What Are Content Audits & Why Are They Important?
Good quality, relevant and helpful content, now more than ever, is key to digital marketing success. The saying ‘Content is King’ wasn’t coined for nothing after all! Great content enables you to reach specific target audiences with the useful information they are searching for. Delivering excellent content is a subtle gesture which shows a willingness to help readers and, as a result, attracts them to your site, assisting rather than interrupting their journey and encouraging them to interact with you.
Whatever the size of your business it is likely that you will have content available. Whether it is already written and on your site or waiting to be uploaded, just being planned or still in the heads of your experienced team. So, what do you do with it all and how do you make the most of it?
Content is a valuable resource and can add value repeatedly and across platforms if it is managed, optimised, repurposed and updated effectively. However, you may find that your content pile feels a little daunting even to think about. With no specific content focus, aim or purpose, the ‘thing’ that’s meant to be ‘king’ can feel overwhelming and unmanageable.
So, how do you tackle your content project initially?
The answer is content audits. Content audits are a hugely valuable part of any content strategy and can help you evaluate your content marketing strategies, giving you the opportunity to organise everything you have on record and help clarify your plans for additional content. In a time where marketing is striving towards a digital future, the importance of a structured content audit for successful content marketing growth has never been so apparent.
What is a Content Audit?
A content audit is an organised documentation of all content created on your site, giving you the opportunity to analyse, purpose and optimise existing content for maximum growth. Once you’ve collated all your content you can take a step back, see what areas are a bit thin, those that need focussing on and from there decide your next steps. That might include optimising, updating, creating, repurposing or maybe even deleting content to streamline and improve your content marketing efforts.
Why Audit your Content?
When conducting a content audit your goal should be to seek opportunities where you can further resonate with your target audience. In other words, making sure you are answering the questions your potential customers are searching for help with. Your content can address audiences’ concerns, queries, and questions, attracting them through centring the focus on their needs as opposed to your business. A visitor that feels helped and supported has already started to form a relationship with you.
Content audits can also help you improve your site reach with effective SEO techniques giving you a better understanding of optimisation opportunities and highlighting where errors, such as broken links, should be fixed, to not only improve your site's SEO but user experience too.
By understanding what your target customers are searching for online you can provide the right content for them at the right time. In order to be clear on at content you need to be delivering you should have a good understanding of what they are searching for. Useful tools such as SEMrush or Answer the Public help you discover what people are searching for online by gathering data on different search terms being used around a specific topic. This allows for a better understanding of the content that should be created in order to target your specific users.
By ensuring that targeted keywords are implemented where relevant and meta data is optimised your content will perform better and rank higher in search results. Performing well on SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) will transform the success of your content and deliver new and better qualified leads int your sales funnel.
Types of Content to Include in your Audit
Everything, whether it’s a category page, blog from your site or a social media post, is content and should be included in your audit. It’s important to include every single piece of content you have to give you an idea of what you’re initially working with, what you need, what you don’t need and what could be made better. Anything that has been written for your business is potentially valuable content and great to start off with. It’s useful to see the full picture so you can begin to make changes, repurpose, delete or update your content over time.
How to Perform a Content Audit?
There are four key steps to any comprehensive content audit. They take time but that effort will pay dividends in terms of ROO (Return On Objective) when your content starts to work harder and smarter for you and your leads are warmer, more engaged and open to developing a relationship with you.
1. Collect all your content in one place
The first step in your content audit process is to gather all content in your inventory including blogs, site content, social posts etc. Don’t panic, this doesn’t mean you have to tiresomely wade through each page of your website, tools to help such as Screaming Frog, Google Analytics or SEMrush will do that for you. These tools are a great solution to help efficiently crawl your site pulling out all existing content, even content you may not have realised you had. If the idea of tackling this stage daunts you, why not get in touch, we can help. Also, talk to those in your sales and marketing teams. Whilst Screaming Frog and SEMrush will give you an idea of your website content, it won't give you all the information on content such as emails and social posts.
