The web is all about conversions and users. Long gone are days when one measured earning potential of website by earnings, total visitor count and home page pagerank alone. These metrics are simple and easy to understand. Sadly, they do not give real useful information.
Earnings are not necessarily the most informative metric of the website. Some websites do not earn money directly. The same amount of money earned might suggest good or bad website performance depending on investments done, visitor count, market or advertisement type used.
It is even more difficult for websites whose income sources are advertisements or which advertise main business indirectly (for example, using branding). The conversion might be long process and you see increase in sales or conversions, but it is hard to estimate the performance of content.
However, you have to analyze the content. There are information that can be extracted from both statistics and user-generated content related to the original content. These things might not correlate!
For example, we post articles in our local fashion magazine and publish excerpts in facebook pages. Most viewed content not necessary is most commented one! Why it is so ?
- Content that appeals to main auditorium of website is more engaged. Content that is related to auditorium is most interesting.
- Shocking content would be more viewed one. They are interesting for broader spectrum of people.
- Shocking content has more viral potential as it might be redistributed by non-members. That is why single-time visitors are useful as well.
Is engagement more important that visitors? For membership sites, definitely. You grow your crowd and your influence in them. However, a single non-related re-share of content might increase your site visibility further than in-door engagement. Thus in many cases you have to vary your content enough to attract more diverse crowd to your site.