This Is the Only GA Metric I Care About

And it’s not page views…

Ok, I do care about pageviews a bit, but they’re kind of a vanity metric, especially if you’re looking to sell your own products

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Photo by Carlos Muza on Unsplash

If you’re looking to monetise exclusively through ads, then you’re gonna be wanting a lot of page views, but even then, it’s not as important as the average time your viewers spend reading your articles. More time on page= more people looking at ads.

You could have 100,000 hits a month and still only be able to make a few quid from ad revenue. Pinterest traffic is NOTORIOUS for tanking your average time on page, purely because a lot of bloggers click through to add you to their scheduling tool — they were never going read your article.

Why average time on page is the only metric I track

Not to be confused with average session duration, because that’s often a really sad number that I like to ignore. I also don’t really understand the whole sessions thing if I’m totally honest. As long as my sessions are a bit lower than my pageviews, I’m happy.

A high average time of page means that people are actually reading what you’re writing. The information you’re providing is of value. All the time you’re spending punching the keyboard isn’t in vain. Yay!

Average time on page is a good sign that your SEO is working

All that time you spent researching good keywords and then making sure you’re providing the right information is working.

What’s great about this particular metric is you can broadly tell if you’re hitting the mark sooner — those early days (usually around the four/five-month mark) when you get a couple of clicks from search engines can still provide you with something to analyse.

If you follow the same methods as I, your first articles are low competition, but low search volume. You may never reach a thousand views a month — not enough people care about guttation in house plants. Being able to tell that either you’re answering the question well OR you’re entertaining enough to keep the user there anyway is a great win, even though you only had three page views. It only takes one person to see your great information and link to your site.

What constitutes a good average time on page?

I’d love to give you a concrete answer, but it totally depends on how long your articles are.

A rule that a lot of people follow is making sure all articles are around 1000 words. According to my research, you’re going to want to be looking at an average reading time of around 3 mins.

Mine is around 5 mins, but I write long articles.

Step by step guides and how-tos can be much longer because people might be following along.

How to increase your average time on page

This is where you need to make people like you. Suck them in with your experiences and stories.

Don’t try to con into reading to the end by using sneaky tactics — for a start, that’s a skill that takes time to implement. You could have written three interesting articles in the time it takes to write one strategically sneaky one.

There is as much dry information out there are as there is clickbait. Entertain people! Show passion for your niche! Tell people funny stories about your failures in your niche! EVERYONE loves a good failure story.

Make sure the information is still quickly accessible

Don’t try to trap people into reading your 10,000-word novella by hiding the information.

Do a little bolded, bullet-pointed summary at the top (gotta win that snippet!) for people that are in a hurry, and let those that have the time enjoy your musings.

How average time on page can increase conversions & save you time

In a nutshell, you can sell through your articles.

I have an email list, but I don’t sell through it. I use it as a way to connect to my audience. It’s like a little group chat.

To me, email is too personal to use to sell products or flog affiliate products. I don’t want to invade someone’s personal inbox and try and get them to part with their money — especially now, in a time of crisis. It feels icky to me.

I want my emails to be a bit of light relief, like a letter from a friend(lame, I know).

Most email from bloggers I get just makes me wonder what they’re trying to flog this time. I rarely bother to open them. For the love of God, stop using OMG!!!!!!!1!!!!!! in a subject line.

But I can sell on my website. It’s my website. My users chose to click through.

Hell, since my views are 95% from SEO they’re maybe even looking for the product I’m linking to (this is why keywords with buyer intent are so competitive — they can be lucrative).

The only thing I need to do is actually get them to read my articles and provide them with as perfect a solution as I can find. Not only can I earn a commission (occasionally), but the user is more likely to return.

But beware of being too salesy

We all know bloggers make money from affiliate links. Most people don’t mind as long you’re not piling it on too thick. Your product recommendation doesn’t have to perfect — but you need to be honest about flaws. We’re building trust here. Few products work perfectly but everyone, so if you had an issue with something, come clean.

Most of your viewers will be able to spot an affiliate push from a mile off, and if you’re obviously in it for the cash, they’ll click away immediately, and go to the next search result on Google.

You may not be able to spot pogo-sticking behaviour from your users, but Google sure can, and the message that it sends is that your content isn’t good enough for whatever reason. Watch your rankings fall.

Don’t worry if your average time on page seems low

For one thing, it may just be the norm for your niche. But also, it’s not hard to increase it — just make your articles less dry.

Add a bit of backstory, relay the facts, but also discuss the times the facts didn’t quite tell the whole story. Expose the dirty underbelly of your industry (the underbelly of the house plant biz is FILTHY).

The good news is, you don’t even need to be that entertaining. Most informational content out there is as dry as a bone.

Trust me, it’s worth going that extra mile in your articles.

I have a niche that is reasonably competitive so it took a long time to rack up page views. By tracking my average time on page, I was able to keep writing content, reasonably sure that the pageviews would start to roll in.

Writer, blogger. Rabbit parent to one. Plant parent to many. Occasional runner, jigsaw puzzle enthusiast.

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