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How to Put a $ Value on Your Content

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How to Put a $ Value on Your Content

The formula for calculating ROI is so simple that I’ll share it right here, in the article introduction:

 ((Return from content − cost of content) / cost of content) * 100

If your content marketing generated $10,000 in sales and cost $2,000 to create, that’s an ROI of 400%:

(($10,000 - $2,000) / $2,000) * 100 = 400%

Although the math is simple, actually doing this exercise in real life is tricky, for a few reasons. The most important: it’s pretty hard to put a dollar value on every single benefit of your content marketing.

I’ll explain why, and then show you 3 practical methods for quickly working out your content marketing ROI.

If you want to talk convincingly about ROI to your boss or your clients, it helps to understand these three points:

If all of your content marketing is outsourced from freelancers or agencies, it’s relatively easy to work out how much it costs: it’s the amount they bill you.

If you have an entirely in-house team, with team members dedicating 100% of their effort to content, costs are similarly straightforward: it’s their salaries.

But things can get a little complicated if you source content from multiple sources (like a combination of freelancers, agencies, and in-house team members), or if multiple people contribute to your content in relatively small ways (like a designer dedicating a third of their time to content, and two thirds to product marketing).

But this is still simple compared to our next complication:

The most obvious benefit of content marketing: it attracts new customers. We can theoretically add up all the new customers who found and bought our product because of our content marketing, and work out how much money they spent (I explain how in the next section).

But content has lots of other benefits that are less easy to measure. It can:

Many of these benefits are virtually invisible—how do you measure support queries that content stopped from existing?—but very real. No matter how you calculate ROI, there’s a good chance you’ll be undervaluing its impact.

Which brings us to our next complication:

Working out the role content played in a sale is called “attribution”, and it’s pretty tricky to pin down.

Did someone convert because of an article or in spite of it? When they read multiple articles, which had the biggest impact? If someone buys because of an advert, should we still credit the blog post they read beforehand?

Customer journeys are also rarely as straightforward as we’d hope. One person might read 50 articles and never buy anything; another might read a single article, disappear for a year, and immediately buy. What role did content play in those journeys?

There are different ways of measuring attribution to help with some of this uncertainty:

  • First-touch attribution credits the first piece of content a visitor engages with before converting.
  • Last-touch attribution credits the last piece of content.
  • Multi-touch attribution tries to credit every piece of content that was involved in the buying process.
1709918765 334 How to Put a Value on Your Content1709918765 334 How to Put a Value on Your Content

But in all cases, attribution is never perfect: we just can’t measure every interaction someone has with our content.

In a perfect world, we would know exactly how much revenue each and every blog post generated for our business. To calculate ROI this way, we can use a formula as follows:

Return from content marketing = (New customers from content * ACV)
1709918765 169 How to Put a Value on Your Content1709918765 169 How to Put a Value on Your Content

To work this out, we need to calculate the number of new customers generated by our content in a given period. If you don’t know this figure, you’ll need to set up some kind of conversation tracking in software like Google Analytics, allowing you to track the number of people that complete a desired action on your blog post (like filling in a form or starting a free trial)

In most cases, visitors won’t buy directly from your blog post, so you’ll need to track:

  • The number of conversions generated by your content (e.g. free trial signups or demo requests), and
  • The number of those conversions that went on to become paying customers.

In the image below, we can see which pages visitors land on before purchasing a product. We can also see the conversion rate and the revenue attributed to the conversions:

1709918766 94 How to Put a Value on Your Content1709918766 94 How to Put a Value on Your Content

Next, we need to calculate ACV: average customer value. This refers to the typical amount that customers spend with our company over the course of their relationship with us.

If we sell one product, and most customers buy just once, our ACV will be the price of our product. If we offer multiple products or add-ons, and customers buy regularly or set up subscriptions, then our ACV will be a lot higher.

Let’s assume that our conversion analysis shows that we had 1,000 free trial signups from our content in February, and 100 of those free trials became paying customers. If our ACV is $2,000, we can plug these numbers into our formula to calculate a return from content of $200,000:

(New customers from content * ACV) = 100 * $2,000 = $200,000

This method is the gold standard of ROI calculations, but (because of the problems mentioned above) calculating ROI like this can be extremely complicated.

At the other end of the spectrum, here’s a quick and easy method that takes about 30 seconds using Ahrefs:

Return from content marketing = (monthly traffic value * content lifetime in months)
1709918766 179 How to Put a Value on Your Content1709918766 179 How to Put a Value on Your Content

Instead of working out how much revenue we’ve generated from our content, this method estimates how much money we’ve saved by ranking organically for keywords instead of paying for advertising.

