Creating Killer Content with Data: Pubcon Austin 2016

A few weeks ago I headed down to Austin for Pubcon’s regional, one-day show. The event featured some of my favorite speakers and gave me the opportunity to present on one of my all-time favorite topics: creating killer content (aka creating content your audience actually wants to read!).

Why do I love this topic? Because, at the end of the day, there’s sooooo much out there around creating content but much of it misses the mark on why.

So, this week, I’m breaking down my presentation and giving you the goods on how to use data to create content for your buyers.

What Is Killer Content? 

What is Killer Content?

Let’s be real. The idea of “good” content is entirely subjective. Content that works for one business may not work for another business. However, good content should:

  • Give your audience what they’re looking for
  • Entertain your audience
  • Engage your audience
  • Create a connection with your audience
  • Move your audience through the buyer journey
  • Encourage your audience to take an action

The problem is, along with a lack of understanding of what makes good content, there’s a common misconception that you need more content to be successful. Yes, having more content can help you be successful, but it has to be the right content.

That’s where data comes in and the best place to start is with data you already have.

Where do you find this data? I like to use the following:

Google Analytics 

We know that Google Analytics has a wealth of data and there’s a ton you can do with it. When it comes to content analysis, there are a few places I like to start: 

Top Pages


The top pages report shows you what content is being seen the most. This can be especially important when looking at specific sections of a site (ex: blog, whitepapers, videos).

Understanding what content is being viewed the most (and converting the most) should be a key consideration when planning future content. More importantly, understanding the content types and the content topics driving traffic and conversions is imperative.

Pouring over numbers can be tough so I like to try and visualize this to give myself a better understanding.

A good way to do this is to take your top 25 most trafficked pages, plug them into the AdWords keyword planner, and export the keyword list of terms into a tag cloud (shout out to Jeremy for this awesome tip):


Another way to go about this is to break down the posts by topic and chart it (I will typically take the top 100 posts or so to do this).


Unless your post URLs contain categories in them, this can be somewhat tedious but I find it useful as it can show that topics driving the most visibility aren’t always the most frequently written topics.

Note: Keep in mind the factors driving eyeballs to a specific piece of content. For example, paid campaigns and newsletters can artificially inflate numbers so as you are looking at the data, make sure you understand the nuances.

Top Referral Pages

To me, top referral pages can tell you a lot about existing content and what your audience finds valuable. After all, if a page is generating traffic because it’s being linked from other sites, you can determine the types of pieces to create to drive more links.

If you can see pages generating referrals from social, you can determine what type of content can be created to drive shares and visibility.

Take a look at your top referral pages because although they may not be the top trafficked pages, they certainly can provide valuable insights.

Google Search Console

Search Console (previously known as Webmaster Tools) does a number of things but when evaluating content, I like to look at top linked pages and pages driving the most impressions and clicks.

Linked Pages 


Similar to using your top referral pages, by looking at the linked pages report, you can see what content is driving links (Yes, you can also use tools like Moz, SEMRush, Majestic, etc. for this, but I think Search Console provides a good free overview).

Typically, when I look at this report, I start seeing type themes (eBooks, studies, infographics, blog posts) which help inform overall content needs beyond just topics.

Search Analytics Top Pages

When Google took away our keywords oh so many years ago, we began relying on Search Console. It doesn’t give us everything we wanted but to Google’s credit, they have added new features over the years and provided us with data we can use to inform our decisions.

In truth, the top pages feature has been around the whole time but it’s now somewhat hidden within the Search Analytics section.


I like to look at top pages sorted by impressions and also by clicks. Sorting by impressions, you can identify topics that are highly searched and, sorting by clicks, you can identify topics that your audience is interested in.

Of course you should also use this data to find gaps. For example, if there’s a piece that drives a high number of impressions but no clicks, take a look at the search results to find out why. Is the topic relevant to the queries? Is there an opportunity to optimize the tagging? What can be done to capitalize on the large number of impressions?

Search Console may not have everything we want, but it does have some data you won’t find elsewhere.


I think it’s pretty clear by now that I love Buzzsumo. I talk about it in presentations, in blog posts, on Twitter, etc., etc. The tool rocks my world.

It has also become clutch when evaluating content and outlining content strategies for clients.

In general, the tool has a number of functions but I really enjoy the Content Analysis feature, which gives you not only the top shared content but breaks down content by type, by length, shares by network, and provides popular topics related to your content.


As you’re thinking about future content, take a look at some of this data to better understand what you need to be writing. How long should it be? What topic should it focus on? Where should it be shared?


Moz recently launched Moz content and, from what I’ve seen so far, it has some cool features that compete with BuzzSumo, including content types and content topics.

In my opinion, the Content Types functionality is actually a little better than BuzzSumo as it lists more types of content:


It not only lists shares but also lists number of links, number of posts within each type, and the average reach of each post. Pretty cool.

Again, as you’re thinking about upcoming content, take a look at this data to see what content will have the biggest impact on each content objective (link building, brand awareness, sales, etc.).

Google Trends

I’m always a little hesitant to include Google tools in presentations because it’s like…really?


Most of us are familiar with Google’s tools but, in reality, not all of us are actually using them, including Google Trends. Which is why I included it here.

Google Trends offers value in that it can help identify the right terminology to use to capture a wider audience.

For example, a few months ago, Rhea Drysdale gave a presentation here in Boston and talked about how when her company was redesigning their website, they had to determine whether to use digital marketing or internet marketing in their messaging.

By looking at Google Trends, they could see that digital marketing was not only used more often, but trending upward.


As you’re planning out your editorial calendar, Google Trends can help show rising trends in the keyword space.


SEMRush is another tool I adore for a number of reasons but one of the features I find myself using consistently is the Domain Analytics > Organic Research function.

By looking at which pieces of content and which sections of the site have the most organic visibility, we can get a better idea of what we need to create in the future to enhance overall organic presence.


What I like about SEMRush is you can filter by URL, while at the same time getting a picture of overall keyword trends and the SERPs themselves.

Customer Data / Blog Subscribers

Do you know who is reading your blog or subscribed to your newsletter? Do you know the most common job titles of your customers?

This data is invaluable when planning content. Why? Because these are the people you want to reach.

One common problem in all companies is siloes. Does your content team have access to your CRM or your marketing automation tool?

Give it to them! Or at least give them the data contained there. Some of these things include:

  • Job title
  • Industry
  • Department
  • Location
  • Relationship to company

Demographic information can go a long way in ensuring content speaks to the right audience.


Ok, so that’s a lot of data! But we aren’t done. The key to success is being able to piece it all together to create a holistic view of existing content performance and your audience as a whole.

By looking at what’s working and what’s not working, you can create an informed content strategy and, more importantly, assets your audience actually wants to read.

There’s a lot more I could say on this but my fingers are getting tired of typing. So…here’s the full presentation and feel free to reach out with questions!

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