We all know that unique, engaging, and useful content is the most powerful tool at your disposal when trying to expand your reach, build your business, and ultimately generate revenue. Inbound marketing generates 54% more leads into your sales funnel than traditional outbound marketing practices, which means more and more companies are in the race to rev up their content marketing efforts. But how can you tell if what you have is what readers want to see, and how can you tell if your content is working? Here are the content metrics that really matter, and some of them might surprise you.

Average time on page

You are pursuing content marketing for the sole purposes of bringing people to your site. You want them to read what you are writing so that they visit your company, see your products or services, and either sign up or buy. Some websites might have content that works to establish the company as an expert in their niche, but the idea remains the same. Average time on page is it exactly what it sounds like, and is most important for websites that offer content in the hopes of establishing themselves as an expert or entertaining readers. This is perhaps the best indicator of how well your content is performing. Here are a few things to know about it:

  • An average of 55% of visitors spend less than 15 seconds on a page
  • Average time on page was better for news articles as compared to informative “evergreen” material
  • How often the content was shared around social media had no effect on how long the average reader stayed on the page

This means that you have an uphill battle to face against the wandering brains of internet goers. Average pages usually don’t keep people for very long, usually aren’t fresh and interesting enough to keep people hooked, and can’t really be helped by social media. You have to pay extra attention to increasing your quality and readability.

Bounce rate

The bounce rate of your website is a somewhat mystical statistic that gives webmasters a headache. Sometimes a high bounce rate isn’t a bad thing, and sometimes it’s the harbinger of the end. So how can you tell when it is good or bad? Basically it comes down to what you are looking for with your website.

  • Are you a blog that just expects to inform readers about breaking news? Then a higher bounce rate probably isn’t a bad thing. Something around 70% isn’t unheard of.
  • Are you a company hoping to hook new customers into coming to your site? Then a bounce rate over 50% could be a bad sign.
  • Are you a retail site that expects customers to click a link and buy a product? Then your bounce rate should be somewhere around 40% or less.

It really all comes down to what your goals as a company are. If you notice your bounce rate is outside of these limits in your niche, then it is probably your content’s fault.

Link attraction

Sometimes it’s love at first sight, and other times it takes a long and drawn out game of cat and mouse to build attraction between links and your content. Either way, what matters is getting them. Page-level link factors are one of the most important search engine ranking metrics. If the goal of your content is to generate chatter about your company, inform readers, and extend your reach, then this is the metric that you need to look out for. If people are consistently citing you across the web, then your content is doing its job.

Having high-quality content is the key to dominating the search engine rankings. Knowing whether or not yours is getting the job done is about more than just raw sales numbers. You don’t want dull content that isn’t attracting readers.

These are the best metrics to determine if your content is working or not. If the numbers aren’t up to par, then you need to make some changes.