What does a successful website look like? As a managing editor, how do you know when your content knocked it out of the park — and when you need to reboot your content strategy?

The answer is different for every content team. Cameron Graham is former editorial coordinator for TechnologyAdvice, a company that provides helpful, objective reviews on business software and vendors. The team at TechnologyAdvice looked to inbound and content marketing to get more traffic to their site. Along the way, they learned the value of targeting the right traffic and leads to boost their business.

Cameron shared a few lessons his team learned.

Drop the Vanity Metrics

It’s easy to measure success based on obvious numbers like overall traffic. But those numbers might not actually be the most important metrics for your team. After a few months of testing different content formats and promotional tactics, TechnologyAdvice learned to target the right traffic.

“We dropped the vanity metrics and figured out what really mattered. We’re only looking for interested software buyers. By targeting relevant traffic and qualified leads, we’ve found that our revenue has increased — even if overall traffic is lower,” Cameron says.

Cameron says he was surprised by the effect content had on SEO. The team focused on improving keyword rank for long-tail, low-volume keywords that have a high conversion rate. As a result, TechnologyAdvice started ranking on the first page of Google for 30 of their target keywords, with steadily increasing leads and conversions.

Invest in Original Research

The TechnologyAdvice team experimented with different content formats, which led to producing original research studies that made a big splash and brought mentions in industry media.

One of the company’s target industries is health care. So, they conducted a study on electronic health records in their hometown of Nashville, Tennessee. After talking to more than 250 physicians in the area, analyzing the data, and comparing it to national trends, TechnologyAdvice released their findings in a report “EHR Trends in Nashville.

The team has also produced original research using Google consumer surveys. They conducted a survey about customer loyalty programs and got thousands of responses from Google+ users in just four days. After analyzing the data, TechnologyAdvice released the results as a downloadable white paper.

Cameron says these original research pieces often get picked up by industry websites, since reporters are always looking for new, interesting data to share. Conducting and publishing valuable research helps TechnologyAdvice get its foot in the door with reporters and writers to start building an ongoing relationship.

Allocate Resources to Promotion

In addition to an editorial coordinator, two writers and a graphic designer, the TechnologyAdvice content marketing team includes two people dedicated to media relations. “It’s essential to make sure someone is focused on promoting the content you release,” Cameron says. The media relations staff spends their time promoting content on social media and finding opportunities to contribute articles to publications.

To build relationships with industry media, the team makes lists of bloggers, writers and industry websites where they’d like to be featured. Then, they brainstorm content ideas and send emails pitching that content to relevant sites. Once they’ve established relationships, they keep sharing relevant content.

The team stopped pursuing placements on huge sites such as Mashable and TechCrunch, in favor of more targeted sites. “Focus on more niche, specific industry sites,” Cameron says. “They’ll deliver more qualified traffic than larger sites.”