10 Ways to Tell if Your Content Marketing Efforts are Paying Off

content marketing seo optimization online blog internetContent marketing is all the rage these days, and regardless of what industry you’re in or what audience you’re targeting, it’s becoming increasingly hard to be competitive without participating in what’s become a virtual content arms race.

Once upon a time it was enough just to have a blog and post to it every now and then (also known as “the good old days”).

Then you needed a blog plus a video blog (or “vlog”, as they call it—you gotta love the silly names for things that marketers come up with). Then it was a blog, vlog, and podcast. Or did podcasting come before vlogging? The bar has been moving so fast that it’s all become a blur. The point is that in an age when even the kid selling lemonade on a street corner has his own YouTube channel, you had better believe that you need to be producing good content—and lots of it—if you want to stand out. The question is, how do you tell if your content marketing efforts are paying off?

While the method for tracking results will vary somewhat depending on your goals, niche, and the type of content you’re producing, if you are making progress in all of the ten areas listed below, it’s safe to say you’re doing pretty well.

#1: Website traffic

Let’s start with the most obvious metric—traffic to your website. Regardless of what type of content you are producing (podcasts, videos, articles, books, etc.) it would be hard to call your effort an unqualified success if it didn’t result in an increase in traffic to your website.

In addition to simply seeing an increase in the number of visitors to your site, you should also see an improvement in other key metrics such as time on site, pages viewed per visit, and bounce rate (all of which you can see from a quick glance at your Google analytics dashboard). If you are simply seeing an increase in visits without an improvement in other areas, it might be a sign that the quality or relevance of your website content needs some work.

So, how much of an increase in traffic should you expect? Well, that really depends on how competitive your niche is, the quality and volume of content you’re producing, and many, many other factors. One blog post can bring hundreds or even thousands of visitors to your site, as is the case with a blog post I wrote last year about how to choose your business email address. That single article has resulted in over 600 visits to my website since it was posted, and after my home page it’s one of the most visited pages on my site. I didn’t know that would be the case when I wrote the article, of course—I just was doing my best to post content that I thought would be useful to my target audience. If you do the same, and do so while following SEO best practices, you will see an increase in traffic.

#2: Ranking for target keywords

Speaking of SEO, another key metric to determine the success of your content marketing efforts is how well your website ranks in search results for the keywords you’re targeting. This goes hand-in-hand with website traffic to a certain extent, but I mention it separately here because you’ll need to track it using different tools (such as Google webmaster tools or a wide variety of paid SEO tools).

If you don’t see improvement in this area, it might be a sign that you need to get better about producing keyword-rich content, or be a little more strategic about optimizing your content.

#3: Domain authority and backlinks

Two other important and closely related SEO metrics that you’ll want to track are domain authority and the number of backlinks you have pointing to your website. If the content you are producing is high-quality and useful, and you are properly promoting it, then both of these numbers will go up.

#4: Klout score

The Klout score is a number between 1-100 that represents your influence (the higher the number, the more influence you have). It’s measured using hundreds of signals from eight different social media networks. I include it on this list because it’s an indication of how well your content is being promoted and shared across the internet. You should see this number increase as you ramp up your content marketing efforts.

#5: Mentions of your brand

Are people talking about you? They should be, if the content you are producing is having the desired effect. You can track this using a tool like mention.net, which has plans starting at $29 a month.

#6: Size of your community

I use the term “community” here to refer to your total number of followers and subscribers. This would include the number of people on your email list as well as the number of followers on various social media platforms. Obviously, the value of a subscriber to your email newsletter probably has more value than a follower on Twitter, so you’ll want break down this metric into subcategories for a better understanding of how you’re doing. However, “total community size” is still a good number to track for a quick-and-dirty indication of whether your content marketing efforts are paying off.