Screaming Frog site crawl example.
Once you’ve collated your content, you’ll now need to organise it all. There are a variety of free, extremely handy, online content audit templates that will save you time when it comes to compiling the crawled data. They usually include information on how to run an SEO content audit, audit checklists, templates and help layout the data in a clearer format.
You may also have offline content which is valuable to the process and can be manually recorded in the spreadsheet. Talking to colleagues about content they have written in the past is useful as it should all be included. The idea is to find as much content as possible, so you know what you have to work with.
When you are finished you should have a spreadsheet of all your content grouped together within a sheet organised by page URLs, existing H1s, meta data and any other relevant information you’d like to keep from the site crawl. It would also be useful to create individual tabs on the spreadsheet to separate content types, for example, you could create a tab for landing pages, a tab for blogs and a tab for all social media posts. This would give the audit structure and better navigation making your content easily accessible. Any cells missing data should be highlighted such as missing meta data or H1s; these can be filled in as you begin to optimise your content further down the line.
2. Collate and categorise your content
Once you have crawled the data and compiled a list of all the content you have, it’s best to start categorising your content. This will help you to spot recurring themes and get a feel of existing focal points. When crawling your site, information such as URLs, meta data, titles will be pulled through which can help you spot which pages are lacking SEO best practice. In most content audit templates you’ll automatically be given a set of staple columns with instructions on how to analyse the data. However not every column is always necessarily applicable to your needs; adapt and change the data view to be most efficient and best suited to your preferences.
When creating your own content audit, you’ll definitely want to include the following columns though:
- H1 (Title of Content)
- Meta Title – this is a ranking factor and needs to include keywords, between 60-65 characters is best practice. Meta titles should be different from the H1 of the page.
- Meta Description – not a ranking factor however should ideally be under 200 characters and describe the page purpose/content succinctly.
- Content Format – whether it’s a blog, case study, guide etc.
- Content Purpose – what are you trying to achieve with the content?
- Customer Journey Stage – awareness, consideration or decision, make sure you have enough content for each customer journey stage.
- Main Focus Keyword – ensure you have enough content covering all main keywords and check content is targeting selected keywords effectively.
- Internal links – these are links to other areas of your site.
- Outbound links – these are links to web pages away from your site.
Another important category/column will cover content metrics. Content metrics are metrics that measure the efficacy of your content in terms of optimisation and include factors such as traffic, engagement, social media engagement, SEO performance etc. Tools such as Google Analytics can help you with data performance and will pull through data you may find useful within the audit.
It’s also important to note evergreen content should be highlighted. Evergreen content is search-optimised content that always has been and will always be relevant to any specific time, even way past its publication date. This type of content allows for continual growth of traffic over time.
3. Analysing the content
Once you’ve included all content in a format that suits your business goals, you can begin to analyse and look out for content lacking SEO best practice, underperforming content and outdated content that could be reworked and updated. It’s also good to spot content pieces that are performing well so they can be pushed further and leveraged in different ways.
Create another column where you can input goals and actions you want to be taken so you can manage work that needs to be done. Alternatively, you can highlight certain sections depending on what needs to be changed or pushed.
4. Updating regularly
It’s vital you keep your content audit up to date, so you always have an organised picture of the content you have on your site. Every time you post an update, blog or pillar page be sure to add it to your content audit, filling in necessary columns as you go. This will be a huge help to you and the rest of the team, saving you time and enabling you to optimise the performance of your content consistently.
Want more helpful content like this?
Now you know everything you need to know about conducting a successful content audit you will begin to see huge results.
If you’re looking for more helpful content like this, take a look at our side bar full of related pages that will transform your digital marketing efforts. Simple, effective strategies that will help save you time and vastly improve your site performance.
For more information on how you can create and optimise your content to deliver business results, download our free guide to creating content by filling in the form on the right-hand side of this page.