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6 Tools to Test, Measure, and Optimize Your Association Content Strategy

Does your association have a documented content strategy? 

If you answered yes, great. You’re on the road to establishing your association as a thought leader, improving your SEO, and engaging current and prospective members.  

And while a documented content strategy is an amazing first step in achieving your traffic, reach, and lead generation goals, it’s certainly not your endpoint. That’s because a content strategy is a living document that should often be tested, iterated, and updated. Without a constant check-in on performance, you risk pouring resources into content that no one will ever read.  

P.S. If you answered no to the above question, I invite you to read this resource about why you should create a content strategy, like… immediately. 

How Do I Know if My Association’s Content Strategy is Effective? 

Measuring the effectiveness of a content strategy requires defining goals and key performance indicators (KPIs) that align with your organization’s objectives. The following content strategy KPIs are a great place to start:  

  • Traffic: This is usually the most basic place to start—is the content you’re publishing generating traffic back to your website? Track the number of unique visitors, page views, and time spent on your site.
  • Organic search traffic: Take overall traffic a step further by uncovering how many visitors are landing on your content via organic search. This is traffic that is coming from a search engine results page (SERP) and is a good indication of how optimized your content is. 
  • Entrances: If you’re publishing content in the form of blog posts, pillar pages, or resources, it’s important to understand how many visitors are entering your site through that content. This is also a good indicator of optimization and can also help you drill down into supplemental metrics like next page path or exit rate.
  • Conversions: Most association content strategies have the ultimate goal of converting visitors into members. Track the number of form submissions, purchases, and sign-ups generated by your content.
  • Social reach: Measure the reach and engagement of your content on social media platforms. This can include likes, shares, comments, and clicks. 

But how do you find these metrics? And once you locate them, what insights can you glean from them? Let’s dive in. 

1. Google Analytics 

Most marketers have at least heard of Google Analytics before. Google Analytics is a free-to-use treasure trove filled with valuable insights into how visitors are interacting with your website and content.  

Here are some ways that Google Analytics can help with content planning:  

  • Audience insights: Google Analytics can provide demographic and geographic data about your website visitors, including age, gender, location, and interests. This information can help you better understand your target audience and create content that resonates with them.

  • Content performance: Google Analytics can track the performance of your individual web pages and blog posts, including pageviews, bounce rate, time on page, and more. By analyzing this data, you can identify which pieces of content are resonating with your audience and adjust your content strategy accordingly.

  • Traffic sources: Google Analytics can show you where your website traffic is coming from, such as social media, search engines, or referral sites. This information can help you identify which channels are driving the most traffic to your website and adjust your content promotion strategy accordingly.

  • Conversion tracking: Google Analytics can track the conversion rates of your website, including form submissions, sign-ups, and purchases. This information can help you identify which pieces of content are driving the most conversions. It’s also a great way to test offers and CTAs that nurture your readers to take an additional action. 

By using Google Analytics to track your website's performance, you can gain valuable insights into your current and prospective members’ behavior and use that information to plan and optimize your content strategy. 

>>> Related read: What GA4 Means for the Future of Your Association's Reporting  

2. Google Search Console 

Google Search Console (GSC) is a free tool that helps website owners and marketers track and analyze their website's search engine performance. It can also be a gold mine to understand how your content is performing and to help you uncover the type of queries your content needs to answer. 

Here are some ways that you can use GSC to inform your content strategy: 

  • Identify top-performing pages: GSC can show you which pages on your website are receiving the most clicks and impressions in search results. This information can help you identify which pages are performing well and may benefit from additional optimization or promotion. It’s also helpful to fuel future content production—for example, if you see a page that is ranking high but you don’t have a ton of additional content about the subject, you might want to prioritize producing more to better connect with your audiences. 

  • Track keyword rankings: GSC can show you which keywords your website is ranking for and how those rankings have changed over time. This information can help you identify which keywords are driving the most traffic to your website and adjust your content strategy to target those keywords more effectively.

  • Understand search queries: By analyzing your website's search query data in GSC, you can identify opportunities to improve your content and optimize your website for specific keywords and phrases. For example, if you notice that your website is ranking well for a particular keyword but has a low click-through rate (CTR), you may want to adjust the title tag and meta description of that page to make it more appealing to users.

  • Analyze backlinks: GSC can show you which websites are linking to your website and which pages on your website are being linked from those external websites helping you identify topics of interest across related organizations and people. 

3. Google Trends

Google Trends is another free and valuable tool that can help you stay up to date with industry trends, understand your members better, and generate new content ideas. It can help identify popular topics and trends in your industry, understand how search volume for specific keywords is changing over time, and adjust your content strategy to meet the needs and interests of your constituents.  

