The Content Battleground: Performance Above The Noise
Columnist Jim Yu discusses the challenges marketers face when it comes to measuring content performance and value.
In the battleground that is online content, brands compete for attention. This has paved the way for countless marketing technology providers to emerge on the scene that attempt to increase our share of that attention.
Unfortunately, the majority of technology providers focus heavily on the creation, automation and distribution of content and little on the measurement and performance of content. Knowing how our content is performing can help inform our digital marketing strategies for maximum impact.
Aligning Metrics & Content Performance In Search
Search is a zero sum game — one brand wins while another loses when it comes to the search results page. Nowhere is competing for attention online fiercer than the search channel.
So, how do you know if your content is winning in search?
- Are you showing up over your competition in search?
- Are you getting people to click through to your web page(s)?
- Are visitors engaging with your web page(s)?
Thus, one way to measure content’s value is to view it through the lens of organic search.
Consider the main goal of any piece of content you create. You probably want that content to:
- Build Authority
- Be Relevant
- Drive Traffic
- Drive Conversions
When you map those attributes to SEO goals, we see perfect alignment:
- Build Authority: Search engines determine how authoritative a site is on a given topic based on its depth of content on that topic.
- Be Relevant: Search engines decide which Web page to serve to a searcher based on the quality of the content on the topic.
- Drive Traffic: One of the first goals met in an SEO program is driving traffic to a website through a web page.
- Drive Conversions: It’s the content on the page that’s ultimately going to move a website visitor to a conversion.
In the organic search channel (and even elsewhere), the value of content is built over time, as each individual effort works to build the portfolio that will eventually drive the most important goals in SEO.
Content marketing is at a tipping point right now. Yes, we want to measure, but are we tracking the right metrics? Are we correctly attributing content’s role in driving conversions and brand awareness?
If we knew how to better assign value to content, we’d be better poised to allocate budgets to the resources and technology we need.
When assessing the value of content, we need to carefully consider all the things that online content can bring to the table.
We want to steer away from last-click attribution when it comes to valuing content. That’s because with content, attribution is not so cut and dry. Consider this point from author Jonny Rose at TheGuardian.com:
Content doesn’t work in isolation. Rarely does someone read one article then decide to make a purchase. It’s cumulative and it takes time for branded content to build trust and authority with readers. As we have learnt from Google’s ZMOT – on average, a consumer engages with 18.2 pieces of online content before making a final purchase decision.
What’s more, marketers are often lacking the data needed to analyze the competition’s content so they can benchmark and improve their own content.
Remember, countless pieces of content are created each day for the web. If you can get past Google’s initial scrutiny of your content and actually get that click, you need to offer something valuable — your content must be useful, unique, and better than that of your competitors.
The more you focus on measuring the traffic, engagement and conversions your web pages are driving, the more poised you’ll be to win on the content battleground.