What's the Best Way to Measure the Quality of Your Content?

Oct 19, 2017

The content competition out there is heating up. If you want to be successful, you need to find a way to stand out from all the noise. Your best bet is to funnel your resources toward creating higher quality content, but how can you tell that your content is “high quality” in the first place?

It’s a difficult question, but not unanswerable.

The Elusive Nature of "Quality"

Quality is inherently hard to measure because it can refer to many different aspects of content, most of which are subjective. Ideally, you’d have a numerical scale that could assign a true, objective value to the strength of your content, but I don’t know of such a way to make that calculation.

Things get even more complicated when you realize that content can be used to achieve one or more of several goals, such as increasing search rankings, improving customer retention, earning more conversions, or increasing brand visibility.

Fortunately, no matter what your intentions are, there are some reliable strategies to measure the quality of your content.

Intuitive Markers

To start, you can run a self-audit of your content to see if it hits the usual “markers” of what good content is. Obviously, some of these may vary depending on what your intentions with content marketing are, but these are the usual checklist items you’ll need to hit:

  • Good content is based on established research, rather than stemming from your personal beliefs or whims. You’ll want to cite a variety of different sources in the body of your work, especially for specific statistics, facts, and figures. If you present an argument, be sure to include a counterargument from someone on the other side.
  • Good content also covers a subject in-depth. This doesn’t necessarily mean your content should be longer, though sometimes the two go hand-in-hand. Content depth refers to the amount of data and coverage you’re able to give a subject, which sometimes necessitates a higher word count, and sometimes doesn’t.
  • Your presentation also matters. Your content should be easily scannable for people who just want the highlights, and it should be structured logically so it’s easy to follow. On top of that, it’s a good idea to include media, such as images and videos, to aid in comprehension.
  • Ideal content is also practical in some way, guiding users on how to do something, or giving them necessary information on how to deal with a given situation.
  • Finally, your content needs to be novel. If you’re covering a subject that’s been covered before, what new things do you have to say about it? How are you covering the subject differently?

Social Signals and Links

A more reliable metric for your content’s success is its ability to earn links and social shares. Social followers will only share a piece of content if they feel it’s important or interesting for their family and friends to see. Off-site authorities will only link to your piece if it’s provided them some unique, important information that they want to incorporate into their own writing. Both of these are good signs, and will help you achieve your marketing goals—no matter what they are, specifically.

Hopefully, you’ll have a built-in counter on-site that can tell you how often your articles are shared. For links, you can use a backlink search tool like Open Site Explorer to figure out who’s linking to you.

Goal Completion

You can also measure the quality of your content based on its specific ability to help you achieve your goals. For example, if your main goal is to get more conversions, and you include calls-to-action in all your blog posts, you can measure your conversion rate as an indication of your content’s ability to support your brand.

If your goal is to attract as much traffic as possible, you can measure the amount of new visitors encountering that page of your site (possibly filtering by traffic from search engines or traffic from social media, depending on how you’ve intended to promote that piece).

This method cuts the “middle man” of quality, allowing you to directly measure whether your content is helping you meet your goals. Accordingly, you’ll get fantastic data about the health of your campaign, but may miss out on some secondary signals of quality.

Subjective Reviews

As a way to round out the advantages and disadvantages of other measurement methods, consider attracting and analyzing subjective reviews from your readers. You can start by evaluating how people respond to your work in general; for example, do they frequently leave comments? If so, what are they saying about your work? If comments aren’t available, or aren’t painting a clear picture, consider using a survey to gauge what your readers feel.

For the most part, this is a good way to tell how “good” your content is in the eyes of your readers. Just be aware that what online users enjoy isn’t always what’s “best” for the long-term success of your campaign.

The Bottom Line

If you want to get a true picture of the quality of your content, it’s best to use several different measurement metrics simultaneously. You’ll want to audit your content firsthand to get a baseline understanding of how it stacks up to the competition, then rely on both qualitative and quantitative measurements to gain a full understanding.

Remember, your goal here isn’t just to understand how “good” your content is—it’s to understand your main areas of weakness, and work to improve them.

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