I recently stumbled upon this article about content quality vs quantity.
Their graph quite clearly shows a clear correlation between social shares and quantity. But I don’t think that tells the actual story. And this is why.
Content Agencies Need to Sell Content
The first rule is that EVERY company thinks their product is quality. Or at least they want you to think their product is quality. And the same goes for content. It’s in their interests to make you believe that quality is vital for content performance.
If they simply said that quantity was the be all and end all, no-one would buy from them. They’d all go and buy cheap content from content mills in developing countries.
So bear that in mind when it comes to the quality vs quantity debate.
Social Shares do Not Equal Quality Content
Quality is an extremely hard metric to measure. So Scoop.it have used total shares to measure content effectiveness. Which is great, except for one thing…
A share does not mean a read.
59% of shares happen without the article being read. That’s pretty incredible. And it shows one more thing: using social shares as a quality metric on its own does not work. They do not measure the effectiveness of content in any way.
Now don’t get me wrong, the popularity of an article is extremely important. The more shares it has, the more chance it has of landing in front of your ideal customer. But that’s just it: most of these shares are not from your target audience and most of these shares do not actually read the article. They’re useless.
If I was compiling a list of content metrics on which to base the success of my work, social sharing would not feature.
The headline attracts, the body converts.
For me, the most important thing I’m looking for in a piece of content is conversion rate. I want my reader to actually read the article. Then I want them to take action. Whether that’s signing up for an email, downloading an ebook or whitepaper, or contacting me. And so, for me, that is the measure of content quality.
How to measure Content Quality
“The primary thing we look for with news is impact, not traffic.”
As quality is not objective, we need a way to measure whether a piece of content does its job or not. And the easiest way to measure this is audience engagement.
In the Moz article linked to above, Medium’s Total Time Reading (TTR) is mentioned as a great metric. And, yes, reading depth is also a great measure of how engaged a reader is with your content. But I want to look at something else.
It goes back to absolute basics, but how many return visitors do you have? If people keep coming back to the same piece or pieces of content, they obviously see a lot of value. And if they keep returning time and again, you can probably turn them into evangelists for your brand.
They like what you say so much, they read the same content over and over again.
I know I have a few pieces of content I constantly return to.
I will be putting together an article on how I measure content success in a very simple and easy to manage way. But for now, the core data for measuring quality content comes from Google Analytics. Sure, you get no heatmap and no read depth. But everything else is there.
Time on Page
Your visitors’ average time on page doesn’t give as nuanced a view as Hotjar may, but it does tell you whether your audience is reading. If your average time on page is under 10 seconds, chances are high your audience is just clicking away.
But it’s no good on its own.
As I said before, the most important metric as to whether a piece of content is successful or not is the action they take AFTER reading.
So, that CTA at the bottom of the post: do they click it?
Use GA to see where they go after they’ve visited this page. Is your audience clicking the link you want them to? If they’re not, then you may not be driving them towards the right action. And that is where quality content comes into its own.
Quality Content Drives Readers to Take a Specific Action
Content marketing took off when people realised that the old SEO articles websites wrote to gain traction in Google put off their audience. And that top spot in the search engines was no good when the reader would click away immediately when seeing your wall of almost unreadable, keyword stuffed text.
Content quickly evolved to take the audience into consideration, but it wasn’t until Hubspot founder Brian Halligan coined the term Inbound Marketing in his 2009 book with fellow co-founder Dharmesh Shah that it really took off.
And since then we’ve had countless articles, blogs, white papers and books explaining how content can be used to attract, engage and convert our target audience. If we’re being honest, though, good content hasn’t really changed during that time.
We still have go-to content. Content that answers a specific question in a great way still works. Just the way we talk about it changes. First, it was all about Education and Entertainment. Then Enlightenment arrived before more E’s joined the party.
We had content that needed to answer questions (we still do) and content that was focused on social shares. And then clickbait.
But the truth is, no matter which way we talk about it, the core concept has stayed the same: we want to attract people to our site, we want to engage them and we want to convert them from a reader into a lead, or even a customer.
Content influences. It’s that simple. It gives new information, it opens new possibilities, it makes you think.
And that’s why I set up Stom Content.
Too many small businesses throw away money on content marketing that solves no purpose. It doesn’t lead anywhere. And I don’t like seeing that waste.
Today you can improve your content’s performance by making 3 small changes to the way it is written and promoted. And you can find these tips in my book 3 Steps to Content that Influences People.
But I’m not selling this information. No, I’m giving it away.