If you have been publishing content for a while, then the chances are that unless you are highly organized and have well-established processes in place, a lot of your content may need some help and may be fast disappearing, away from your intended audience. This is where a content audit can help.
Why conduct a content audit?
Most businesses produce all kinds of content, but even good content teams have their weaknesses – what they produce may not be performing as well as it should, or they may be missing specific terms and phrases that could provide better content marketing ROI.
Conducting a content audit provides the opportunity to improve your content marketing revision processes further.
The following questions will help reveal areas of growth potential.
1. Are you focused on the critical aspects of your business?
Most audits take an SEO approach, and there is value in that since it will significantly improve your content and visibility on the search engines, but an excellent place to start is your business objectives, customers and future customers.
The problems you want to address will determine the extent of the audit and the impact they will have on your business objectives.
What problems do you want to address?
These might include:
- Getting rid of redundant, outdated, or trivial content
- Determining if your content is SEO friendly and effective from an SEO perspective
- Determining which content attracts the most traffic and how this fares with your conversion goals
- Assessing content quality based on a standard such as reading levels or accessibility.
- Evaluating content for consistent messaging.
- Determining the content you need to migrate to a new platform.
- How to better organize content from a user perspective
- Supporting more balanced editorial planning
- Understanding the breadth of the content you currently have
- What content do you want to include in your audit?
When speaking of content audits, it is common to think of content that resides in the online space alone. However, you may need to take an omnichannel perspective to your content audit, depending on your objectives.
For example, a prospect may arrive on your site, consume a text-based post, listen to a podcast episode, before registering for a webinar and following the brand on social media and then, at a later point, inquire. You may want to address whether your messaging is consistent, regardless of the channel the prospect used.
Whom is your content addressing?
Is your content persona and value-driven? Businesses often publish content that leads with stories concerning their business rather than focusing on solving customer pain points.
How do you solve that?
Start with your ideal customer profile or persona and identify what kinds of content and styles they would appreciate and need.
You could ask your customers and survey them. Another option would be to use a content marketing tool like Leedfeeder to see what kinds of businesses are consuming your content and develop content to target them if they are a good fit for your business.
How will your content audit help drive business objectives?
As with most marketing, goal-setting is essential, and content audits should inform your endeavors as you look to achieve your business objectives. So, set goals that are clear and measurable, like achieving 5x more website traffic due to x increments in improving your site content.
This helps inform what you need to do and how to conduct the audit, measure, etc.
Why run a content audit?
The chances are that when you undertook to invest in content and content marketing, some certain guiding values and principles were formalized or understood but not articulated. If these principles haven’t been documented, then now would be a good time to do so.
Because it will ensure that you drive your content objectives with the principles in mind. Understanding why you are doing and what you want to get out of it will help make the exercise of going through a content audit more fruitful.
2. What tools would suit your content audit?
The right tools can help make lighter work of your content audit and help provide the information that you need.
Each has its pros and cons, so choose ones that provide the information you need to deliver on your business objectives.
3. Have you listed all your webpages?
Take a look at the sitemap to ensure you have every page listed. This will get you started right and prevent any haphazard listing of pages wherein some may be overlooked.
You can export the list of webpages to a spreadsheet, which can become the repository for your content audit.
To ensure you haven’t missed any pages, export a full list of all webpages on your site via your CMS as opposed to just pages found via a site crawl.
Chances are, you’ll come across pages that were missed because they were orphaned. These could potentially be of use, if the content is good, with a little revitalization or removing/merging with another page/post if it’s not.
4. What fields do you need on your spreadsheet?
Why use a spreadsheet? Because it allows you to quickly compare and make decisions about what needs optimizing, deleting or updating.
Capturing all the URL’s and other relevant and associated information is key to making the spreadsheet and a useful tool for informing your content strategy.
A tool like Screaming Frog could help gather a lot of the information you need, but it will need to be organized in a manner that is useful for your purposes.
5. What data do you need to add?
To make the content audit useful, you don’t just need the URL’s and relevant associated fields; you’ll also need to know how each content piece is performing. In other words, how much traffic there is, how visitors interact with the content, and how that relates to your business objectives.
Pulling in data points to enable you to make page-level decisions is, therefore, important. These data points metrics should be relevant to your business objectives. Generally speaking, you’ll need to choose 2-3 that are the most relevant.
For example, a data point could be included in your Google search console impressions data. Pages with zero impressions for a long time are likely to have little value from an SEO point of view. Those pages could be removed or merged into others that are more relevant to better drive visitors to other pages.
