When do I need to audit my content?
If you've never done one before
If your brand/ business direction has changed
When you can't remember where all your content is located.
Why do I need to audit my content?
Chances are you'll benefit hugely as you move forwards by briefly looking back.
While some focus on publishing as much as possible as frequently as possible, periodic reviews revitalise old content and assess content goals for the future.
Furthermore, a content audit brings growth benefits and uncovers future opportunities. It saves time going forward by taking a look back.
What is a content audit?
A content audit is a valuable tool for businesses that want to use the written pieces they have more effectively while firming up their content strategy going forward. Companies put a substantial amount of work into their published content; therefore it’s important to spend time ensuring your content is optimised and still relevant.
Years of posting, uploading and publishing leave bits and pieces scattered across different platforms with some articles long lost and forgotten. Furthermore, some posts may reflect outdated ideas, statistics and the old brand voice. It goes without saying that you don’t want to leave these pieces to be found and read by users. Performing a comprehensive content audit enables you to review your strategy and make homogenised changes.
A content audit is an in-depth look at all the content created for a site or domain plus its associated peripheral websites and platforms. It includes details on where each piece is published, its length, its intended purpose, and the need it addresses.
The goal of a content audit is to answer the following questions:
Does your content still achieve its original objective?
How has each individual piece been received by visitors?
What can this audit tell me about future content opportunities?
Why perform a content audit?
Realign your brand voice
As a content producer, you have developed a brand voice that carries through in every piece. The more content you produce, the easier it is for that voice to get muddled, particularly when multiple writers over the years are involved.
A content audit will uncover any inconsistencies and allow you to amend and update where needed.
Identify the missing pieces
This analysis paints a clear picture of existing gaps in your body of published work and how to fill those gaps with content that speaks to visitors. As a result, you’ll be in a better position to meet existing visitors’ needs and reach new, more targeted visitors.
Move forward with your strategy
In addition to improving the current body of work, a content audit helps you tighten up your content strategy going forward. Optimising content with sub-optimal results is actually less time-consuming than creating or curating new content.
For example, where an audit finds that pieces of a certain length consistently lead to more social media shares or email signups, they can use those parameters to guide content planning in the future.
Make content more visible
Existing content is easier to find when brands conduct regular content audits. Audits ensure that each post is appropriately tagged and categorised, which benefits SEO efforts and encourages organic traffic.
A thorough tagging system guides visitors from one piece to other relevant pieces, keeping them on the site for longer. If you aren’t already, use a spreadsheet or Trello board to log all content from now on.
Another handy article for you:
Our very own 10-page downloadable PDF guide to content marketing packed full of great tips and ideas (PS, it's completely free)!
Guide: conducting the content audit
Pre-audit preparation: metrics
Prior to beginning an audit, decide which metrics you will use to assess the effectiveness of each piece. Consider metrics that mirror the goals you have for your body of content as a whole, such as views, engagement, comments, shares and conversions.
It helps to think about whether or not each piece is consistent in tone and voice. Ranking each piece on a numeric scale is a simple way to look at each piece objectively.
Audit: content inventory
The most gruelling part of the content audit is creating a full inventory. This involves making a list of each piece’s:
Consider what type of content a piece is and its intended purpose. For example, a question-and-answer page, news piece, guest blog, or general information. Then, assess what the goal was for each piece as well as the ratio of content types across your entire catalogue. For instance, was the piece intended to increase social engagement, guide visitors to a sales page, or capture email signups and how successful was it?
A spreadsheet is an easy and convenient way to list and sort content. Using a spreadsheet allows you to sort pieces by different metrics to help uncover unexpected trends.
Analysis: identify trends
Finding trends and areas for growth comes in the next step: analysis. Look at each article individually and as part of the entire body of published work. By looking at each piece individually, you are able to assess how well it achieved its initial goal, if it is still relevant to your brand, and if it needs a refreshed appearance.
After looking at each piece individually, sort information into various different categories to identify trends and opportunities. For example, you may find that question-and-answer pieces consistently yield 30% fewer views than general informational content. Finding these insights benefits your overall content strategy.
Actioning the audit
Once the inventory is complete and you have analysed all your content, it’s time to action your findings. Create an action plan to outline how to improve each piece. For instance, an article might need updated statistics, rewriting to remain consistent with a brand’s voice, or adding a paragraph here and there based on insightful user feedback.
Don’t be afraid to remove pieces from circulation while you amend them, or even decommission them entirely. Whatsmore, you can feed certain insights gleaned from your audit into your social media calendar, such as trending topics and updates added to articles.
Identifying content opportunities
You will likely unearth inconsistencies and gaps in your content approach that have surfaced over time as things have gradually shifted and changed.
For instance, if your content approach focuses heavily on one type of content that has yielded disappointing results, look at which types of pieces have been successful. If a one-off piece produced the highest engagement rates across the entire body of content, look into turning that piece into an ongoing series.
The ultimate aim is to use the audit results to adjust your content approach to meet your content strategy goals.
Content audits are necessary for all businesses and publishers. In fact, they should ideally form a regularly scheduled part of your content plan. If content auditing your total online catalogue seems overwhelming, or you’re not sure where—or even how—to begin, get in touch and we’ll help you get started and advise you on how best to proceed.
Read part 2 for a step-by-step account of how to carry out a content audit... coming soon!
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Published 13 February 2020
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