The challenge for content marketing is what is it worth?
The answer is that there is always a way to measure impacts if you plan ahead, have specific KPIs and have time allocated to dive deep into the data. Earlier this year I was lucky enough to speak at SEOCamp in Paris on the topic of measuring content marketing with my main topics covering the following points:
- Measuring links acquired in Majestic
- Measuring changes in TrustFlow/CitationFlow
- Measuring shares on social with BuzzSumo
- Measuring estimated reach of your content in CoverageBook
- Measuring referral traffic using Google Analytics
- Measuring organic traffic using Google Analytics
- Measuring uplift in impressions using Google Search Console
- Measuring average rank uplift using Google Search Console
- Measuring the number of search terms driving traffic to a page
- Keyword ranking improvement in SEOmonitor
- Automated measurement of content published in SEOmonitor
Another bonus section I included in my talk was around
- Forecasting impact of content marketing
- Calculating how much content you will need to produce?
The final section was around how you track your success and report on it
- How to report from so many sources
- YoY comparison to avoid impacts of seasonality
- Compare target pages against control group
Common issues when measuring content marketing
The biggest issue I see every-time is there is focusing on metrics without context of what they are trying to measure. I’ve seen large link building projects fail because the metric of measurement was just the number of links, so the project’s success was celebrated on a false premise due to the manipulation done on the number of links without any quality standards. I’ve also seen great projects shelved early because there was a fixed number of links that was reached and the opportunity was limited because the target was reached. A common thread is measuring links without considering TF/CF is bad form, sure there can be instances where there is a local business who doesn’t do a lot of marketing has a low TF/CF but common sense should prevail and highly relevant websites may not always meet the perfect TF/CF metric.
The same thing can happen with the production of content, I’ve seen hundreds of junk pages created because the metric was to create hundreds of pages to satisfy their KPI on producing X number of pages, with no rationale or strategy on why they exist or were needed in the first place. Focusing on just producing content without some context such as we need X number of pages created to help visitors or attract target terms is fine but too often pages are created in a vacuum and fail because there was no strategy on topics or a plan on how to measure success.
Importance of measuring content marketing
There is no reason that you should not be calculating ROI on all content that you are producing as your team or the client is fighting for budget from often a shrinking pool of resources. You are also fighting for content budget from performance campaigns such as affiliate, display or ppc that can almost guarantee a perfect estimate on ROI for every single pound spent on digital marketing.
You also want to be measuring content marketing as you want to ensure you can scale up any content marketing activity that shows signs of success and cull any activities that are not delivering the results that you expect. A good example is that during a recent client project we found by refreshing on-page content we could estimate the new pages rank X points higher in Google and now attracted an extra XXX number of organic visitors a day this combined with average conversion rate allowed us to calculate the additional amount of transactions they would likely receive over the next 12 months. Based on these calculations the client increased the budget allocated to refresh onsite content as they could easily explain the business case to their internal stakeholders and budget was secured to expand the project.
Another benefit of measuring content marketing is that you can learn from your mistakes, maybe you want to test various lengths of content but found that XXX words gave the balance between SEO impact, value for money and what will actually fit on the page without the user having to scroll too much to read the content.
The biggest reason for measuring content marketing is for transparency as this is key to maintaining good relationships with stakeholders, the more transparent your project is the less you are likely to have unexpected surprises happen last minute. The other benefit of transparency is that it allows for bottlenecks to be highlighted during the process and elements adapted or changed to ensure the best quality content is produced on schedule and within budget.
Measuring links acquired via content marketing
Has your content managed to organically attract links, but also were they quality links? I recommend focusing on improving your websites TrustFlow metrics over CitationFlow. Focusing on TrustFlow means focusing on ensuring more high quality and authoritative websites are linking to you instead of just focusing on number of links which is measured by CitationFlow.
What changes you can measure?
Majestic makes it easier to track what links are being acquired by your content marketing efforts but also track what activities your competitors are doing in the link building space. If you are not tracking what activities your competitors are doing you are missing out on the context of why your content marketing might not be having the full results you expect. Majestic now offers the ability to setup campaign dashboards where you can track the daily changes which can also be shared with clients which aligns very well with the transparency aspect. Remember that your stakeholders and clients have access to platforms like Majestic so by not sharing the data with them you are not stopping them from discovering what is happening, so this is why transparency is key because if you are trying to hide something they will discover it anyway.