Optimise your content performance: 10 essential content metrics to track

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I've been a content marketer for the better part of my career and have created all kinds of content - from blog posts, white papers and ebooks to newsletters, case studies and landing pages. Some of my content has performed exceptionally well, while other pieces haven’t quite hit the mark. So how do I keep improving content performance? How do I stay on track and ensure my content marketing efforts align with business goals? How do I better gauge what my audience wants (and doesn’t want)? It’s simple: Data. 

Data enables me to make smarter decisions for the business, my audience, and myself. If I keep an eye on the right content metrics, I can learn a lot about content performance, my audience’s preferences, and my approach to creating and sharing content. But which content metrics are the most important? 

10 essential metrics for tracking content performance

When it comes to content metrics, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. In this post, we'll look at 10 content metrics that I believe are most important to focus on for improving your content performance. 

1. Pageviews

Pageviews indicate how many times a webpage or piece of content is viewed. It's a simple but important measure of how much traffic your content is receiving. By comparing the number of pageviews for different pieces of content, you can gain valuable insights into which topics, formats, or types of content are most popular with your audience. 

Let me give you an example of how I’ve used pageview data in one of my previous roles…

I’ve worked as a content marketer for a SaaS company that offers travel and expense management software. I published a mix of content on the company’s blog, including product updates, how-to guides, case studies, and thought leadership pieces. Upon analysing my page view data, I found that my ‘how-to’ posts consistently generated the highest number of views. 

My top-performing piece, well-timed with the end of the year, was titled: "How to do an end-of-year expense report," which received 5,987 pageviews in one month. Another popular piece was: "How to integrate [our product name] with other business apps for automated expense management," which had just over 5,000 pageviews. In comparison, a piece titled: “Why your business needs an expense management system” performed relatively poorly, with around 700 views.   

According to the data, my audience is looking for practical and instructional content that can help them use our product more effectively. They are keen on learning how to make the most of our software to streamline their travel and expense management processes and work more efficiently. They have shown less interest in high-level content about why an expense management system is important. Based on these insights, I was able to pivot with our content strategy and double down on creating detailed, step-by-step guides rather than generic pieces that seemingly offered less value. 

I would like to add a caveat here. Some fellow content marketers may argue that readers could be in different stages of the buying journey, with disproportionate numbers at the awareness and consideration stages. If more readers were at the consideration stage, it could explain why the how-to content was more popular. But I digress… 

How to view pageviews in Google Analytics

  1. Log in to your Google Analytics account at analytics.google.com.
  2. In the left-hand sidebar, click on "Reports" > "Engagement" > "Pages and Screens"
  3. You will now see a report showing the pageviews for all the pages on your website. The data includes metrics such as pageviews, unique visitors, and average time on page.
  4. To view pageviews for a specific page, use the search bar above the table to search for the page URL or title.
  5. To analyse pageviews over a specific time period, use the date range selector in the top right corner of the screen. You can choose a predefined date range or set a custom range.
Track pageviews in Google Analytics
Track your pageviews in Google Analytics

2. Average time on page

Average time on page is a self-explanatory but often overlooked content metric. It measures the average time visitors spend viewing a specific webpage or piece of content and is calculated by dividing the total time spent on a page by all visitors by the number of visits to that page. 

Average time on page gives you an idea of how effectively your content captures and holds your audience's attention. Generally speaking, the higher the number, the better. When visitors spend longer on a page, it suggests that they find the content engaging, relevant, and valuable. On the other hand, if the average time on page is low, it could indicate that visitors aren't finding the content compelling enough to stick around.

When you combine average time on page with the number of pageviews, you get a more detailed picture of how your content is performing. While pageviews measure the traffic your content gets, average time on page measures how engaged your audience is. 

Let's look at an example. 

