How to Analyze and Evaluate your Content Marketing Strategy with a Single Metric? Case studies

Content Marketing strategy metrics

Do you agree that almost any company is interested in effective content marketing? I think so.  There are many well-written guides about building an effective marketing strategy according to your needs.

But what does effective content marketing mean?

Probably, you would say that well-done content should drive a lot of traffic to a targeted product or services. But what about sales? Sometimes even huge traffic doesn’t provide any conversion. So, people see it but don’t buy it. Maybe you can mention that good content must provide a value for readers: answer a question, teach something new and useful, provide a right solution for a problem. As we can see, good content can be described in many different ways. What is the right way?

 

No one of content marketing strategy evaluation is right
until it is based on real numbers

 

So, let’s ask several more questions:

What is a good content marketing strategy and how can we identify it?

Let’s say we are looking at an article or group of articles about a completely unfamiliar topic. Can we say something about the quality and usefulness of the article? We need a clear definition of content wellness and working methods of its identification.

Are there any numerical characteristics that allow us to analyze, evaluate or compare certain pieces of contents? 

If we have thousands of articles about a certain topic, we should be able to evaluate and compare articles using real numbers instead of our own preferences.

This article provides you with answers containing 2 big parts:

  • What is effective content and content marketing, and what metrics identify and evaluate them
  • Practical content evaluation guide with cases studies

The second part provides a working methodology of numerical content analysis, finding “thin” and effective content, analyzing not only own content but also competitor’s websites and their content marketing strategy.

Table of Contents

What is effective content and how to measure it?

Why to write something?

Let’s define all possible goals for a piece of content creation. Nowadays good content costs a lot, so companies or persons will not do it just for fun.  They have specific goals. How do you think what are the main goals for people who create content?

Let’s start with a regular paper book that has already been written. Any writer wants to have as many readers as possible to become popular.  Probably, an author will not give the book for free. More likely an author will try to sell as many copies as possible to earn a lot. For this purpose, the author might run several advertising activities to make people read your book: a quiz with prizes, TV show or something else.

Now we can say that the main goal of each content owner is to distribute and to monetize own content as much as possible.

In our example, the author (or publishing house) may spend a lot of money to promote a book. But if advertising expenses exceed the book sales, such a deal has no economic sense unless it is a nonprofit book.

Obviously, sales generated by a book or any other commercial content should exceed expenses for its creation and distribution.

Digital content is very similar to the real one with one main difference: publishing expenses are very low. Anyway, there are expenses for the creation and promotion of content, and we shouldn’t ignore them.

Digital content should be profitable.

To be profitable, a piece of content should be monetized.

Digital content can be monetized in two ways: being sold or selling something else.

First case, if a piece of digital content is a good itself. For instance, eBook. In this case, sales of these books should overlap all related expenses for this book creation and distribution.

Second case. A piece of content Is not good and cannot be sold directly. Should we treat such a piece of content differently? I don’t think so. Any digital content could be monetized. There is only one way to monetize such content: sell something using this content.

Don’t forget about expenses for promotion. Being created and published almost for free, digital content needs significant effort and money to be delivered to numerous readers. To be profitable, sales generated by the piece of content should exceed advertising expenses. It means this content should provide cost-effective sales.

Let’s call such content as effective content.

What is effective content?

Effective content provides cost-effective sales.

It means we shouldn’t spend too much money to promote such a piece of content. Advertising costs a lot. So if we have a budget for advertising, much better to spend it advertising a product directly.

Cost-effective sales mean there are no or small additional costs for promotion.

In other words, effective content should be self-promoted and generate sales.

Contents effectiveness means an ability of a piece of content to promote itself and a targeted product or service.

Effective content vs Selling content

Do not mix up effective content and selling content.

To be clear, selling content is a content strictly related to your product or service. Usually, such content is placed on a product page, but you can find such content in user guides, support articles, reviews, etc.

Selling content should convert a visitor (reader) into a buyer. Landing page (in terms of advertising campaigns) or product page usually contains such type of content. In contradiction to effective content, selling content is assumed to be promoted via different channels such as SEO and PPC. So, it is not self-promoted. The main goal of such a page is to convert incoming traffic into sales.

In its turn, the main goal of effective content is to attract as much convertible traffic as possible. Such content refers to the reader’s interests, problems and provides valuable information for them. Usually, when we are talking about attracting convertible traffic, we refer to landing pages for such traffic. It means an entrance page in terms of Google analytics.

We may have one selling product page and many entrance pages that attract traffic and transfer it to the product page.

