Evaluating Web Content Effectiveness Using Search Behavior to Shape Your Site

Customers and prospects who visit your website do so based on a variety of intentions: some are there to buy something, others are simply doing research, and some might be applying for a job with your company. Your website attracts first-time visitors and some who return regularly. Some visitors do not know how they landed on your website and immediately look for a way out.

The content you provide to your site visitors can drive leads and, ultimately, make or break your brand. Today’s manufacturers find themselves in an especially tough situation as they develop content that will be viewed within product search engines like Amazon.com and ranked against huge competitors with large budgets and unlimited resources.

Analyzing Visitor Intent

Over the years, search engine algorithms have evolved as complex solutions to searchers’ problems because they adapt to a searcher’s intent in visiting a website. Understanding visitor intent can help you create better search content and improve search result rankings. Essentially, there are three primary ways people search for content on the web:

  1. Informational: These generic search queries satisfy a broad topic. People tend to use just one or two search terms such as test equipment, industrial machinery, or metal suppliers.
  2. Navigational: These more refined search queries often occur when searchers know a specific brand they desire or want to search within a niche category or geography.
  3. Transactional: These queries show that the searchers intend to perform an action–buying a product, downloading an e-book, or submitting a request for quotation.

When you review the intent of your website visitors, you can understand where they are in the buying process and can provide content accordingly. For example, if you want to reach people using a brand or product name in their search, you should create search content that targets audiences in the discovery or transactional phase of the buyer journey.

Understanding Search Content

Think of search content as a combination of words, images, downloads, and other elements that contribute to search engine optimization (SEO). You compose this content with the intention that it will rank in Google and other search engine results pages and primarily attract organic traffic to your website. You want your content to rank on search sites because:

  • High ranking content is perceived to be the most trusted in the eyes of site visitors
  • Traffic from organically ranking content is typically the highest quality
  • Audiences attracted to search content are a source of conversions and higher quality leads
  • Your content ranks on merit, not budget–making it a good marketing investment

Search content specifically includes those pages that people like to find through Google and other search engines, such as your homepage, product pages, About Us section and FAQ pages, and even some blog posts. These pages should contain semantically rich copy designed to both inform and educate your visitors, or encourage them to perform a specific action (such as making a purchase).

Measuring Visitor Behavior

Google Analytics tracks several metrics by default including time on page, exit percentage, bounce rate, and others. However, marketers just scratch the surface of the insights available through this popular reporting tool if they stick with these basics.

Configuring Google Analytics to view visitor behavior can help your organization answer the following questions:

  • Which content categories and types resonate best with your visitors?
  • What landing pages and offers drive the most conversions?
  • Which secondary actions on a specific page help you sell more products?
  • How can you leverage these insights to improve our future content marketing efforts?

To view visitor behavior patterns in Google Analytics, first log in to your Google Analytics account. Click the Reporting tab in the navigation panel at the top of the screen. In the left-hand navigation panel, click Audience, then Behavior and then Overview.

A graph will display showing audience behavior patterns for a specific time period. Below it, a table displays the names of the most popular pages on your site as well as statistics on how visitors behave based on what they find.

A sample Google Analytics behavior report follows.

Google Analytics Behavior Report

Setting Realistic Behavior Goals

For many businesses, the success of content is often weighed against the number of leads or product sales it creates. Executives measure effectiveness based on key performance indicators to reach, so it is natural to think about content in terms of ROI.

However, this is typically a flawed marketing objective, simply because it is not normal human behavior for someone to read a blog post and hand over their money to buy your product. The primary goal behind content marketing is to guide visitors on the right path toward conversion.

This means measuring success around how many visitors do something positive after consuming the content. You define the “something” based on your business goals. For example, it could be signing up for your email newsletter, downloading a white paper, sharing the content on social media, or clicking through to a product page.

Leveraging Your Content Resources           

Whether you choose to develop all of your website content internally or work with a partner to achieve your conversion goals, you should keep the following effectiveness criteria in mind:

  • Are you developing specific content to meet your SEO objectives?
  • Is your content optimized for display on popular mobile devices?
  • Are you integrating pay-per-click and other advertising methods to improve search results?
  • Is your content shareable across social media platforms?

Once you understand how to develop and publish content to achieve objectives you have surrounding lead generation and conversion, you can guide your visitors along specific paths to help you achieve these goals.

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