Businesses need to stay relevant in order to thrive. This applies to their content too. For this reason, they spend a lot of time and resources formulating content marketing strategies.
Regularly churning out new content to keep consumers interested is one thing, but what about repurposing existing content? And what should they do with older, less relevant content? Is what they are putting out having a positive impact on their brand? Is their content successfully hitting the relevant targets? This is where content audits come in.
What is a content audit?
“Content audit” is the term used to describe the process of assessing content you have produced for your brand. For an audit, you need to be able to identify your content, organize it, and analyze it.
This process allows you to manage your content and ensure that it is achieving the goals it needs to. It also ensures that you don't get stuck with outdated content that you've forgotten about that is now stagnating in the dark recesses of your website’s blog.
Content audits are particularly important, as the consequent analysis can reveal areas that are lacking, or issues that need to be fixed. This not only gives you a chance to improve and optimize your content, but also your overall content marketing strategies. What's more, since it is a process with clearly defined steps, it's efficient and takes the guesswork out of streamlining content.
Is there more than one type of content audit?
Yes. The kind of content audit you choose to carry out depends on what you are looking to achieve. Here are four of the most common types:
This is when you choose a particular area of your overall content or a specific time period to focus on. For instance, you might want to have a closer look at the blog content that is up on your website to improve your SEO.
The good thing about this kind of audit is that the process usually takes less time than that of the other types, such as a full audit. You can also use partial audits to decide whether a full one is needed.
A full audit takes into account all of your content. Though it may take longer than a partial one, it will yield more thorough results. This is a great option when looking to reset or really freshen up your content strategy and establish a baseline for your content in general. You can then conduct partial edits as and when you feel it to be necessary.
Content marketing audit
This type of audit allows you to analyze your content within the frame of marketing. The analysis will involve the use of metrics to determine your website visitors' level of engagement with your content.
SEO content audit
The ROI of search engine optimization makes SEO an element that is well worth devoting time to. An SEO content audit involves looking at meta descriptions, backlinks, alt texts, keywords, etc. to determine the efficiency of your SEO strategy and improve it where you need to. It can also be used to make sure your content matches the intended search intent for each target keyword.
Now that we've covered what a content audit is, what it involves, and the various types, let's go through a clear, step-by-step outline of the process.
6 steps to carry out a content audit
1. Identify your goals
There's no point in starting the process if you don't know what you are looking to achieve or why. Setting your goals now will make it easier for you to complete the audit and get the results that you need.
The first thing to do is ask yourself what the purpose of carrying out the audit is. For instance, you might be looking to improve your target audience's engagement with your brand, or optimize your content for SEO.
Then, you can formulate more direct, actionable points. Let's look at the example of wanting to assess and work on your target audience’s engagement with your website content. Once you've decided this to be one of your goals, you may then choose to set the following:
- Determine which of your website pages are the most popular and which are the least.
- Assess which topics attract more traffic and engagement.
- Compare with other similar websites to see what type of content generates the most consumer engagement.
2. Select the content metrics you want to use
There are many useful metrics to choose from, but not all of them will be relevant.
If you're focusing on content engagement, metrics like this may be relevant:
You might find that your most liked blog post is about the best sales enablement tools, and the post with the most comments is also about sales engagement tools. In contrast, you've been focusing on creating content on contextual commerce, which hasn't been getting much traction.
If you're looking at SEO, however, comments are not going to be of much use to you. Instead, metrics such as these are more useful:
- keyword rankings
- organic traffic
- average session duration
- organic conversion rate
From there, you can use these metrics to troubleshoot why certain pages might be underperforming while others are doing really well.
There are thankfully many useful SEO tools that allow you to keep track of your SEO KPIs. For example, you can use:
- a SERP tracker for keyword rankings
- a tool like Ahrefs for backlinks
- Google Analytics for average session duration & organic traffic
You could also use tools like Clearscope (or SurferSEO, MarketMuse, etc.) that can give your content a score out of 100 for search optimization.