In general, ecommerce product page, a landing page for PPC campaign, and traffic-catching and visitor-engaging landing page are different pages with different goals.

Blog post with effective traffic-catching and visitor-engaging content starts the process of buying decision making. A product page is aimed to finalize decision- making process with a purchase.

Blog post written about product advantages, usage cases and user review is a sample of effective content that is being self-distributed via search engines and social media to attract potentially interested customers, engage them and transfer them into a product page.

Key differences in short:

Effective content attracts potentially interested visitors (cold) by exploring their interest and needs and converts them into potential customers (hot).

Selling content converts these (hot) visitors into buyers.  Selling content could be placed on a product page itself or on other product-related pages such as customers review, promo actions page, etc.

In general, content effectiveness means its ability to promote itself and to achieve a goal it has been written for. So, content electiveness hardly depends on its goals. Let’s go through a content evaluation process via all possible goals achievements.

3 main goals for effective digital content

Drive traffic

Actually, we are interested in any inbound (external) traffic sources:

  • search engines
  • referral links
  • social media
  • direct traffic

Each type of traffic can be evacuated easily for a whole website, part of the website such as a blog or for certain page

Drive sales

To evaluate the content ability to drive sales, in the following part we will consider all the main ways of website traffic conversion to sales that can be grouped into 3 website monetization models.

Engage visitors and drive attention

By engaging visitors in certain activities, you may significantly increase your content abilities to generate traffic to your website and sales.

Moreover, engaging content will drive attention to a brand, product or website itself and increase brand awareness – people ability to recognize a certain brand. Brand awareness is measurable.

Brand Awareness might not provide recognizable traffic or sales directly, but has a huge impact on them. A visitor may enter a website directly or by searching brand name in a search engine.

How to evaluate content marketing by goals achievements?

Content and content marketing effectiveness can be evaluated via goals achievements of this content.

If the question about traffic evaluation looks obvious, the methods of content impact on sales and visitors’ engagement look more sophisticated. Let’s start our research with the ways of sales driving.

How to evaluate content by its impact on sales?

I have analyzed almost all website monetization approaches and concluded that all of them can be divided into 3 main models:

3 main models to monetize a website traffic

  1. Sell advertising (PPC, PPM, email campaign, guest posts, advertising space)
  2. Sell own goods or services (or access to content)
  3. Sell 3d party goods or services (making a web store, generate leads or provide sales via affiliate links)

If we are talking about the entire website, we can identify sales generated by this website easily.

But can we evaluate the impact of any article or a section of the website on sales?

Can we evaluate separate blog effectiveness for an eCommerce store sales generation or revenue of a software development company?

Is it possible to evaluate sales generated by a single article or just any other website page? Let’s explore this question.

How to identify a single page or a group of pages’ impact on sales?

This question has arisen during my work at an ecommerce company.  We found out that our entire blog with relatively high traffic provides only about 1% of total web store sales. We were even thinking about keeping the blog or getting rid of it and spend resources on something else.

Fortunately, we decided to keep the blog. But only now I can explain why It was a smart decision.

Can we use Revenue and Conversion rate metrics for landing pages’ evaluation?

Now let’s find out whether we can use Revenue and Conversion rate as good metrics to evaluate page effectiveness in sales or, in general, in goal conversion itself.

In terms of Google, landing page means a website entrance page within a single session. In other words,  a landing page is the first page viewed in a session.

If a visitor enters a website through a certain page and makes a purchase within a session, the conversion will be attributed to this landing page.

For example, if somebody enters a website via the main page, visit several other pages and finally makes a purchase, all sales will be attributed to the main page.

Very often a visitor needs time to think about the purchase. It may take hours, days or weeks. In most cases, the time needed to make a purchase decision is greater than a session time.

Probably, next time the visitor will reach the product page via other channels. The most used methods are entering a website directly or through a search engine. That is why the biggest sales very often attributed to the main page.

Let’s take a look at the landing pages’ report of a Google Demo store.

Landing page revenue report

Basket (cart) as an entrance page means that a visitor previously put goods in the cart but didn’t finalize the purchase. Next time a visitor entered a website trough Cart page and finalized a purchase.

At this case, nobody knows where this visitor came from the very first time.

That is why we are unable to evaluate internal content pages’ abilities to generate sales.

Now let’s explore a more general question. Can we obtain any useful information from Google analytics about content effectiveness on the base of goal conversions metrics? Let’s say we will consider such metrics for different traffic sources.

Can we evaluate the impact of traffic sources on goal conversions?

