Content Marketing Math – Which Organic Search Metrics Count?

Content Marketing Math – Which Organic Search Metrics Count?

By Chad PollittMar 22 /2012

Measuring Content Marketing SEOIt’s pretty easy to measure the success of one blog post, whitepaper, video, etc. Most people would look at metrics like visits, views, rankings, inbound links, conversions, so on and so forth. However, how do you measure the effectiveness of an entire content marketing campaign for SEO? How do you know whether the campaign is trending northward month over month? You could just add up the metrics above for everything published and measure, compare and contrast that, right? That’s an option, but it won’t provide the most telling metrics you should be tracking, monitoring and improving for maximum ROI.

Analytics Packages and Spreadsheets

Some of the metrics represented below are easy to pull out of analytics packages like HubSpot and Google Analytics, while others require some heavy spreadsheet work. However, once the formulas are in place, monitoring custom analytics month to month becomes much easier.

Metrics to Track

Below are the most important metrics, generally speaking, to keep an eye on with content marketing deployments, keeping in mind that each company may have a unique organic search metric need based upon their goals.



Conversions and/or Leads

Total Known Keywords Driving Traffic

Total Visits

Total Conversions

Total Unknown Keywords Driving Traffic

Known Visits

Total Conversions from Known Keywords

Total Known & Unknown Keywords Driving


Total Conversions from Unknown Keywords

Percent of Keywords Unknown


Visit to Conversion Ratio


Visit to Conversion Ratio Known


Visit to Conversion Ratio Unknown


Branded & Nonbranded Keywords

Branded & Nonbranded Visits

Total Customers

Total Branded Keywords Driving Traffic

Total Branded Visits

Total Known Customers

Total Nonbranded Keywords Driving Traffic

Total Nonbranded Visits

Total Unknown Customers

Branded to Nonbranded Ratio


Conversion to Customer Ratio


Known Conversion to Customer Ratio


Unknown Conversion to Customer Ratio


Branded & Nonbranded Conversions

Branded & Nonbranded Customers


Branded Conversions

Branded Customers


Nonbranded Conversions

Nonbranded Customers


Branded Visit to Conversion Ratio

Branded Conversion to Customer Ratio


Nonbranded Visit to Conversion Ratio

Nonbranded Conversion to Customer Ratio


Where's the Rankings?

Did you notice you didn’t see any mention in the above about rankings? It’s not included because ranking doesn’t matter with content marketing - how many keywords drive traffic does. Growth in this metric overtime represents a positive, healthy content marketing campaign with regards to organic search.

Also, tracking organic traffic all the way to customer acquisition is prominently displayed above. Ultimately, this is the most important metric.

Unknown Keywords

Any mention of "unknown" above represents Google’s new hidden keyword reporting. This is important to track because spikes or contractions in the trend can skew the other metrics. You'll need to account for that in order to give the trends an honest assessment.

Content Marketing Metrics

Branded vs. Nonbranded Keywords

Separating branded from nonbranded keywords is important, too. Conversions from nonbranded keyword phrases generally represent an increase in incremental sales opportunities over time. For companies wishing to increase brand awareness and to grow through new customer acquisition from people unfamiliar with the brand, nonbranded metrics are important to monitor.

Growth in branded metrics, on the other hand, helps gauge the quality of the content produced from the content marketing campaign. It suggests that the content left enough of an impression the visitor knew to search for a branded term to access more content at a later date. It can also hint as to the effectiveness of offline outbound marketing.


The relationship between visitors, conversions and customers is important to measure. Generally, high conversion rates equate to high levels of earned trust, low barriers to lead acquisition, very accurate targeting or highly prized value propositions.

The individual numbers aren’t as important as the trend from month to month. Aggressive content marketing campaigns (five to 21 pieces of content per week) tend to build more and more momentum over time. This momentum will be on display in the charts and graphs you develop from the above metrics.