In Ahrefs, you can estimate the Traffic Value of any article—the amount it would cost to generate the same traffic via Google Ads, instead of SEO.

Below, we can see that it would cost an estimated ~$44k to “replace” the traffic to our list of free SEO tools using ads:

1709918766 880 How to Put a Value on Your Content1709918766 880 How to Put a Value on Your Content

If we add up the traffic value of all the pages in our blog, we have an estimated monthly traffic value of $790,000:

1709918766 990 How to Put a Value on Your Content1709918766 990 How to Put a Value on Your Content

Put another way, if we used paid advertising to get the same amount of visits from the same keywords, we’d need to spend around $790,000 on ads, each and every month.

Most content is useful for longer than a single month, so we can multiply this monthly traffic value by the expected useful “lifetime” of our content. If we use two years as a starting point, that gives us a lifetime traffic value of $18,960,000:

(Monthly traffic value * content lifetime) = $790,900 * 24-months = $18,960,000

We have over 2,000 blog articles at Ahrefs, and we were probably never going to spend $19 million on paid advertising. But this calculation allows you to assign a dollar value to your content in a matter of seconds. It’s particularly useful if your company recently switched from a heavy reliance on paid advertising to content marketing, letting you show off the money you’ve saved from the switch.

Let’s wrap up with a best-of-both-worlds approach, very similar to how we calculate ROI at Ahrefs:

Return from content = (% of signups attributed to content * total signup revenue)
1709918766 119 How to Put a Value on Your Content1709918766 119 How to Put a Value on Your Content

Whenever a new customer signs up for Ahrefs, we ask them a question: Where did you hear about us? 

Their answer is piped into a dedicated Slack channel, #registrations, which gives us a live feed of new signups and, crucially, how they discovered Ahrefs. Sam, our VP of Marketing, regularly uses this feed to work out the percentage of total signups that can be attributed to his YouTube content.

If I head to #registrations and run a search for signups that mentioned “youtube”, we can see over 34,000 people that directly attributed their discovery of Ahrefs to Sam’s video content:

1709918767 208 How to Put a Value on Your Content1709918767 208 How to Put a Value on Your Content

We can use this to estimate content marketing ROI: if 33% of all respondents in a given month attribute their signing up to YouTube, it would be fairly reasonable to assume that 33% of all signups came from YouTube, and that 33% of all new revenue should be attributed to our video content efforts.

If we assume a theoretical monthly revenue of $300,000, and that 1,000 of a total 3,000 signups could be attributed to “YouTube”, we can plug these values into our formula for a return on content of $100,000:

(33% of signups attributed to content * $300,000) = $100,000

This method will underreport the number of signups generated (people might misspell YouTube, or say “videos” instead, or most likely, not answer the question at all). The relationship between new signups and new revenue might also be more complicated than we assume here (if you have lots of free users, for example).

But it has the benefit of making it easy to compare to other marketing channels. If I search for “google” in the same #registration channel, I see 94,000 mentions—bigger than Sam’s 34,000 YouTube mentions:

1709918767 919 How to Put a Value on Your Content1709918767 919 How to Put a Value on Your Content

(Although he’s definitely catching up…)

Final thoughts

There are tons of ways to measure content marketing ROI, and none of them are perfect. But for practical purposes, they don’t need to be.

Metrics, like content marketing ROI, are most useful as directional indicators. Instead of obsessing over perfect calculations, it’s better to choose a simple methodology, stick to it consistently, and see how it changes over time.

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Google On Traffic Diversity As A Ranking Factor

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Google answers the question of whether traffic diversity is a ranking factor for SEO

Google’s SearchLiaison tweeted encouragement to diversify traffic sources, being clear about the reason he was recommending it. Days later, someone followed up to ask if traffic diversity is a ranking factor, prompting SearchLiaison to reiterate that it is not.

What Was Said

The question of whether diversity of traffic was a ranking factor was elicited from a previous tweet in a discussion about whether a site owner should be focusing on off-site promotion.

Here’s the question from the original discussion that was tweeted:

“Can you please tell me if I’m doing right by focusing on my site and content – writing new articles to be found through search – or if I should be focusing on some off-site effort related to building a readership? It’s frustrating to see traffic go down the more effort I put in.”

