How to track revenue from organic search

November 13, 2021
📓 Article

Is your content driving revenue? Not just traffic, or conversions (though those are also very important). But revenue.

A lot of companies don’t know! Even kinda big ones with lots of writers and millions of dollars being spent on content. You’d be surprised.

So if you feel like you don’t have an answer to the revenue question, be assured that that’s pretty normal. And you can get way ahead of the game by starting to tackle it in your customer relationship management (CRM) system.

Here’s one way to get started.

👨‍💻 The CRM has the data you need

The CRM has all the data about your prospects and customers, and it also has all the data about how much money they’re giving you – or will potentially give you.

For example: within Salesforce, revenue info is stored as “Opportunities”. And within each Opportunity, there’s a field called “Lead Source”.

(Note: This isn’t exclusive to Salesforce – every CRM has some version of “Opportunities” and “Lead Source”.)

Lead Source is the field we can use to track organic search revenue.

🔮 Understanding the Lead Source field

In a very, very basic sense, the Lead Source field is saying: ”For this deal, here’s how the person signing the check found us.”

  • Did that person find us through an ad? Then maybe the value of that field is “Paid Search”.
  • Did they talk to us at an event? Then maybe the value of that field is “Event”.
  • Do we not know how they found us? Quelle horreur! Then maybe the value of that field is “Unknown”.

At the very least, your CRM should account for a standard set of Lead Sources – including “Organic Search”.

That’s an easy way to show that search – and therefore content – is working. And once you’ve started tracking this in the CRM, you can build out a more granular approach.

🏄 What you can do

Talk to whoever runs your CRM. Ask them:

  • How do we know if an Opportunity came from organic search?
  • What other information do we have in Salesforce about where Opportunities are coming from?
  • Do we have a field that tells us the first page someone landed on, on our site?

If your CRM administrator says you don’t have Organic Search as an option in that field, you’ll need to work with them (and maybe your web developer) to get things tagged appropriately. Here’s a quick video giving you an outline of how that can work.

It takes time! But it’s really important, so that you get the credit you deserve.

There are other fields you can look at, too, which will help you understand how much content is driving revenue. (For example, Hubspot has a very helpful field called “First Page Seen.”)

There’s one catch, though…

Sometimes, you’ll see that content isn’t driving revenue, at least not directly. But if the results aren’t what you wanted, you can start working on the problem.

How organic search and paid search teams can work together

November 4, 2021
📓 Article

Paid search is organic search plus one additional ranking factor: money.

The ranking algorithm for ads takes into account very similar factors to those used for organic rankings, like


  • How much you’re willing to bid for a certain keyword

Google rewards quality content by making the price of a click cheaper, and by showing your ads more often.

So paid search still requires great writers and content marketers.

🧉 How paid search can help content marketers

Paid campaigns result in a lot of really useful data about what’s resonating with users, and what isn’t. The paid performance team knows how to extract and parse that data.

For example, Google Ads gives a “search terms report” (literally what it is called) that shows exactly how many impressions, clicks and conversions resulted from each particular search term.

And that’s just the beginning. Paid search provides data such as:

  • Which offers are working, and which aren’t
  • Exactly how competitive you are for various topics
  • Quality of page UX and the conversion experience

And they could share it with you… but you gotta ask.

So it’s time to get friendly with the folks in Paid.

🍹 How content marketers can help the paid team

Useful, engaging content can dramatically improve acquisition costs (lowering click prices, increasing conversion rate). The inverse is also true: poor content requires higher bids.

So there are a lot of opportunities for you to help out the paid team – endearing yourself to them, and expanding the audience for your content in the process!

  • Improving landing pages (for paid ads)
  • Crafting offers for paid acquisitions
  • Generating content for lead capture offers
  • Aligning content (to build brand quality)

🏄 What you can do

Forge an alliance. Start with hello. Talk to the person who is in charge of your team’s paid acquisition campaigns. There’s probably some ways that you two can partner up for mutual benefit.

Here are some questions you might use to nudge the dialogue along:

  • How is Google Ads rating the quality of our landing pages? (Page optimization)

  • What ad headlines and descriptions perform best in paid ad copy? (Conversion)

  • Which audience segments (age, gender, household income, parental status) perform the best? (Persona targeting)

  • Are there new categories that you’re thinking about testing on your roadmap that we should consider exploring on the organic side as well? (Keyword alignment)

  • Where is there misalignment between a user’s search query and our messaging (Ad relevance, Quality score)

  • Are there any holidays or promotions coming up that you need support developing content for? (Content strategy)

Remember: you’ve got a skill set that can make paid search a more efficient channel, and the brand more successful overall. Same goes for their data.

You belong in this conversation.

Feel free to schedule office hours to look at this together!

How to calculate Retained Entrances

October 28, 2021
📓 Article

Organic pageviews are a simple way to measure which pages are working for search. You go to the trusty “All Pages” view in Google Analytics, apply an Organic Traffic segment…


…then scan down the list to see what’s what, with a focus on that “entrances” metric that tells you where people came into the site.