I published the following two blog posts on my old company's website:

Post A: "What is a travel allowance? Definitions and insights"

Pageviews: 11,562

Average Time on Page: 1 minute

Post B: "How to do an end-of-year expense report"

Pageviews: 5,987 

Average Time on Page: 6 minutes

While Post A has almost double the pageviews of Post B, the average time on page for Post B is much higher. This suggests that while Post A is attracting more clicks, readers are much more engaged with the practical, how-to content of Post B. Based on this, I concluded that while high-level content may pique people’s curiosity and attract clicks, our audience is clearly interested in more actionable content that dives deep into a topic. 

Average time on page shows how effectively your content captures and holds your audience's attention
A higher average time on page can indicate higher engagement

Knowing how long visitors stay on a page can also help content marketers tell apart real visitors from bots. Bots usually hop from one page to another without really engaging with the content, which results in very short average times spent on each page. On the other hand, humans tend to spend more time consuming and interacting with the content they're interested in, resulting in higher average time on page. So, if you find any pages or content with unusually low average times spent on them, that could mean a considerable amount of that traffic is coming from bots instead of real people.

3. Unique visitors

Unique visitors are the number of distinct individuals who visit your website or a specific piece of content within a given period. Unlike pageviews, which count every instance of a page being loaded, unique visitors only count each visitor once, regardless of how many times they return to your site or reload a page during that time frame.

Tracking unique visitors is important because it provides a clear picture of your content's real reach and audience size. It helps you understand how many people you're actually connecting with, rather than just how many times your content is being loaded.

Which of the following would you prefer? 

  1. 20,000 pageviews from 5,000 unique visitors
  2. 10,000 pageviews from 7,000 unique visitors

I’d take option B because the content reached more people. Option A indicates that the average visitor viewed/re-loaded the page four times. This isn’t necessarily bad, but it’s important to be aware of. I’ve seen some content marketers focus solely on pageviews, which can be misleading when it comes to reach and popularity. When reporting on your content performance, be sure to include both pageviews and unique visitors. Take it a step further by including data for average time on page. 

4. Bounce rate

Your bounce rate is the number of people who leave your website after seeing only one page. You calculate this by taking the number of people who left after one page and dividing it by the total number of people who visited your website. If the bounce rate is high, this could indicate that your content isn’t resonating with your audience. Perhaps your headlines aren’t great or the content doesn't match what people are searching for. There are also some technical aspects, like page load speed, that can impact bounce rates.

When you combine bounce rate with other content metrics, such as pageviews and average time on page, the data becomes much more valuable. 

Let's look at three scenarios:

  1. Scenario 1: High pageviews, high average time on page, low bounce rate - When a lot of people visit your website and stay on it for a long time, this is the best-case scenario. It means that your content is not only attracting visitors, but also keeping them engaged. 
  2. Scenario 2: High pageviews, low average time on page, high bounce rate - If you get lots of clicks but people aren't sticking around for long, your content may not be meeting people’s expectations. Does your headline reflect what the content is about? Does your content help people solve a problem or pain point?  
  3. Scenario 3: Low pageviews, high average time on page, low bounce rate - This means that the people visiting your site are interested in your content and want to check out more. However, the low number of pageviews could indicate that people are having a hard time finding your content. In this case, it’s worth taking a closer look at your SEO and content promotion strategies.  
Bounce rate is an important metric for measuring content performance
A high bounce rate can indicate that your content is not resonating, or there are issues with pages loading on your website

I don't know why, but I always take the bounce rate personally. It stings when you find out that people are ditching your content so quickly, and it's a tough pill to swallow. But don't overlook this metric. Use it to up your content game. 

5. Conversion rate

Conversion rate measures the percentage of visitors who take a desired action, like filling out a form, subscribing to a newsletter, downloading a report or making a purchase on your website. 

To calculate your conversion rate, use the following formula:

(Number of conversions ÷ Total visits) x 100

For example, if your webpage had 1,000 visits and 50 of those visitors subscribed to your newsletter, your conversion rate would be:

(50 ÷ 1,000) x 100 = 5%

This metric is important because it’s a good indicator of how well your content is doing and whether it's helping you move the needle with your business goals. If your conversion rate is high, your content is doing its job. 

