All websites rely on effective content to close the gap between organizations and their target groups.
However, not all content is created on an equal footing or has the opportunity to exploit its true potential.
In this practical guide, I will give some practical tips and advice on:
- Find out how your content works.
- Detailed tips for fixing content areas that can work harder for your business.
You can find some related content improvement articles on the search engine journal website that can complement this article.
Two recent articles that I would recommend reading are:
The main tools and analysis packages that I will use for this post are Google Analytics, SEMrush and Ahrefs.
As you can imagine, there are a variety of other tools that can also be used.
However, Google Analytics is free, and SEMrush and Ahrefs offer trial periods or free versions of their software with reduced features that you can also test with minimal (if any) effort.
The purpose of this post is to guide you through some of the typical steps that need to be followed when looking for poorly performing content.
You will also learn how to make the decisions necessary to add value to existing website content.
Use Google Analytics to identify poorly performing content
Google Analytics (GA) will likely be the analytics package for most digital marketing experts.
This is due to the ubiquity of the software, its global familiarity with its use for business and marketing purposes, and the fact that it is free in most cases (unless you choose a solution at the company level).
GA is also a leading choice as it blends in with other Google products and data insights like Google Search Console, Trends, and many more.
I'm using a demo account for this item demonstration so some screenshots don't show the records you might see when you log in to your own accounts. However, this works for the current purpose.
If you have not yet installed Google Analytics, this is a simple action that you can then take.
Just go to https://support.google.com/ and Google offers helpful step-by-step instructions called Getting Started with Analytics.
Practical Google Analytics demo
For content performance, I prefer using the behavior reports in GA.
These types of reports let you see what your visitors are doing on your website.
These GA reports specifically tell you which pages users visit and what they do when they visit content on your website.
First of all, it's important to get a comprehensive and aggregated view of your website's content.
This way, you can quickly and easily decide where to focus your time and energy, and control your data discovery efficiently.
In this demo scenario, I have chosen "Organic" as the channel that I want to use to review the performance of my content. I also set a comparison to the previous year so that I have enough meaningful data to remove bias factors such as seasonality in the industry.
If you're unfamiliar with the GA content drilldown report, sections of your website content will be grouped folder by folder based on website setup.
In this demo we see content groupings like:
- Home page.
- Other subfolders on the website, including "Content Marketing", "Social Media" and more.
The reason why viewing content at this aggregate level can be useful is because, with a single click, you get a summary of key content marketing performance metrics, such as:
- Side views.
- Associated quality measurements, including bounce rates, exits and time on page.
The immediate points I notice when looking at organic-only users on the website are:
- The blog lost almost a third of the page views compared to last year.
- The news area also shows underperformance at a lower level.
Considering that in this demo scenario, the blog receives more pageviews than in any other section of the website, this is an important issue that needs to be addressed. So we can take a closer look at it.
At this point, we can either click the blog area and display the same data, or add to our research and look at the leading metric for pageviews, which is landing page traffic.
To view the landing page traffic, we simply click Behavior> Site Content> Landing Pages and immediately see that we have transitioned from data at the aggregate level to data at the page level.
In addition, we can now view other key business metrics such as meetings (or visits), users (or people), and business value elements including goal achievement.
You will also find that our pre-selected timeframes, marketing channels and comparative information are still available. However, it is always worth checking this out, as some screens change this by default.
Next we want to focus on the blog area again. This is easy by adding "Blog" to the table search bar.
If you do similar steps with your own data, you will find that the data is automatically sorted by the highest landing page traffic.
We can look at the individual content pages that perform the worst and prioritize our focus accordingly.
In this case, I would like to try to improve both of these pages, as they have the effect to ensure the time and resources to improve the pages. They also underperform over 65%, so I know they can do more to ensure business success.
First of all I want to look at the page in question. To do this, click on the small icon next to the URL that is still in Google Analytics.
Now I want to do some best practice, data driven and experimental updates to the content so I can help the content get back to a better metric based standard.
Practical steps to improve existing content
The following steps will give you an insight into the various actions that can be provided for your own content projects.
For the purposes of this practical guide, here is some sample content on which my recommended improvements are based.