That’s fine, although entrances aren’t that useful if your visitors immediately exit. Take two scenarios:

  • A page that gets 10,000 organic entrances, but has a bounce rate of 99%
  • A page that gets 500 entrances, but has a bounce rate of 10%

The first page with its amazing traffic is only retaining 100 visitors. The second page, with much less traffic, is retaining 450 visitors.

In a very real sense, that second page is providing you a lot more value.

So we have a metric we use called “Retained Entrances”.

🔢 The equation for Retained Entrances

Retained entrances equals entrances minus bounces.

However, Google Analytics only provides a Bounce Rate percentage. Oh, Google. So calculating the number of bounces will require a little bit of work.

Let’s look at an example from Google Analytics, with two (fictitious… or are they?) example pages:


To calculate your Retained Entrances, first we need to know the retention rate, which is the opposite of the Bounce Rate.

In other words, the Bounce Rate tells us what percentage of visitors left, so if we subtract that rate from 1, we’ll know how many visitors stayed.

On the /smoothjazz page, this gives us:

  • 5454 Entrances
  • Bounce Rate of about 85%, which means 15% of visitors stayed
  • That means 15% x 5454 = 818 Retained Entrances

(This is meant to be a pretty simple equation. You can even round the numbers like we did here.)

On the /blackmetal page, this gives us:

  • 3033 Entrances
  • Bounce Rate of about 54%, which means 46% of visitors stayed
  • That means 46% x 3033 = 1395 Retained Entrances

So, even though the /blackmetal page has many fewer entrances, it’s actually retaining way more people than the page with almost double the amount of traffic. This might be a better page to invest in converting visitors from.

🏄 What you can do with Retained Entrances

This metric helps a team shift focus from page traffic to page engagement.

The results guide strategic action to improve performance across your site – for example, deciding which pages need…

  • Updates
  • Rewrites
  • Redistribution
  • Better promotion

…and which ones should be left alone because they’re already SEO superstars.

Feel free to schedule office hours to look at this together!

Or just to tell us that you think we’re dead wrong on this topic.

Should you copy UTM parameters from one page to another? And if so, how?

October 23, 2021
📓 Article

One problem with UTM parameters – which most organizations use for tracking where incoming traffic is coming from – is that they only “last” for one page. That is to say, once someone lands on your website, if they go to another page, the UTM tags in the URL disappear., but then

This is, by default, OK. It’s the behavior that tools like Google Analytics expect, and so you’ll get normal behavior in those tools.

However, once you’re dealing with conversion (and not just traffic) tracking, you may have a problem. Systems like Hubspot, for example, will only, by default, track UTM parameters on the page where a conversion happens. That means those parameters aren’t available to be attached to that contact in their various records that you use for marketing attribution. So, depending on how your analytics are set up, the original sources of your traffic might not show up in your reports. (We’ve written some JavaScript that can help with lead source tracking with the help of your web developer.)

This can be a particular problem with platforms like Google Ads, which depend on UTMs or, often, another parameter called a Google Click ID (gclid) to properly attribute a conversion to Google. So if you have an ad campaign that’s sending people to the front page, and then a visitor goes on to convert on another page, that might not be tracked correctly. And you want to fix that.

On the other hand!

Tagging internal links – links within your site – with UTMs is not great, either. For example, we see a lot of clients tag links from the homepage, even within their own site, with a URL that looks something like this:

This is a problem because it confuses Google Analytics. A UTM parameter means a new session, so this results in sessions being double-counted. It also causes your bounce rate to go up, since a new session indicates that the previous session only visited one page. That’s not good, either.

So what do you do if you (a) want to track conversions from a lot of campaigns that don’t lead directly to a conversion page, and (b) are relying on UTMs to do that?

We’ll point you to this script from Analytics Mania, which we’ve also put a copy of in our Content Stack Utilities.

This script:

  • Lets you enter your domain (or another domain you care about, let’s say a 3rd-party form that you want visitors to fill out)
  • Adds the original UTM parameters from the first page your user visited, to subsequent pages in that visit with those domains

You’ll need your web developer to finish setting it up and implement it in Google Tag Manager or in your CMS.

Should you use this script?

It depends. If you’re running a limited number of ad campaigns to pages that don’t convert directly, and you need to track conversions, then it might be OK to use it. Keep a close eye on bounce rate and sessions to make sure your data isn’t distorted too much. But once you start scaling these campaigns, you’ll need a solution that doesn’t depend on UTM parameters. (Send us an email if you have questions and we’ll do what we can to help.)

What to do with MUM, Google's latest computational model

October 21, 2021
📗 Field Note

You’re still smarter than the machines, especially when it comes to sweet Youtube vids.

Like, when landing on this cool video about mushrooms, you probably noticed certain facts that went unmentioned. Perhaps you identified mushroom species in the video, or simply felt the joy of microscopic life on film. Ethereal data.