Sometimes visitors can make a buying decision very quickly and make a purchase or any other targeted action right after reading an article about the product or even a product page within one session. But more often a visitor needs more time to make a decision than one session duration. So, what are we able to get in this case?

Information about the source of a visit will store on Google Analytics within 30 days. That is why any sales can be attributed much easier to external source than for internal landing page.

We are not able to identify the very first entrance page. Can we identify the entrance channel of traffic?

Traffic Channel Tables

 

By default, Google analytics use Last Non-direct click attribution model. It means that goal conversion (such as sales) usually attributed to a channel other than direct traffic that the client entered through before buying landing page.

If somebody entered a website via different sources, a sale will be attributed to the last one. Of course, if an attribution model has not been changed. We are even unable to precisely identify sales or other goals conversions by any channel of traffic. We can only estimate it using the most appropriate attribution model.

As we can see, there are many limitations for using Revenue, Conversion rates and other Goal-specific metrics for content effectiveness evaluation.

Limitation for using Goal-related metrics

  1. For many goal-related metrics, we should be able to calculate Goal achievement and conversion rate on the user-based level. By default, Google analytics use Session-based methods. Here is good research about it.
  2. Any tracked action should be easy to decide within a single section. “Buy now or never mind”. Such a principle works for cheap goods and for no time and money consuming actions.
  3. Ability to control traffic incoming to the landing page. Usually, this is easy for pages which are created for a certain PPC or email campaign.
  4. A landing page is created with a single goal to finalize a purchase without letting visitors traveling outside of these pages. Content of such pages should be as short as possible.
  5. We observe visitors that use one device only unless we are able to track them on a cross-device level

Now, we see the obvious differences between the effective page and landing page.

There are significant limitations in the evaluation of our content abilities to generate sales or achieve the goal.

This conclusion is true for all user-related goals achievements tracked by Google Analytics or a similar solution:

  • Opt-In or subscription number
  • Leads generated
  • Downloads made
  • Paid signups
  • eCommerce purchases

We can these metrics for the entire website easily but not for any part of this website. Tracking sales impact of a single page or a group of pages is a very sophisticated task.

We can only evaluate the click-through rate (click per view rate) CTR of a certain ad or link.

It means that we may calculate a percentage of people who clicked on the targeted link or image. For instance, if we have written a blog post about one of our products, we may calculate a percentage of people entered the product page via the blog article. Let’s assume we can do it for every article. What managerial decision we can make based on these metrics? No one.

It would be a very interesting task to find appropriate methods to evaluate an article impact on sales on one of the following researches.

Metrics and KPI to evaluate content by its impact on sales

 

There is no accurate way to evaluate any piece of content
impact on sales or goal conversion

 
 
The only metric we can use is just sales volume generated by the entire website.
 

How to evaluate content by its impact on visitors’ engagement?

First, I would like to mention one important metric for content engagement – Number of comments.

Comments increase overall content value, attract more visitors and, finally, attract more sales

Second, what we need to evaluate is a piece of content impact on brand awareness.

I have separated it because a piece of content may describe or just mention a brand but has no links to the targeted website. So, such a piece will not drive traffic or sales directly but will raise brand awareness and authority, raise traffic and sales indirectly. A visitor may enter a website directly or by searching a brand name in a search engine.

How to measure brand awareness?

 We may Increase brand awareness and confidence by distributing content to be seen by as many readers as possible. Brand awareness be approximately evaluated by

  • Social media reach
  • Brand Mentions
  • Search volume of brand
Social media rich

Because we are interested in content distribution, we can measure social shares number of our content using appropriate service.

Social Shares number – a number of times content has been re-published in different social media. The possibility of a piece of content to be reproduced is a perfect indicator of its effectiveness.

For instance, it could be SharesCount

Shares Count

This metric is universal. It can be used for the entire website, part of the website such as the blog, or single page.

Brand Mentions

This metric counts any brand mentions on the internet with or without a link to a website.

It can be evaluated via such tools as SEMrush Brand monitoring tool or Google alerts.

.Semrush Brand monitoring Tool

Image is credited to SEMrush

Brand mentions refer to the entire brand and cannot be attributed to any webpage or even a website.

Search volume of brand

This metric means a search volume of all brand terms including misspelled ones

The most appropriate tools are Google Search Console and Google Trends, but any tools with the ability to evaluate terms search volume can be used as well.

Metrics and KPI to measure content impact on visitors’ engagement

A number of comments and social shares metric can be applied to a page.

