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Every day, your company seems to churn out more content.
Time, energy and planning go into creating a single blog post, but once it’s been released to the public, the entire process has to start over in order to produce yet another blog post.
You may feel like you’re not getting enough traction out of the content you have or may feel as though you’re wasting time and resources cranking out so much content.
Thankfully, there’s a way to know be more sure of how your content is performing based on your current content goals: a content audit.
What is a Content Audit?
A content audit involves gathering and evaluating the content on a website – sometimes all of the content, other times just a portion of it.
For example, content audits that assess blog posts won’t have to pull in landing page content.
The goal is to assess whether or not the content should stay up on the site as-is or if it could use some TLC (or be deleted entirely).
Once content is posted, it’s often forgotten about. You can make great already existing content work harder for you, though.
You can also clean up your website so that low-quality content doesn’t take up space. The trick here is to work smarter, not harder.
3 Types of Content Audits
There are three basic types of content audits: competitive, performance-based and qualitative. Here’s a brief overview of the three types:
- Competitive Content Audit: This type of content audit pits your own content against the content of your competitors to determine where you’re succeeding and where you’re coming up short. You can also identify gaps that aren’t being filled at the moment and then create content to fill those gaps.
- Performance-Based Content Audit: This type of content audit looks at how well content is performing. You can then determine if it should be updated, replaced or completely removed.
- Qualitative Content Audit: This type of content audit focuses on the quality of your content. It includes how well the content adheres to the company’s brand and style guides, and it also considers factors like readability and tone.
Regardless of the type of content audit you choose, the specific content you evaluate and the metrics you collect should coordinate with your current goals.
The Performance-Based Content Audit
While every company will have its own way of doing things, most performance-based content audits follow a similar step-by-step pattern.
Define Your Goals and Choose the Metrics to Track
There are a number of ways to assess content performance. If you tried to assess every single factor possible, you’d never finish the audit.
Come up with three top goals you want to reach with the help of your content, then match the goals up with the metrics you need to track and evaluate.
For example, perhaps one of your goals is to improve conversion rates of newsletter subscribers.
You’ll need to figure out which blog posts and pages are holding the visitor’s interest the longest – what’s getting traffic and what’s the average time spent per page?
You’ll also want to determine where you’ve seen a high conversion rate, then look at the content on that page and use the same wording and tactics on low-performing pages.
Inventory the Content to Review
The content you look at will be related to your goals.
For example, if you’re going to assess conversion rate, then you’d look at the blog posts and landing pages that have calls-to-action.
It’s pointless to assess content that wasn’t created with the intent to convert. Collect the URLs, titles and meta descriptions of the pages you want to analyze.
You can do this in a homegrown way by organizing them all on a spreadsheet, or you can use a tool like SEMrush that will pull pages based on your website’s sitemap.
You’ll then want to organize the URLs in a way that makes sense for your goals. For example, you can segment them by content format (text-only, images, etc.), word count or last updated date.
Data Collection and Analysis
For this step, you’ll need to collect the data you decided you needed when you chose your metrics.
This is the longest part of the process, and you can either do it on your own or by using a tool like SEMrush that will auto-collect data.
After you’ve collected the data, it’s important to look at it discreetly as well as holistically – much of the data you collect will relate to other data.
For example, web page performance can’t be based on traffic alone; including bounce rate and session duration will give you a better view of how well the page is performing.
As you assess the data, determine if you’re going to keep, update or remove the content.
For example, you may want to repackage an old blog post into a video or infographic. You could add new information to an old article or rewrite a low-performing article to improve its SEO.
You could also make small tweaks to all of your low-performing blog posts, like trying out a new call-to-action or adding other types of media.
The point of creating so much content is to reach certain goals, right?
How do you know you’re reaching them, or even on the right path, without taking a look at the content that’s already on your website and impacting your visitors?
Regular content audits should be a mandatory part of any content strategy.
As you learn more about your content performance, you can adjust your content and marketing strategy for the future.
Has your company, website, or business ever revamped their content in order to increase site metrics and performance?
Did you find that in doing so your rankings went up or down?
Would you consider optimizing your content or auditing it in the future?
Let us know in the comments below.
Jori Hamilton is a writer and journalist from the Pacific Northwest who covers social justice issues, healthcare, politics, and the workplace. You can follow her work on twitter, Linked In, and her portfolio.