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Content marketing and optimisation are often misunderstood as simply, ‘good writing’. However, a successful content strategy understands the importance of context with every content campaign. Context is key to understand Google’s latest algorithms, the thought process behind a user’s search and how to measure the content you create effectively.

This blog post explores and investigates those three crucial areas of context to help you implement a content strategy that works.

Google’s Search Goals

Search engines are essentially huge knowledge databases filled with information which has been collated from content all over the internet. One of Google’s Co-Founders, Larry Page, knew what he wanted Google to accomplish for millions of users around the world when he co-founded the search engine back in 1998.

“The perfect search engine understands exactly what you mean and gives you back exactly what you want”.

Larry Page, Google Co-Founder

Following a list of ten simple rules, the founders of Google shaped a philosophy that people now come to expect of every search engine today.

Google crawls information every second and organises it a logical and valuable way to give you the best answers to your search query as quickly as possible. They even show you the fraction of a second it took them to get your results, to show off how speedy they are.

So how can you, as a business, make sure you are at the top of those search results when users are looking for your product or service?

It’s about making the content you create effective and useful for your potential customers because if you satisfy their needs with great content, you’re helping search engines (and Larry) reach their ultimate goal – to understand exactly what users mean so they can give users back exactly what they want.

Creating relevant content is all about providing ‘the user’ (i.e. the kind of person you want reading your content) with the information they are searching for. Customers are constantly on the hunt online for interesting and useful information – whether that is to help influence that big, important purchase they are about to make or to find an authoritative source on the subject area.

Content Context is King

Search engines scour millions of resources to provide users with the best answers to their questions. So why shouldn’t we as content marketers?

We may not have the time to go in quite as much detail as Google. However, we should always be thinking of the wider context behind a single search query and the other related questions and search terms that feed into that same search.

There’s a whole host of SERP features that Google has created to restructure the standard Search Engine Results Pages (SERP) based on a user’s specific search. The architecture of a SERP can be varied based on the searchers choice of terminology, phrasing and intention.

One SERP feature that is particularly useful for identifying context behind a user’s search query is related questions. They are a great way to see what other people are searching for in relation to a particular search query. If you structure your blog post or page around several different related questions, you will have a better chance of ranking higher in the search results as Google will recognise that you have provided a detailed and well-rounded answer.

Using a search query data visualisation tool such as answer the public also helps to establish the wider context behind any given topic or subject area and help you create relevant and authoritative content that correctly serves your target audience.

These sorts of tools are a natural evolvement from the days of keyword planner, particularly for content creation, as they are more concerned with those long-tail, niche search queries that will help you create valuable content tailored to the users you are trying to reach.

This tool enables you to tap into the real-life questions potential customers are searching for so you can make sure it is you that is providing the most valuable answers.

The E-A-T Update

Search engines are continually updating their algorithms in order to penalise the culprits who implement outdated SEO tactics such as keyword stuffing.  

This is reinforced when Google, in its Search Quality Guidelines, has stated that a good quality page (or blog post) needs to demonstrate Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (E-A-T). 

By writing content on something you know a lot about and are passionate about, you can demonstrate Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (E-A-T) in abundance and provide a rich resource for those users who are seeking information on that area. As well as the obvious brand benefits that this entails, if you can show Google your E-A-T, you will:

  • Produce quality content that will increase your search visibility and your rankings.
  • Send more would-be customers to your website and make them aware of your business.
  • Be the authoritative go-to resource on your industry, service or product.

So, how do we measure the success of content?

There are many ways to measure the success of the content you are creating, the best and most widely used platform being Google Analytics. This is a free-to-use platform for digital marketers, businesses and brands, providing you with a much deeper insight into the user experience. 

However, many brands, businesses and marketers only use the ‘top-level’ functionality of this platform and miss out on the metrics that matter.

The top-level being the typical “consumption metrics” like page views and visits.

Page Views, Unique Page Views and Visits: looking at these statistics can help you to identify which are your best-performing pages. These are the most commonly visited locations on your website and the pages that are bringing in the most traffic but is it relevant traffic that is likely to convert?

It would be best if you analysed these metrics at least with these secondary levels to provide deeper context into how your pages are being found:

User Type: to see what per cent of the Page Views is due to returning visitors (a good indicator of the level of trust and authority your content has) and this could be particularly beneficial to users who are essentially “window shopping for the best product for them” and new ones (which indicates the ability your content has to attract new potentially, long-lasting readers and converters.

Mobile: Google Analytics can segment data by device so you can see how you’re performing, which is useful in understanding the environments in which your users mostly interact with your content, and how you may need to optimise experience depending on the device used, helping to make your content more memorable and easier to digest.