#7: Media-specific metrics

Depending on what type of content you are producing, there may be some media-specific metrics that you should track to help you determine the success of your efforts. Examples of this would be podcast downloads (for an audio podcast) or views (as in the case of a video podcast), YouTube views or minutes of videos watched, number of books sold on Amazon, number of speaking engagements, etc.

#8: Conversions

I am purposely leaving this one open-ended because depending on your goals and your industry, a “conversion” could mean anything from a phone call, an order from an ecommerce site, or simply someone filling out a form on your website. You could even have several different types of conversions with different values assigned to them that you track simultaneously (and in fact, you probably should). The point is that if this number does not go up as you ramp up your content marketing, then you may be producing the wrong kind of content.

#9: Revenue

Aka, “the bottom line”. After all, at the end of the day if your content marketing is not directly leading to you making more money, then what’s the point?

If all the other numbers on this list are going up and this one isn’t (or is only increasing by a comparatively small amount), that could be an indication that your marketing hourglass needs a little work. For example, perhaps you need to give people more ways to try you out before asking them to make a purchase…or maybe you need to try packaging your products or services differently. It could also mean that you need to produce different types of content—for example, buyer’s guides or case studies—to help drive up sales.

#10: Intangibles

There are some things that you just can’t track very well in a spreadsheet, but that are still very important indicators of success. That’s what this category is all about.

This could be anything from making a best-seller list, getting an award that’s somehow related to your content (like “best of iTunes” for a podcast), or getting a positive endorsement or review from a respected player in your industry.

While the first nine items on this list are important to track, it is #10 that keeps me motivated when it’s time to write another blog post, record another podcast episode, or prepare for another speaking gig. Sure, noticing that my website traffic is up 10% or that my Klout score increased slightly is nice. However, when it comes to feeling successful, nothing beats getting a random email from a podcast subscriber letting me know that she’s been listening to the show for a year and that it’s really helping her with her business. When you start getting feedback like that on a regular basis, that’s when you know your content marketing efforts are truly paying off.

Kevin JordanKevin Jordan is a Certified Duct Tape Marketing Consultant, founder of Redpoint Marketing Consultants and Co-Author of the new book The Small Business Owner’s Guide to Local Lead Generation. You can connect with Kevin on Twitter @RMCVirginia.

5 Tips For Improving Franchise SEO Rankings

Franchise secretsIf you are a franchise owner, or even the owner of a multiple-location local business, search engine optimization has its own set of issues and challenges for your business.

The truth is that there are more brands than ever competing for search engine visibility.  Having corporate-backing from a franchise model doesn’t always help with local SEO.

What can you do to improve your rankings?

Plenty, and in this post I’ll outline 5 of the top ranking factors you need to be aware of when it comes to your franchise SEO efforts.

A lot of the work I will discuss wades into the realm of content marketing. That’s the area you want to focus on moving forward.

On the other hand, many sites are still dealing with problems of inaction, or lingering issues from past SEO campaigns.  You’ll need to address those immediately.

As mobile and content marketing continue to dominate, you need to make sure that old-school SEO tactics are not holding you back.

1. Website SEO Problems Franchises Need to Be Aware Of

In July, there was an SEMrush article that laid out the following problems SEO franchises run into.

You’ll want to “focus on and take caution of” these things.  Why? Because they could account for some of those nagging SEO issues that are weighing down your rankings.

Some of those franchise SEO problems include:

  • Duplicate Content
  • Interlinking
  • Domain Health and Risks

The bottom line is that you need original, useful content on each page rather than thin or duplicate content that is republished over and over again – especially on location pages. Consider each location page to be a mini-website for that location and fill it with rich content, such as a unique description, a video(s), and images.

Regarding on-page SEO, you need to “remove all unnecessary interlinking” and do a backlink audit to ensure your site is up to snuff.

If you have the resources, hiring an SEO expert to perform a comprehensive SEO audit is a good idea. That’s what the above SEMrush post suggests, and most in the SEO industry will tell you the same thing.

So…what does such an expert cost?

