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As a business, content marketing is a great tool for driving traffic, ensuring brand consistency, and communicating with your audience. But while creating content can accomplish all of these things and more, producing good content is a lot of work and, inevitably, your supervisor or client is going to question the return on that investment.

That’s why periodic content analyses are so important. They allow you to periodically measure the quality of your content, identify your successes and failures and communicate the effectiveness of your content to all key stakeholders.

What is Content Analysis?

Content analysis is a research method used to determine the presence of keywords, themes, and concepts within some given text⁠—written, oral or visual⁠—to identify patterns. You can analyze the content in books, magazines, speeches, social media posts, web content, photographs, or films.

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It can be quantitative, where it’s focused on counting or measuring, or qualitative and focused on understanding. For businesses, content analysis tends to be more qualitative, as marketers are using content analysis to determine if their content is achieving its intended goals.

Why Content Analysis is Essential for Content Marketing

In marketing, content analysis allows you to closely examine the content you’re publishing and how effective it is. It allows you to recognize trends, refine the marketing strategies you’re using, and identify the strategies that are going to allow you to reach your goals. Content analysis also helps you identify gaps in your content and figure out what you should prioritize and what you should eliminate. It allows you to understand your customers more thoroughly, investigating their viewpoints on content that is already existing.

Content analysis allows you to diagnose problematic content and measure it against specific qualities, such as:

  • Consistency with business priorities
  • Usefulness and relevance
  • Completeness
  • Findability (SEO)
  • Branding consistency
  • Intended audience
  • Clarity and accuracy

Your content should be guided by real data and research. By taking the time to perform an effective and strategic analysis of your content, the likelihood of succeeding with your marketing strategy increases.

Who Should Conduct Content Analyses?

Any company that is producing content to drive traffic, attract customers, and increase sales should perform a periodic analysis of that content.

These companies will have to maintain their content to be successful and problems can arise because owners don’t take the time to maintain their content. Some of the common issues that businesses overlook in their content are:

  • Redundant, outdated, or trivial content
  • Missing meta descriptions
  • Broken links
  • Inconsistency with branding style
  • Policy changes that could have impacted content
  • Weak calls to action
  • Not enough internal or external links
  • Missed opportunities for optimizing for search results

Good content that companies periodically analyze, however, can:

  • Drive conversions
  • Bring more traffic to your site
  • Build brand awareness with target buyers
  • Educate customer
  • Build trust with a target audience
  • Foster stronger customer relationships
  • Build credibility and authority
  • Move buyers more rapidly through the buyer’s journey
  • Position you as an industry expert

When Should You Conduct a Content Analysis?

You should be monitoring the performance of your content on an ongoing basis. However, it’s worth doing a more in-depth analysis before you begin a new marketing campaign or when you’re considering updating your current strategy. You may even want to perform an analysis of your competitor’s content if you see that they’re launching a new campaign or are having great success with a recent one. It can help you assess what ideas are worthwhile for putting into practice with your own company.

What You Should Analyze

Before you start measuring anything, it’s important to note that you should measure smart and know that numbers can lie.

For example, if your new content campaign drove a new 100,000 visitors a month, you may consider this a huge win. However, if your company’s main KPI is sales and you didn’t see any new transactions from the 100,000 additional visitors, your content wasn’t effective.

In order to measure smart, you can make your metrics goal-oriented. Think about what you want your content to achieve and then which metrics will indicate how well you’re doing in pursuit of those goals. If you’re not sure which organizational goals to set for your content marketing, here are  seven to consider:

Sales

Sales are another simple and obvious way to monitor the effectiveness of your content. You could monitor the percentage of site visits that end in the completion of a goal, whether it’s a purchase, download, or something else. If you offer a free trial, you could also consider monitoring the number of free trial users who continue to use the service without canceling

Secondary Conversions

Secondary conversions refer to the second action that a visitor takes after initially engaging with your brand online. eBook or white paper downloads, for example, are measurable secondary conversions that you help you assess the effectiveness of your content over time.

Chatbot Interaction

If you have a chatbot on your site, you should evaluate the total number of users who have engaged with it. You can typically drill this metric down by dividing the chatbot users into different categories, such as new users, active users, or engaged users.

Multiple Visits to the Site

Another way to analyze the effectiveness of your content is by monitoring users who are visiting your sites multiple times. You can do this through CRM tracking and lead scoring. Using a customer relationship management (CRM) tool, you can track a visitor every time they land on your site by using a tracking cookie in their browser. If a cookie doesn’t exist, one will be associated with that visor and will lot every page they visit from that point forward.