Here's a hypothetical example of how conversion rate analysis can guide your content optimisation:

Suppose you have an ebook titled "The ultimate guide to travel and expense management" that visitors can download by submitting a form on a landing page. You find that the landing page has a conversion rate of 2%, meaning that for every 100 visitors, two fill out the form and download the ebook.

To improve this conversion rate, you decide to A/B test two different versions of the page. Version A (the control) keeps everything the same. Version B (the variation) changes the headline to be more benefit-driven and moves the form higher up on the page. After running the test for a month, you find that Version B has a conversion rate of 5% - a significant improvement. Based on this result, you update the landing page with the winning headline and form placement. 

A/B testing is an effective way to improve your conversion rate
Improve your conversion rate with A/B testing

You have the power to increase your conversion rate, and it’s not that hard. By making some small tweaks, you can see a big difference. A/B testing is the best and easiest way to do it. 

6. Leads generated

Knowing how many leads your content generates helps you tie your content marketing efforts to your business’s bottom line. Leads are people who are potentially interested in your product or service and have given you their contact information in exchange for something useful - like a white paper. While these people are not paying customers (yet), they are now in your sales funnel, ready for qualification and nurturing. Your sales team will love you for this! 

Here's how you can use lead generation data to optimise your content strategy:

  1. Identifying top-performing content: By tracking which pieces of content generate the most leads, you can identify the topics, formats, and channels that are most effective at attracting and converting your target audience. 
  2. Optimising for conversion: Analysing your lead generation data can help you identify opportunities to optimise your content for conversion. For instance, if you notice that a particular blog post is driving a lot of traffic but not many leads, you could experiment with adding more prominent calls-to-action (CTAs) or testing different lead magnet offers to improve the conversion rate.
  3. Aligning with sales: Lead generation data can help your sales team understand which content pieces are most effective at attracting qualified leads. They can then use this content in their outreach and nurturing efforts. 

I’ll give you an example, from my own experience, of how lead generation data can help inform your content strategy decisions.

After reviewing my content’s lead generation performance, I noticed that my ebook, "10 strategies for reducing business travel costs," generated 308 leads, while my blog post, "How to streamline your expense reporting process," generated 84 leads.

From this data, I can conclude that my audience is more interested in high-level content that helps them save money on business travel, rather than tactical content focused on specific processes like expense reporting. As such, I decided to create more ebooks and whitepapers offering cost-saving travel and expense management strategies.

But when I look at the lead-to-customer conversion rates, I notice that the leads from the expense reporting blog post are more likely to convert into paying customers. This suggests that while the blog post attracted fewer leads, it attracted leads further along the buyer's journey. Based on this, I created a series of blog posts that dive deeper into the specifics of expense reporting, each addressing a different pain point or use case. I gate these resources behind a lead capture form to collect contact information from interested prospects.

For example, I can create posts like:

  • "5 common expense reporting mistakes and how to avoid them"
  • "How to choose the right expense management software for your business"
  • "Case study: How company X saved Y hours per month with automated expense reporting"

These posts could have a corresponding lead magnet, like a checklist, buyer's guide, or case study, to encourage conversions.

In parallel, I use high-level content like ebooks and white papers to attract leads at the top of the funnel and build brand awareness. I can create the following resources:

  • "The future of business travel: Trends and predictions"
  • "The ultimate guide to corporate travel policy"
  • "How to negotiate better rates with travel suppliers"

I can build a content marketing engine that effectively attracts and converts my target audience by offering a mix of high-level and actionable content in different formats.

7. Organic search traffic

Organic search traffic is when people find your website on Google or other search engines without clicking on ads. It's all about getting your website to show up higher in the search results so more people click on it. When someone types in a keyword related to your business and clicks on your website in the non-paid search results, that's called organic search traffic. 