SearchLiaison split the question into component parts and answered each one. When it came to the part about off-site promotion, SearchLiaison (who is Danny Sullivan), shared from his decades of experience as a journalist and publisher covering technology and search marketing.

I’m going to break down his answer so that it’s clearer what he meant

This is the part from the tweet that talks about off-site activities:

“As to the off-site effort question, I think from what I know from before I worked at Google Search, as well as my time being part of the search ranking team, is that one of the ways to be successful with Google Search is to think beyond it.”

What he is saying here is simple, don’t limit your thinking about what to do with your site to thinking about how to make it appeal to Google.

He next explains that sites that rank tend to be sites that are created to appeal to people.

SearchLiaison continued:

“Great sites with content that people like receive traffic in many ways. People go to them directly. They come via email referrals. They arrive via links from other sites. They get social media mentions.”

What he’s saying there is that you’ll know that you’re appealing to people if people are discussing your site in social media, if people are referring the site in social media and if other sites are citing it with links.

Other ways to know that a site is doing well is when when people engage in the comments section, send emails asking follow up questions, and send emails of thanks and share anecdotes of their success or satisfaction with a product or advice.

Consider this, fast fashion site Shein at one point didn’t rank for their chosen keyword phrases, I know because I checked out of curiosity. But they were at the time virally popular and making huge amounts of sales by gamifying site interaction and engagement, propelling them to become a global brand. A similar strategy propelled Zappos when they pioneered no-questions asked returns and cheerful customer service.

SearchLiaison continued:

“It just means you’re likely building a normal site in the sense that it’s not just intended for Google but instead for people. And that’s what our ranking systems are trying to reward, good content made for people.”

SearchLiaison explicitly said that building sites with diversified content is not a ranking factor.

He added this caveat to his tweet:

“This doesn’t mean you should get a bunch of social mentions, or a bunch of email mentions because these will somehow magically rank you better in Google (they don’t, from how I know things).”

Despite The Caveat…

A journalist tweeted this:

“Earlier this week, @searchliaison told people to diversify their traffic. Naturally, people started questioning whether that meant diversity of traffic was a ranking factor.

So, I asked @iPullRank what he thought.”

SearchLiaison of course answered that he explicitly said it’s not a ranking factor and linked to his original tweet that I quoted above.

He tweeted:

“I mean that’s not exactly what I myself said, but rather repeat all that I’ll just add the link to what I did say:”

The journalist responded:

“I would say this is calling for publishers to diversify their traffic since you’re saying the great sites do it. It’s the right advice to give.”

And SearchLiaison answered:

“It’s the part of “does it matter for rankings” that I was making clear wasn’t what I myself said. Yes, I think that’s a generally good thing, but it’s not the only thing or the magic thing.”

Not Everything Is About Ranking Factors

There is a longstanding practice by some SEOs to parse everything that Google publishes for clues to how Google’s algorithm works. This happened with the Search Quality Raters guidelines. Google is unintentionally complicit because it’s their policy to (in general) not confirm whether or not something is a ranking factor.

This habit of searching for “ranking factors” leads to misinformation. It takes more acuity to read research papers and patents to gain a general understanding of how information retrieval works but it’s more work to try to understand something than skimming a PDF for ranking papers.

The worst approach to understanding search is to invent hypotheses about how Google works and then pore through a document to confirm those guesses (and falling into the confirmation bias trap).

In the end, it may be more helpful to back off of exclusively optimizing for Google and focus at least equally as much in optimizing for people (which includes optimizing for traffic). I know it works because I’ve been doing it for years.

Featured Image by Shutterstock/Asier Romero

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The Complete Guide to Google My Business for Local SEO

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The Complete Guide to Google My Business

What is Google My Business?

Google My Business (GMB) is a free tool that business owners can use to manage their online presence across Google Search and Google Maps.

This profile also puts out important business details, such as address, phone number, and operating hours, making it easily accessible to potential customers. 

Google My Business profile shown on Google MapsGoogle My Business profile shown on Google Maps

When you click on a business listing in the search results it will open a detailed sidebar on the right side of the screen, providing comprehensive information about the business. 

This includes popular times, which show when the business is busiest, a Q&A section where potential users can ask questions and receive responses from the business or other customers, and a photos and videos section that showcases products and services. Customer reviews and ratings are also displayed, which are crucial for building trust and credibility.

Business details on Google My Business profileBusiness details on Google My Business profile

Using Google My Business for Local SEO

Having an optimized Google Business Profile ensures that your business is visible, searchable, and can attract potential customers who are looking for your products and services.

