I will take you one step further, in your analysis of content marketing. Say hello to: ‘Profit Index’.

Introduction to Profit Index

Profit index is an index (i.e. database) of web pages on your website which were most frequently viewed prior to transactional and/or non-transactional conversions.

In other words, it is a database of all the profitable pages on your website.

Profit index can also be the inventory of best selling product items on your website. 

The idea behind creating a profit index is to sell what is selling and sell even more of them.

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 influence buying behavior.

If a piece of content is profitable for your business then it will have the capacity to trigger transactional and/or non-transactional conversions on your website.

It will then be, the most frequently viewed content prior to transactional and/or non-transactional conversions.

So it is a no brainer that, in order to improve the conversion rate of your website, you need a large volume of profitable content on your website:

profit-index

Why do you need Profit Index?

Since the profit index contains only those web pages which have the capacity to trigger transactional and/or non-transactional conversions, you can dramatically improve your conversion volumes if you can isolate them from the rest of the pages on your website and solely focus on optimizing them.

This can help you greatly in improving the business bottom line, especially if you manage a website that has got tens of thousands of web pages and you are not sure where to start and what to optimize.

The 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 them, in order to increase your sales and conversions.

Without profit index you will remain busy in optimizing all of the contents on your website, which may or may not produce optimum results in a timely manner.

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Measuring the profitability of a piece of content

Google Analytics uses a metric called ‘Page value’ through which you can measure the profitability of a piece of content.

It is calculated as:

Page Value =

[Total Value of the transactional conversions (i.e Revenue) which are completed by the Page +
Total Value of the non-transactional conversions (i.e Goal Value) which are completed by the Page] /
Number of unique pageviews of the Page prior to transactional and/or non-transactional conversions

Page value can also be calculated for a group of pages.

You can find this metric in the ‘All Pages’ report (under Behavior > Site Content in Google Analytics).

What are unprofitable pages?

Pages that were not viewed prior to transactional and/or non-transactional conversions get the zero page value. We call such pages unprofitable pages:

unprofitable pages

Every website has got such pages and it is perfectly normal to have such pages provided they made up only a small fraction of the total pages on your website.

Creating Profit Index report in Google Analytics

Follow the steps below to create a profit index report in your GA main view:

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

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 new custom report in Google Analytics, name it ‘Profit Index‘. You can upload this custom report to your GA account from here.

profit index report

This custom report is made up of the following configurations:

profit index report settings

Primary Dimension: ‘Page Path Level 1’

Dimensions Drilldown: ‘Page Path Level 2’, ‘Page Path Level 3’, ‘Page Path Level 4’, ‘Page’.

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


Step-4:
Filter out all those web pages from your custom report which are not really content pages. You can do that by using advanced filters on the reporting interface:

advanced filter
page path level

For example, you can filter out the following pages from the profit index report:

  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: Also filter out all those web pages (using advanced filters on the reporting interface) from your custom report whose page value is $0 and pageviews is less than 30 in the last month:

advanced-filter2

Any web page which has a ‘page value’ of $0 is not adding any economic value to your business bottomline and as such can’t be a part of your Profit index.

If a web page is getting less than 30 pageviews a month then it is not worth focusing on at this point. Maybe later we can target such web pages.

Step-6: In order to save all the advanced filters you have applied to your profit index report so far, click on the ‘Save’ button at the top right-hand side:

save button

Named the new saved report as ‘Profit Index Report’:

saved report

This way, you don’t need to set up advanced filters every time you need to read the Profit Index report.

You should then see the new saved report listed under the ‘Saved’ reports:

saved report2

Step-7: Click the ‘Profit Index’ report to open it and then 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:

profit index size

So here we have got 17 web pages which are in the Profit index.

These are the pages on your website which are really adding value to the business bottom line and you need to focus on optimizing these pages first.

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 is content that adds value to the business bottom line.

You can determine such content on your website by creating and analyzing the profit index report.

Follow the strategies below to optimize your content for sales and conversions through the profit index:

#1 Send more traffic to pages with high ‘page value’ but low page views

The web pages which have got high ‘page value’ are one of the most profitable pages on your website as they were frequently viewed prior to conversions and/or transactions.

If you send more traffic to such pages, you can dramatically improve your website conversion rate.

Step-1: Navigate to your profit index report.

pages-highPageValue

Step-2: Sort the ‘Page Value’ column in descending order and then look for the web pages that have got a low volume of pageviews but have high page value:

Start from the page which has got the highest page value and then focus on the page with the second-highest page value and so on.

Step-3: Use the following methods to send more traffic to profitable web pages:

1. Do intra-site linking so that more link juice pass to these pages (i.e. frequently link out to these pages from other web pages on your website).

2. Kill all those web pages which don’t add any value to the business bottom line. This can help in passing the link juice to the more important pages i.e. your profitable pages. Do not hesitate to sacrifice the number of pages in the Google index to improve the Profit index.

3. Create and submit a sitemap that lists only the pages listed in the profit index (also called Profitable Sitemap). You want to make sure that these pages are easily found, crawled and indexed by Google, as they are the most profitable pages of your website.