Engagement Metrics in Google Analytics

You also want to focus on your engagement metrics. These metrics measure how users are interacting with your content. Beyond just looking at it, are they consuming it? Are they looking at other relevant pages on your website? Are they looking at more than just one page?

Some of these important engagement metrics include Bounce Rate, Time on Site, and Time on Page. You want to take a look at how people are diving into your content and make sure they’re not just glancing at a page; they’re consuming it too.

Bounce Rate: Bounce rate measures the percentage of visitors who enter the site on a particular page, then leave the site without any further interaction or navigation to other pages. It’s often seen as an indication of a page that isn’t fulfilling users’ needs, but there’s a caveat to that argument; bouncing visitors could also be a sign that the page is very fulfilling. Perhaps they showed up and found exactly what they were looking for, so they left happy.

Context is once again important in this case, so look at other metrics in conjunction with this such as time on page. Is it high? That’s a good sign for the better kind of bounces. If it’s low, users might not be finding what they’re looking for, and are leaving your site very quickly – which indicates you aren’t serving user needs with your content.

And finally, Page Scroll Depth is another important metric. Scroll Depth is a Google Analytics plugin that lets you measure how far users are scrolling. It monitors the 25%, 50%, 75%, and 100% scroll points, sending a Google Analytics Event for each one. You can also track when specific elements on the page are scrolled into view.

Page Scroll Depth is another great indication for engagement; the further people scroll (“read”) the more content they want to consume and want to engage with. This highlights just how interesting, relevant and valuable the content you are creating is.

That’s Google Analytics taken care of, but how else can we measure how visible your business is for the terms that are most relevant to you? Platforms such as Moz and software such as Searchmetrics help to establish current rankings, overall search visibility and dominance in the SERPs.

First up, Moz

Tracking keyword rankings is the best way to learn how well you’re performing in the organic search results for your target keywords over time. If you are trying to increase traffic to your site, you may start by updating your content, creating more content or improving your on-page optimisation. Tracking your rankings helps you to understand the impact of these improvements. If you do see a drop in your traffic, you’ll be able to identify which keywords dropped and which of your competitors are outperforming you.

With Moz Pro rankings, you can track keyword rankings nationally or locally. With weekly updates, you can see how your site is performing over time, and compare your ranking positions and search visibility with your competition.

Search visibility is useful to measure yourself vs your competitors rather than focus on the actual score itself. Moz also helps to measure your search visibility over time to see the impact of your efforts on your quest for SERP domination.

Not forgetting, Searchmetrics

Searchmetrics’ content analysis software helps content marketers create better content, build website authority and provide measurable results that will outperform the competition.

Just some of our favourite areas of the content experience are as follows:

Visibility Graph:

  • You can see an overview of your visibility and how you are performing against your closest competition.
  • As well as displaying competitors side by side based on the number of shared keywords with you, you can also add competitors in manually to see how they rank beside you.
  • You can check to see if any Google Updates have affected your visibility over time.

Winner and Loser Keywords:

  • This tool helps you see at a glance, the keywords which are working hard to keep you visible and the keywords that require attention.
  • This algorithm is based on which keywords are currently driving your organic traffic down and which keywords are driving the competitions visibility up.

Organic Rankings:

  • As with other platforms, we can review all organic keywords and how they are ranking through Searchmetrics.
  • The difference with this platform is that you can add “Delta Traffic Index” and sort page by this KPI and this helps you understand the potential traffic and revenue you are missing out on as a result of poor targeting.
  • You can also filter to bring up ‘quick wins’ to help you where you can see quicker results in the first few months of your content campaign.

Content is Becoming Even More Strategic

A common assumption amongst many is that content has to be written well – and fundamentally, that is true.

However, being more strategic with content writing goes beyond being a good writer, it’s about being able to “tie content strategically to other marketing activities and addressing the changing formats of content,” as Salesforce puts it.

Digital demands different ways to digest content to have a targeted content strategy that delivers results. Social media promotion, video and infographics are just some of the other forms of content that works in conjunction with written content and knowing how to utilise every opportunity to reach and engage the right audiences is crucial to its success.

Returning to one of Google’s golden rules, “there is always more information out there”. Google is on a never-ending quest for information in every nook and cranny of the internet. What’s more, users continue to ask questions about new topics every single day, so crafting information that accurately answers those questions will catch Google’s attention and mean they will reward you with the top spot.

As long as you can do that consistently, Google will send you more relevant traffic and improve your ranking in the search results – proving that knowledge really is power.

Get in touch with our content experts to find out how you could improve the Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness of your content and utilise context effectively in your content strategy.