This year, we witnessed a continued and rapid acceleration of the relationship between content and SEO.
As consumers looked to find more relevant information to their questions online, search marketers strived to ensure the answers, and content, are relevant and visible.
Events like COVID-19 affected the demand for SEO and the need for high-quality, informational, and up to date content.
The way search engines have matured meant that marketers now have to put the creation of dynamic content to the top of their business SEO agendas.
Creating valuable content is a process, and its impact on SEO is sometimes misrepresented.
It’s one thing to haphazardly throw some words together and call it a blog post or an article.
It’s quite another to create content that has real SEO value for your company and is also received well by your target audience.
More quantity does not necessarily mean success.
With each additional layer of insightful content you add, more quality can help boost success via SEO value.
Google & High-Quality Content
Quality of content can be a subjective topic for many.
While some may view high ranking and a large amount of traffic as a sign of quality, others may consider a specific type of engagement or particular action taken as a sign of success.
The end goal of any content you produce for SEO should always be on providing content that answers a user’s question.
Content that is relevant, useful, and authoritative.
Adhering to Google’s guideline and SEO best practices is a must.
However, this should not be done at the cost of optimizing for the user – what they want, their need, and their intent.
Ultimately, it’s their experience.
Finding the balance between optimizing for search engine results (technical and foundational SEO) and optimizing for the user is how the best marketers operate.
In a Google Webmaster Hangout, John Mueller was recently asked what quality content for Google meant.
His answer points to not focusing on what Google might algorithmically think is high quality and focusing on what users will respond to as high quality.
“So that’s something where I wouldn’t worry too much about what Google thinks about quality content. But rather you need to show that you really have something that’s unique and compelling and of high quality.”
After all, this is why major search algorithm updates, such as Google’s Panda and Penguin and innovations around RankBrain, and BERT, were all brought to the market.
To try and ensure search results match user intent.
The latter two looking at how AI machine learning can help interpret and serve better results by understanding human language.
Measuring Content Value to SEO: From Rank to Revenue
Anyone who uses SEO to increase their organic search engine visibility and traffic should be measuring their results.
Because of the human role in content consumption and their effect on search engine rankings, it’s essential to ensure that your content satisfies both technical and human requirements.
There is a difference between what you measure between content and rank, and how you measure content revenue.
This post aims to give you a little more insight and a framework into how best to measure your content piece and its performance.
Foundational Technical SEO Metrics
Often considered “technical” and foundational SEO metrics, organic rank and visibility give tremendous initial insight into how your content performs.
This can be done by looking at a combination of on or off-page metrics.
- Keyword rankings: How and where your content shows up on the SERPs.
- Traffic: How much traffic is being brought to the page your content is hosted on.
- Click-through rate (CTR): The percentage of people that clicked to a content page from a search result.
- Backlinks: The number of inbound links pointing to your webpages.
Website Engagement Metrics
This is a crucial area of measurement that shows where and how SEO and content combine.
No matter how good you think your website or content piece is, if people are not reading and digesting it, you have no way of measuring or improving expertise, authority, and trustworthiness.
Google refers to this as E-A-T.
This could be from several sources, depending on where you have placed your content.
- Direct: From people directly on your website/page.
- Search: People who found your content on a search engine.
- Referral: People who saw your content via a link from another source – another website, or social, for example.
When looking at how a specific piece of content performs, looking at page-level metrics is essential.
- New visitors to a content page: How many new people are reading your content.
- Interactions on a content page: How are people interacting with your content.
- Bounce rate: Are people actually taking the time to read your content or “bouncing” away.
- Value and conversions: How many people are taking action based on your content.
Social Media Metrics
Looking beyond how people interact with content on a website or page, social media metrics – and especially signals – can give you a good idea of how people are reacting to your piece of content.
- Reach: How big a potential audience is there to read your content?
- Engagement: Are they sharing likes, Tweets, posts, shares, and audience growth rate?
- Acquisition: Click-through rates to pages, referral traffic, social conversions, and assists.
Branding & Awareness Metrics
Often overlooked because of its difficulty tracking and placing a direct measurement for, the importance of the impact content has on branding should never be ignored.