For instance:  

  • Find popular topics: Use Google Trends to discover popular topics related to your industry, vertical markets, personas, and more. Enter a broad topic into Google Trends and explore related topics that are currently trending or have experienced a recent spike in search volume. Use that information to generate new content ideas that are relevant to your audience. 

  • Identify seasonal trends: Google Trends can also help you identify seasonal trends and patterns in search volume for specific keywords. For example, if you are in the fashion industry, you can use Google Trends to understand when searches for "spring fashion" or "summer fashion" start to increase each year.  

  • Compare search terms: Use Google Trends to compare the search volume of different keywords and phrases related to your industry. This can help you understand which terms are most popular among your members so that you’re optimizing content for exactly the terms they’re using.  

4. BuzzSumo

BuzzSumo is a content marketing tool that allows you to analyze the performance of content across social media platforms and identify top-performing content in your industry. The platform offers a free 30-day trial and paid plans from there. 

BuzzSumo can help both test and optimize your content strategy in several ways: 

  • Identify popular content: BuzzSumo allows you to see the most shared and engaging content related to your topic or industry. By analyzing the top-performing content, you can identify popular topics and content formats that resonate with your audience. 

  • Monitor competitor performance: With BuzzSumo, you can analyze the content performance of your competitors, including the topics they cover, the social media platforms they use, and the content formats they employ. This information can help you understand what topics resonate most in your industry during any given period of time.

  • Discover new content ideas: BuzzSumo can help you generate new content ideas based on what is currently popular in your industry or topic. By using the platform to search for keywords or topics, you can see what content is resonating with your audience and develop new content ideas based on these insights. 

5. AnswerThePublic

AnswerThePublic is a search listening tool that helps you generate content ideas by providing insights into the questions people are asking about a particular topic. AnswerThePublic has a freemium version with a limit on how many searches you can perform per day, along with a seven-day trial and paid options.   

The tool uses search data from Google and other search engines to create visualizations of the questions, prepositions, and comparisons related to a particular keyword or phrase. 

You can enter a keyword or topic, and the tool will generate a list of questions and other queries related to that keyword. The results are presented in a visual format that shows the most commonly asked questions and topics related to the keyword and variations of the keyword that people are searching for. 

screenshot of SEMrush keyword tool

Image credit: AnswerThePublic 

AnswerThePublic is a great tool for prioritizing content that addresses the questions and concerns of your target audience. These insights can help you create content that is more likely to be found by your target audience and answers their most pressing questions. 

6. Semrush

Semrush is an all-in-one digital marketing tool designed to help businesses improve their online visibility and optimize their digital marketing efforts. It provides a comprehensive suite of tools that allow you to analyze and track your website's search engine rankings, conduct keyword research, analyze your competitors, track social media performance, and more. 

Semrush can help inform your content strategy to make sure what you’re producing is optimized for search engines, resonates with your target members, and drives engagement and conversions. Some key features include: 

  • Keyword research: Semrush allows you to conduct in-depth keyword research to find the best keywords for your website or blog. You can see how many searches a particular keyword receives, how difficult it is to rank for that keyword, and get related keyword ideas.

  • Competitive analysis: You can use Semrush to analyze your competitors' websites and see what keywords they are ranking for, where their traffic is coming from, and how they are performing on social media. This information can help you identify gaps in your own content strategy and find new opportunities for growth.

  • Topic research: The Topic Research tool allows you to enter a topic or keyword and generate a list of related topics and subtopics to include in your content. This can help you identify opportunities to cover all aspects of a particular topic.

  • Content analytics: Track the performance of your content over time, including traffic, engagement, and conversions. This information can help you identify which content types resonate with your members and adjust your content strategy accordingly. 

Semrush offers varying paid plans for small teams, large enterprise associations, and everything in between.   

Ready to Take the Next Step in Optimizing Your Association Content Marketing Strategy? 

Need some help measuring the effectiveness of and optimizing your association’s content strategy? We’re here to help. Reach out to explore how Ready North is your expert content strategy partner.  

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Shannen Laur

Topics: Content Strategy

Written by Shannen Laur

Shannen works with existing and new clients to ensure Brightfind and Ready North are perfectly aligned with our client’s goals and that we are anticipating and proactively meeting their needs. Shannen’s passion for learning and for communications makes her a successful marketer but also a fantastic strategist who can easily fly at a high level to meet clients’ long-term goals while designing services to meet their needs at a detailed level.