Brand mentioning and search volume are entire website metrics only.

How to evaluate content by traffic?

Now let’s take a look at traffic.

The most interesting is traffic from external sources. We should analyze the most powerful sources of such traffic. For this purpose, we should use Acquisition –  Channel or Source / Medium report for a certain landing page.

Here is a Google Analytics Traffic medium report for the entire website. Let’s briefly analyze each source of traffic.

Google Analytics Channel grouping

As we can see the main traffic channels are direct, search and referral traffic.

Organic search traffic

Search traffic is usually the most powerful channel for traditional blogs.

Be advised that there is a difference between search traffic and organic traffic in Google analytics.

Organic search includes only traffic from search results.

Paid Search includes traffic from paid ads on the search results page. There was no such traffic the considered website during a chosen period of time.

Search traffic includes both of them

Search Traffic

Direct Traffic

Analyzing direct traffic landing pages, we may notice that most of the direct traffic landed on the main page.

It means that direct traffic refers to brand awareness because people put memorized website address (main page of the website) into their browser or used a browser bookmark.

Be advised that Direct traffic also includes all traffic that GA is unable to identify correctly.

In GA Direct traffic includes not only traffic from people who knows your website address but also any unidentified sources of traffic

We should be very careful about analyzing direct traffic because of many distortions.

Referral traffic

Referral traffic reflects traffic from websites with a link to our website page. So, the more links we have to the targeted page and the more popular source websites are, the more referral traffic we get to the targeted content.

Social traffic

Usually, classic blogs have a relatively small amount of а social traffic.  The following screenshot refers to the same one-year period.

Sicial Traffic

Now let’s take a look at a blog article page by channels of traffic:

Traffic Metrics for a single page

To analyze traffic for a certain page, we need to consider a Landing page as a gate for inbound traffic. For this purpose, we should use Acquisition –  Channel or Source / Medium report for a certain landing page.

Here is the report for one landing page traffic sources:

Sinle Landing

As we can see, 89% of traffic is generated by a search engine. 5% of direct traffic contains traffic from unidentified sources. So, we can just ignore all other sources.

If social or referral traffic is significant we should include it to the analysis.

Effective content and content marketing definitions, metrics and KPI

KPI and metrics for content marketing strategy

As we concluded previously, there are much more content metrics for an entire website than for just a part of a website or a single page.

By traffic

  • Search Traffic
  • Referral traffic
  • Social media traffic

By Sales (or goal conversion)

  • All website sales

By visitors’ engagement and brand awareness

  • Number of comments
  • Social shares number
  • Mentions number
  • Brand search quantity

Please, note, that in general, websites are very different. They have different ages, different yearly budget, different number and types of articles, different number of people working on it. In most cases, different websites comparison is a budget comparison. That is why more important to study content marketing strategy on a base of single pages and articles.

Content KPI and metrics for a single page or group of pages

 By traffic

  • Search Traffic
  • Referral traffic
  • Social media traffic

You may analyze first all traffic sources for your website or just a part of the website is interested in.

By visitors’ engagement

  • Number of comments
  • Social shares number

I left here only user engagement metrics that evaluate self-promotion content abilities.

Do we need User behavior and engagement metrics?

Numerous digital marketers offer different metrics for content and content marketing evaluation. Some of them include behavioral metrics into content marketing strategy analysis.

I have separated user behavior metrics because, in general, we don’t know how these metrics are related to content goals achievement. For example, we don’t know if there is any correlation between time on a page, time on a website, page depth with a goal conversion. It is hard to identify and highly depends on the content itself and specified goals.

Most of behavioral metrics are entire website-related. It means they are useless to evaluate a single article.

Nevertheless, we could keep them in mind. Such metrics description could be a good topic for a digital marketing article. Here we just briefly describe them.

Bounce rate – very interesting metric that highly depends on calculation methods. Google Analytics identifies a bounced session when there was no other event within a session since a person has visited a page. Let me explain. Imagine a visitor who entered to a page with an interesting and long article. The visitor has read the article very carefully making notes, watching a video in the article. But! If in a 30 minutes’ period the visitor hasn’t done any action such as a link click, Google shows 100% bounced session, or pages viewed, or time on the page.

In comparison, Yandex search engine identifies a session as non-bounced after 15 seconds presence on the page.

Anyway, we may compare bounce rate within different categories such as case studies category, Frequently Asked Question category etc.

Pageviews – a basic metric that shows a number of page loads disregarding all other factors

Unique visitors –  shows a number of visitors viewed a page. This user-level metrics is much more important than Unique Pageview.