4. Get back-links to these pages through link building so that more of these pages can act as landing pages and attract higher traffic than usual. Remember these pages are most frequently viewed prior to conversions and/or transactions. So when they act as a landing page your probability of getting conversions increases by several folds.

5. Keep these pages evergreen by constantly updating them. Google also seems to boost the 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 (also known as click distance) to reach to these pages from the home page.

You may need to make some changes to your navigation structure. Not only this will pass more link juice to the most profitable pages but it will also make it easy for your users to find these pages easily and in the least amount of time. When people land on these pages then they are most likely to convert.

7. Use these pages as landing pages for your marketing campaigns (SEO, PPC, Email, Display, Social, etc).

#2 Increase ‘page value’ of the pages with high pageviews but low ‘page value’

The web pages which are getting a lot of traffic but have low ‘page value’ have huge potential to generate sales and conversions, provided you optimize them for conversion volume.

If you can improve the user experience of such web pages, you can dramatically improve your website conversion rate.

Step-1: Navigate to your profit index report, sort the ‘pageview column’ in descending order and then look for web pages that get a lot of page views but have got low page value.

pages-highPageViews

Step-2: Use the following methods to increase the page value of these pages:

#2.1. Scan the content of the pages and ask yourself this simple question:

Does this content provide a smart, simple solution that improves customers’ lives and at the same time influences buying behaviour?

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 content but they don’t necessarily result in conversions and sales. First and foremost your content must serve your customers and that too in a way that influences their buying decision.

If your answer to the above question is ‘No’ then you need to redevelop your content.

#2.2. Reduce the bounce rate of the pages. By reducing the bounce rate, you not only improve the user experience but also the conversion rate.

#2.3. Conduct page level surveys, A/B testing and multivariate testing on these pages. Follow the best practices of landing page optimization.

#3 Increase the size of your profit index

The number of web pages in the profit index is the size of the profit index.

profit index report

Larger the size of your profit index, higher would be the number of conversions and e-commerce transactions carried out on your website.

There are two ways of increasing the size of your profit index:

#1 By converting more existing web pages into profitable pages through conversion optimization.

#2 By developing more profitable content on your website.

Following strategies can help you in building profitable content:

  1. Develop content that aligns 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. The first priority should always be quality and then quantity.
  6. Ensure you consistently produce high-quality content.

To learn more about these strategies, check out this article: How to grow your blog traffic to million visitors

#4 Monitor ‘page value’ overtime

The ‘page value’ of your web pages must increase over time.

This is a sign of profitable content marketing campaigns.

The higher the page value, the more profitable your web pages become in terms of generating conversions and sales.

Follow the steps below to monitor your page value overtime:

Step-1: Navigate to your ‘profit index’ report and set the date range to the last 3 months. If the date range is smaller than 3 months then you can’t analyze the data trend.

Step-2: Select ‘page value’ and ‘pageviews’ as metrics and then look at the data trend. The page value must increase over time.

monitor page value over time

#5 Monitor the size of your profit index overtime

The size of your profit index should increase over time. A bigger size means more profitable pages on your website and thus a higher probability of generating sales and leads.

If you correlate the size of profit index with conversions, you would find a strong positive linear relationship between profit index size and conversions volumes i.e. when ‘profit index’ is larger than average, ‘conversions volume’ tends to be higher than average.

Similarly, when the ‘profit index’ is smaller than average, ‘conversions volume’ tends to be lesser than average.

You should always monitor the size of your profit index on a monthly basis:

profit-index-size

Note: In the case of very big websites, the size of your profit index will most probably be a very small fraction (like 1/10) of the size of the pages in your Google Index. This is perfectly normal. But you should always aim to increase the size of your profit index over time.

#6 Segment Profit Index and Profitable Sitemaps

If you have got tens of thousands of web pages or millions of web pages in your Profit index then you need to segment both Profit index and your profitable sitemap.

Your first priority should always be optimizing the most profitable pages on your website.

So for example, if the 100 most profitable pages on your website have a ‘page value’ of greater than $1000.

Then you should segment and monitor this high value profit index separately.

You may need to create several profit indices based on the size of your profit index and ‘page value’ ranges you want to target.

 You should target profit indices in decreasing order of their page value range.

For example:

By segmenting your profit indices you will be in a better position to prioritize your marketing efforts esp. if you are dealing with a very big website.

I would also go ahead and suggest creating a separate sitemap for each profit index and prioritize your SEO efforts accordingly.

Your first priority should always be to focus on optimizing pages with the highest page values because these are the pages that can generate maximum conversions and/or transactions on your website.

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About the Author

Himanshu Sharma

  • Founder, OptimizeSmart.com
  • Over 15 years of experience in digital analytics and marketing
  • Author of four best-selling books on digital analytics and conversion optimization
  • Nominated for Digital Analytics Association Awards for Excellence
  • Runs one of the most popular blogs in the world on digital analytics
  • Consultant to countless small and big businesses over the decade
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