Measuring the Success of Your Blog Content Strategy
One of the key components of a successful strategy, regardless of industry, is leaving room to make adjustments. This is particularly true for content strategists who leverage blogs to drive traffic to their websites.
Content strategists understand they have to account for shifts in user behavior—from preferred search engines to social media activity. It doesn’t end there. They need to prepare for and adjust to algorithm updates, change tone and topics based on trends unique to their industry, and quickly learn how new technologies such as ChatGPT can impact blog strategy.
No matter the circumstances that have you rethinking your approach to content, this much is clear: The better you are at measuring the success of your blogs, the greater your ability to adjust, and grow your audience.
What Is Blog Content Strategy?
Strategic blogging is an important aspect of inbound content marketing, a methodology employed by B2B businesses, which seeks to address a target audience’s most common questions and help guide them through the buyer’s journey.
A well-conceived blog strategy is built around a “pillar-cluster” approach, helping you establish authority on a topic that’s core to your business.
For example, let’s say you’re an inbound marketing agency and you want to focus a string of belongs on “content marketing.” Your first pillar could be a comprehensive explainer titled, “What Is Content Marketing?” The supporting blogs that link to it—also known as the “cluster”—would help define different aspects of content marketing in greater detail, such as blog strategy, buyer personas, email marketing, outlining the buyer’s journey, benefits, and much more.
While completing the cluster is a success in itself, you’ll need to identify metrics, context, and trends to measure the full impact of your strategy.
What Makes Blogs Successful?
Successful blogs are clear, provide value, and drive traffic, leads, and business through your website. Finding success can take time, but it’s well worth the wait.
Establish a Publishing Process
You’d love to be able to hit all of your blogging goals and deliver a strong return on investment. To get there, you’ll have to establish a process and key performance indicators (KPIs) that are realistic.
The process is important. You want to ensure quality and have a clear focus throughout, from cultivating topics to hitting publish. Here’s what that could look like:
- Researching to determine target keywords and any trends related to the topic
- Outlining to structure the piece and develop headings
- Drafting a piece that comprehensively addresses the subject
- Editing for accuracy, SEO best practices, grammar, and clarity
- Designing to highlight key points from the blog and guide readers
- Internal reviewing to complete revisions and devise a publishing plan
- Publishing and sharing with your audience
These steps help inform the qualitative data that readers and search engines value: The blog should be comprehensive, cover relevant topics, and contain accurate information.
If you nail the process, you’ll succeed in consistently publishing compelling blogs. Then again, that’s only part of blogging success. It’s one thing to report that you published 15 highly readable pieces, but it’s quite another to share how they resulted in increased traffic and conversions.
You’ll need to identify key performance indicators and track them to better measure your success. KPIs cover a wide spectrum of website activities and user behaviors. These five metrics are particularly useful when evaluating your blogging performance:
Published pieces: It seems simple enough to include the number of blogs you publish over a given period as a KPI, but it often serves as a starting point for addressing performance questions. Concerns ranging from “Why aren’t we ranking for more keywords?” to “Why hasn’t traffic increased significantly?” can be countered with “Are we hitting our publishing goals?” Break it down by month, quarter, and year. In each period, establish a goal for publishing new and refreshed pieces (previously published blogs that contain outdated stats, industry news, or simply require further context). That way, you’ll have more context on why you are, or are not, hitting your goals.
Page views: These are good indicators that organic visitors are finding your blogs, especially when broken down by source. The metric by no means defines success by itself, however.
Average time on page: This answers the general question of “Are people actually reading our content?” For instance, a blog with a large number of page views and a short time on page may be an indication that readers don’t find the material interesting, helpful, or both. This metric is especially important for those new to blogging and who may feel dispirited by initial results. Keyword and page view gains take some time, but you can build anecdotal evidence of success early by tracking the average time on page per visit.
Total keywords: Understanding your keyword picture–where and how often your content is appearing on different common search results–can help you gauge success and identify trends. If your blogs are appearing often on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs), expect a bump in traffic. Should your total keywords slip, expect and plan for a dip.
Conversions (if appropriate): This KPI doesn’t always apply. It depends on how blogging fits into your content marketing strategy. If you intend to build a subscriber list through blogs, then it’s a good idea to track conversions and conversion rates. The same is true if most of your blogs contain downloadable content.
Leveraging an Agency to Drive Blogging Strategy
Let’s recap: You have a strong blogging process in place, and you’ve settled on the KPIs. Now it’s time to measure your growth.
It’s possible that you have the in-house capabilities to consistently publish content and track analytics. The added challenge, though, is weaving together the qualitative and quantitative data and context to fully understand the success of your blogging strategy.
Let’s say you’ve completed your target publishing goal of 12 blogs in the quarter. You notice that page views on your blogs are up 25% and that a single post is responsible for that uptick. It might seem tempting to use that blog as a template for future content, but you’ll have to analyze the data before you make hasty decisions. Here are a few questions to consider: Where is the traffic coming from? Is the blog ranking for high-volume keywords? Is the topic seasonal? Once you understand that context, it’s easier to make an informed decision on how to modify your strategy. The same is true for blogs that are underperforming compared to expectations.
This is where experienced content marketing agencies really help. Agencies often have entire teams in place and established processes to consistently publish content. Each step is completed by a dedicated expert, from drafting to editing to design and beyond. They also have access to a suite of tools to help track analytics, including Semrush, Google Analytics, and more, and can leverage each to drive content strategy.
The greatest advantage of leveraging agencies, however, might be their flexibility and agility. They’ve built careers on staying on top of trends. That now includes understanding the advantages and shortcomings of AI content generators. Rather than dismiss ChatGPT and other AI bots as competition for a job best handled by experienced writers, they’ve studied the best way to implement it to improve their content.
Blogging successfully is difficult, but worthwhile. It’s great if you can complete content plans consistently and drive business. If you’re struggling to do so, though, explore working with an agency. Its team will focus on what they do best so you can be at your best.