How Can We Put a Value on the SEO Benefits of Content Marketing?

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In this month's featured post, Dr Dave Chaffey looks at a few methods for attributing value to content marketing campaigns.

With the increased focus on content marketing and the investment needed to compete, it’s natural that more people are questioning the returns from content marketing. This was the case in the recent ClickThrough webinar I gave on SEO and content marketing trends where some of the attendees asked about how to put a figure on the value from content marketing as part of SEO investments.

To answer this question we have to go back to the fundamentals of evaluating all types of on-site digital marketing investment. We have to make sure that we have a way of measuring the value of new incremental visits from new types of content relevant to our type of business.

Defining your measures of content value

In a previous ClickThrough blog post on selecting the right digital marketing KPIs I explained the ‘VQVC’ approach to analytics for measuring effectiveness.

Source: Flickr Source: Flickr

VQVC stands for ‘volume, quality, value, cost’, so to answer this question about content marketing effectiveness we have to consider the two key value measures which I mentioned which are:

  1. Revenue per visit. For sites with Ecommerce tracking, Google Analytics will report Revenue per visit which enables you to review the revenue generated through new types of content.
  2. Goal value per visit. This KPI is used for non-Ecommerce sites which are used to generate awareness and leads although sales aren’t available on site. You need to assign a value to a goal such as a brochure download.

The incremental revenue from content can then be compared to investment in content marketing to give a ROI.

Note that with Ecommerce or goal value tracking in place you can also use the Page value measure to compare the effectiveness of individual types of content. If you review this measure for new content pages you can then workback to see which pages are prompting the creation of value enabling.

Isolating value generated by new content

Once we know how to measure value, we then have to identify new visits and sales that can be specifically attributed to the investment in content marketing.

Source: Flickr Source: Flickr

There are three main ways to tackle this. First you can isolate SEO traffic using an Advanced segment of organic (non-paid) search. You can then compare SEO visits and value before and after creation of the new content.

However, this doesn’t show which specific content is generating value, so the best approach is to isolate the new content in your reports using an advanced segment based on the labelling of the content. If you have your new content labelled consistently with a common label or in a subfolder, e.g. ‘resources’, then you can see how many visits, conversions and sales were generated by the new content investment. This again works best using an advanced segment.

A third approach is to use the keyword reports available within Google Analytics if you have Google Webmaster Tools integrated. This enables you to review new content visits by keyword (but only for the top 2000 keywords or so) and types of content despite most keywords being masked as 'not provided' in the traditional keyword reports.

The measurement approach I have described to evaluate content marketing here only shows new visits generated through SEO. To see the full picture of value generated by content you can also assess social media visits generated by new content and the value of the content in supporting future conversions on subsequent visits, for example using Google Analytics multichannel funnels.

I hope you find this approach useful. It can also be used for making the business case on a specific test campaign.

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