Lead scoring allows you to track your website visitors’ behaviors and determine their level of interest in your products or services based on their online behavior. If users are visiting your content or social media sites and then researching your products and services, they are then given a score by the CRM based on their perceived interest. You can then filter out the unqualified leads and focus your resources on the ones most likely to convert into a sale. Using CRM tracking and lead scoring, you can see determine whether your content encourages users to visit your site multiple times and whether it produces high-value leads.

Remarketing Transactions

Users often encounter brands through their content, but it may take multiple touches and remarketing to convert them into buyers. Remarketing is a form of advertising where you target users with ads based on their previous internet activity. It allows you to strategically position ads in front of people as they browse Facebook, Google, or partner sites. This not only increases brand awareness but helps you stay top-of-mind and can significantly increase sales. Analyze whether your content is producing sales through remarketing campaigns and the among of revenue it’s generating.

Ranking Increases

Another KPI to monitor is your visibility in search. With the help of Google Search Console, you can monitor any increases in your ranking. When you select Page from the menu, you’ll see a list of all the pages that people visit on your site in descending order of popularity, and with click-through rate and position listed. Monitor this information regularly to see when a piece of content increases in rank.

Social Engagement

Getting people to engage with your brand online allows them to build an emotional connection with you, which can result in more leads and sales for the business, ultimately. Look for opportunities to show your personal side and then see if it increases your online engagement with customers.

You can measure engagement by monitoring the number of times your brand is being mentioned online. You can also measure the amount of engagement you’re getting each week by monitoring your analytics on social media. If you have a company blog, you can monitor the number of comments you receive.

Core Metrics You Should Analyze

While the different types of metrics you could track are virtually limitless, there are some that every content marketer should monitor regularly.

Traffic Metrics

If you are creating content for your website or creating content for social media designed to drive traffic to your website, then naturally it makes sense that one of the most important metrics you should be measuring is your website traffic. Using Google Analytics, there is a wealth of information about your website traffic at your disposal, including:

Pageview and Unique Pageviews

Every time anyone loads a page on your website⁠—whether on mobile or a desktop⁠—that page gets a pageview. However, there is a problem with the pageview metric. If a visitor to your website comes onto your site from Google, clicks around to different pages and then hits the “back” button until they’re off the website again, every time they hit a page the counter goes up.

This means that a single web user could account for virtually an unlimited number of pageviews. The solution to this, though, is unique pageviews. Unique pageviews only count the number of times a user has hit a single page within one session⁠—a single 30-minute period. While your unique pageviews are a lower number, they will tell a more accurate story about any improvements you’re making in your website traffic over time.

Time on Page

This metric is useful because it generally gives you a strong indication of how much your website visitors like your content. That said, it can give inaccurate information just simply by how it calculates the time on page. Google calculates the amount of time a user spends on the page by the next action the user takes on your site.

That means if a user spends five minutes reading a post on your site and then clicks an external link, taking them off your site, before closing the browser, Google will calculate that they spend zero time on your site. Again, because they calculate the time spent on your site according to the next on-site action the user takes. Nevertheless, it is effective for measuring time on site in relation to other pages. Just know that it may not be 100% accurate.

Bounce Rate

Bounce rate measures the percentage of website visitors who enter your site and then leave without taking any further action. A high bounce rate is generally not good, although it also depends on your website and the time that users are spending on the site.

Ultimately, you want visitors to move about your site and read more content. However, if they’re visiting a piece of content on your site, spending a long time on the page reading and the bouncing away, it also means that they’re getting what they’re looking for, making these a better type of bounce. Generally, though, you want visitors to land on your site, read your content and then take some sort of further action, whether it’s making a purchase, opting into your email list or something else.

Engagement Metrics

Once someone has landed on your content, the goal is to get them to engage with that content in some way, whether it’s by leaving a comment, giving it a thumbs up or sharing it somewhere else on the internet. Engaging with your content is a sign that they feel connected to and invested in what they’re reading. They can help drive more content to your site by sharing your content and may even move further down your sales funnel themselves, moving closer to becoming a customer. Engagement looks different depending on the site you’re monitoring, but these are the most common types of engagement:

  • Social metrics: It’s relatively easy to track social media engagement, thanks to the built-in tools on each social media platform. However, there are other sites, such as BuzzSumo, which will pull all the information from the major social networks for you.
  • Comments: While you’ll want to weed out the spammy comments that are left on your blog content, you may find that you can engage in in-depth, valuable discussions with followers on your blog through the comments.
  • Links: While Google has been extremely active in combating spammy link tactics, they have also been open about the fact that obtaining authentic links to your site are still important. Moz’s Open Site Explorer is a valuable tool for tracking the number of links to your site.

