Access to information has never come as easily to us as it does today. We’re all constantly connected to the world, via our phones and our watches. Even our homes now offer integration with internet-based services (the Internet of Things has seen to that). In such an environment, as a business owner how do you measure online influence?
Well, for starters, with so many people constantly interacting with the web, the ability to draw in large numbers of users and deliver top quality content to them consistently is something that search engines like Google appreciate. So once you start to meaningfully invest in trying to build and grow your user-base you’ll find yourself ranking better, and as you rank better you’ll have more of a chance to reach even more people.
But it’s about more than just ranking factors. Every unique visit to your site represents a person who navigates to your site of their own will to consume your content. Every returning visitor represents a person who probably left satisfied and engaged the first time.
Now, it’s not necessary that you’re creating content purely for the purpose of driving as much traffic to your website as you can. A lot of websites that have rich communities around them have focused domains. And the site’s authority is linked to how much experience key players in the site have within those domains.
So, for example, you’ll find an online auto parts review site that’s run by a car enthusiast, and since they know their stuff, people will flock to the site to learn about their opinion. Or you’ll find a cyber-security blog with a team of experts in the field spearheading their content, and it’ll have a growing audience both because cyber-security is one of the concerns of our time, and because the people talking about it know their stuff.
This is where it makes sense to hire expert blog writers who know your industry like the back of their hand.
In website terms, when your audience believes you ‘know your stuff’, you call it having ‘Domain Authority’. Domain Authority is one of multiple factors that serve as a measure of your online influence.
These factors may be investigated quantitatively (by analyzing website performance metrics and social engagement metrics) or qualitatively (by investigating the nature of your influence on your audience, and assessing how you’ve progressed in terms of broad milestones).
Let’s take a look at what both of these approaches entail, and how the results complement each other.
The Quantitative Approach to Measuring Online Influence
1. Website Performance Metrics
Google Analytics lets you look at the numbers behind your site traffic. You can see how long people spend engaging with your site, on a single page or overall, as well as a world of other details.
Knowing helps you see what you’re doing right, and more importantly, what you’re doing wrong.
By fine-tuning your site while keeping in mind your performance metrics, you can minimize bounce rates and maximize click through and conversions.
But what are bounce rates and click through? Let’s go over them and a few other important metrics that can help measure your online influence.
While authority isn’t officially a ranking factor for Google, it can tell you about where you lie compared to your competitors when it comes to search results. Different SEO tools have different ways to measure domain authority, and services like Moz let you check your domain authority for free.
You can also check page authority for different individual pages. The higher the numbers, the more trust search engines (and users) place in your website. If you feel like your domain authority score is lacking, you can improve it via regularly updating your content and investing in building a better backlink profile.
Average Session Duration and Time Spent on Page
Average session duration is simply how much time a user spends on your site, from the moment they land on the first page to when they exit the (second to) last. If you’re operating an information directory of some sort (like a site that directs someone to their nearest auto mechanic), then you shouldn’t expect this number to be too high.
If you’re running a content-focused site and you’ve recently revamped your content and added extensive, well-planned internal linking, this number should go up. This metric is especially important for blogs and the like, because it shows you how long it takes the average user to lose interest in your site. If they’ve read four articles by the time they leave, that’s great, but if they leave within the first two paragraphs of the first article, there’s something that needs fixing.
Session duration can be misleading though, because a user randomly wandering around your site isn’t necessarily a meaningful interaction. For your most important pages (like your homepage and your landing pages) you’ll want to look separately at your time spent on page for those pages. Your site might be entertaining to your users, but it wouldn’t have much ‘influence’ if they navigate away the moment you ask them to convert. This brings us to the next critical metric.
This metric only applies to pages which have a desirable consumer action at their center. For example an article about sneakers that features a subtle ad that you want your users clicking on, or a page offering them a free e-book if they subscribe to your newsletter.
The segment of your audience that clicks that link or enters in their email are the ones you’re doing the best job of influencing, so in a way this gives you an idea about how much you can expect similar future pages to convert as well. A high conversion rate means people have faith in your brand, and that your users trust you.
Pages per session
Pages per session represent how ‘deep’ a user gets into your site before they navigate away from it. If they’re browsing page after page, that’s a sign that they trust you, and that you’ve managed to keep their interest piqued throughout their journey.
If users rarely stay at your site for more than one page, that could mean you’re advertising through the wrong channels, or your content doesn’t have enough internal linking. Both amount to wasted influence, so you’ll want to keep an eye on your pages per session.
2. Social Media Performance
Unlike web performance, social media performance is quite tricky. Things aren’t quite as black and white as a larger number being better than a smaller number, and the different measures that apply are difficult to compare. For example, how do ‘like’ reacts compare to ‘care’ reacts on Facebook or how many Instagram followers do you think a Twitter profile is worth?
And that’s not even getting into the sentiment analysis aspect of things. If one post has only a single positive comment and another has 20 negative comments, it gets tricky to decide which post is the better between them.
On one hand the former has overwhelmingly positive feedback, on the other, the latter was 20 times more engaging than the former.
Services like Demandbase and Brandwatch let you measure online influence through a social lens in terms of several metrics. They factor in things like engagement, outreach, effectiveness and more to tell you how well you’re doing on social media and how much clout you have with your average user.
The Qualitative Approach
3. Building Authority and Trust
The other side of measuring your online influence and outreach is understanding the nature of your connection with your users. More specifically what brings them to you, and what keeps them with you. To evaluate these things, you’re best off polling your audience or conducting a survey.
Key questions to look at are:
- Do my users trust my site?
- What do my users expect from my site?
- Do my users view me as an authority in my domain?
The answers to these questions will form the persona of your influence, in a way. It’ll give you an idea of what you represent to your users, thereby letting you know what qualities of your blog or website content play into this favorably, and which ones don’t.
Measure Your Online Influence
Knowing how to measure your online influence is extremely important for anyone looking to sustain a presence on the internet, as this is crucial to being able to make the most of your connection with your audience.
As for making that connection in itself, well, that’s a matter of producing the kind of content that captivates users and motivates them to keep coming back for more. If you need help with your website or blog’s content, we are more than happy to help.