How to Improve Content Performance without Focusing on Keywords

How to Improve Content Performance without Focusing on Keywords

By Dan StasiewskiAug 13 /2013

improve content performanceHave you looked at your search engine traffic report lately? Chances are you’ve noticed the “not provided” results, rather than actual keywords, on the rise. A sampling of six client websites, both B2B and B2C, and our own website shows a 52 percent increase in “not provided” results on average year over year. With the growth in active Google Plus users who, while logged in, will not have their keywords exposed, we can only expect the hidden keywords to continue to rise.

So what can we do in a world without keyword data? While some keyword information is still available, focusing on keywords, whether in advertising or in your daily KPI reporting, is actually holding your website—and your content—back. The best way to ensure you are getting traffic from search and other sources is to abandon this keyword obsession and start focusing on creating high-quality content that targets your buyers.

This targeted content can then be judged on three important metrics:

1. Short-Term Traffic Performance

When you first publish a blog post or any other piece of content, your audience—even a small one—will begin to consume and share your work. This initial traffic information, usually from no more than the first week of public availability, will tell you if your content is below average, above average or right on target.

What to Look For

As part of your content strategy, you should develop a common baseline for expected first week traffic. If your content outperforms the baseline traffic metric, especially in the first few days, then you have something that deserves an even greater push.


Once it’s established the content is popular, you can go beyond simply sharing the content on your social networks to promoting that content on social networks. Using Facebook’s Promoted Posts or LinkedIn’s new Sponsored Updates, you can intelligently spend your ad dollars on promoting content that already has an established performance record. This can not only increase traffic, but also the reach of your brand.


In June, one of our most popular blog posts was “Tips for Successfully Beginning a New Lead Nurturing Campaign.” While the social sharing on the page wouldn’t make you think so, the traffic statistics said otherwise. So once this piece of content began outperforming others, we promoted it through paid services increasing the overall reach of that post (and extending its lead over others). That was enough to make it the top post in July, as well.

2. Long-Term Traffic Performance

While short-term performance allows you to get quick wins, the long-term traffic (more than one month) will tell you what topics you should cover more regularly and how you should structure future posts. 

What to Look For

Every month, you should look at the performance of all your content for that single month period. Then compare that with the previous months and the date of the published content to see if something is continuing to perform. Then see what topic was covered and how that content was presented (headline, format) so you can replicate success. 


Rather than guessing as to what the best topics are or what the best format is, you can easily determine just how you should shape your content in the future. And because you know what works, you can also experiment more freely on new topics and structures to see which ones stick.


Kuno EVP John McTigue wrote a blog post title “Top 10 Inbound Marketing KPIs—The View From the Top,” which has consistently been one of our most popular blog posts every month since it was published in December. To follow-up on this post, John published “Are You Measuring These Content Marketing KPIs?” While not outperforming the original blog post, the follow-up post was equally popular, meaning we should write more about marketing KPIs but possibly structure subsequent posts in a similar way to the first article.

3. Social Performance

While social performance impacts both short-term and long-term traffic, investigating the specific type of content popular on a certain social network will help you better share content on those networks in the future. This way you don’t overshare something on Twitter when it was really made for LinkedIn or vice versa. 

What to Look For

Google Analytics provide a particularly helpful report under Traffic Sources > Social > Network Referrals. You can see exactly what content resulted in the most traffic from dozens of social networks. See what content performed best on each network every month and use that data to guide your social sharing.


Instead of inundating your followers with information they may not be interested in, you can share—and reshare—content designed for a specific social audience. In addition, you’ll know what content is best to promote via ads on those networks.


Based on our social performance reports, we know words like “crush-worthy,” “killer” and “sexy” perform well on Google+ but not on LinkedIn. On the flipside, longer, less fluffy headlines perform better on LinkedIn. So rather than sharing everything on LinkedIn, we can promote the fluffier headlines a little less so we don’t give our audience something they don’t want.

Are you reviewing your content performance? Share your experiences in the comment section below. 

photo credit: Stuck in Customs

dan stasiewski blog photoDan Stasiewski is Technology Director at Kuno. When he's not talking about marketing data and trends, he's probably in a movie theater... or randomly breaking into song. You can connect with Dan via TwitterLinkedIn or Google Plus.

Conquering Content Marketing

The Author

Dan Stasiewski

When he's not talking about marketing data and trends, he's probably in a movie theater... or randomly breaking into song.