How to Perform a Content Analysis on Your Own Content

Here are the basic steps you need to follow to perform an analysis of your content.

1. Prepare Your Existing Data

The first step is to prepare. Begin by recording and analyzing what you have already published on your website. It’s a good idea to use a spreadsheet to compile this information, breaking down each element into its own column.

For example, you could include links, photos, videos, infographics, and audio. For images and videos, you may want to link directly to the page where the information is stored. However, take the time to review the alt tag on images and even consider downloading it to determine the file name and image size.

There are also a few tools you can use to prepare the data. Ahrefs, for example, allows you to pull the top pages you rank for in the search engines. You can also use it to find content that other people are linking to or engaging with. The Google Search Console shows you the top impressions you’re getting in online searches and helps you identify any click-through issues. Use Screaming Frog to pull a complete list of all the pages on your website.

2. Examine Your Content

After you have recorded your content, it’s time to get into the content strategies. This is when you will search for any errors or consistencies on your site. While time-consuming, this deep dive into your site may reveal far more than you expected, as you may come across improperly branded photos, broken links or content that hasn’t been optimized for search. This process is time-consuming but will pay big dividends when the project has been completed and your site has consistent branding and has been fully optimized for search.

  • Weigh against the competition: Assess whether your content gives more information on the topic than your competitors. If it doesn’t, create a 10x piece of content that answers every question someone would have on that topic.
  • Speak with your customers: As part of the content analysis, it’s a good idea to hold brief phone interviews with existing customers who can share with you their thoughts on your content. For example, you could ask how they feel when they read or see certain content on your website or social media account. You could ask if they would recommend the website for their friends and family and, if so, why. You could also ask what they could change if they could tailor the content to their preferences.
  • Analyze information internally: Ask employees or management to study your content and evaluate what they see. It’s generally a good idea to reach out to employees in other departments, though, as people in your own department may have trouble being objective or offering constructive criticism. For example, if someone created the content, they may be overly critical or they may be overly attached to it. Even if the employee didn’t create the content, themselves, they may have trouble speaking critically of a colleague’s work. Ask employees in other departments for a detailed analysis of the content and include open-ended questions where they’re compelled to give you more than a yes or no answer.
  • Outsource help: While it can be expensive, an outside professional who’s experienced in conducting a content analysis knows what to look for and they can rapidly identify what is good and bad for your site. They can also offer data to support your own analysis.

3. Perform a Qualitative Analysis

In order to do qualitative analysis, you’ll need to take the time to examine what was said about your content. You should initially separate your internal and external respondents into two different sheets, as it will make it easier to identify whether there is a trend in the responses of one group or the other. Look for key phrases that are relevant to how your customers feel about certain elements and why. A consistent pattern with responses shows that you are either doing something very well or very wrong.

Some things to look for from internal and external sources specifically are:

  • Whether the content if interesting and informative
  • If it functions as it should
  • Whether the pages load quickly
  • Whether the links are accurate
  • If the image quality is good

Customers or employees from other departments may bring things you hadn’t previously considered, such as elements that are no longer useful.

4. Perform Your Quantitative Analysis

We already covered a wide variety of things you can measure for your site. The most popular for marketers are:

  • Sales
  • Secondary conversions
  • Chatbot interaction
  • Multiple visits to the site
  • Remarketing transactions
  • Ranking increases
  • Social engagement

Include this data—as well as any other measurable data you want to include—in your spreadsheet. You may even want to do a deeper dive on specific pieces of content to see how the data measures up. For example, if you created a new piece of content specifically to convert traffic into leads, you should evaluate things like bounce rate, time spent on the page and the number of unique visitors to hit the page. This will help you determine if the piece of content is effective.

5. Adjust Your Marketing Plan and Correct Errors

Once you have identified your metrics and performed a quantitative and qualitative analysis of your content, you should understand your content strategy more thoroughly, specifically what’s working and what isn’t. With this information, make the adjustments you need to improve your performance. This includes correcting all broken links and optimizing your site to increase the page load time. It also includes changing images so that the images themselves are in line with your brand, ensuring they’re crisp and clear and that they’re also optimized for the web so they don’t slow your site down. It’s also a good practice to name images so that the file name and the alt text on the image includes the keyword you’re trying to rank for.

It’s also important to invest consistently in creating quality content for your business. This could mean that you’re committing to making quality content in-house or that you’re outsourcing to a company like CopyPress, who has the ability to create high-quality content for you.

How to Do a Competitive Content Marketing Analysis

One of the first steps you could—and should—take when creating your own unique, differentiated content is to analyze the content that’s being created in your market. That means getting to know what your competitors are publishing in order to ensure that you’re creating the best content possible. There are three basic steps that you can take to accomplish this.