Typically you’re looking at a couple thousand dollars or more for a professional SEO audit…and that’s if you have a small site. Big sites, or those with lots of backlink clutter, will take more time and effort.

Can you do some of that auditing yourself?

I’m willing to bet you can. A good place to start for a DIY backlink audit would be this 2014 Moz link audit guide.

2. Moving Forward with Mobile

Now that you’ve cleaned up and addressed your site’s link issues, how else can you get ahead?

The answer is with mobile.

Last February, Search Engine Land (SEL) offered several tips for better SEO localization for franchises. These included:

  • Capturing Mobile Users
  • Encouraging Customer Reviews
  • Cleaning Up Directory Listings

More and more it’s about capturing mobile users. In October, it was reported that mobile searches surpassed desktop searches worldwide, with more than 50% of search queries coming from those platforms (tablets and smart phones).

Another tip the SEL post offers is to “localize with purpose,” meaning all your pages should have unique H1 and H2 titles as well as specific and SEO-friendly URLs.

These are great things to think about for your ongoing SEO and content marketing efforts.  Both will be needed to achieve and maintain organic search engine visibility in the future.

3. Location Pages for Franchises

In June, there was a wonderful guide for franchise SEO on Business 2 Community’s blog. It offered these five tips:

  • Get your site right
  • Address your brand’s online footprint
  • Optimize your location pages
  • Calibrate your business listings
  • Leverage other franchise locations

I’ll finish up discussing those last three bullet points.

For location pages, it’s critical that you provide Google with detailed, accurate information about all your physical locations. This is even more critical now with Google My Business pages and the overwhelming rise of mobile over desktop for search.

Google is factoring in all kinds of location-specific information when analyzing a query made from a mobile device. The better your business can tap into this trend, the more online leads you’ll get.

4. Business Listings for Franchises

When it comes to business listings we’re talking about the basics:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Operating hours

Those are the big four that Google wants to see consistently, and guess why? Your customers demand quick access to them.

Many times when they type in a business-specific word, like your name followed by a location, it’s a strong signal for your business address information.

Yet, many businesses do not track and monitor their NAP (Name Address Phone Number) listings.  This is especially important for franchise SEO, and a key factor to help businesses get ahead online.

You can take NAP listings a step further to gain more real estate in local SERPs (search engine results page).  Check out this post I did a few months ago on SERP Stacking and get some pointers on how to increase your company’s chances to show up several times on the first page of Google.

5. Leveraging The Franchise Model For SEO

When it comes performing SEO tactics, you want to make sure you’re not duplicating efforts or wasting resources.  Why have one franchise spend have a day on a social media campaign when another did the same thing the day before?

Think about ways to consolidate efforts to unlock the power of the network effect that is inherent in every franchise business.  

To the extent possible, make sure your franchise locations are talking with one another so you’re not doing the same thing over and over, or stepping on each others’ toes.


There are many ways for franchise businesses to improve their search engine rankings.  Simple changes to your website and a commitment to content marketing will help your franchise get ahead online. Also, giving Google crystal clear information about your business listings is key to any successful franchise SEO campaign.

If you’re struggling with search engine penalties or off-page SEO in general, you might want to start by checking out your site’s backlink profile.  Don’t forget about localized content that targets mobile users.  Regarding franchise businesses, mobile search is where the action is.  In fact, make sure your site is mobile-friendly right now:


Change comes from within, and you don’t have to sit still while the competition outranks you online.  At the end of the day, all SEO – including franchise SEO – is about applying the basics and having the discipline and commitment to execute the right SEO and content marketing tactics week in and week out.

Phil SingletonPhil Singleton owns and operates Kansas City Web Design, where he and his team provide custom WordPress and Magento web development, and Kansas City SEO, where he provides search engine optimization services to companies with hundreds of thousands in revenues to hundreds of millions.  To get more SEO and Internet marketing tips and advice, and learn more about Phil’s book writing adventures, follow him on Google+.