Do Page Views Even Matter?

Your marketing team is all psyched about the company’s growing number of page views. Should you care?

Maybe not, according to Michael John Oliver, marketing manager for Recruitment & Employment Confederation in London.

“Far too many marketers bamboozle clients with useless vanity metrics, the most egregious of which are page views,” Oliver writes in this LinkedIn post. “Despite handling the most sophisticated and intricate advertising platform ever engineered – known colloquially as ‘the internet’ – some marketing teams either wilfully or ignorantly misrepresent their web traffic.

The problem with vanity metrics, Oliver notes, is just that: they look good, and that’s about it. 

“Marketers should know better,” he insists. “They should know that page views are almost completely useless. And if they don’t know better, there’s always a career in PR waiting.”

Okay, snark aside, he’s got a valid point to back up his reasoning. And it comes down to what “page views” are actually measuring.

According to Google, “A pageview is defined as a view of a page on your site that is being tracked by the Analytics tracking code…”  And those page views can be triggered by actual humans visiting your site or, increasingly, they can be triggered by web bots. In fact, bots are wreaking havoc out there.

“Bot traffic is now so prolific, it makes up approximately 51.8% of all web traffic,” Oliver points out. “Web security outfit Imperva estimate that more and more bots are prowling websites, some good, some bad.”

Source: “Bot Traffic Report 2016”

(Good bots, Oliver explains, are things like Google’s web crawlers and FB’s mobile app, etc).  So, humans are actually making up no more than half of a typical site’s visitors, and probably even less. What’s a marketer to do?

Oliver advises setting up goals in your Google Analytics to truly gauge marketing success…you know, tracking things like lead conversions and sales.  And to stop getting too excited if your page views are climbing…or dropping.

“If your entire web strategy is predicated upon useless vanity metrics like page views, then you’ve been doing it – and your clients – a massive disservice.”

Bots are eating our collective lunch; don’t let them munch on common sense marketing metrics too. Thanks, Michael John, for this solid wake-up call.