The essence of marketing is testing.
You start with a hypothesis of who your audience is and what messaging you think will resonate with them, but you never know for certain until you test the content they’re receiving.
Every webpage, email, article, brochure, and social media post should be tested to see how the market is reacting to it, and if it’s serving its intended purpose. The result of those tests will tell you if what you’re doing is working, or if you need to change your strategy.
If you don’t test your content, you’ll never truly know if your strategy is successful, or why it’s successful—and you’ll never be able to incorporate your learnings into future marketing campaigns.
As the content marketing space becomes ever more saturated, content testing is one of a handful of tactics savvy marketers can use to differentiate themselves from the pack and amplify their brand’s voice.
In this guide, we’re going to introduce you to 15 content testing tools that could make all the difference in your content marketing efforts. But before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s explain what we mean when we talk about content testing.
What is Content Testing?
Content testing, also known as usability testing, is the practice of testing whether or not your content is suitable for your intended audience, and whether or not they can find, understand, and comprehend your content.
Content testing can help you shape your content marketing strategy by providing insight into high-level questions, such as:
- Does our value proposition resonate with our audience?
- Do our keywords speak to our audience’s interests and needs?
- Does our word choice, tone, and style make us relatable to our audience?
- Do we provide our audience with enough information to make an educated decision?
- Are our calls-to-action enticing?
Types of Content Tests
As you might expect, there’s more than one way to test your content. To get a holistic view of your content, there are actually a variety of tests you should run—and not all of them deal with the written word.
That’s because today most content is based on the internet. That means the way your content is presented, where it’s presented, and how it’s found matter just as much as what it says.
There are six different categories of tests you should consider when performing content testing. They are as follows:
Readability is a measure of how easy it is to read and comprehend a piece of content. Factors that determine a piece of content’s readability include the vocabulary used, sentence structure, syntax, and typography (the font).
For the purposes of content marketing, you generally want your content to be as easy to read as possible. However, your intended audience counts for a lot here. If your product is highly technical or caters to a very specific persona, you can get away with a bit more complexity.
A good way to find out if your content is readable is to survey your audience—either by sending out questionnaires, hopping on sales calls, or soliciting feedback directly from your website. If you’re looking for a hard metric to score yourself against, you could also use the Flesch Reading Ease Test.
This is a mathematical formula that determines how easy content is to read.
Scores range from 0 - 100. The higher the score, the easier the text is to read.
If you have direct access to customers, another method is the highlighter test. With a highlighter test, you present the customer with some copy written on a piece of paper, and then ask them to highlight sections of the copy that they like or dislike. Once completed, ask them questions about what they highlighted and why.
Navigability indicates how easy it is for a user to navigate the content on your website. Good navigability means visitors to your website should be able to find the page they’re looking for with ease. To have good site navigability, you need to create an information architecture using the “hub and spoke” approach.
The hub and spoke approach calls for one single “hub” page and lots of “spoke” pages that link to the hub page. So if you think of your website’s landing page as your hub, every other page on your site should link out from (and back up to) that hub page with additional information that helps grow the visitors’ understanding of your product or service.
For blogs in particular, the hub and spoke approach allows you to funnel visitors to pages that target broad keywords related to your business. From those pages, visitors can find “spokes” that were linked out from the hub targeting “long-tail” keywords.
Here are some ways you can determine your site’s navigability:
- Measure the number of pages that users visit per site visit.
- Map out how visitors to your site progress from page to page (also known as a “behavior flow”).
- Measure which pages visitors most often exit your site from.
If navigability measures how easy it is to move through your site, accessibility measures how easy it is to find your site in the first place. Accessibility considers technical aspects of your site (cross-browser capabilities, cross-platform capabilities, semantic HTML markup) as well as search engine optimization (SEO).
The latter can be impacted in various ways, many of which bleed into other aspects of content testing. For example, having a blog post that is structured with header tags and links out to other pages on your website where appropriate can help with navigability and SEO.
You can also impact SEO by writing articles around phrases and terms that your audience is searching for on Google and by creating unique content that other websites want to link to. Here are a few ways to measure your site’s accessibility:
- Number of indexed pages by Google.
- Number of backlinks to your site.
- Organic search ranking of your web pages.
- Domain authority of your website.
A site that’s easy to access and navigate only matters if the web page loads quickly. After all, the speed with which your website loads is the first impression you make to your website visitors. How important is page load speed? A majority of users will abandon a website if it doesn’t load within three seconds.
A website that loads quickly improves accessibility, navigability, SEO, and UX (which we’ll talk about next).
Here are a few ways you can improve your website’s page load speed:
- Reduce redirects.
- Leverage browser caching.
- Improve server response time.
User experience (UX), indicates a user’s emotions or attitudes toward your product or service. If your website has a poor UX, it could mean your content is difficult to comprehend, your website is hard to navigate, your design is unappealing, your page takes too long to load, or any number of other issues.
In other words, UX testing intermingles with a variety of other types of content tests. Measuring your content’s UX requires gathering behavioral (what users do) and attitudinal (what users say) metrics. Behavioral metrics you’ll want to collect include pageviews, time-on-page, bounce rate, and conversions.
Attitudinal metrics require gathering direct feedback from website visitors on how they feel about your content. Many content marketers accomplish this by interviewing prospective customers directly. Other ways to gather attitudinal data are through tracking product reviews or measuring the amount of returning visitors to your website.
The final and most straightforward type of content test is the A/B test. This is when you offer up two different versions of the same text and track engagement on each one to determine which copy resonates more with your target audience.
