One of the most fundamental metrics of online publishing has been buried by social media, SEO, email marketing and a host of other hot online topics.
Increasing page views has been critically important to a Web site’s success going back as far in the online environment as some of us can remember.
The page view is one of the most important metrics in analytics software, starting with Google Analytics, the largest provider of such software.
Proof lies with the opening page of the Google Analytics report for a site. Page views is the third metric on the top line of the report, just under the visitor audience graph.
It’s safe to say that Google wouldn’t put it there if it wasn’t important. The reasons why are clear.
Increasing Page Views for Advertising
Start with a simple scenario. Site A has 1,000 visits and 2,000 page views a month (2.0 pages per visit). It has three ads on every page, so the monthly inventory of ad impressions is 6,000.
Site B has 1,000 visits and 3,000 page views a month (3.0 pages per visit). Because it also has three ads on every page, the total inventory is 9,000 impressions.
Both sites have the same audience size, but Site B has 50 percent more ad impressions.
If both sites have the same revenue per thousand page views, that means Site B receives 50 percent more revenue, even though its audience is no bigger than Site A.
Anyone with a focus on revenue may care as much about page views than the other two major metrics — visits and unique visitors — because the page views deliver the ad inventory, and the ad inventory delivers the revenue.
Page views climb for several important reasons, some obvious and some not so obvious. They include:
- Growing pages per visit
- Increasing frequency of visits
- Growth of social media followers
- Improving search engine rankings
- Faster server response times
- Expanding site content
The pages per visit number provides a unique insight. A low PPV number means visitors aren’t interacting with the site enough.
They could be exiting quickly because the site is slow, the content is poorly written or the navigation is confusing.
Growing the PPV number is a simple and controllable way of growing total page views and building ad revenue.
How to Increase Page Views
Growing total page views is the result of efforts in three separate but interrelated site functions — product, marketing and advertising.
Under product, growth comes several ways, beginning with a focus on pages per visit as described above. Other ways include:
- Increasing site speed by optimizing graphics
- Developing a mobile version of the site
- Adding new content and functionality, i.e., comments, polls, etc.
- Fine tuning navigation to maximize clicks
- Testing the placement of content, again to maximize clicks
- Placing links within the content
The marketing effort delivers the visits and unique visitors that produce the page views. It includes the usual tactics of search engine optimization, growing email newsletter lists, adding social media followers, etc.
From a purely audience perspective, Google and others emphasize visits as the most important metric, while others focus on unique visitors.
But for anyone managing sales, those metrics are simply factors in driving up page views.
Finally, the advertising effort is ultimately about increasing revenue. Otherwise, why spend the money?
With that in mind, ad campaigns ultimately must deliver on conversions in the form of new subscribers, ecommerce transactions, sales leads or eyeballs for advertisers on content sites.
Increasing page views will result in more exposure to the critical parts of the site that provide those conversions.
How Many Page Views?
More page views is usually better, but it’s not always the case.
A site can end up growing its page views far faster than its ad revenue. The end result is an increase in hosting and bandwidth costs without the revenue to cover it. The site also risks being stressed by too much traffic and performance begins to deteriorate.
That’s not such a bad problem, but it does happen and it is worth watching.
Otherwise, a growth rate in page views that is higher than visits and unique visitors is a good indication that the product, marketing and advertising efforts are producing the right results.
Watching the trend in pages per visit is another tool for analyzing results. Try looking at the average for each month and comparing them with the same periods a year ago to get the best perspective.
Well-tuned sites should see at least three pages per visit.