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As search marketing professionals, one of the elements in an ongoing strategy we discuss a lot is content marketing. It has been proven by many that continued efforts toward developing and curating content is a great means of driving traffic to your site. With the proper strategy, your content has the ability to be used to gain short-term success in social media efforts and paid-search campaigns. Followed by the long-term gains of having well optimized, relevant content capturing the attention of search engines.

If you have a good handle on your audience, or at least who you are trying to reach, you quickly understand that the concept of content marketing is much more than blog posts. Content comes in various flavors, including product and service pages, resources and white papers, and certainly blog posts.

A couple of housekeeping items to get out of the way before furthering key metrics to monitor. We’re assuming some base level understanding of Google Analytics and that it is being reviewed somewhat regularly. In addition, we’ll be discussing strategies to monitor engagement, and not reach.

Understanding how users interact (engage) with your content goes beyond the surface level of determining which inbound marketing channels produced visits to your site.

Pageviews and Page Depth

Both of these metrics are a good determining factor of not how engaging your single content piece is, but how well your entire site and other pieces of content resonate with your audience.

Linking between content types to services and products is one simple way you can assist with increasing pageviews on other pages, and improve page depth – aka number of pages viewed per visit.

[Also Read: Content Curation Best Practices]

Time On Page, Not Entire Site

While it might seem as a fairly basic metric to be monitoring, reviewing it in an ongoing basis and looking for insights on time spent on a page per content type could be valuable in assisting your future content marketing efforts. Back that up with a comparison of your overall time on site and you get a much broader picture of how the content you are producing impacts the user interaction.

Don’t Fixate on Bounce Rates Initially

Neither page depth or time on the entire site are without fault. It is very easy to fixate on bounce rates without further metric comparison. Bounce rate alone is not a perfect metric, nor is time on site. These metrics must be used in conjunction with one another to best understand the user’s interaction.

Keep in mind, just because a piece of content has a high bounce rate, does not mean it isn’t successful at capturing your audience. Go deeper, look at that piece of content, draw your attention to the time spent on that content. Is it a fair amount of time? Great, the user is fairly engaged. Now look for ways you can pull them deeper into your site by featuring other content, offering up links, etc.

[Also Read: Is Bounce Rate Important?]

New vs. Returning Visitors

Ever wonder how loyal of a readership you have on your blog? Perhaps you want to know how often new visitors convert vs. returning visitors? This level of detail can easily be found in Google Analytics by checking out Audience > Behavior > New vs. Returning. Add in a secondary dimension of “Page” and you can quickly see which page resonates more with new or returning visitors.

Conversion & Goal Tracking

You’re generating traffic to your content from multiple channels, but is it converting? Let’s be real, you’re not producing content just for content sake. Typically as marketers, we have select goals and objectives we are trying to reach, which can consist of any number of successes. And while increasing traffic from various inbound channels and improving search visibility is positive, what matters to most is some level of conversion.

Review all of your content on the regular. Sort them by those that converted and make note of the types that converted the best. Are those content pieces fresh and newsworthy, or are they evergreen pieces?

You should be able to map those content pieces with your overarching content marketing strategy. Make changes as necessary to continue producing content that is generating conversions, but don’t stop there. Remember not all of your users will be taking action on their first visit, and many times you need content that acts as a hook to draw them in. Review underperforming content, or content that draws a lot of eyes, with little action. Now is the time to look for areas you can add in a call-to-action. Make the ask.

Develop your content plan, familiarize yourself with good baseline metrics and use these key areas inside Google Analytics to best understand how engaged your users are.