From traditional brand metrics to new ways of looking at branding online, they give a good indication of content performance used for corporate, PR, or internal marketing purposes.
- Impressions: How many times your content is displayed – clicked on or not.
- Share of Voice: How content is performing compared to the competition (site or page level).
- Branded versus Non-Branded search traffic: People searching for brand versus content without brand.
All measurements should lead to one final/most crucial metric – revenue.
The best way to get this may come from using a combination of the above metrics (converged media metrics) and applying some form of attribution modeling in areas where it is hard to see a direct $ connected to your content piece.
- SEO metrics: Rank versus targeted keywords, quick answer results, inbound links.
- Lead quality: New subscribers, content and landing page conversion and value.
- Sales: Page value, assisted conversions, attributed score (via attribution modeling).
Ensuring Your Content is Made to Measure
Keywords and keyword choice are vital pieces that are essential when writing for SEO.
The better you are the more you can measure – within reason.
You should know which keywords you’re optimizing for before you start writing.
Always keep these keywords in mind because you’ll find natural opportunities to include them in your content.
The keywords you chose should be a realistic reflection of your ability to rank.
Similarly, you should look for keywords with a reasonably high level of search volume.
Unless you have a super niche business, a monthly search volume of less than 100 won’t do you much good.
Keywords & Intent
When you’re using SEO to drive organic traffic to your business website, you need to make sure you’re driving the right kind of traffic.
Volume for volume’s sake doesn’t help to accomplish critical business objectives.
This means you will have your measurement ladder up against the wrong wall.
A simple tactic for being purposeful with keyword choice is to consider the intent behind the term.
Keyword intent can reveal where someone is in the buyer’s journey, and your editorial calendar should be filled up with pieces that help customers at every stage.
Although including keywords in your article is essential, it shouldn’t be the focus of the article.
Focus on writing the article in a natural way.
When creating content, think about what will resonate with your audience, and not just how to incorporate a specific keyword.
Going overboard could result in a penalty for keyword stuffing, so it is essential to keep an eye on your keyword density.
URL (or ‘Slug’)
Search engines look at the URL of your content to understand what the post is about.
Make sure to include one or two keywords in the URL.
Remove any unnecessary clutter (dates, categories, etc.) in the URL so Google can more quickly determine what your content is about and whether it matches the searcher’s query.
Although Google says your meta description won’t help you rank better, your SERP snippet can act as a “teaser” to convince searchers to click through and read your content.
So make sure your target keyword appears here (naturally).
Also, while you’re at it, make sure your keyword is included in your title tag (if, for some reason, your headline and title tag don’t match).
Several factors can influence how a page is ranked.
One crucial factor is readability.
Besides affecting your rankings, spelling and grammar mistakes can also hurt your credibility.
Which can undoubtedly have implications for your company’s bottom line.
Visual Appeal & Optimization
Content that is only made up of text has never been the gold standard.
Images help break up complicated concepts and make content more engaging.
While you should use one image at a minimum, a great piece of content makes use of multiple images, screenshots, and examples within the body of the content as well.
Images can be optimized using keywords in the file name, alt text, title, and when appropriate, captions.
Part of image optimization is reducing image file size.
This has a lot to do with page load time, an important factor of technical SEO.
Video content can also help you to claim a highly coveted featured snippet for your given term and can help you to rank in different types of Search.
An easy way to boost the SEO value of a piece of content is to strategically share a video that complements the topic at hand.
Although there is no proven Google-backed link of social media’s connection to SEO, achieving some level of virality with your target audience can indirectly help with SEO through:
- Building links: When people share or discover your content on these mediums.
- Search visibility: Some posts from social media sites also come up in search engine results.
- Increased traffic or conversions: Because more people are sharing content.
A great piece of content takes time to create, time to rank, and time to accomplish specific business goals.
As such, it’s unwise to try and pump out content at a high frequency without a purpose behind it, or the time and effort required to give it the necessary SEO value it needs to find success.
SEO is a great way to measure content performance, and the value of content can span across the whole of your organization.
There is a subtly to measuring the SEO value of content.
Focusing on rankings too heavily can mean marketers miss the additional value of content marketing.
Rankings are only the beginning of your content measurement journey toward recognizing and attributing value.
What you measure in-between will make the difference.