  • Increased reliance on online discovery: More consumers are going online to search and find local businesses, making it crucial to have a GMB listing.
  • Be where your customers are searching: GMB ensures your business information is accurate and visible on Google Search and Maps, helping you stay competitive.
  • Connect with customers digitally: GMB allows customers to connect with your business through various channels, including messaging and reviews.
  • Build your online reputation: GMB makes it easy for customers to leave reviews, which can improve your credibility and trustworthiness.
  • Location targeting: GMB enables location-based targeting, showing your ads to people searching for businesses in your exact location.
  • Measurable results: GMB provides actionable analytics, allowing you to track your performance and optimize your listing.

How to Set Up Google My Business

If you already have a profile and need help claiming, verifying, and/or optimizing it, skip to the next sections.

If you’re creating a new Google My Business profile, here’s a step-by-step guide:

Access or Create your Google AccountAccess or Create your Google Account

Step 1: Access or Create your Google Account:

If you don’t already have a Google account, follow these steps to create one:

  • Visit the Google Account Sign-up Page: Go to the Google Account sign-up page and click on “Create an account.”
  • Enter Your Information: Fill in the required fields, including your name, email address, and password.
  • Verify Your Account: Google will send a verification email to your email address. Click on the link in the email to confirm your account.

Step 2:  Access Google My Business

Business name on Google My BusinessBusiness name on Google My Business

Step 3: Enter Your Business Name and Category

  • Type in your exact business name. Google will suggest existing businesses as you type
  • If your business is not listed, fully type out the name as it appears
  • Search for and select your primary business category

Adding business address to Google My Business profileAdding business address to Google My Business profile

Step 4: Provide Your Business Address

  • If you have a physical location where customers can visit, select “Yes” and enter your address.
  • If you are a service area business without a physical location, select “No” and enter your service area.

Adding contact information to Google My Business profileAdding contact information to Google My Business profile

Step 5: Add Your Contact Information

  • Enter your business phone number and website URL
  • You can also create a free website based on your GMB information

Complete Your ProfileComplete Your Profile

Step 6: Complete Your Profile

To complete your profile, add the following details:

  • Hours of Operation: Enter your business’s operating hours to help customers plan their visits.
  • Services: List the services your business offers to help customers understand what you do.
  • Description: Write a detailed description of your business to help customers understand your offerings.

Now that you know how to set up your Google My Business account, all that’s left is to verify it. 

Verification is essential for you to manage and update business information whenever you need to, and for Google to show your business profile to the right users and for the right search queries. 

If you are someone who wants to claim their business or is currently on the last step of setting up their GMB, this guide will walk you through the verification process to solidify your business’ online credibility and visibility.

How to Verify Google My Business

There are several ways you can verify your business, including:

  • Postcard Verification: Google will send a postcard to your business address with a verification code. Enter the code on your GMB dashboard to verify.
  • Phone Verification: Google will call your business phone number and provide a verification code. Enter the code on your GMB dashboard to verify.
  • Email Verification: If you have a business email address, you can use it to verify your listing.
  • Instant Verification: If you have a Google Analytics account linked to your business, you can use instant verification.

How to Claim & Verify an Existing Google My Business Profile

If your business has an existing Google My Business profile, and you want to claim it, then follow these steps:

Sign in to Google AccountSign in to Google Account

Step 1: Sign in to Google My Business

Access Google My Business: Go to the Google My Business website and sign in with your Google account. If you don’t have a Google account, create one by following the sign-up process.

Search for Your BusinessSearch for Your Business

Step 2: Search for Your Business

Enter your business name in the search bar to find your listing. If your business is already listed, you will see it in the search results.

Request access to existing Google My Business accountRequest access to existing Google My Business account

Step 3: Claim Your Listing

If your business is not already claimed, you will see a “Claim this business” button. Click on this button to start the claiming process.

Editing business information on Google My BusinessEditing business information on Google My Business

Step 4: Complete Your Profile

Once your listing is verified, you can complete your profile by adding essential business information such as:

  • Business Name: Ensure it matches your business name.
  • Address: Enter your business address accurately.
  • Phone Number: Enter your business phone number.
  • Hours of Operation: Specify your business hours.
  • Categories: Choose relevant categories that describe your business.
  • Description: Write a brief description of your business.

Step 5: Manage Your Listing

Regularly check and update your listing to ensure it remains accurate and up-to-date. Respond to customer reviews and use the insights provided by Google Analytics to improve your business.

