It’s always the same in any career or business. There will always be many who fail, many stuck in the middle, and just a few who succeed.
Same goes for content development. More and more brands are jumping into it, but only a few websites dominate Google search results in any given niche.
That’s because only those few chose to do it right. And so should you.
So when it comes to content writing, how do you know that you’re doing it right? And that you’re not wasting your time and money?
Through regular content performance assessment and reporting.
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Measuring The Impact Of Content
To boost audience engagement, it’s a must to pick the right objectives and blog metrics. Then keep a track of them to determine what works, what doesn’t, what is to be removed, and what has potential.
Your content investment decisions going forward should be based on objective content reporting data, not hunch or guesswork.
So let’s take a look at the major types of objectives and their corresponding metrics you may want to track when it comes to analyzing content performance.
Web Traffic Metrics
Traffic is the lifeblood of your online business. If your content is not driving traffic, you don’t have the visitors to read the content, let alone turn into leads and customers.
So traffic is one objective that you must measure, especially that associated with your top funnel content. In order to assess your website traffic, the metrics you should be looking at are the following:
Users/Unique Pageviews - This metric represents the total number of unique people who visit your content.
Pageviews - This metric measures the total number of times your content has been viewed.
You can employ the data from these metrics for a sense of traffic coming to individual pieces of content on your website.
If you know your way around Google analytics, you can also breakdown this data to see the websites from where your traffic is coming, geographical locations of your visitors, and the type of device they use to view your content.
This information is useful to make decisions about your future content strategy. For example, if you target UK customers but the majority of your visitors are from the US, you can tailor future content distribution to your UK visitors.
Or if you’re investing more in LinkedIn marketing but the majority of your traffic is coming from Twitter, you may want to rethink your priorities.
In most cases, search engines are going to be your major source of traffic. So it’s important that you’re tracking blog metrics which indicate the success of your SEO efforts.
One way is to track the proportion of your traffic that comes from search. You can easily view this information in whatever blog analytics tool you are using on your website.
However, this is not enough insight to tell whether your site is doing well in search engines.
One of the most important content performance metrics you should be tracking is SERP (search engine result page) ranking for your target keywords.
As you track your ranking over time, you’ll see that it’s either climbing up, going down or staying the same. So you could take appropriate action to fix your content if necessary.
You can track this metric for free using Google Search Console. The console will show you the keywords you’re ranking for and allow you to keep an eye on how it is changing with time.
Getting traffic is one thing, but engaging users is another. Good traffic tells you that people are finding your content, not if they are reading and engaging with it.
So to be sure that your content is actually valuable to your audience, your content reporting should include engagement.
For instance, you can track how much time they’re spending on your page, how many pages they’re viewing in each session, and what percentage of traffic bounces off without any action.
Average Time on Page – If your visitors are simply scanning through the content and not spending enough time, then it may indicate that the content is not very engaging. And that you need to put in some serious work.
Behavior Flow – This allows you to understand how a visitor navigates through your content, starting from where he started, and then exited from. The pages which are causing the most exits may need improvement.
Bounce Rate – The percentage of visitors who leave from the first page they visit, which means they didn’t check out any other page on your website. Again, you’d want to improve content with high bounce rates.
Return Rate – Return rate shows you how many new vs. return visitors you’re getting on your content.
Pages Per Visit – The pages are visited on average, the valuable you can assume the bulk of your content to be.
Of course, the goal is to engage them and keep them longer on your site on every visit.
Getting this data is easy if you have Google Analytics or other blog analytics solution installed on your website. With an analytics software, you will be able to see the average number of pages per session, average session duration, and bounce rate.
Another great way to check content engagement is to see how much your content is being shared or commented on social media.
Social media shares and likes – This includes tracking shares, retweets, re-pins and so on for your target social media platforms.
Comments – How many people are responding to your content is another measure of engagement. Reading those comments also allows you to get ideas for new content for more engagement.
