Which web pages are your most popular?

Which tweets are your most popular?

How do you know which content to reshare?

These are not infrequent questions asked by content marketers. How do you decide what’s popular? One of the simplest methods is to use quartiles. If you’re unfamiliar with quartiles, they are a basic statistical analysis method in which a normally distributed data set is split into 4 even pieces. For the purpose of this post, we’ll want to focus on the upper quartile, the top 25% of anything you do.

To make this more concrete, let’s walk through an example. Go to Google Analytics. Go to Behavior > Site Content > All Pages.

Pages_-_Google_Analytics.jpg

Set the list using the dropdown box in the bottom right to 50 pages, then export into the spreadsheet software of your choice. Eliminate all of the extraneous columns until you’re just left with pages and views:

Screenshot_4_14_15__6_59_AM.jpg

In a column next to the views, write this formula: =Quartile(B2:B51,3) (assuming you have 50 lines of data from B2 to B51, otherwise adjust):

Screenshot_4_14_15__7_30_AM.jpg

It’ll come up with a number that represents the third quartile boundary, or where the upper 25% of your data is. These are the most popular posts. The third quartile represents the upper 25% of traffic you’ve obtained. If I make a chart with this data, it looks like this:

Screenshot_4_14_15__7_31_AM.jpg

What do you do with this information? If you’re re-posting content on social media, use this as the boundary line for what to retire and what to leave out. It’s a great place to start. Bear in mind you can use this method for any marketing analytics data set you have.

Consider paying to promote some of the posts in the top quartile. They’ve already proven themselves, proven their worth – what if you took it up a notch with a few dollars?

If you do any bylines or content syndication, consider these your A-Team. These would be the posts you might want to excerpt only, or write alternate versions for other platforms (at the very least attributing your content back to you).

By using a simple statistical method (and yes, it has its flaws, but that’s for another time), you’ve now got a starting point for identifying popular stuff. There’s nothing overly magical about quartiles themselves; you could use any quantile you wanted (10% brackets, 33% brackets, etc.) but quartiles are baked into most spreadsheet software, and they’re easy to explain to non-math inclined people.


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