Unverified Google My Business profileUnverified Google My Business profile

Step 6: Verification 

Verify your business through postcard, email, or phone numbers as stated above. 

Now that you have successfully set up and verified your Google My Business listing, it’s time to optimize it for maximum visibility and effectiveness. By doing this, you can improve your local search rankings, increase customer engagement, and drive more conversions.

How to Optimize Google My Business

Here are the tips that I usually do when I’m optimizing my GMB account: 

    1. Complete Your Profile: Start by ensuring every section applicable to your business is filled out with accurate and up-to-date information. Use your real business name without keyword stuffing to avoid suspension. Ensure your address and phone number are consistent with those on your website and other online directories, and add a link to your website and social media accounts.
    2. Optimize for Keywords: Integrate relevant keywords into your business description, services, and posts. However, avoid stuffing your GMB profile with keywords, as this can appear spammy and reduce readability.
    3. Add Backlinks: Encourage local websites, blogs, and business directories to link to your GMB profile. 
  1. Select Appropriate Categories: Choose the most relevant primary category for your business to help Google understand what your business is about. Additionally, add secondary categories that accurately describe your business’s offerings to capture more relevant search traffic.
  2. Encourage and Manage Reviews: Ask satisfied customers to leave positive reviews on your profile, as reviews significantly influence potential customers. Respond to all reviews, both positive and negative, in a professional and timely manner. Addressing negative feedback shows that you value customer opinions and are willing to improve.
  3. Add High-Quality Photos and Videos: Use high-quality images for your profile and cover photos that represent your business well. Upload additional photos of your products, services, team, and premises. Adding short, engaging videos can give potential customers a virtual tour or highlight key services, enhancing their interest.

By following this comprehensive guide, you have successfully set up, verified, and optimized your GMB profile. Remember to continuously maintain and update your profile to ensure maximum impact and success.

Key Takeaway: 

With more and more people turning to Google for all their needs, creating, verifying, and optimizing your Google My Business profile is a must if you want your business to be found. 

Follow this guide to Google My Business, and you’re going to see increased online presence across Google Search and Google Maps in no time.

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LinkedIn Rolls Out New Newsletter Tools

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LinkedIn Rolls Out New Newsletter Tools

LinkedIn is launching several new features for people who publish newsletters on its platform.

The professional networking site wants to make it easier for creators to grow their newsletter audiences and engage readers.

More People Publishing Newsletters On LinkedIn

The company says the number of LinkedIn members publishing newsletter articles has increased by 59% over the past year.

Engagement on these creator-hosted newsletters is also up 47%.

With this growing interest, LinkedIn is updating its newsletter tools.

A New Way To View & Comment

One of the main changes is an updated reading experience that displays comments alongside the newsletter articles.

This allows readers to view and participate in discussions more easily while consuming the content.

See an example of the new interface below.

Screenshot from: linkedin.com, June 2024.

Design Your Own Cover Images

You can now use Microsoft’s AI-powered Designer tool to create custom cover images for their newsletters.

The integration provides templates, size options, and suggestions to help design visually appealing covers.

More Subscriber Notifications

LinkedIn is improving the notifications sent to newsletter subscribers to drive more readership.

When a new issue is published, subscribers will receive email alerts and in-app messages. LinkedIn will also prompt your followers to subscribe.

Mention Other Profiles In Articles

You can now embed links to other LinkedIn profiles and pages directly into their newsletter articles.

This lets readers click through and learn more about the individuals or companies mentioned.

In the example below, you can see it’s as easy as adding a link.

1718346362 491 LinkedIn Rolls Out New Newsletter ToolsScreenshot from: linkedin.com, June 2024.

Preview Links Before Publishing

Lastly, LinkedIn allows you to access a staging link that previews the newsletter URL before hitting publish.

This can help you share and distribute their content more effectively.

Why SEJ Cares

As LinkedIn continues to lean into being a publishing platform for creators and thought leaders, updates that enhance the newsletter experience are noteworthy for digital marketers and industry professionals looking to build an audience.

The new tools are part of LinkedIn’s broader effort to court creators publishing original content on its platform amid rising demand for newsletters and knowledge-sharing.

How This Can Help You

If you publish a newsletter on LinkedIn, these new tools can help you design more visually appealing content, grow your subscriber base, interact with your audience through comments, and preview your content before going live.


Featured Image: Tada Images/Shutterstock

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