The practical steps that I would consider and complete for this exercise include:
- Update content. The content in question has not been updated for some time (years) and we know that major search engines like Google prioritize current and reliable content. Simple updates include:
- Add new statistics.
- Including fresh, relevant quotes.
- The content is just text. Google tries to display content that applies to many users and their content settings. Ideally, I would try to add pictures and a video if I could easily capture content.
- There has been a big revival of audio content (e.g. podcasts and audio downloads) in the past more than two years. It is also easy to record audio files, so adding an audio option that allows users to access and access content on the go and smartphones would be an asset.
- The content looks light in relation to the depth of coverage and the length of the article (number of words). There are two things I would do to decide how to respond:
- First, check if there is any similar content on the website that you can combine this content with. To do this with GA, I'm going to refine my Google Analytics search to include the word "robot". I can see that there is another page. However, when I look at the URL, I know that it is not relevant to this task, so combining content is not the right option in this case.
- So my next decision is to decide whether the content is still in demand. So I can check this in different ways. For example, if you enter something in Google that is related to the topic, e.g. B. "Writing for people, not robots" and displaying the volume of competing pages.
- Another option would be to either check Google Trends or check out the Google Keyword Planner. In this case, we can review Google Trends and find that users in Google UK are still actively searching for topics such as "writing for people":
- Google prefers clearly structured pages with logical content flow and clear user interaction signals. To help in both areas, I would consider adding some new engagement opportunities to the content. I will add an embedded tweet that will allow users to share the content as they read it. I will also read in several CTAs (Call to Actions) to help users move along the conversion funnel and read more about content writing services should they be interested.
- Google Rich results like Google Answers require clearly formatted questions and answers in the content (including schema markup if necessary) so that I can insert a number of questions and answers into the content that meet these requirements. In this case, since I want to improve the depth of the content and the completeness of the reporting, I would most likely add them completely and as paragraphs with h2 tags for each subheading and ensure that the responses are formatted in the ways that Google Rich- Results are most appropriate, e.g. B. Lists, tables, shorter answers and, if necessary, definitions.
Use SEMrush to enrich the current completeness of content
In this phase, it is necessary to look at the external content topics and the associated search volumes so that we can increase the depth and completeness of the current reporting.
The sanity checks currently in play are:
- All newly selected subtopics are currently relevant to the original post (you don't want to water down the content with loosely related information).
- Newly added items have the necessary search volume to earn a reason for inclusion.
In this case I chose SEMrush. As mentioned earlier, the same activity can be performed with other tools.
If you are new to SEMrush, this is a marketing tool that provides analytics for many of the popular search engine marketing (and especially SEO) activities.
This includes keyword research, tracking the success of metrics in areas such as rank changes, and performing various website audits.
With SEMRush you can carry out research on your website and in your competition.
What I want to do is improve the current completeness of the content by figuring out the main expected subtopics and then adding everything that is relevant to my missing content.
My next action is to go to Topic Research and enter a trigger search query that is relevant to my focus area.
Since I would like to have some broader recommendations, I will keep the topic at the highest level and enter it "in writing".
Now I can look at both top-level subtopics and more detailed elements that are also present within the topic.
If I want to consider the value of these topics for expanding the reach of the content, I can display the search volume of the terms using Google Keyword Planner or in SEMrush. (You can see the search volumes in the screenshot provided.)
Now we have content that we know can perform better and an action plan to improve the content.
The last point I wanted to cover is the potential for the social performance of the content and its suitability to attract backlinks and general engagement.
This is where Ahrefs comes in.
With Ahrefs, you can perform website audits, track social media, create backlinks, and perform other actions such as: B. Generating content ideas from the services of other websites and topics in general.
In this case, I'll see what external "writing for people" content is and we can see:
- The topic has seen an increase in the volume of current content recently. So now may be a good time to focus on this topic.
- There are a few identified authors who are actively writing about the topic that we could research with and possibly work with as market influencers to reach a wider audience.
- We can see the most powerful external content (in this case organic traffic). Since our goal was to increase the decline in organic performance, it’s important for marketers to see what’s working on external websites, compare content, and make data-driven decisions.
Finding and improving your website and marketing content can be an endless task.
Most marketing teams take the time to do this activity every month, mainly because enriching your existing content leads to the fastest performance gains.
All screenshots from the author, June 2020