How to Measure Content Marketing & PR Impact with Search Volume Tools

Everyone can measure the impact of off-site content placements using referral traffic. It’s easy – you just go into Google Analytics and type in the domain of the site.

Moving Beyond Referral Traffic

But referral traffic makes up only a fraction of the total value and benefit your company or client’s site will get from your work.

In addition to the referral traffic that comes from the link, there is both direct traffic and branded search traffic created by media placements.

Direct traffic can be type-in traffic (where users type your domain into their browser), traffic from email and IM sharing, or traffic from links in documents like PDFs and PowerPoints. Either way, it’s an indication that you’re getting the word out about your client’s site.

Both of these types of traffic are driven by PR & content marketing, but too often we don’t get credit for them.

Measuring Direct Traffic

Direct traffic is easy to measure in Google Analytics or any other clickstream analytics package you may have set up. (In this post, I’ll teach you how to measure it in Google Analytics.)

In ‘Traffic Sources’ (on the left panel in Google Analytics), you can choose the ‘Direct’ option from under the ‘Sources’ Dropdown.

This will give you a chart of the direct visits to your site. Now, make note of your most recent media pickups, guest post placements, and infographics, and other outreach success on the chart.

direct traffic corresponds to placements

To use a BuzzStream example, on June 7th, Matt Beswick wrote an article in Mashable that featured BuzzStream prominently. This accounted for a spike in direct traffic on that day. Then, on June 20th, Quaturo’s Kevin Gibbons mentioned us in his “Top 50 Online Marketing Tools You Should Be Using” presentation at A4U Expo, which corresponds to another spike in direct traffic.

Measuring Branded Search Traffic

In addition to typing your brand name into their address bar, people who hear about your company from a speaking engagement or press piece may find your company again by searching for your brand.

Before the era of “not provided” keywords, this was incredibly easy to measure. Now it’s much more difficult and murky, but still very possible.

Google’s Insights for Search tool allows you to look at the global search volumes around specific terms. While it doesn’t give you exact numbers, it can give you trends. You can see which of your media placements/content pieces are driving customers to search for your brand. (You can also evaluate this data by region, which is great if you’re conducting country-specific campaigns.)

For example, Eloqua is one of the best companies at content marketing and content publicity. They launched a UK version of their Blog Tree series of infographics.

If I was evaluating the success of this initiative, one of the things I would look at is branded search volume in the UK. I can use Google Insights for Search to evaluate this. As you can see, towards the end of April 2012, when the ‘blog tree’ was launched, there was a marked increase in the number of searches for Eloqua.

Don’t Sell Yourself Short – Measure the Full Value of Your PR

These are just two ways you can measure the full impact of your work. There’s lots more you can do – including measuring rises in search rankings and using multi-touch attribution to understand what part your work plays in the customer journey – but this is a great start.

How do you measure the full impact of your PR & content marketing?

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