New Users – our future client and customers. Now they are cold but we have a chance to “warm” them.

Returning Users – these users are warmer than new users and closer to conversion.

Both of these metrics are website-based metrics. They cannot be applied to a single page or group of pages.

Page Depth (pages per session) are good metrics to compare different but very similar websites, but it is useless on page level pages.

Active Time on Page – could be good metrics for different articles comparison if it is set properly.

What is the primary metric for content strategy analysis?

 All above-mentioned behavioral metrics could be useful but all of them are just additional metrics for a very simple reason.

We should have any data to make a comparison. It means pages should have traffic, visitors whose behavior we are able to analyze. No users – no behavior.

We can say the same things about a number of comments and social shares number.

No traffic – no comments, no social shares.

Now I will suggest you one principle that helps me to identify the right direction in my marketing work.

This is kind of  Ockham’s Razor for marketing.

Ask yourself:

What managerial decision can be made on the base of (an experiment) data?

I can say even simpler. What are we going to do with these numbers?

Very often this principle helped me to avoid a lot of useless work. Then, try to evaluate all metrics that are offered for content strategy measurement. Doing this, you probably come with the same solutions as me.

There is only one primary metric that identifies and evaluates content effectiveness. This is traffic attracted by content.

Choosing the main traffic source for the content analysis

In most cases, you will see in Google analytic that Search, Direct and Referral traffic are top 3 free traffic sources.

One or all of them could be the primary sources of traffic.

Usually, social traffic is very small. So, we can ignore it. Of course, if a piece of content is placed on social media with high social traffic, we will see a different picture.  But in this research, we consider content analysis within a regular website, not social media as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc.

One more notice. Of course, we can make a post on an influencer Instagram account and get a huge amount of traffic. If we pay for this post, we will not be able to talk about content effectiveness.  This is just advertising.

Effective content should inspire popular blogs or social accounts owners to share it without any payments or negotiations.

That is why in most cases we may ignore Social traffic because being natural it is much lower than traffic from other sources. Referral traffic is higher but small too and can be ignored in most of the circumstances.

If social or referral traffic is a primary or one of the primary sources of traffic we should analyze them.

Direct traffic is a mixture of branded traffic and unidentified traffic by Google Analytics. So, it is not applicable to a part of a website.

A number of comments and social shares directly depends on the number of people who visited a page and saw a content. It means that these metrics strictly depends on traffic.

We can conclude that most of the metrics depend on the volume of traffic from the primary source.

Now, we have one sustainable metric left for effective content and effective content marketing.

A piece of content effectiveness can be evaluated by its ability to attract traffic from an appropriate channel.

In most cases, the primary traffic came from Search engines.

More effective content attracts a higher amount of organic traffic.

Now it is clear why content marketing and SEO go along with each other.

Organic traffic for a page or group of pages is the primary indicator
of content marketing strategy effectiveness

 

Now I make one more clarification in terms:

Effective content is content that able to attract traffic and achieve goals it has been written for.

Effective content marketing strategy is a set of activities for content creation, publishing and distribution to achieve specified goals successfully.

Practical content evaluation: step by step guide

We will analyze a website content marketing strategy on the base of search traffic attracted by its pages (articles).  The more internal traffic is attracted by our content, the more effective our marketing strategy is.

So, content marketing strategy effectiveness could be measured as a sum of content effectiveness of each article.  This rule has two main points:

  • More effective content marketing results in creation of more effective articles. It means that % (percentage) of a successful article reflects the wellness of a content marketing strategy
  • Higher content marketing effectiveness means higher effectiveness of each article, on average.

We will not compare content by its overall of attracted traffic. We will compare pieces of content ability to attract traffic.

Of course, any analysis is being made to improve something. In the case of a content marketing strategy analysis, we try to find ways to make our content more effective.

What do we need to do?

First, we need to find out the most effective content and analyze it.  We should come up with the ideas about what kind of content attracts main amount of traffic to our website.

Second. We find the least effective content and make its analysis in the same way. In other words, we should try to understand why this content doesn’t attract traffic.

Third. We should make a plan:

  • How to improve existing content to attract more traffic
  • How to write new content that will be effective

To refine our strategy, we may analyze the content marketing strategy of our competitors by their search traffic estimation and make a simple comparison by answering the following questions:

  • How many effective articles do we have in comparison with our competitors?
  • What is the average estimated search traffic for each effective article?
  • How many backlinks, socials shares, comments have they attracted?
  • What are the common characteristics of the most effective articles in our business area?