Physical and e-commerce stores need an inventory management plan. Similarly, in order to carry out a successful audit, you will need to know which content you will be analyzing, so that you can then manage it. This means that you must catalog all the content assets you wish to look at. Although this can be any manner of things, in this article, we're focusing on website content as an example.
To properly catalog your content and keep track of it throughout the auditing process, you need to collect the relevant URLs before organizing the content.
You need to be able to easily access the pages you want to audit. For this reason, you must put together the URLs of all the website pages you wish to analyze. If you want to take it a step further, you can also include the metadata, such as the page's title, description, etc.
Time to organize
Now that you've recorded the content assets you wish to look at, it's time to sort through them and place them into categories. This will make the analysis much easier. Depending on your content, these categories can be:
- Type of content: This can be a blog post, landing page, product description, etc.
- Format: For example, text-only, text and images, text and video, etc.
- Date: When was the publication created or last modified.
These are just some examples of the types of categories you can have.
Cataloging your website content can be a daunting task and requires you not only to be organized, but also thorough. Of course, the more content you have, the longer this step will take. To make things easier, consider using an Excel sheet; alternatively, there are inventory templates out there that you can use.
4. Data collection and analysis
This is likely going to be the most time-consuming part of the process. Now that you have identified and organized the content you wish to analyze, it's time to collect the data you need to complete the analysis.
The kind of data you collect will of course depend on the metrics you've selected. There are many tools out there to help you with this and take the tediousness of it out of the equation.
Google Analytics, for example, is a great web analytics tool that you can take advantage of to make this process easier. You can also use marketing dashboard tools to help you keep track of various metrics (and KPIs) instead of muddling through it unassisted.
Once you've gathered your data, you need to interpret it. This requires you to take a step back and look at the picture as a whole.
If, for example, you see that your FAQ page has a lot of views, this may signal that many consumers are confused about certain aspects of your product, and you should devote more content on how to resolve frequently encountered issues. This can even help with increasing customer success.
You can also, with a good sentiment analysis tool, analyze the comments left by your audience on the content you are auditing. A tool such as this one can give you insight into how exactly your audience feels about your content, and more widely, your product.
5. Decide what to do with your content
Now that you have a handle on how your various content pieces are performing, you can decide what should be done with them. More specifically, will you choose to keep it, update it, or remove it?
Still within the context of customer engagement, if a piece is performing well with a high number of views, comments, and shares, it makes no sense to change it. Instead, you can use it as a benchmark for what works and use it to develop additional successful content.
On the other hand, you might find that certain pages used to perform but no longer are. This could be an issue of relevance. Once your content loses its relevance, your audience loses interest.
To improve this, make sure any statistics you use are relevant and up to date, as well as any information that you provide. You can also choose to review and update content based on when it was published or last modified.
Lastly, there may be some lost causes there. It's nothing to feel bad about. It's a good opportunity to learn about what works and doesn't work for your business. If you're unable to update pages that are underperforming or an update would be too time-consuming to be worth it, then it makes more sense to get rid of it.
6. Take action
Remember all of those URLs you compiled? Once you've decided whether you want to keep, update, or remove content, you need to note that down for all the URLs. You also need to determine exactly how you are going to use, optimize, or update your content.
For example, you might choose to reuse well-performing content to create more. You may also need to restructure a piece of content to make the information more accessible or relevant to your audience. Other actions include adding information, videos or images, optimizing the metadata, and rewriting content.
Whatever action you choose to take, always refer back to the goals you set to make sure what you are doing aligns with them.
Tools such as a content calendar, which allows you to keep track of your content and everything related to it, can also be incredibly useful when it comes to ensuring your content fulfils the goals you have set, as it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture when in the middle of a long process.
Content audits are a must if you want to have content that is relevant and generates traffic. They can be particularly useful to improve your content strategy and reveal areas in need of improvement.
Though it can be time-consuming, don't forget that there are tools out there to help you with the process. Some research will help you decide which tools would be the most useful. Depending on what is included in a marketing budget for your company, you may be able to acquire a few to make the auditing process even easier.