A/B testing can be used to test email subject lines, product names, ad copy, URLs, and more. It is a quantitative metric that can show you what copy is preferred by your audience, but not why they prefer that specific copy.
By utilizing A/B tests in your content, you can improve readability and UX, achieve a higher ROI from your existing traffic, and make simple adjustments backed by data. However, A/B testing must be performed in conjunction with UX testing if you want to understand why certain copy resonates.
15 Helpful Content Testing Tools
Now that we’re familiar with the different types of tests marketers can use to improve their content, let’s look at some tools that will help get you there. Note that many of these tools are capable of performing multiple types of tests. Here is the list:
Our first content testing tool recommendation is Yoast. This tool is a plugin for Wordpress websites that allows you to easily and efficiently manage SEO. With Yoast you can optimize content around specific keywords, request for your page to be indexed, test your page for readability, set canonical URLs, get suggestions for internal linking, set up page redirects, and more. In addition, you can start using Yoast for your Wordpress website for free.
2. Google Search Console
Google Search Console is our next content testing tool recommendation. This is a free software offered by Google that allows webmasters to optimize the visibility of their website. Through Search Console you can request for pages to be indexed by Google, troubleshoot errors on your site, and see which keywords are bringing users to your site—all of which makes it easier for visitors to find your website.
Like Search Console, SEMrush aids in site accessibility, but in a different way. With SEMrush, you can identify keywords that will resonate with your audience, track the keywords being used by your competition, audit your blog for SEO fixes, and identify new backlinking opportunities, all of which makes your site more accessible to visitors.
Ahrefs is another popular SEO tool. Like SEMrush, it can perform keyword research, competitor analysis, SEO audits, and backlink analysis. The difference between the two platforms depends on what’s most important to you. For instance, Ahrefs has more link building tools, whereas SEMrush is better for brands that run a lot of ads on Google. Brian Dean has a good comparison article of the two products.
- A/B testing
Our fifth content testing tool recommendation is CrazyEgg. This is heat mapping software that shows how users are interacting with your website. With CrazyEgg, you can see where users are clicking on your site, and the referral sources of different clicks. CrazyEgg also comes with an A/B testing feature that allows you to map a specific website action to a goal.
Mouseflow allows you to record website sessions to better understand how users are interacting with your site. You can replay any site visit to identify pain points, boost conversions, and look for optimization opportunities. Mouseflow also creates website heatmaps and conversion funnels (visualization of journey from awareness to conversion) for your checkout process.
- A/B testing
Next on our list of content testing tools is Optimizely. Optimizely provides A/B testing tools that allow brands to compare two different versions of a webpage or mobile app for a variety of different performance criteria. Using Optimizely, marketing teams can find ways to increase engagement, retention, and conversion rates.
- A/B testing
Hotjar has features similar to CrazyEgg and Mouseflow. With this content testing tool you can view website heatmaps, perform visitor recordings, view conversion funnels, and solicit feedback from website visitors. These insights can be used to improve navigability, identify confusing copy, and create a stronger UX.
ProWritingAid is a Chrome plugin that analyzes all of your website’s copy and edits it for grammar and style. It can also provide you a line-by-line readability score based on the Flesch Reading Ease Test.
LambdaTest is a free service that allows you to test your URLs compatibility with over 2,000 real browsers and operating systems. It’s completely free to sign up.
11. Google Page Speed Insights
Google offers a proprietary tool to help you test the speed of your webpages. With Google Page Speed Insights, all you need to do is enter the URL for the page you want to test, and within seconds you’ll have a detailed report on the page’s speed. Google will also provide recommendations on how you can increase page speed.
If you’re looking for an alternative to Google Page Speed Insights, try the content testing tool Pingdom. Similar to Google, Pingdom allows you to enter your website’s URL and generate a detailed report on its page speed. Pingdom will show you what about your webpage is fast, slow, too big, and more.
- A/B testing
UserTesting connects your brand with a customer in your target demographic and allows you to watch them as they experience your website. Simply provide UserTesting with a scenario you’re looking to test for, and they’ll arrange for a customer to try it out on your website. They’ll then send you a video of the experience, with commentary from the customer on what worked and what did not work.
UserTesting can be used to test entire websites, individual pieces of content, competitor websites, and more.
14. Website Grader
Website Grader is a tool developed by HubSpot that grades your website on a scale from 0 - 100 based on a variety of criteria, including page speed, security, SEO, mobile responsiveness, and more. Once you provide your website URL and email, Website Grader will send you a report with your site’s grade.
Our last content testing tool recommendation is our own product. Knotch’s Content Intelligence Platform can help with multiple facets of content testing. Our Measurement product generates quantitative and qualitative metrics on every piece of content on your website so you can know how customers feel about your content and why they feel that way. Knotch Measurement can also source traffic by referring channel and categorize it by demographics, device, or location.
Knotch Blueprint, our content planning product, enables brands to evaluate the entire online content landscape in order to identify content opportunities that will resonate with their target audience. Using Measurement and Blueprint together, brands can gain real-time insights into how website visitors feel about their content while sourcing new content ideas that will increase their visibility and share of voice on the internet.
Content Testing Tools Increase Content Marketing ROI
If you’re looking to get the most out of your content marketing efforts, start testing your content. The insights provided by content testing will allow you to focus your efforts on what’s working and eliminate waste. The content testing tools we’ve provided are a great way to get started.
Try out Knotch Blueprint free for seven days.