Search Engine Optimisation is just one part of content marketing, and it’s one of our key services here at NORTH, so we’re pretty used to measuring its performance!
There are ways in which you can measure your site’s organic performance. Whether that’s focusing on keyword rankings, the number of people clicking through from the search engine results page (SERP), or the number of new users generated from a piece of content.
Impressions are the number of times people have seen (or potentially seen) a link to your website from the SERP. An impression is counted every time an item appears in the current page of results, even if the searcher doesn’t scroll far enough to see your link.
Impressions are important to track because people need to see your link to be able to click it. However, the goal is not to have more impressions but to have meaningful impressions. For example, you may have seen a drop in impressions, but are you now only ranking for relevant keywords? Or has your click through rate gone up? This means your content is most likely more valuable to those coming across it.
A click is counted every time someone clicks a link that takes them to a site that isn’t a search engine. For example, if someone clicked to your website from the Google SERP. You will only receive one click if the user goes to your site, clicks back and then clicks back into your site again.
You want to achieve more clicks, because this indicates your content is valuable to the user. Optimising your metadata with your relevant keyword(s), call to actions (CTAs) and unique selling points (USPs) will help encourage searchers to click through to your website.
Google creates the average position figure by taking the topmost position occupied by a link to your website in search results and averaging across all queries.
For example, if query 1 ranks positions 1, 10 and 15, its position would be counted as 1, similarly, if query 2 ranks at 4, 9 and 20, its position is counted as 4. To create the average position, Google adds the topmost positions together and divides by the number of queries, in this case it would be (1+4)/2=2.5.
Keyword Ranking Performance
All of the above data is based off of your website ranking for relevant keywords. Keywords are the terms people type into their search engine, and we, as SEOs, optimise websites to rank highly for keywords relevant to the site.
Monitoring keyword rankings can give you a good indication of where you’re performing in the search engine results, and whether you’re ranking for the keywords important to your website. You can also look at competitors’ keyword rankings to see where they’re excelling and you’re not, and see what you can do to improve your visibility for those keywords.
Keyword ranking performance is also important to track if you’re running digital PR campaigns where you have targeted specific pages or keywords for your website.
Google defines a session as “a group of interactions that take place on your website within a given time frame”. For example, people could click through multiple pages before making a purchase. Sessions can time out anywhere between 30 minutes and two hours, if a session has timed out but a user returns, then there will be two sessions but one user.
Sessions are useful to track because they allow you to see if users came back to make a purchase, or what pages the user went down before making a purchase.
A question often asked is why are clicks and sessions different? Firstly, they’re two completely different metrics, but a user can click on your site via two different search result links, but if it was within a 30 minute time period then Google would only track it as one session.
Users and New Users
Users and new users is a pretty easy metric to understand. A user is, of course, someone who uses your website, and a new user is someone who uses your website for the first time.
Users are calculated by combining both new users and returning users together. But the new users figure isn’t always 100%, because Google often tracks a new user returning in a small time frame as a returning user.
Tracking new users is a great way to see if you’re bringing in any new traffic from your SEO efforts.
This is a good metric to monitor if you’re running digital PR strategies. It tells people how relevant and authoritative your site is on a subject or in a certain industry.
Many different tools calculate domain authority differently. One of the most popular, Moz, calculates domain authority by evaluating multiple factors, including linking root domains and total number of links, into a single DA score.
Digital PR is a pillar of SEO that works to achieve highly relevant and authoritative backlinks to a website through a number of tactics including creative campaigns, broken links and more.
Monitoring your backlink profile can help improve your rankings, whether that’s spotting hidden opportunities in publications your competitors are featuring in, seeing whether you have a natural mixture of follow and no follow links, or noticing if your anchor texts are relevant for your site.
Engagement Rate Metrics
In content marketing it’s important to understand if people are actually engaging with your content. This can vary depending on which platform you’re using, but in SEO, metrics can include click through rate, time spent on the page and bounce rate.
Click Through Rate
Click through rate is calculated by dividing the number of clicks by the number of impressions/views and creating a percentage.
For example, if you’re receiving 1 million impressions, but only 500,000 clicks, then you’d have a click through rate of 0.5%.
Click through rate helps you to determine if the people that are coming across your content are actually interested in clicking through to your website to find out more. Therefore it’s crucial to optimise your metadata to encourage more clicks and increase your click through rate.
A ‘bounce’ (or single-page session) happens when a user lands on a website and exits without going to another page on the website.
Bounce rate is determined by calculating the percentage of sessions that end in a bounce.
For example, if 1000 users land on your page, but 10 of them exit without taking another action (moving to another page etc) then that page has a bounce rate of 1%.
Bounce rate shows you what percentage of users landing on your content didn’t find it useful. Because a bounce rate often means people returning to the search engine results page to find more information, it’s good to know what others in your search result are sharing that you’re not.
Average Session Duration
Average session duration is calculated by dividing the length of an average session, over a specific time period, by the total number of sessions.
Average session duration tells you how long, on average, people are spending on your site and can be a good indication of whether or not people are engaging with your content.
Pages Per Session
Similarly, pages per session can also tell you if people are interested in the content they initially come across and decide to explore your site further.
Pages per session is calculated using the average number of pages users visit in each session.
Lead Generation and Sales Metrics
Once we have people on the site we want to convert to sales or goal completions right? Well these metrics will show you what percentage of users convert and what revenue you’re making.
Whether it’s overall conversion rate, organic conversion rate, social conversion rate (the list goes on) measuring how many of your users end up converting to your end goal is a great way to show whether your content is working or not.
Conversion rate is calculated by dividing the number of conversions by the number of visitors. It is shown as a % just like click through rate.
Revenue or Goal Completions
Overall goals may be different for each business. For many that goal is revenue, but for others it may be a goal completion. Goal completions can include many things, for example a newsletter sign up can be a goal completion, or ordering a free sample.
Agencies like ours often set goal completions by number of relevant contact form submissions, or sign ups to our newsletter, Friends in the NORTH.
Revenue and goal completions are often the end goal for content marketing strategies which is why it’s super important to monitor how well your channel is performing. Google Analytics will allow you to look at channel revenue, time comparisons and more.
To give yourself even more credit you can also look at assisted conversions on Google Analytics. Not necessarily a metric you would report on regularly, but it is useful to see where your channel may have been involved in conversions, but wasn’t the end channel used in the conversion.
For example, if someone found your website organically via a search engine on their mobile but then returned to your website by typing in your website’s name in their app’s search bar, they’re technically now a direct customer. Because they converted by directly coming to the site, the conversion is not classed as organic but instead direct. But the organic search channel was a part of getting that user to convert, so is definitely a useful metric to look at to see how users are using your site.
How to Report on Your Content Marketing Metrics
People report on content marketing metrics differently. It can depend on what tools you have access to, which metrics you want to use, and who you’re reporting to.
We use Google’s Looker Studio (or Data Studio as some of us still call it) as this allows you to create data dashboards using the different tools you have access to. For example, it allows you to connect your Google Analytics and Google Search Console accounts to pull through some of the key metrics listed in this blog. You can also connect tools such as SEMRush which is helpful when monitoring keyword rankings, backlink analytics and more.
Measure Content Marketing Strategies With NORTH
If you need more support with your content marketing or measuring the impact of it, get in touch with us today. Keen to see some examples of our work? Take a look at our SEO case studies to see how the content we create attracts visitors and maximises online performance.