3 Ways to Leverage Website Analytics in Your Content Marketing
If there's any magic to content marketing, it all starts with one word: audience. Content marketing works because it is focused on the people you are trying to reach rather than your business, products or services. It is there to give people what they want in the format they are looking for.
Using website analytics for content marketing is not only smart, it is essential. By understanding audience behavior and preferences, you can tighten up your content marketing strategies and cut any dead weight. You can also stop reinventing the wheel every time you need fresh content. By drawing from proven performers, you can reduce the amount of effort and resources directed toward content creation while still growing traffic and boosting conversions.
Create Custom Reports to Measure Content Effectiveness
Before we get to the content, let's start by thinking about which metrics would be the most insightful for content marketing. Whether you're relying on Google Analytics or using them in conjunction with reporting from services like HubSpot, these numbers will tell you what you need to know about your content:
- Time & Day Reports. When is your website getting the most visits? When do people seem to spend time clicking through to other pages rather than bouncing off to another website?
- Referral Information. Where is your website traffic coming from — especially when it's not coming from search? Are you getting a lot of traffic from backlinks or guest blogging?
- Social Media Traffic. A viral social media post might be a great boost to your overall social media strategy, but if it doesn't result in real benefits it may be nothing more than a gimmick. It pays to know which channels are not only driving traffic, but also driving the right traffic.
- Mobile Performance. Mobile devices are responsible for nearly 60% of all web traffic today. Understanding how your content is performing for this audience is crucial.
These are only a few of the most useful numbers you can use to inform your content marketing decisions. Once you start compiling custom reports and digging into your results, you will start to see different paths to results that make sense for your business and your readers as well.
Now that you have a huge pile of numbers, here's what to do with them.
1. Repurpose Popular Content
When you find a page of content that has a lot of page views or people seem to be spending more time on that page compared to others, it's time to take a long look at the content of that page yourself. It's also an excellent opportunity to make use of content that people really like and do more with it.
Repurposing content is more than just posting a blog again or re-sharing something on social media. It's about rebuilding and reusing the core parts of a piece of content and creating new and original pieces for people to soak up. If you have a page that's performing well, here's a few ideas how to repurpose it:
- Add an Update. Refresh the statistics or provide some new information and insights to the original content. You'll have fresh content to share while taking advantage of the content that's on fire.
- Break it Down. If you have a video or blog post that's performing well, break it down into snippets that are easily shareable on social media channels.
- Put it Together. Of course, the reverse of that process works well, too. If you have several pieces on a similar subject that are performing well, try knitting them all together to create a piece of premium content like an ebook or whitepaper or try a long-form video.
- Visualize it. If you have a page of words that's doing well, try creating an infographic or other visual aid of the same subject — or put into words what is already visualized.
- New Formats. Podcasts, SlideShares, YouTube videos, infographics and live streams are only a few of the various formats that your content can become. Try them all and see how your viewers respond.
- Listicles. Take the power of your best content and create a roundup post that features your best content. Not only will your readers enjoy the roundup, but listicles also do well when shared on social media channels.
2. Optimize Images and Readability
Look at your bounce rates, page views and load times — including mobile performance indicators — for your pages. If you have a page with high bounce rates, low page views and high load times, it is time to get to work on optimization. Your content may be just fine, but if you are annoying visitors with laggy pages, missing images and unreadable text, the content just won't work.
To optimize images for your blogs and web pages, HubSpot recommends the following:
- Choose images that relate to the content.
- Name the file using relevant keywords.
- Fill in the alt text with an accurate description that uses a keyword or two.
- Get the file size correct. You want the images to be big enough to see, but not so large that downloading takes forever. The recommended file size is 25k or less.
Improving readability is all about giving the reader's eye an easy path to follow while also providing enough blank space that the reader isn't overwhelmed. Long-form blogs should always be broken down with plenty of subheadings that break up the content and provide skimmers with an idea of what's contained in each section. Bulleted and numbered lists also help keep skimming eyes on the page.
Readability also includes making sure your language isn't too complicated for the average reader to understand or so simplistic that it sounds condescending — especially for industry content where a certain amount of lingo is expected. The key is knowing your audience so you know how to hit the right notes.
3. Keyword Analysis
The big keyword change in Google Analytics to (not provided) a couple of years ago was a major blow to content marketers who relied on keyword information to get views. The reasoning behind the hiding, however, was focused on the users. People got tired of being directed to irrelevant or bad content just because it was optimized for that keyword and Google wanted to challenge marketers with creating better content.
Google and other search engines are also relying less on specific keywords to drive results and instead are trying to hone in on the searcher's intent. This is good news for content creators as you can stop trying to figure out how to squeeze awkward keywords into awkward locations or trying to cram a word into a single document ten times without it looking odd.
Instead of worrying about keyword stuffing, round up the information you can get about keywords and focus your content creation around those topics. This focus can be as literal as creating an entire video series with a keyword as your topic or more indirect like creating a series of small-space decorating tips for a leasing website. As the content is created, it's likely that the right short and long-tail keywords will naturally make it into the content.
While you don't have to be overly focused with sticking in exact keywords as many times as you can, it's still important that keywords make it into the body of your content, titles and subheadings, URLs and filenames so search engines can make the most of them. Just be sure that the fit is natural — when in doubt, leave it out.
A Word of Encouragement
Every good marketer will tell you: measuring the effectiveness of your efforts is the key to success. Crunching the numbers will not only show you what areas need help, but also what tactics are working so you know where to place your efforts. The modern website allows for trial and error. It allows testing of different hypothesis. Don’t be afraid to challenge your assumptions and continue to make your website a destination for your target audience, who will reward you with engagement and click-throughs.