Keyboard with "Competitor" highlighted on the shift button

Image via Flickr by Mike Lawrence

1. Identify your Biggest Competitors

While there are probably thousands of businesses in your industry, most of them are not your direct competitors. The easiest way to identify your biggest competitors is to identify the products you sell and buyers you target. For example, do you offer premium products or lower-end products? Each of these likely attracts a different kind of buyer. Once you have identified that, you can identify the companies that have similar products and a similar audience.

2. Take Inventory of Your Competitors’ Content

Make a list of your top competitors and take an inventory of all the content that they’re publishing. This means capturing everything from their videos posted on YouTube to their blog articles and infographics on their website. Each content type gives you insight into the level of investment they’re making into their content, the types of content that their audience enjoys and the range and relative importance of keywords and topics that they’re using to capture their audience. Some types of content you should consider are:

  • Blog articles: This content is usually frequently published and can give you insight into the range of topics and keywords they’re using to attract website visitors. Take note of the length of their blog content, as well. Some companies prefer short-form content with only 500 words whereas others produce more lengthy, in-depth articles. Also analyze the style to see what makes this content appealing to the audience. Perhaps they use a data-driven approach to increase the credibility of their content. Or they may strengthen their relationship with followers by writing in a friendly and conversational tone.
  • Podcast and audio recordings: If your competitor produces a podcast or audio content, this can give you valuable insight into how their team operates and what they think about different topics. Examine whether they’re simple and concise language and avoiding industry jargon or if the content is more technical and intended for those in your industry only.
  • Infographics: This form of content combines both visual and textual. Take note of what makes your competitor’s infographics unique and effective. Evaluate the quality of both the design as well as the data included on the infographic.
  • Webinars: Webinars are designed to do a deeper dive into topics that are usually of particular interest to their audience. Take note of the topics they’re covering, if they’re doing webinars regularly and whether their webinars are performed live or if they have been pre-recorded for website visitors to listen to on their own schedule.
  • Videos: Research shows that more than 80% of internet traffic will be video by the year 2020, which is why it’s generally a good idea to include video in your content strategy. Video content, whether it’s published on your competitor’s site or YouTube, can give you a thorough look into the brand and tone they’re using. Evaluate the quality of their video content and whether it’s self-made or professional. Take note of any visual effects that bring them more traffic and whether it would be possible for your team to produce content of the same—or better—quality.
  • EBooks and white papers: This content is usually long-form and goes deeper on a topic that is of interest to an audience. Take note of the topics that they’re covering in their long-form content and whether there are any reviews or testimonials included on the landing page that would indicate how it’s been received by their audience. This type of medium is particularly appropriate for highly sophisticated audiences.
  • Emails: Subscribe to your competitor’s newsletter—if you haven’t done so already—and find out exactly what they believe is most valuable to send to their prospects and customers.
  • Status updated: You can learn a lot about how a company engages with its audience and the kind of content that it releases based on its social media status updates. Identify the different platforms that your competitors maintain and review the last 30 days of status updates.

Evaluate the quantity and quality of each type of content to get an overall idea of what your competitor’s marketing strategy looks like.

A quantitative analysis will tell you how many podcasts, blogs, social media posts or white papers your competitors publish within a specific timeframe. It will also allow you to explore the average length of videos, average length of blog posts and the most popular topics. A qualitative analysis will dig deeper into what makes the particular piece of content effective.

3. Analyze Content Topics

In this step, you will do a deep dive into your competitor’s content. If your competitor has too much content for you to digest, start with the content that is most feasible. Tag each piece of content with a topic or set of topics. You will eventually have a master spreadsheet of all their content, deconstructed. Look at the list from a combination of quality and quantity to see what topics are well covered with quality content, which you should avoid, and which areas there are opportunities for you to create your own incredible content.

4. Analyze Social Media Content

Social media represents one of the most substantial marketing forces in the world. So to get the most out of your content, it’s best to launch a cross-channel promotion and integrate it in a meaningful way. This doesn’t, however, mean you need to be everywhere and on every social media network. For example, while Facebook is the largest social media platform, if your ideal client is a business professional, LinkedIn may be a better choice for you. Take a look at this overview of the different social media demographics for each platform to determine which makes the most sense for your brand.