6. Have you identified your most significant opportunities?
Now that you have a spreadsheet with all the data you need, you can begin to find opportunities to capitalize on.
These would usually include content that ranks for high volume keywords in positions 7-15. Assuming technical issues are taken care of, you could potentially get content of rank higher by improving internal linking or the content itself.
Topic clusters will work if you are using a content piece as a cornerstone or a pillar to your overall content strategy. It works by having a top-level page (pillar post) or post based on a broad term related to your core business product or service.
Other subtopic content links to the pillar post. The pillar post also links to the subtopic posts.
Content shouldn’t be dated for either Google or users, so take the time to update your content.
Your audit could also help reveal opportunities that haven’t been tapped as yet. The following three questions will help guide you in the process of looking for these opportunities.
- Have you answered all buying-related questions related to your service or product?
- Does your content cover each step of the buyer journey?
- Do you have gaps in your content as compared to that of your competitors? A tool like Ahrefs or SEMrush can help you discover these.
7. Have you identified weak content?
There may be truth in the saying less is more when it comes to your website.
How well is each content piece performing? Questions to help answer that could include:
- How many visits is the page receiving?
- How many backlinks point to the page?
- How many conversions have occurred because of this page?
If the answers are low, you should consider merging it with other pages, redirecting it, or updating it to make it more relevant to your target audience.
- Consolidate weak content and deindex unhelpful content
- Gather all content on related topics and assign a grade to each piece based on:
- The traffic it attracts
- Keywords that rank well on the search engines
The objective then becomes to salvage and streamline your poorly performing content. Do this from the perspective of what will result in a better experience for your target audience. In other words, prioritize what is most helpful for them and deindex pages that don’t provide useful information.
Sure, you can update or rewrite existing content. However, that will take more time.
Another alternative is that you could 301 redirect the weak content to related pages that receive more traffic.
Alternatively, combine these pages that are probably short content pieces into longer pages with longer-form content. Why?
Because providing a more in-depth perspective on a topic could prove more valuable to the reader. It also could earn better rankings on the search engines for long-tail keyword queries thereby bringing a higher volume of traffic.
Also, add permanent redirects from the old pages to the new ones.
8. What other issues can you identify?
Your content audit could also reveal a number of additional areas that need to be addressed in order to improve your content and the site’s overall user experience. Issues like:
- Missing metadata – this could include titles, tags or meta descriptions.
- Poor keyword optimization – this could result in duplicate content and content that is misaligned with search intent.
- Orphaned pages – internal SEO is important. Backlinks, guest posts, etc. won’t matter if your site isn’t healthy.
- Broken links – if you have been publishing content for a while, then the chances are that you’ll have broken links. A tool like Ahrefs can help deal with that.
- Keyword cannibalization – Which occurs when two or more pieces of content rank for the same keyword. By deoptimizing the other content pieces or using 301 redirects to the remaining content, it removes the issue and allows it to rank much higher.
- Unoptimized images – image sizes may be too large or not optimized, impacting page speed scores.
- Poor readability – Readability is a quality measure used by the search engines and can determine bounce rates and linkability potential.
- Poor UX – consider UX good practices that impact time spent on a page, the likelihood of going to another page, and whether they are likely to return.
9. Who do you need to share your findings with?
Having completed your audit – you will need to share it with others who also have decision-making roles relating to decisions or findings around your content strategy or the website itself. Bear in mind that some may not want to wade through all the raw data or understand it. So, communicating in a way that persuades and drives buy-in is key.
To do this effectively, you could:
- Include an executive summary which has a summarized list of recommendations and expected results or outcomes
- Make the findings and recommendations easy to understand
- Draw up a plan of action of what to do next and prioritize it by order of importance and the investment of time and resources required to implement it
- The above should also include a to-do list of modifications and actions to be taken, along with a list of responsibilities for each action point, so it is easy to find and track
10. Where will you document modifications?
Once the audit is complete, and while you are making modifications, you need to record them so change can be monitored as you conduct audits from now on.
You could do that on your spreadsheet, or you could make annotations on your Google Analytics timeline. This video shows you how:
This will help you identify the change that results in a positive impact.
Ready to content audit?
Content audits can take many shapes and forms, but success really depends on your business needs and goals.
When it comes down to it a content audit isn’t a one-off process that you can do over long periods of time. Rather it is an activity that you would need to invest in to ensure that your content marketing efforts are getting the best chance to succeed.
By using the questions listed above you are taking a data backed approach and can analyze what needs to be done objectively. Using the data-based approach we discussed above you’ll know that your content is high quality, helpful for your audience and contributes to your marketing goals.
Photo by Luke Chesser on Unsplash