Let’s begin.

How to choose an appropriate period of time to analyze content effectiveness

Of course, no one page or group of pages can get noticeable organic search traffic immediately.   It takes time to raise search traffic from 0 to a certain maximum value. So, how long does it take to get maximum traffic from search engines?

Ahrefs has very interesting research about this topic. We need to understand how much time effective content needs to get the most of its value.

According to Ahrefs, only 5,7% of newly created pages get to fest page of Google SERP within their first year. We may assume that content on these pages is truly effective. How long does it take for such pages to get traffic?

Ahrefs research

Ahrefs states that it takes 2 – 6 month for the best pages to rank in Google Top10 for at least one of the keywords.

Obviously, one or even 10 keywords are not enough to get noticeable traffic from search engines.

Let’s analyze already mentioned Ahrefs article using their tools.

The article raises ranked keywords number (within 100) from 0 February 6, 2017, when it was published to 800 keywords in May 2018. Organic keywords number were continued to raise.

So, it looks more reasonable to consider a period starting from 6 months.

Use Google Analytics to analyze traffic for several most successful, less successful and medium level pages. It will help you to identify the appropriate minimal time period to analyze search traffic volume attracted by any page created before the start date during this period. It means that we need to exclude pages that were created during the chosen period. Such pages should be analyzed separately.

As for me, I often choose a 9 month, 12 month or 16-month period for content effectiveness analysis (Predefined periods in Google search Console).  In this article’ examples, I will use a one-year period.

Tools to analyze content effectiveness

The primary metric of content effectiveness is organic search traffic. If we have access, we may use Google Search Console or Google Analytics

Search Console

Let’s choose for our analysis of the 12-month period.

Now we can download the data to .xlsx file

Google analytics

First, let’s choose the same time period. As we can see the most powerful channel is organic traffic

Traffic Channels

GA Traffic Channels

 

Now choose organic traffic for analysis and switch a primary dimension to a Landing page.

Remember, this report reflects incoming traffic for the first entrance page to the website within a session. Sales made within this session attributed to the landing page ignoring other visited pages.

Now make all the lines in the report shown and do the export.

Wrong URLs in Google Search Console and Analytics report

Take a look at URLs with the least traffic by sorting the report by a number of users or visits.

You will see many URLs like these ones:

 

 

Observing the report, you will see many wrong links that include

  • URLs with id, parameters, and marks
  • URLs with and without trailing slash
  • Wrong URLs (URLs with mistakes, changed or removed URLs)

Such wrong pages distort the information.

The same wrong URLs may be found in Google Search Console, Performance report. This report contains all URLs that landed visitors to the website from Google including wrong URLs.

When we analyze pages with the highest traffic we may just ignore such wrong URLs, but if we analyze pages with the weakest traffic, we should consider only real URLs. To find all real website pages we may use any web crawler for a website.

Moreover, we can get many additional metrics for our analysis such as words count in an article, backlinks and domains number, internal links count, HTML to text ratio and many others.

In this research observe Screaming Frog – one of the most popular crawlers for PC.

Screaming Frog Crawler

This tool is able to make a detailed website analysis and to provide us with useful information about the website pages and its content. There are free and paid versions.

Our goal is to collect all real and Indexed YRLs of the explored website along with pages’ characteristics.

Before starting the crawl process, we should configure several settings:

Configuration – > API Access – > Google Search Console

Configuration – > API Access – > Google analytics

Follow the instructions.

Do not forget to specify considered time range

Screaming Frog Data Range

Choose Organic Traffic Segment for Google Analytics

Screaming Frog Organic Traffic

Important notice.

Search Console shows us traffic from Google only while Google analytics Organic traffic shows it from all search engines. If we want Screaming Frog to get Google organic traffic for consistency, we should create a new segment in Google analytics and use it in Screaming Frog.

GA Segments Creation

It may help If the website has a lot of traffic from other than Google search engine and you want to get Google organic traffic only to compare it with Search Console Data.

To make our report more informative, choose All Users – all traffic from all source.

Screaming-Frog-Segment-Traffic

Now enter the website and start crawling.

When the process is finished, export data into Excel Workbook

MS Excel

On this stage, we will analyze the obtained data using MS Excel.

Open obtained by Screaming Frog .xlsx file and unable Filter:

MS Excell Filters

Filter pages that have status – OK. you may notice that all such pages have Status Code 200 and all are indexed.

