On September 24th I had the opportunity to participate in a webinar hosted by David Malmborg from Right Intel. We discussed five important data points that are really good leading indicators of your eventual success (or unfortunate misfires) in content marketing. These are important metrics, but too many companies don’t pay any attention to them.
First off, I want to mention a caveat that these are not the most important metrics to track – revenue, leads, and metrics that directly impact a business’s bottom line clearly outweigh these metrics. The metrics I’m covering here are some fun and rarely-used metrics that are fascinating to track and can have a powerful influence on the quality and direction of your content marketing.
We covered them all in detail, which you can hear in the webinar replay, but I thought it would be valuable to go over each metric here to provide an overview and suggest some strategies for using them to build your campaign.
1. Social Momentum of Your Website
The most common measurement of social growth and engagement is through a snapshot of how many shares/likes/+1s/etc. any given content piece receives. There are a lot of tools that can help you gather that information, and many companies use them regularly, but the overall social trend is where you will find some really valuable data.
By looking at your content on a URL-by-URL and month-to-month basis, you get a real feel for the actual momentum of your content strategy. You don’t want to focus strictly on your homepage or your latest blog post, though. Look at it site wide, as an aggregate, to see the big picture.
This will help you discover what is stagnant and what is getting the most attention. You can then use the data to determine why some things are performing better than others, and then make the necessary changes to improve your overall campaign. This will help you ride the wave, find the momentum, and really see a difference.
There are a couple simple steps to determine how the social engagement with your website is trending.
- Compile Website URLs (using tools like Screaming Frog, XML sitemaps, etc)
- Store Website URLs (see the presentation for suggestions on the best tools to use)
- Repeat the analysis on a monthly basis
2. Social Momentum of External Content
While it’s important to know how users are responding to the content on your site, it’s just as important to know how they’re engaging with the materials you’re publishing all over the web. You can go a step beyond that, though, and look at how the competition is using content to reach the same target audience.
Most of the process here is much the same as it was for tracking social trends on your own site. It begins with:
- Compile URLs (Right Intel, Screaming Frog, BuzzStream, and other tools are useful options)
- Store URLs (same as above)
- Analyze for new opportunities every month
3. Competitive Blog Content Strategies
Sometimes you need to track more than your own content and pay attention to the share metrics of competitive URLs. Take note of their blog post frequency and the times of day and week when content is published and compare it all to your own content strategy to determine if you’re missing some opportunities.
You can track many of these metrics using tools like RSS Feed Social Share, Right Intel Content Curation, or SEO.com RSS Feed Chrome extension (coming soon).
4. New Links Generated (Monthly)
Most companies will work hard to keep track of the total number of links pointing at their site, but you can learn more about the current conversation going on around your company by focusing more on the links that have appeared in the last month. This way you can stay on top of developments and find new opportunities for social outreach and content partnerships. The process for determining the newest is quite simple:
- Export your links every month with your favorite tool (Site Explorer, Majestic, SEO.com Insights, etc. are all valid choices)
- Dedupe this month’s report with last month’s to separate the new and old (check the webinar for tools to help dedupe)
5. Site Speed
This might be one of the most underrated metric s, despite regular reminders that it is an important website ranking element. According to Searchmetrics, it’s only getting more important. We’ve already discussed some of their other conclusions about content quality, but one of the more technical aspects that they get into is the loading speed of the site.
Just remember to look at the site as a whole, not just the home page. Make sure that every page – even the ones that are completely full of graphics and content – are loading as fast as possible.
Some good tools for getting on top of the speed are:
- Google Insights for Search
- Google Analytics
- Quicksprout Site Speed Score
There are some simple things every website can do to start optimizing for speed, which can include caching, minification, image optimization, and optimizing for browser caching.
It actually doesn’t take much to get better speed out of your pages, but many companies let it slide. In the webinar we go over some examples of pages that let things get out of hand and how a couple changes made a huge difference.
The Extra Work is Worth It
One reason many companies fail to track these metrics is simply because there aren’t a lot of automated ways to do it. Most of the things we discuss in the webinar will involve a lot of manual work to derive the necessary stats. While there are some tools that can get you started, it’s still going to take some effort to get in there and put this information together. It can be a little daunting, especially to sites with a lot of pages, but the results will be worth it.