“Content is king.” That’s been the No. 1 marketing mantra since the dawn of the Internet, and for good reason: Great content is what attracts visitors to your website. The only problem is, plenty of content marketers have poured hours into generating creative, insightful online content only to watch engagement fall flat. Creativity isn’t enough. Great content has to help achieve a business goal to be useful.
The first step in optimizing your content strategy is to measure what works and what doesn’t when it comes to user engagement. Fortunately, there are powerful digital tools available to content marketers that can help measure a piece of content’s effectiveness. SEO analytics tools such as Google Analytics are essential to measuring and tracking the ROI from your content marketing efforts. SEO analytics provide a wealth of data that can give a broad view of the traffic generated by your content. On the other hand, SEO analytics can dial into specific date relating to a certain time, place, and circumstance. These tools offer up so much data, in fact, that it can be difficult to parse.
So, which SEO measurements can actually tell us what content is working?
- Traffic and Time on a Page
Of course, good content generates traffic to your page. But that traffic is only effective if users actually stick around. Google Analytics and other SEO measurement tools can identify which pages or posts on your site generate a high volume of page views. That’s a great place to begin. But when analytics tell us that the average time users spend on these pages or posts is also much higher than your site-wide average, we now know that this content has them hooked and engaged. The analytics say that these pages have fully captured people’s attention, giving us a great benchmark against which to measure other content to be published in the future.
- Referral Traffic
Unless they’ve got your site bookmarked as their browser’s home screen, all of the visitors to your webpage arrive there from someplace else on the Internet. If a visitor clicks a link to your page on a site like Facebook or Twitter that leads them to your content, that visit is considered a referral, because the social media site referred that visitor to your site.
The more often your content is shared around the Web, the more referrals that content will generate. Measuring referral traffic with tools such as Google Analytics can help identify not only which referrals generate the most traffic to your page, but which pieces of content generate the most referrals. If sharing your content on Reddit or Facebook generates a large number of referrals, it may be best to optimize your content to be more easily read and shared on those platforms.
- Page Views by Title
Often, the title or headline of your content is all that a potential site visitor will ever read. By comparing which content titles on your site get the most clicks, you can start to gauge which titles resonate best with your target audience. Are you getting more valuable traffic from shared content with shorter, more descriptive titles? Or are more unique and more interesting titles generating better traffic? SEO analytics can measure this aspect of your content, and help you create benchmarks for future content.
To truly capitalize on the data provided by services such as Google Analytics, of course, a deeper examination of who is visiting your site, where they are coming from, and what keeps them there is necessary. Only then can a complete picture be formed about what content is most effective at accomplishing your goals. The point is that even basic SEO analytics can be a fantastic tool for identifying great content (and not-so-great content, too). In many cases, it’s the best proof that content marketers have that their content strategy is working.