After you have identified the best platforms for you, look and see what your competitors are posting. Some things to evaluate are:

  • The number of times per week that they’re posting
  • When they’re posting each day and the amount of engagement they’re getting based on day and time
  • The type of content they’re posting to social media
  • The language they use and whether it’s formal or informal

5. Evaluate Competitor Keyword Strategy

According to research, 60% of marketers believe that improving SEO and growing your organic presence is one of the top inbound marketing strategies. This is why it can be helpful to analyze the way your customers optimize their online presence, specifically the keywords they use. This is particularly important if they rank higher than you in the search results for specific keywords you also want to rank well for.

In order to do this, you must first be aware of the relevant keywords. Tools like SpyFu allow you to research your competitor’s content and see what keywords they’re using to rank in the search results. You can use tools like Google Keyword Planner to identify all of the keyword options.

Once you’ve detected all the possible keywords that are relevant to your site, you are ready to add them to your own relevant webpage elements. Review your competitor’s site to see where they have placed their keywords. You will usually find them in places like:

  • Headlines
  • Titles
  • Subheadings
  • URLs
  • Image descriptions
  • Throughout the page content

6. Compare and Adjust

After completing such comprehensive research, you’ll have plenty of information to use to analyze your own content strategy. In this final phase, you’ll compare your own content strategy and performance with that of your competitors. Pay attention to all aspects of your research and make adjustments to any of your content that doesn’t meet the standards you want to set for the business. This goes not only for quality but for the quantity of the content you’re producing as well. When you’re done making these changes, you should begin to see gradual improvements in all areas of your content’s performance.

Twelve Content Analysis Tools

We mentioned above that one strategy for analyzing your content is to hire an expert who can provide a detailed report on your content. However, there are also a wide number of tools available that can help you do the job on your own. These tools are specifically designed to evaluate the performance of your site and content. They can review keyword density, H tags, meta information, linking and other technical aspects of your site. Here are some great tools to consider.

1. Databox + Google Analytics

This is actually a combination of two platforms. Google Analytics is the go-to free resource for monitoring website traffic, traffic sources, and other information. However, it provides so much information that it can quickly become overwhelming, which is what makes Databox useful. Databox integrates with everything to put all of your data into an easy-to-read dashboard. Its pre-built template checks your:

  • Pageviews by page
  • Bounce rate by page
  • New sessions by landing pages
  • Goal completions
  • Pageviews by city and country

2. Keyword Density Checker

This tool is specifically designed to help you optimize your site for the search results. It gives you the top listed keywords for a submitted URL and tells you whether the keyword is in the article title, meta description, and correlates to an HR tag on the page.

3. On-Page Optimization Tool

This tool from Marketing Ninja analyzes a page’s existing SEO, including meta-information, internal links, and keyword density. It allows you to check and determine whether your pages are being viewed the way you want a spider to crawl them.

4. Blaze

This content audit tool is designed to identify gaps and opportunities for improving your content. It inventories all the content on your site and shows you unique visitors, page views, time on page, and other information. It also allows you to easily tag content to strategize its category, ideal audience or whether it needs to be optimized.

5. Moz Link Explorer

This tool provides a link analysis of a domain and shows you the site’s domain authority, inbound links, ranking and the internal and external links.

6. Ahrefs

This website actually includes a number of tools that you can use to conduct a content analysis. The keyword explorer, for example, allows you to research keywords you want to rank for and estimates the level of difficulty or number of links you need to potentially rank on the first page of the search results. Ahrefs can also provide backlink audits to help you identify the best keywords for organic and paid search.

7. Check My Links

This tool crawls your website and looks for broken links. It’s useful as an extension, especially when you’re ready to publish new content that has numerous links.

8. Atomic Reach

This is another great tool for evaluating the quality of your content. It scans your content and scores it based on emotional impact, readability, vocabulary, and more. It will rapidly identify the content that works best on your site and also show you areas where you could make improvements.

9. SEMRush

This tool is useful for content analyses of your own site as well as your competitors.  SEMRush shows the rank of your and your competitor’s sites, shows SEO and content errors, clean as well as toxic backlinks, insights into keywords, and more. With so much functionality built-in, it can be incredibly useful for identifying opportunities for improvement as well as keywords you can rank for.

10. BuzzSumo

BuzzSumo is useful for information about your own site as well as your competitors.’ This tool can discover the type of content that performs best according to the domain, evaluate for brand mentions, and backlinks and also prove useful during a competitor analysis.

11. ClickFlow

ClickFlow  analyzes your website content and tells you which articles have a high impression rate—determined based on the number of times that the page shows up in the search results—but has a low click-through rate. This information is useful because, based on this information, you can then make changes to the title or meta description and test to see if you can improve the number of clicks through to the site.

12. Web Page Test

Google favors sites with a fast page load time. Web Page Test is valuable because it allows you to quickly and easily check your page load times and identify what on the page could be taking too long to load and slowing down your website.

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