Tracking organic search traffic is crucial for several reasons:

  1. Measuring SEO effectiveness: How well your website is optimised for search engines can be gauged by how much organic traffic it receives. If the organic traffic is increasing over time, it means that your SEO strategies are working well. For instance, optimising the right keywords, creating quality content, and building quality backlinks can improve your website's search engine rankings and visibility.
  2. Attracting high-quality traffic: When someone searches for something related to your business and clicks on your website, they will likely be good leads. They want to know more about what you offer. Because of this, they are more likely to stick around and become customers. 
  3. Long-term sustainability: Unlike paid search or social media advertising, which stop generating traffic as soon as you stop paying, organic search traffic can provide a steady stream of visitors over a long period for free. 

8. Organic keywords

Organic keywords are what people type into search engines like Google to find your website. By using keywords strategically, you can improve your content so it ranks higher and attracts high-quality leads. 

Keeping track of organic keywords can help you develop new content ideas based on the terms already driving traffic to your website. It also helps you measure the effectiveness of your SEO efforts over time. And guess what? You can even check your competitors' keyword rankings to see where you're lacking and improve your own content strategy.

Remember that your keyword rankings will fluctuate over time with competing websites and changes in Google’s search algorithm. It takes an ongoing effort to maintain and improve your organic keyword rankings. 

There are plenty of SEO tools out there that can help you keep track of your organic keyword rankings. At Tability, we use Ahrefs. 

How to track organic keyword rankings in Ahrefs

  1. Log in to your Ahrefs account and navigate to the "Site Explorer" tool.
  2. Enter your website's URL in the search bar and select the appropriate mode (e.g., "URL," "Prefix," "Domain," or "Subfolder").
  3. Click the "Organic keywords" report under the "Organic search" section in the left-hand menu.
  4. You will see a list of all the keywords your website ranks for, their current positions, search volumes, keyword difficulty scores, and more.
Ahrefs makes it easy to track your organic keyword rankings
  1. To track your rankings over time, click on the date range selector at the top of the report and choose a specific timeframe or compare two different periods.
  2. Analyse the data to identify your top-performing keywords and those that need improvement. Look for changes in rankings, search volume, and click-through rates (CTR).
  3. Use the filters and search functionality to narrow down your keyword list and focus on specific subsets of keywords (e.g., by position, search volume, or keyword difficulty).

9. Return on content investment

Return on content investment (ROCI) is a metric that compares how much you spend on creating and sharing your content against the financial benefits you get from it. In other words, it measures the value of your content marketing efforts in terms of actual money. This helps you determine what content is worth producing and what isn’t. It will also help you build your business case for future content investments. If you can prove to stakeholders, particularly those controlling the purse strings, that your content is bringing in the dollars, then they will be more likely to allocate a budget. 

Calculating ROCI involves several steps:

  1. Cost calculation: First, determine the total cost of creating and distributing the content. This includes direct costs like writer or designer fees and indirect costs like the time spent by your team on content planning, editing, and promotion. 
  2. Revenue attribution: Next, you need to identify the revenue that can be directly attributed to the content. This could include direct sales, lead conversion value, or the value of other KPIs like email sign-ups or app downloads. This often involves working with your sales team to track the content touchpoints of closed deals.
  3. ROCI calculation: Once you have the cost and revenue figures, you can calculate ROCI using this formula:

ROCI = (Content Revenue - Content Cost) / Content Cost

For example, let's say your company invested $5,000 in creating an ebook, including writing, design, and promotion costs. If that ebook directly generated $20,000 in sales, your ROCI would be:

ROCI = ($20,000 - $5,000) / $5,000 = 3

This means that for every dollar invested in the ebook, you generated $3 in return.

ROCI is perhaps the most effective metric for convincing others about the value of your content to the business because it has a direct correlation to your company's bottom line. 

10. Social media engagement

Social media engagement is how people interact with content on social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, or LinkedIn. It isn't a single content metric, rather a collection of metrics, such as likes, comments, shares, clicks, and mentions. 

Social media engagement is important because it helps you understand how well your content is doing and whether it's being shared on different platforms. When your audience shares your content, they are expanding your reach, and essentially helping you with your marketing efforts. 

