A content audit is a painstaking, tiresome process that will only solidify everyone’s belief that there is much work to be done. So why on earth would you do one?
If your organization has determined that its current strategy isn’t working, or if it has no content strategy at all, a content audit can help by illustrating which pieces aren’t benefiting the company and helping you learn from those mistakes, as well as by highlighting gaps in existing content. Hopefully, there are some pieces that are worth preserving, perhaps with some revisions.
Why Content Marketing Matters
Just in case you are wondering why content marketing is important at all, content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing and generates about three times as many leads (Demand Metric). Sixty-one percent of consumers say they are more likely to buy from a company that delivers custom content (Custom Content Council). Does your company sell B-to-B? Eighty percent of business decision-makers prefer to get company information from a series of articles rather than an advertisement (Content Marketing Institute), and nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads (The Annuitas Group).
The Purpose of the Content Audit
This particular article on creating a content audit differs from others in at least two ways:
- It is not limited to website content, but includes all content assets
- The purpose is not simply to make a list of content pieces and describe them, but to assess:
- The quality of each item of content
- How it has been marketed, if at all
- User response to the content
There is nothing wrong with either type; in fact, under other circumstances, another process may be preferable. This content audit is primarily designed for organizations that have committed to investing in a defined strategy for all of the content they produce, but are overwhelmed by the thought of getting started.
Tools to Use
The tools to use for a content audit can include Microsoft Word and Excel or any other software that is helpful to the team conducting the audit. Word is helpful when recording details about each piece in an outline form; Excel is useful for creating a grid that will identify gaps. Whether you use Word, Excel, both, or neither depends on how many existing items there are and of which types.
What to Include in the Content Audit
Regardless of how you document it, the content audit should cover:
- Existing content that can be used as-is
- Existing content that must be repurposed to be useful
- Content that needs to be created (you may want to assign priorities as you go)
In many cases, content exists, but there has been no strategy for disseminating or using it. Sometimes content has not been internally adopted and this has limited its reach outside of the company. It’s helpful to make notes about what has and hasn’t worked so you’ll know what to do differently.
When You Have an Unmanageable Amount of Content
What if you have 3,500 pieces of content, or 35,000, or 350,000? Unless you have only a few stray sales sheets, a couple of brochures, and a 10-page website to assess, you’ll need to create categories and use Google Analytics and feedback from internal stakeholders, especially the sales team, to assess a few typical pieces of each content type, as well as outliers on both ends of the spectrum.
Developing New Content Strategy
Some questions to keep in mind while you’re conducting your audit about the content you plan to create include:
- Who are the end users of your organization’s content?
- What do you need to help them accomplish (questions answered and problems solved)?
- What is the purpose of the content (i.e. branding, lead generation, demand generation)?
- What types of new content do you need?
- Website content
- Technical articles
- Non-technical articles
- Blogs (in addition to having their own function, blogs are useful for showcasing and introducing other forms of content)
- Case studies
- White papers
- Online catalogs
- Instruction manuals
- Where will each type of content live, and can you cross-utilize content on several platforms?
- What channels make the most sense for effective distribution?
- What calls to action will you use?
- What KPIs will you track?
- Bounce rate
- Time on site
- Time on page
- Social media traffic
- Number of pages visited
- Repeat visits
- Number of leads
- Number of quote requests
- Number of lead conversions
- Everyone’s favorite: Revenue
- Who will take ownership of the content process, including creation, distribution, testing, analytics, and reporting?
How Can Analytics Help with a Content Audit?
Reviewing metrics like bounce rates and time on page can help you determine which pieces of existing content have generated the most engagement. Be sure to consider those numbers relative to other pieces of content, not what you wish they were, and to assess performance with a matrix approach. For example, if one blog article has many visits with a high bounce rate and another has fewer visits with a lower bounce rate, which would you consider the better performer overall?
The goal is to figure out what’s working for you and build on it. If nothing seems to have worked very well at all, consider whether or not the content that has been created in the past has truly been designed with the end user’s needs in mind.
What about SEO?
SEO improvements are a byproduct of amazing content that users love. Search engine algorithms have evolved to make keyword stuffing not only undesirable, but irrelevant.
So don’t try to game the system with a long list of keywords that doesn’t take the needs and desires of your end users into account. Just focus your attention on content that your users will appreciate and that will keep them coming back for more.
After the Audit
When the content audit is complete, it’s time to start developing user personas. We’ll cover that and other content strategy topics in future articles, so be sure to follow us on Facebook to stay in the loop!
About the Author: Rachaelle Lynn is Google Certified in Analytics and AdWords and has over 12 years of experience in website development and digital advertising, including e-commerce, SEO, PPC, and social media. She has helped many businesses, from small local companies to large international organizations, establish online presences and leverage them to increase revenue.