content audit

How to conduct an effective content audit

Content is a leading element in most businesses marketing strategies. Though your content may be of great quality, it’s important to know whether what you’re creating is what your audience wants to see. A content audit is a great way to discover this information. Conducting a content audit will help you establish the value of your content offering and how well it performs with search engines and your audience. With detailed content audits, your business can evaluate the content you’ve already created and shape the future of your strategy.

What is a content audit?

A content audit is a way of assessing and analysing your existing content to identify gaps and opportunities for improvement. You could also audit the content on your key competitors’ websites to discover gaps and opportunities they’ve missed or not achieved effectively. Content audits consist of the content across all of your digital channels including blog posts on your website, social media posts, email campaigns and video marketing.

How do they help your content performance?

The aim of conducting a content audit is to align all of your existing and future content. You can organise your content into a productive framework that’s manageable. A content audit provides insights into which content has and hasn’t performed well. With this information, you can form an effective content strategy based on your audience’s preferences and top-performing content.

Running a website content audit is a great way to see if your content has been optimised for search engines. Analyse your content from the very beginning so you can go back and properly optimise old posts in line with new search engine factors. This could include meta descriptions, heading tags, fixing broken links, adding new inbound links, updating old statistics or adding numbered lists. 

If this old content has stagnated back in your archives, repurposing it will ensure the search engine will recrawl your content and assign new value to your website, helping it climb the rankings. This will help keep your website free from errors, improve your SEO score and drive traffic to your website. Your audience engagement will increase as you now have all your content up to date and easy to read.

What is the content audit framework?

You don’t have to create your very own content audit framework from scratch. There are plenty of templates online like this one from HubSpot. Most content audit templates are the same but there may be some differences depending on the goals you want to achieve. The template first asks you to list the type of pages you’re auditing, for example blog posts, landing page, homepage or form. This section makes sure you can easily locate each page you’re auditing and where it places on your website.

Then you’ll add the URL and canonical tags of each page to see whether it’s part of a chain of pages or a lone page. You’ll then add the page title, purpose, headlines and meta descriptions. This section regards the content on each page and allows you to identify where things don’t align. Based on the purpose of your page, you can improve the title to include relevant keywords and ensure the headings fully cover the topic you’re writing about.

The next step is to include the file names of your images and the alt text you’ve assigned to them. You’ll also need to include internal and external links throughout your pages which can help you identify any that are broken, out of date or don’t have a link at all. The final section is whether the page is responsive on mobile devices and can be shared across social media.

How to conduct an effective content audit:

  • Outline your goals

Before starting your content audit consider what you want to achieve from it and set your goals. Think in terms of SEO, audience engagement and conversion rates. By conducting your content audit you might want to increase by 10 rankings on a specific keyword, increase engagement on your contact form to generate new leads or increase conversions on the pages that have the best user experience.

Within these goals you’ll have more detailed objectives to reach that will help you achieve them. This could include discovering which content topics you’re ranking the highest in, which topics your visitors engage the most with, which pages have the most shares on social media or which pages get the most click throughs. Assign the relevant metrics to each one to make sure you’re tracking and monitoring the right data to be able to find this information.

  • Gather a list of all your content

You need to put all the pages you’re auditing into your template firstly. This is based on your goals and doesn’t have to be every piece of content you’ve ever published. You could stick to landing pages, blog posts, publications or ebooks. This will make sure you’ve taken inventory of everything you need before beginning the audit process. Input the page type, URL and canonical tags of each page you’re auditing into your audit spreadsheet. 

If your website is new or small, you might not have a lot of content to audit. You can get a list of all your content by going through your website manually and entering each URL into your content audit spreadsheet. If your site is larger than this and has a lot of content, doing it manually would be impractical. You can use tools like SEMrush or a free version like Screaming Frog

  • Input your content into categories

This is where you’ll complete all the categories in your content audit spreadsheet based on your goals. If you’re auditing blog posts, you might want to categorise your content by publication date, author, title, word count, shares or meta descriptions. As mentioned before, make sure you assign metrics to each category to ensure you know where and how to find all of this information about your content. Google Analytics, SEMrush and HubSpot are great examples.

You can categorise your content manually if you prefer. Doing it manually may give you a broader awareness of each page and the content on it which is vital for the analysis stage. If you don’t have time to categorise your content manually, there are tools that will do it for you.

  • Analyse your content audit

With your content audit completed, it’s time to analyse it. The parts you analyse will depend on your initial goals and what you want to get from the audit. Look at the content that’s performed the best and the worst. Is this based on whether it has high engagement or a high ranking? Why did or didn’t your audience like it? Is it difficult to read and are the images unrelated? Does it have the wrong keywords and no meta description?

Look to see if there are any gaps in the content you’ve produced. Is there a topic you’ve covered broadly but can go into more detail? Is there a piece of content you published a couple of years ago that needs to be repurposed? If there’s a topic your audience has really engaged with and can you create a topic cluster or video series to optimise this?

You can organise your content based on these results. Colour code or section your results so you can easily refer back to and identify each one.

  • Establish your next steps

What you do next with this content audit is completely up to you. You can use it to make actionable items that you will take next. You can use it to formulate your new content strategy based on the things you need to repurpose or produce. Place these items into another column on your spreadsheet so you can keep track of what you have and haven’t achieved.

You can assign deadlines to achieve each of your goals and refer back to them to stay aligned. Make sure you regularly update your content audit as you publish more content. Your audience will change so it’s important to keep track of what they’re engaging with.

Content audits are extremely valuable tools that provide crucial insights into your current content offering. With the knowledge about how they benefit your business, how to create a framework and how to conduct your audit, you can refer back to your content audits regularly to analyse your ongoing content offering.

Written by: Laura Greenhalgh
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