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4 Data Points to Track to Analyze Content Performance

Date published: July 10, 2023
Last updated: March 7, 2024

One of the major elements of good growth marketing — and content marketing, in particular — is a heavy emphasis on data. Growth marketers lean on rock-solid data and the guidance and specificity that it offers. They use data to develop each content marketing strategy, execute it, and then analyze and tweak it over time. 

Performance metrics play an integral role in the content strategy game. As is the case with all data and analytics pursuits, though, you can’t measure just anything. You need clear digital content marketing KPIs in place to reach your business goals.

If you’re unsure what benchmarks to use as you gauge the effectiveness of your growth marketing campaigns, here are a few key data points and performance metrics to track to help you better analyze your content marketing performance.

1. Keyword Rankings

Keywords are a powerful way to see how your content performs. With the vast majority of traffic coming from Google (93% by some accounts), it’s important to see how you rank when people search for certain keywords central to your content. 

Keyword rankings is a term that reflects how close to the top of Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs) your content appears. If your content is the third option, it’s ranked three. If it’s the fifth option, it’s ranked fifth, and so on. The higher in the rankings your keyword is, the more likely people will click on it and visit your site.

And it's not just about ranking for any old keywords. You want to be sure you’re ranking for valuable keywords that your potential customers and target audience will be using when looking for information about your industry. That means visits to your site by the exact users you can educate and eventually sell to.

You can keep track of keyword rankings for your site in bulk using Google Search Console. The tool can tell you a keyword’s average position, click-through rate (CTR), and other helpful information.

2. Traffic

Traffic is an important engagement metric to determine how well your content is performing. In this case, you can use a tool like Google Analytics to monitor both paid and organic traffic to your website.

Measuring online traffic is similar to tracking how many people enter a brick-and-mortar store during a certain period of time. There’s no guarantee that each person bought anything or asked questions. Heck, you don’t even know if they stuck around for more than a few seconds. Nevertheless, the simple fact that you’re getting foot traffic shows that you’re generating interest in your brand. People are curious enough to check out your storefront.

The same applies to content. If your content is well-crafted and SEO optimized, it will attract people. And the more people you attract to the site, the more likely you’ll be able to one day sell your product or services to them. You can track this metric by simply following your traffic numbers over time.

You can also track how much of your traffic consists of new users. If this is the case, it’s great for brand awareness. At the same time, you want to ensure that your new traffic is going to top-of-the-funnel content on your site.

3. Bounce Rate

Your bounce rate is a major indicator of whether or not your content is fostering engagement. This subtle metric reflects the number of page visitors who click through your link, show up on a certain page, and then leave without clicking on any other links within your site.

Bounce rate is iconically seen as an automatic strike against your content. But that isn’t necessarily true. A high bounce rate could indicate that your individual pieces of site content are comprehensive.

In most cases, though, a high bounce rate does indicate that something is wrong. This could be a few different things:

  • Visitors are clicking away because the search results misled them to content that isn’t answering their query
  • Visitors are leaving your site because they can’t find what they need.
  • Visitors are getting answers but aren’t engaging on CTAs (calls to action) to go further down your marketing funnel.

A lot of those indicators mean that your content isn’t matched well to the search intent of the keyword you are ranking for. For example, if the keyword is informational, make sure the content they will land on is educational and informative. At the end of the day, if your content has a high bounce rate, that’s a sign to review it and potentially clean things up. 

4. Engagement Time

Tracking keywords shows if you’re ranking for important search queries. Traffic shows that people are finding and clicking on your content in the SERPs. A low bounce rate shows that they’re moving past that initial landing page and looking at other areas of your site. 

The one last piece of the content KPI puzzle is how long they spend on your site. Along with clicking through to other pages, the amount of time someone spends on your site — something called “engagement time” — is a critical part of your content strategy.

Engagement time shows that people aren’t just clicking on titles and skimming headers. They’re spending time reading your piece. When this happens in bulk (i.e., you have a high average engagement time or session duration), it indicates that a visitor is gleaning a lot of value from your content. If your engagement time is low, though, it can be a sign that you need to reconsider your content creation strategy to ensure that, along with good search engine optimization, it is providing the reader value.

Perfecting Content Performance

Creating high-quality, relevant content that performs is a process. You can’t just write something or pay a freelancer and expect the content you get back to instantly be a hit. It's important to partner with the right content marketer in order to see content success. 

It takes time for content to rank in the search engines. This means you need to perform a content performance analysis periodically to see if your content is performing well.

It's important to track each content metric to understand how to improve. Keywords, bounce rate, traffic, and engagement time are effective ways to gauge your content’s effectiveness over time. They help you see what works and fix what doesn’t — all in the name of long-term, sustainable content marketing strategy.

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