Those of us who were there for the early days of content marketing have grown weary of so-called metrics like “brand awareness” and “site engagement,” because we know that those aren’t measurable outcomes and, even if they were, they’re meaningless if they don’t translate to better website value.
This thinking has led some businesses to cut back on their content marketing efforts. One study by Contently found that 22% of marketers cite a lack of measurable results as a main reason for budget cuts in this niche.
But those of us who continue to keep up with content marketing trends know that there are measurable metrics, and that businesses that ignore content marketing could be damaging the value of their website.
Here are the reasons why every business with an online presence needs content marketing:
It’s Not Just Blogging
Content is the foundation of search engine optimization (SEO). If at any point you want to sell your website, a proven content marketing strategy and positive SEO metrics can literally increase the value of your business. So it’s not simply about creating blog posts for your viewers’ entertainment (though that’s definitely something to aim for), it’s about creating a framework that can easily be read by search algorithms so that you show up in results pages.
While your blog definitely qualifies as content, so do your product descriptions, landing pages, emails, social media posts, lead magnets, images and videos – really anything visually consumable on your site. In fact, you don’t even need to have a blog, per se, in order to have a solid content marketing strategy.
What is important is that all of the content on your site is optimized, meaning it’s fast, stable, and high quality.
Here are some questions to help you determine whether content is optimized for both search and user experience:
- Have you used targeted keywords in the headline, title tags, URL and meta description?
- Does each piece of content have a unique URL?
- Have you submitted an XML sitemap to Google and Bing?
Want to know more? Download our checklist of the top 13 questions to ask when developing an SEO strategy:
These are just some main things to look out for when carrying out a strategy. There will always be more, and it’s important to keep up on SEO news, as search engines are known to frequently update their algorithms.
It can be a lot to keep up with, especially if you’re trying to maintain a passive business model. Luckily, you can outsource your SEO solutions to agencies and freelancers.
Once you have content that is beloved by search engines and humans alike, the real magic starts to happen.
High-Quality Content Drives High-Quality Traffic
Yes, “increased traffic” is just another vanity metric – but not if it’s traffic that converts. Google Analytics makes it easy for you to set up goals (i.e. sales, lead submits, etc.) and see the paths users are taking before converting. You can set up custom reports to see your highest-performing content, and create more blog, video and audio content based on what’s been proven effective.
In general, here are the metrics you should care about, and what they mean:
- Sessions. This is how many times users, new or returning, visited your site. It’s an easy way to gauge overall trends in traffic.
- Bounce rate. This is the percentage of people who view your home page, take no action and leave. It’s an indicator of how compelling or relevant users find your content.
- Time spent on page. The amount of time people spend consuming your content. This can tell you whether users are really delving deep into that 2,000-word post, or just scanning it and moving on.
- Goals. Find your Goals overview under the Conversions section on the left-hand side. Here you can see the pages on which users are completing Goals, a timeline and other metrics, like conversion and abandonment rates. More on Goals further down.
Of course there will be other metrics that will be of importance to you, but knowing these four is a good start
For a more granular view at how individual pieces of content are performing, look at Behavior > Site Content > All Pages.
This will show you the metrics for your most (and least) popular content. In addition to the basics we mentioned above, you can also see if people are completing Goals within your content pages.
What’s a Goal, and how do you set it up?
A Goal can be whatever you want it to be: sales, lead submits, email opt-ins, free trial signups, and so on. It all comes down to what’s important to you and your business. To get started setting up a goal, go to the Admin tab of your Google Analytics account and select Goals.
First, you’ll need to choose a name, ID and type of goal. For this example, we’ll set up a lead submission goal:
Next, choose your Goal details, or how GA should define your Goal. You can assign a monetary value to each Goal, whether or not a completion actually results in revenue. Putting values on Goals can help you see which content is resulting in high-value actions – whatever that may be for you.
Further, once you have set your Goals, you’ll be able to see a Goal Flow visualization of your traffic. This lets you see exactly where your converting traffic comes from. Here’s what a Goal Flow looks like:
Some of the more advanced Goal features include Event tracking and setting up Conversion Funnels, which you can read more about by following the links.
Bolster Website Business Value with Branding
If you’re a new business, content marketing is even more important to building trust and following. Companies that have been around for a while already have an edge on awareness, so you’ll want to make it as easy as possible for people to find out who you are, what you offer and what makes you unique. Additionally, anyone looking to buy your business will see it as a positive that you’ve already put in legwork building the brand, which may boost your website business value.
Content is the perfect way to develop your brand identity because it allows you to experiment with different themes, and you can quickly change and adapt it on an as-needed basis.
When developing a content strategy, make sure that any blog or long-form content you put on your site enforces your overall brand identity – whether you’re casual yet informative or formal and academic.
Consider developing brand guidelines that can help you stay on point when creating new content. You’ll find that having brand guidelines will be especially helpful if you ever outsource content to an agency or contractor.
Your brand guidelines can include:
- Mission statement and vision
- Fonts and typeface
- Logos and logo use
- Main and accent colors
- Style guide
- Desired and prohibited vocabulary
- Companies with similar branding
That last point is important, too, as you look for bloggers and marketers with whom you can share content and collaborate with on projects like long-form articles and podcasts. This can add authority and perspective to your content, but more importantly, you can gain backlinks from these sources. Backlinks signal to Google and other search engines that your site has authoritative, high-quality content. In turn, backlinks improve your rankings.
Of course, there are a number of factors that go into a website’s valuation, and SEO is just one of them. However, developing a good content marketing strategy is worth the effort, both short- and long-term, as it gives you visibility in your market. Again, if you prefer a more passive business model, consider hiring an agency or contractor who can do the work for you. After all, it can take time to build good metrics and rankings, so the sooner you start, the better.