Filter content type: text/HTML

Now copy all the information on this sheet and paste into the separate newly created sheet. Now we have a lot of information for the website analysis. To make it easier, let’s remove unnecessary columns.

Columns to be analyzed:

Address – URL

Word count – a number of words on the page. This number includes words used in the website template.

Checking a number of words in several articles, you may identify the number of words in the template and extract it from words count.

Text ratio – a percentage of text characters (non-HTML) to all page characters.

Inlinks – number of internal backlinks this page

Sessions – total number of session counted for URL by Google Analytics for a specified period

Clicks, Impressions –  Google search Console Metrics

Here you can find all metrics descriptions.

Case studies of content marketing analysis

As we remember, content marketing strategy reflects the ability to create, distribute and promote content in the most effective way.

Let’s start analyzing the content marketing strategy with our most effective articles.

Best website pages’ analysis

Sort all pages according to clicks in Google Search Console for a chosen period of time.

Here Top 20 best pages by Google traffic

Best 20 pages analysis

We may see first, that main page all traffic is 3 times bigger than traffic to the main page from google. So, we may explore main page separately to find branded, referral, and social traffic.

This report shows the most effective content that attracts the main traffic from Google. Deep content analysis of these articles will help you to find the most common characteristic of such content.

Right now you may see, that Words Count, Text Ratio, Number of internal Links can’t guarantee or predict good traffic from Google.

If you continue to research the report, you will see that a number of high-quality external backlinks can guarantee nothing as well.

I will research effective article writing techniques in the following article.

Right now from the previous report, we may easily learn the following:

The fast way to increase your website traffic from Google

Take a look again on the table, paying attention to articles with huge Impression count, but a relatively low average position.

Let’s sort our data by Impression number considering average positions from 10 to 20

Improving these pages’ content along with appropriate SEO activities we may increase keywords positions of these articles and get additional organic traffic relatively fast. If a page is relatively fresh, we may just wait.

How to find “thin’ content on your website

Do you remember the biggest Google update on April 2018 when a lot of websites were shaken? Webmasters were trying to find the reason for declining their websites positions. One of the suspects was so-called thin content, or no added value, in other words

Thin content is directly opposed to effective content. In other terms, content effectiveness is an ability to provide value for readers. Yes, it is so simple.

Let’s find pages that attract little or no traffic from search engines. Make sort of data by Click from Smallest to largest.

Identify the number of clicks from Google per year that allow you to separate pages for analysis that attract less click then a specified number.

Usually, I take 20 clicks per year. A minimal number of clicks does not really matter. Google content will earn significant traffic during several first months. Thin content will never attract traffic.

Now separate these pages and analyze them.

In our example we will see two groups of pages:

Pages with no data. Such pages can be divided into 2 groups as well.

  1. Pagination pages or other service pages

Such pages shouldn’t be indexed at all. We need to put an appropriate meta tag and remove them from Google Index. This is a technical SEO issue.

  1. Other real articles probably are thin content and should be analyzed carefully. You may do it with your own website.

When we will be reviewing the methodology of competitors marketing strategy analyzing, we will find “thin” content for such a well-known website as neilpatel.com

Several reasons I found for pages to be thin content.

What type of articles tends to be thin content?

  • Articles that are not original and were published on another website before
  • Original article with no added value. A topic of the article is already described better on other websites
  • Articles with information that nobody searches for.
  • Articles are written for SEO purposes only

Take a look at what Google says about it.

Here you may find several useful tips about certain actions towards thin content.

Thin content ratio

I would like to introduce a new metric of content marketing strategy evaluation –  thin content ratio.

A thin content ration is a percentage of articles thin content articles, articles that are not able to attract traffic.

The main point is to identify criteria to consider an article as thin content. It means attracted traffic volume during a specified period.

We may use a statistical method or just any empirical number.

Thin content ratio = thin articles number / all articles number

And the opposite metric

Effective content ratio = effective articles number / all articles number

These metrics provide us with useful information about marketing strategy effectiveness of the different websites in a similar area, or about content effectiveness of different website’s parts, written by different authors, etc.

How to analyze and compare the effectiveness of different content writers

Many websites employ numerous authors for their content.  Sooner or later any editor-in-chief comes up with the idea of creating performance indicators and standards for the authors.

The following metrics could be useful:

Think content ratio: thin number of thin articles to all articles

All search traffic – the sum of the search traffic for all article written by an author.

Average traffic per article

Average word count – this metrics is related to the cost of the articles

Number of comments

Number of Social shares

Pages visited Per Sessions

Visit Duration (Time on Site)

Time spent on writing – If we are talking about content writers paid hourly, time spent on content creation could be very important.