Social media engagement enables you to:

  1. Gauge content popularity: If people comment, like, or share your content, it means they think it's interesting or valuable. 
  2. Measure brand awareness: When your followers interact with your posts, they spread the word about your brand to their friends and followers, which increases your online presence and visibility.  
  3. Identify top-performing content: This will help you understand which content formats - videos, infographics, blog posts or others - get your followers hooked.

Check out: How to measure success for social media videos: Top metrics to track

Here's an example of how social media engagement data can help inform your content strategy:

Let's say your business is active on LinkedIn, X (Twitter), and Facebook. By analysing your engagement data across these platforms, you notice that:

  1. Your LinkedIn posts consistently generate a lot of likes and comments, especially when you share industry reports and expert opinions.
  2. Your X posts get the most retweets and clicks when you share quick tips and stats related to your industry.
  3. Your Facebook posts generate strong engagement when you share customer success stories and behind-the-scenes company content.

Based on these insights, you could tailor your content strategy for each platform:

  1. On LinkedIn, you could focus on sharing more in-depth, research-based content and thought leadership pieces.
  2. On X, you could prioritise snackable, actionable content that users can consume and share in their fast-moving feeds.
  3. On Facebook, you could humanise your brand by showcasing customer stories and employee spotlights.

Content performance metrics that didn’t make the list

My top 10 list does not include some content metrics that other content marketers may value. This isn’t to say they’re not important, rather I believe they can often be misleading when viewed in isolation. Here, I'll explain why I chose to omit the following metrics.

Email open rate

The open rate measures how many people opened your email. While a high open rate might mean your subject line is catchy, or that your audience is loyal, it doesn't always mean that they actually read your email. Some people might just open it and delete it right away. The open rate can also be misleading when tracking content performance because of preview panes or images that don't load properly.

Click-through rate (CTR)

The CTR tells you how many people clicked on a link in your content out of the total number who saw it. For example, if 100 people opened your email and 5 of them clicked on a link, your CTR would be 5%. But, a high CTR doesn’t guarantee that people are engaging with the content they land on. It doesn’t tell you if they're actually consuming it or taking the desired action, like making a purchase or filling out a form. So, the CTR alone provides limited value for tracking content performance. 


Impressions are the number of times your content appears on someone's screen. It doesn't tell you anything about engagement on its own, but it gives you an idea of how many people saw it. By combining impressions with your other content metrics, such as CTR and conversion rate, you can get a better understanding of how well your content is performing.

Number of new content pieces published

This metric fails to provide meaningful insights into content performance. It emphasises quantity over quality and outputs over outcomes. Instead, content marketers should focus on metrics that reflect their content's quality, relevance, and impact, such as engagement and conversions.

Key takeaways 

Hopefully you've found this post helpful, and have gained some insights that you can apply to your own content metrics strategy. But I'll take a moment to capture the three big takeaways… 

  1. Every business is different, and some metrics will be more important than others, so capture the data accordingly. There is no one size fits all approach. 
  2. Use a combination of content metrics to get a complete understanding of content performance. For instance, you should not rely solely on pageviews to measure your content's success. Rather, it's better to combine pageviews with other metrics such as average time on page and unique visitors to get a more detailed understanding of what's working and what's not.
  3. When you're showing how well your content is doing to people outside your department, it's best to stick to language that everyone can understand. That means talking about how much money your content is making or saving, not just how many people are looking at it or liking it. 


It's important to keep track of your content performance to perpetually raise the bar for your audience with content quality, and demonstrate the value you are adding to your business. There are a ton of content metrics to choose from, but it's best to focus on the few that will help you reach your business goals. 

Content metrics like pageviews, unique visitors, how long people stay on your page, conversion rates, how many leads you get from your content, and how much money you're making from it will give you a good idea of what's working and what's not. But remember, you shouldn't just look at these numbers on their own - they're all pieces of a bigger puzzle that will give you a more holistic view of your content’s performance. 

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Jeremy Yancey

Head of Content, Tability

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