However, social media engagement depends heavily on the nature of your business and your content.
For example, if your business operates in niches like Travel or Fashion, your content is more likely to be shared than niches like Finance or Medicine.
So don’t solely rely on social media engagement to determine the quality of your content.
To measure the social media engagement of your content, you can follow two methods.
You can check how much traffic you’re getting from social media in your analytics tool. Plus, if you use a software or plugin to add social media buttons to your content, it may also have the ability to display the number of shares.
Another way is to use a tool like Buzzsumo to identify the top performing content on your website in terms of social media shares.
So let’s say you’re getting a good amount of traffic. This means visitors are reading your content.
But what do they do after the fact?
Conversion is when a visitor follows your call to action and expresses interest in your offer.
Depending on your main goal, it may mean signing up for your newsletter, enquiring about your service, or adding a product to cart and checking out.
But the link between content and conversion isn’t straightforward. Very few visitors will convert immediately after reading an awesome piece of content.
So ideally you should be tracking different actions at each stage of customer journey for an accurate sense of content performance.
Leads Generated – This metric will help you associate new leads with specific content pieces. Your marketing automation and analytics tool can show how many new leads you’ve gained from each piece of content on your website.
Existing Leads Influenced – To convert your leads into customers, you also need a sense of how many times a lead needs to touch base with your content before they buy.
Lead Quality/Score – Quality of leads is just as important as the quantity. So you should not ignore the importance of qualifying leads. There should be a metric in place to assess this.
Revenue Influenced – This refers to analyzing just how much of your revenue comes from customers who started their journey with you by arriving at one of your content pieces, or have read your content at any phase of the cycle.
Funnel Conversion Rate – You want to track conversion rate not just for optins or sales, but for each stage of the content funnel.
By analyzing a combination of these blog metrics across the content funnel, you’ll get a holistic sense of how content is impacting the bottom line.
For example, how many people join your newsletter after reading your content, what percentage of newsletter subscribers are opening your emails, and what percent of those who arrive at your landing page are actually buying.
Brand Authority Metrics
Authority is one of the most intangible things to measure in content reporting, yet you still need to assess it over time. It is a measure of your brand awareness, perception and trustworthiness.
The higher authority you have, the more influence and leverage you’ll have with prospects. Needless to say, it takes the longest time to build as compared to other objectives we discussed.
Though not perfect, there are some ways to get a rough idea about your website authority.
Moz Authority Metrics - The SEO company Moz has two authority metrics that can help in this regard:
- DA (Domain Authority) - A score out of 100 for your overall website. A higher score means higher authority.
- PA (Page Authority) - A score out of 100 assigned to each individual page.
To be able to see the value of these metrics for any website, including your own or your competitors, you’ll need the Moz toolbar.
It is free and can be installed as a Chrome extension. Once added to chrome, it will show you the DA and PA for each page you visit.
Inbound Links – The number and quality of sites referring to your content is also a good indication of your brand authority.
Social Media Followers - Keeping a track of how large your social media following is getting over time is also a good estimate of brand growth.
You can evaluate this number using tools like Ahrefs, SEMrush and LinkMiner and refine your strategy accordingly
For example, if a piece of content has plenty of backlinks, you may be better off creating more of the similar content in future.
Measuring and understanding blog analytics and content performance isn’t easy. There’s no shortcut or magic bullet. But with relevant blog metrics decided in advance, you can confidently move in the right direction.
Continuous adoption of analytics and measurement will help your business not just survive, but thrive in a competitive world.
As you proceed with content reporting, also keep in mind to never focus too much on any one metric in isolation. The whole story is usually explained by a combination of different metrics.
A single metric can be manipulated or interpreted differently to create a pretty picture. But stories are less likely to lie and give an accurate snapshot of your content performance.
So take a holistic look across all aspects to ensure that you’re not missing the big picture, and you’ll be good to go.
Did I miss anything? What metrics do you track? Do you have any questions or comments? Share your thoughts below in the comments section.