When I first got started with writing my own content online, it was just a hobby. I had no professional aspirations for my writing at the time. I would simply write my article and send it out via email to my mailing list… via bcc. That’s right. I maintained that mailing list manually, which made sense, as it was very small and this was just a hobby for fun. To this end, while I might “know” that I have 20 subscribers (for example), there was no way to “know” if all 20 of them even opened the email.
Things have changed considerably since then, of course, and we have access to an incredible wealth of analytics and metrics for almost everything we do online. Many of us obsess over these numbers. How many likes did my most recent Instagram post receive? What was the organic reach on my Facebook post? Where was the greatest source of traffic for my affiliate landing page last week How many page views did my blog receive last month?
Forget About Page Views
The thing is that page views are basically a vanity metric. They don’t matter, in and of themselves, in the grand scheme of things. Rather than focusing your attention on the number of views that you get, you really should be focusing much more of your attention and resources on tracking dwell time and bounce rate. These are much more indicative of whether your content is resonating with audiences.
Jon Lister, a strategist at Elite SEM, recently stated at an e-commerce summit:
Creating quality content is extremely important because Google cares about how deep people navigate into your site, whether they hit the back button, and worst of all, whether they return to the search results page because they didn’t find the information they were looking for.
This focus not on page views, but rather on dwell time (time on site), is also reflected in the YouTube Partner Program requirements. It used to be the case that you needed 10,000 lifetime views to qualify for video monetization. Now, in addition to needing 1,000 subscribers, you need 4,000 hours of watch time in the past 12 months.
Notice that they’re focusing on “watch time” and not “views.” That’s because “watch time,” just like “dwell time,” is much more reflective of how much viewers (and readers) enjoy and engage with your content.
Let’s say two people uploaded a similar video on a similar subject, and both videos are roughly the same length. One video gets 1,000 views with an average watch time of 5 minutes. The other video gets 2,500 views with an average watch time of 1 minute. The second video has more views, but the first video has twice as much total watch time… and the people who watch that video are watching five times as much.
A big part of the reason why so many of the top YouTubers are gaming channels is because many of them stream their gameplay for hours on end. Their fans love their personality and content, so this drives up the watch time considerably. Having a few fans tune in for a 3-hour gaming session is far more valuable than having more fans watch a one-minute highlight reel. And the same is true when it comes to page views and dwell time on your blog.
It’s All About the Benjamins
We also have to remember that it’s not just about getting more traffic either. Even way back in 2007, when John Chow dot Com was still in its relative toddlerhood of blog monetization, John shared a startling revelation. Even though traffic was relatively flat year-over-year (it was actually even lower by a few thousand when comparing a couple months), his income grew 12-fold.
He concluded then, and this still holds true today, that it’s a lot easier to double your eCPM than it is to double your traffic. Page views are a vanity metric. Instead, you should be focusing on other numbers like your income and your dwell time.
Focus on what actually moves the needle and not just what makes you feel better about yourself.