Having all these metrics, we can compare different author effectiveness.

All these metrics will be useful in the analysis of different parts of a website

How to analyze the effectiveness of different website parts?

Let’s consider the simplest case – the news website.

We may analyze each category to find out:

What is more interesting for this website readers?

What kind of topic attracts more traffic?

What content writers are most effective and why?

The most important task is to identify properly each article that refers to a certain category.

Then we can use a bunch of traffic, social engagement and user behavior metrics to evaluate each category properly.

Now let’s take a look at a web store. We may divide all content into several groups:

  • Product pages
  • Category pages
  • Blog pages
  • Frequently asked question pages
  • Support pages

Such analysis will help to find an appropriate marketing strategy and allocate resources right.

How to analyze different content types

First, let’s identify different types of content:

Conntent types to promote

Here are 8 most effective types of content according to Ascend2 research.

Within a single website, you may find different types of content. Let’s say we have a blog with different and mixed content types such as

  • Case studies
  • Industry news
  • Company news
  • Interviews and opinion
  • Popular topics articles
  • Guides and tips
  • Articles with Infographics
  • Articles with video

I have already mentioned that case studies are the most effective content for lead generation. So, we can evaluate or case studies effectiveness and try to find ways to improve it by analyzing all your own website and competitor’s websites and find a content structure and times that provide the highest return.

Now you have a working methodology to evaluate your blog according to your needs

How to analyze competitors content marketing strategy?

The main difference of a competitor’s website to your own one that you have access to … nothing … or not?

Actually, we have everything to analyze any website content that worth to be analyzed.

Let’s consider one of the most popular websites in digital marketing – neilpatel.com/blog/

When we don’t have access to real search engine traffic, we may use approximation made by an appropriate service. Let’s consider Ahrefs web service that provides us with many useful tools.

For instance, we can get estimated organic traffic getting by a targeted website a month. Such estimation is made on the base of ranked keywords, their search volume, and positions. Obtained numbers may differ from real search traffic, but this information is enough to make the right content evaluation.

Use Ahrefs Top pages’ report

Then make an excel export.

As we can see, this website has articles on other languages than English. We should exclude them.

I excluded categories as well.

Notice, that Ahrefs report provides us with data about pages ranked for at least one keyword within 1 -100 positions. To get pages with no keywords at all we should use a crawler such as Screaming Frog or web-based one offered by Ahrefs.

Please, pay attention to this article:

https://neilpatel.com/blog/ultimate-guide-to-creating-content/

Published: 2017-08-05

Modified 2019-02-15

Obviously, such content doesn’t look like “thin” one. But why this article does not rank in Google? I will try to find an answer in the following articles.

Here is the most effective content:

Pay attention to traffic value. This metric shows the amount we should pay per month to acquire the same amount of traffic using Google Ads.

Now let’s make batch analysis for the most effective and least effective content.

Worst Pages

Best pages

Simple conclusion

There is no obvious correlation between the number of total backlinks for the article and a search traffic volume.

A number of backlinks do not guarantee good rankings and high organic traffic volume.

High Number of backlinks does not refer to the high traffic.

Summary

In this article, I introduced a new concept of effective content.

Contents effectiveness means its ability to promote itself and to achieve goals it has been written for. Effective content is opposite to thin content. It means that effective content provides additional, new value for a reader. It allows such content to achieve its 3 main goals: attract more visitors, engage them and generate more conversions, finally.

There are content marketing strategy metrics that can be applied to the entire website only:  goal conversions, brands mentions, and brand search.

To analyze a content marketing strategy, we rely on the metrics that could be applied for a single article or a group of articles.

Primary metric to measure a content marketing strategy success: the most valuable traffic volume attracted by an article for a specified period of time. In most cases, it is organic traffic.

For our own websites, we may get organic traffic for each article attracted for a specific period of time from 6 to 16 month using Google Search Console or Analytics.

For any other website, we may use organic traffic estimation per month by Ahrefs.

Additional metrics: number of comments and number of social shares.

Analyzing a content marketing strategy, we are paying attention to content effectiveness of each article. We should find the best-performing articles, the worst performing articles, and appropriate metrics. To evaluate and compare content marketing strategies we may use the following metrics:

Top 10 articles average organic traffic value

Thin content ratio – % of thin article OR Effective content ratio –  % of best performing article

Described methodology and metrics provide deep insight into own content marketing strategy and provides a researcher with numbers and ideas to improve it.

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