In the early days of the Web, all interaction with a business online happened in one place - on their website.  Businesses would create content, put it on their site, and followers would come to the site and consume the new content.  Measuring success was rather easy at that point.  You simply tagged your site and one analytics tool would collect all of your data for analysis.  Of course, we know this has all changed.

Now, a business creates content and it gets published and consumed in multiple places.  This fundamental shift in how the web experience works brings with it a challenge in measuring success.  When content is published and consumed offsite, the data is not collected by your analytics tool.  Therefore, looking at visitors and page views of your content no longer gives you the real story of your success or lack thereof.

At this point, the Web analytics industry is still evolving in regard to the challenge of collecting accurate data about what happens on the Web.  Piecing together a story requires multiple sources of data, as no one tool covers all of the needed bases.  Not only that, but the way that the Web now experiences your content requires different metrics to really understand how successful you are.

I'm going to present to you what I'll call "metric categories" that will help you to change your paradigm about what success is on the Web and, therefore, help you to better analyze it.  These categories will give you a sense of the types of metrics that you should be looking through to identify the critical few that will help you grow your online presence.

1. Production - am I worthy of customers?

If you aren't consistently creating killer content that is valuable to your target audience, you are not worthy of success.  For a blog, metrics like posts per week and words per post are great for monitoring your end of the bargain in your online relationships.

2. Conversation - how are my relationships developing?

Are you interacting with your audience?  Are you getting comments on your blog, reviews on your products, replies to your tweets, etc.?  Are the comments people leave in-depth?  Are you leaving comments and responding to your audience?    Metrics like comments per post, replies sent per day and replies received per day can gauge your success in having conversation with your audience.

3. Attraction - what content is most successful at gaining attention?

Instead of just blindly pushing content out into the plethora of spaces that now exist, how about analyzing what your audience likes and doesn't like based on what they decide to consume and how much they interact with it.  Metrics like CTR of link tweets or % of users that complete a video can show you how you're doing at delivering your content to your audience in a way that interests them.

4. Attention - is my content creating loyal followers?

Beyond just attracting an audience, you want to keep their attention.  Is the content you're producing valuable enough to keep them coming back for more?  Metrics like subscribers (Email or RSS), followers, likes, visits per visitor, visitor loyalty and visitor recency are great for measuring if people are becoming your fans.

5. Amplification - what content spreads the most?

One of the true powers of the Web is, of course, is how easy it is for your fans to become evangelists and create more fans for you.  Free marketing is golden!  Therefore, you want to measure and analyze how well your content is spread by your audience.  Metrics like retweets per thousand followers, links to your site, and blog authority can tell you how well your influence is spreading and leading to more fans.


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6. Conversion - what content and sources lead to the outcomes I desire?

Of course, we can't forget outcomes.  How good is the sweat equity you're pouring into all these online relationships at leading customers into your sales funnel and/or closing sales (whatever is appropriate).  Metrics like Conversion Rate and AdSense clicks (for blogs) can help you measure the activity, sources and content that is getting the job done in this area.

There they are...6 categories of metrics for a Web 2.0 world.  Remember, while all of these are great, you don't need all of them all the time.  What you need to do is combine these broad areas with the information from one of my previous posts about focusing on a few metrics that are really important for the health of your business right now.  Then, you'll be well on your way to using your time wisely on what will provide impact for your business.

March 23, 2012

Mike Fleming specializes in Analytics and Paid Search for Pole Position Marketing, a leading search engine optimization and marketing firm helping businesses grow since 1998. You can follow Mike on Twitter at @SEMFlem. Mike enjoys playing, writing and recording music along with playing basketball to get his workout in. He resides in Canton, Ohio with a girl who threw a snowball at him one day…then married him.

Mike and the team at Pole Position are available to help clients expand their online presence and grow their businesses. Contact them via their site or by phone at 866-685-3374.


I'm right there with you with #3. You need to keep track of which kind of content works best for your audience. Do they respond better to blogs or videos? White papers or webinars? It would be counterproductive to waste time creating content that your audience doesn't want to bother with.


Thanks for the post. I think this provides a good framework for thinking about how to evaluate your content marketing strategy. Of course, it still leaves open the question of how do you actually measure each of these items. (As you said, it's hard to find one tool that will do it all.) We have a number of stats that we look at at Marketo, and many fall into these buckets. Do you have any particular metrics that you use for each of these categories?

Seth Resler
Content Manager

Mike, thanks for a great article again. I think its important to see how the web has changed in last 3-4 years time. Twitter facebook and Now Pinterest has join the party...Things look more challenging now...

So I just read your post and I think it is really good. I'm a small business owner who has a decently sized website for my field and is starting a blog pacificpaintservices.comblog and I its absolutely amazing just how much time SEO and and marketing can take. Our company is wanting to grow and we are trying to find ways to make networking easier. By gaining feedback having a our posts spread more. We recently decided to try and start doing videos since that seems like a good way. Do you have any suggestions on good ways to market a company. I've been looking at for suggestions. I want to see if I can make a linkwheel. And Im trying to select social markets websites that can ping information. is losing support. Im thinking about and do you have any suggestions.

As to our country, website marketing is not so trendy, that is why I am making my own site to cater this service to non techy persons but want to have wider scope of marketing. Thanks for the very relevant info..

Loved this post - concise and great summary of what we should be looking at/ and measuring. Appreciate a guide to some of the tools to use for to measure and a quick "how to" session. Regards Paul

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Search Engine Guide > Mike Fleming > Understanding the Real Story of Your Business on the Web