Google, however, could not do that. Its analysis has generally been limited to the written language on a page (eg. title, meta descriptions, text, etc.).

That’s about to change with its latest computational model: MUM, or, Multitask Unified Model.

(The latest one that got any attention was BERT, and maybe now the headline of this email makes sense.)

The big revelation? MUM is better at understanding topics, beyond keywords. This will apply to material like…

  • Your accounting software explainer video, or
  • Charts and photos on product pages, or
  • The blog post you thought nobody would ever find about “night cheese”

We don’t think you need to care about the computing model itself, but you might want to anticipate the changes it will bring to Google Search.

Look out for the “Things To Know” feature

The updated Google SERP includes a “Things to Know” feature, which could be a big deal, especially for B2B organic search. It’s a series of drop-downs that will appear on Page 1, inviting users to broaden or narrow their scope of search. In other words, Page 1 is adopting the features of a traditional blog explainer page.

The example that Google gave is that of the search term ‘acrylic paint.’ Search that broad term and ‘Things To Know’ will offer longer-tail options: step-by-step painting instructions, how to clean up acrylic pains, etc.

This means that your longer-tail keyword pages could also appear on Page 1 for shorter-tail, top-of-funnel terms!

🏄 What you can do

In theory, MUM will do a better job of finding the highest quality content for any search term. So your job is still to make and maintain that content. Consider MUM a new set of opportunities to be as useful as possible to your audience.

  • Update content for accuracy, search intent, and formatting. Make sure heading tags are in place on all blogs and explainers. Those technical subjects in the subheads have a chance to appear on Page 1 now, all by themselves.
  • Review search volume for longer-tail keyword posts, and update older posts for relevance and keyword strategy.
  • Optimize the images on your blogs. High-quality visual assets might be more helpful than in the past. And get rid of stock images! They were never doing much for you anyway.

And, if you’re feeling unsure about how to do any of this, you can always schedule office hours with us.

Is keyword cannibalization really a problem?

October 7, 2021
📗 Field Note

Occasionally, numerous pages on your site will rank for the same keyword or topic. SEO industry people commonly call this “keyword cannibalization.”

Very dramatic term, right? The pages are eating each other! But the facts are way less scary.

Let’s look at 3 common scenarios.

🥣 1) You’ve got two pages ranking in the top 5 for one keyword.


This means that you’re doing a lot of things right. You’re in competition with yourself because you are so great.

These pages are well constructed and proving relevant, compelling, and effective for the keyword.

Is there an opportunity to get some of these pages ranking well for different, adjacent keywords?

Yep. But realistically, if you’ve got other priorities, you don’t need to worry about it today.

🏄 What you can do

You could probably leave them alone for a while, spending your time instead on all the other keywords you’re trying to rank in the top 5.

Though… if you’ve got everything else buttoned up, you can do some further exploration.

Keywords are ultimately all about intent.

  • Do you have two pages that are ranking for the same keyword, but really align to two different intents?
  • Can you make that alignment more clear to Google?

For example, if you have two pages ranking for “accounting software”, maybe one of them should really be “accounting software” (because it’s a great introduction to the topic), and the other should be refocused around “how to buy accounting software”.

And then maybe you can keep your high-ish original ranks for both pages while ranking for something important, closely related, and new.

🥣 2) Two pages, not ranking all that well, for the same keyword

Neither page has reached its potential yet. If one page is ranking #9 and the other is ranking #15, it’s possible that neither one is really giving users what they’re looking for with this keyword.

Plus, maybe each one is getting rather tepid promotion, as opposed to a more concerted effort behind just one.

You have an opportunity to consolidate and improve.

🏄 What you can do

Choose the higher-ranking page (ie. #9) and optimize the heck out of it.

Take all relevant material from the lower-ranking page and insert it in the higher one. Then optimize that lower-ranking page for a different keyword.

If your content is simply spread thin, this is a great opportunity to consolidate and optimize.

🥣 3) The “wrong” page is ranking for a keyword

What this means: Google didn’t pick the page that you thought it would. For example, you wrote an explainer page to rank for the keyword “accounting software” – that’s a top-of-the-funnel search term, and explainers are great for top-of-the-funnel leads.

But Google chose your product page instead, even though that page is designed for bottom-of-the-funnel leads who already know the basics and are ready to buy.

🏄 What you can do

Look critically at the reasons why exactly Google has chosen one page over the other:

  • What does the ranking page offer, in terms of content?
  • Is that value present on the non-ranking page?

There’s probably an opportunity here to significantly improve the quality of the non-ranking page.

So keyword cannibalism is actually a good problem to have, or at least an informative one. And maybe not a problem at all. Just an opportunity to build on the momentum you’ve already got going.

Feel free to schedule office hours to look at your site’s problems in depth. Or just to tell us that you think we’re dead wrong on this topic.