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When engaging with a new client, we rarely jump right in and start creating new content for them without conducting a content audit first. The purpose of such an audit is to recognize areas of improvement and identify content that is performing well. Well-performing content can be repurposed or expanded to produce even better results.
A content audit is a process of systematically analyzing and assessing the content on your website. The overall objective is to reveal strengths and weaknesses in your content strategy so you can adapt to further meet your content goals.
You may be thinking; I’m a small business; that’s too much time and effort with little payoff for someone like me. Well, my small business friend, a content audit can be the difference between your small business and growth opportunities to turn it into a big business, so keep reading!
In this guide, we’ll explain the various steps involved in conducting a content audit. Let’s get into it, shall we?
A content audit can seem like a complex, convoluted process. For this reason, it’s essential to start with clear objectives right out the gate.
Think about your business goals and map out areas you wish to improve.
For example, one of your goals may be to improve audience engagement. To do this, you’ll likely need to identify the most and least engaging content you’ve produced in the past. Look at the topics your visitors respond best to and determine what kind of content generates the most buzz on social media.
Once your goals are defined, match them to meaningful content metrics. For our example above, you’ll likely want to look at engagement metrics such as likes, comments, shares, saves, mentions, etc. Additional common content metrics to pay attention to include SEO metrics, user behavior, and sales metrics, among many others.
During this step, it’s important to decide what kind of content to review. You’ll most likely want to audit internal content, such as blog posts, educational materials, and landing pages, or your external publications.
Focusing on your website, collect the URLs of web pages you want to analyze. If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to generate this list, there are several tools, like Semrush Content Audit, that can analyze your content based on your sitemap date. It’ll automatically compile a list of URLs and their metrics for easy analysis.
If your site doesn’t have a sitemap, use a sitemap generator tool to create one. This helps search engines find and navigate your site, which helps to increase your SEO.
Organize Your Content
Once you have a list of URLs, organize them into different categories. Here’s an example of ways to segment them.
• Funnel marketing/buyer’s journey stages (awareness, consideration, decision, etc.)
• Content format (text only, images/video, etc.)
• Number of words
• Content type (landing page, blog post, whitepaper, case study, etc.)
• Date of publication
NOTE: When pulling and organizing data from your website, it’s very useful to also analyze the metadata (title, meta description, h1) for each page, especially if one of your goals is to increase your SEO.
Once you’ve collected your data, which can be a lengthy and timely process, you’ll then want to organize it further so it’ll be easier to analyze it. Again, if collecting this data manually and dropping it into a spreadsheet is too much for your brain to handle, there are plenty of tools that make it easy to conduct steps two and three.
When selecting tools, take a look at the functionality and make sure it fits within your budget. If you’re looking for a broader range of data, Google Analytics can be a great, free tool.
Interpreting Your Content Audit
Now that you’ve done all the work to collect and organize this data, how do you make heads and tails of it? Take a step back to examine your content metrics as a whole to gain a clear picture of the state of your site’s content.
For example, if one page on your site is drawing in high traffic, but your bounce rate is also high. This could mean that this page isn’t providing the right value for visitors to stay engaged. You may want to dig deeper to see why users are leaving this page. It could be the content’s relevance to your site, no clear call-to-action, or it could even be a slow page loading issue.
Organize Your Content Assets
Just as you would if you were cleaning out your closet, organize your data in categories based on their metrics.
If your content is performing well, you’ll want to keep it. Think about promoting this content on some of your external channels to further amply it.
During your audit, you may find content that performs ok, but it’s not fully meeting the needs of your target audience. Put this content in the “tweak” pile. Outdated content will also fall into this bucket to be revised.
If you found a few duds in your content frameworks that are too outdated to be reworked or no longer relevant to your business, then schedule this content for deletion.
At this stage in the content audit process, you have a pretty good idea of what’s working and what’s not working. It’s not time to make an action plan based on your goals and the conclusions you’ve drawn from your analysis.
Prioritize Your Work
Before getting started, take stock of all action items and identify low-hanging fruit that can be fixed quickly that will yield great results. You’ll also want to organize areas that align with your immediate and long-term goals.
When constructing your action plan, break the content out into various different types to help organize workflow. For example, common buckets would include content that needs to be:
3. Expanded upon
6. Adjusted to include a call-to-action
7. Adjusted to include additional images or video
8. Optimized with metadata or internal linking
When conducting a website content audit, it can seem like a short-term strategy, but be sure to keep a long-term mindset when looking at the data. Continuously tracking successes and failures can help you reach your marketing goals for years to come. Expand on what works and chuck what doesn’t. Also, keep track of what your competitors are doing. This can help you gain and maintain a competitive advantage.
It’s best practice to conduct a content audit once a year can help you stay on top of your goals and your content. Depending on your industry, it may be beneficial to conduct audits more frequently to continue to engage and reach your audiences. One thing is for sure, the digital environment is ever-changing, so it’s not a bad idea to keep a close eye. Good luck!
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Anna is an author and writer who is passionate about the art of storytelling. She enjoys connecting with small businesses in her community while taking their marketing efforts to the next level of growth.