How To Measure Content Marketing Success Using Keyword Categorization

There is a steady buzz around content marketing and the impact of it on SEO. While there are many ways to measure success in content marketing there are very few tactical guides. Once a content marketing piece is promoted online, whether it is a blog post, an infographic, a video, a podcast, or any combination of the above, there are several success metrics you can measure in Google Analytics such as:

  • Conversions gained
  • Incoming traffic
    • Referring sites – to see how many people promoted the site naturally that gave actual traffic
    • Search – to see how relevant, trendy, and popular the content was that brought in people searching for the topic naturally and visited the page
  • Links gained
  • Social sharing metrics – from number of Facebook likes and shares, Tweets, to various types of voting and bookmarking from different sites

However, when analyzing incoming organic search traffic, there is not much around how to measure the impact of the content you are writing at a keyword categorical level on your site performance. The following guide will walk you through setting up a Google Analytics profile to track your category and keyword level SEO performance around your content marketing topics.

Compiling a List of Categories

The first step to analyzing the performance of your content marketing is understanding the categories around the content you are writing or plan to write. Creating these categories will help you review past performance around the keyword sets you are targeting and how the new content is improving site performance. If you already have an understanding of your site categories skip the next section. If you do not have an idea of your site categories, read on and learn how to get started with categorizing your keywords.

Finding SEO Keyword Data in Google Analytics

Using Keyword Data to Compile Keyword Categories

You can always manually categorize keywords, or come up with some type of criteria or logic behind the categorization. But if you do not have this yet and just started thinking about this, here is a quick start way to come up with your initial keyword categories. In Google Analytics, navigate to the All Traffic>Search>Organic area. Select a date range you feel is appropriate to getting a proper sample of your keyword set.

Then, expand the list to view the top 5000 keywords and export your list as a .csv file. With your data exported, take your keyword list and place it in a new tab/sheet starting in cell A1. Use a phrase density macro to get a list of your top keyword phrases as they appear in your keyword list. Review the top phrases to come up with a list of keyword categories. If you find some similar keyword categories that you want to group together that is fine as well, so don’t be afraid to get creative in your categorization. You should now have a list of Keyword Categories!

Creating a Filtered Profile / View

Any time you are creating new filters, I recommend setting up a new profile or using a test profile first. For help setting up a new profile/view visit the Google Analytics help center page.

Once your new profile is created,  it is time to start setting up the filters. These filters will assign the keyword categories you have already selected to your keywords. With Filters, order matters so you will want start with broader categories and hone in on specific categories as you work down the list. Each subsequent category will override the previous category.

Creating a Category Filter

The filter you are going to use is an advanced filter. The filter settings are fairly straightforward for a single keyword phrase.

What you are effectively doing with this filter is looking at all organic keywords containing social media and adding the campaign name of social media to these visits.
Social Media Category Filter

Field A–> Extract A: Campaign Term: social media
Field B –> Extract B: Campaign Medium: organic
Output to –> Constructor: Campaign Name: social media
Field A Required: Yes
Field B Required: Yes
Override Output Field: Yes
Case Sensitive: No
Follow this Process for all of your keyword Categories, and remember order matters!

Working with Not Provided

Now that you have categorized all of your keyword data it is time to tackle the (not provided) data. You will likely want this filter to be towards the top of your list of filters so that you can filter the pages by title the same way you are filtering your keywords.

Note: with the setup below, you may impact the campaign name of PPC campaigns, if you want to ensure you are just filtering organic, you will need to setup a two-step filter process.
What you are essentially doing with this filter is looking at all (not set) or (not provided) keywords and appending the page title to “NP-” in the campaign name field.

Not Provided Campaign Filter

Field A –> Extract A: Campaign Term: \(not provided\)|\(not set\)
Field B –> Extract B: Page Title: (.*)
Output to –> Constructor: Campaign Name: NP-$B1
Field A Required: Yes
Field B Required: Yes
Override Output Field: Yes
Case Sensitive: No

Creating a Catch All Category

With all of your categories taken care of and not provided handled the last step is creating a catch all category or “Misc” or” Other”. Having this category will help you keep track of uncategorized keywords that you may want to focus on and create categories for in the future.

Other Category Filter
Field A –> Extract A: Campaign Medium: organic
Field B –> Extract B: –
Output to –> Constructor: Campaign Name: other
Field A Required: Yes
Field B Required: No
Override Output Field: Yes
Case Sensitive: No

The Result

You should now have a filters list that looks something like this:
Google Analytics Content Marketing Filters List

Since you created this on a new profile, it will only apply to data moving forward. Give it a few days and confirm the categories are working as expected. You can always adjust the categories and add new categories down the line, however as with all filters, the impact will only be on the data collected after the change. Just make sure to annotate your changes.

Evaluating Your Work

Once everything is setup and you have collected some data, go back to the Traffic Sources>Search>Organic area and add a secondary dimension to Campaign. You should now see all of those Keyword Categories you created!
Evaluating the results of your content marketing filters

As you continue to write content around your keyword categories, you can now easily review campaign performance to determine their impact. Since what you setup is a campaign name, you can always create custom reports around campaign name and pages to determine which pages (what content you created) is having the largest impact on site performance.  Get started using this custom report.  Be sure to setup the metrics to reflect the site performance metrics you use. Let me know if you have any questions  in the comments below.

2 Responses to “How To Measure Content Marketing Success Using Keyword Categorization”

  1. Stéphane

    I was Googling about that function “phrase desnity macro” in Excel to finally find out it’s a typo. Density makes more sense 😉

    • Justin Goodman

      Stéphane, thank you for catching the typo, it has been corrected. Let me know if you have any questions regarding the macro I emailed your way.


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