How to Do a Content Audit
Content marketing requires creating a lot of content.
Once you get going, often the impulse is to just keep moving forward with new content indefinitely. Keep producing, keep publishing, and hope for the best. But now and then, it’s important to step back and perform an analysis of what you’ve already done.
Every business that does content marketing should commit to doing a content audit at least once every couple of years. While it can be hard to get buy in from your team to set aside the time for a content audit – it can feel like something tedious that keeps you from the more important work of creating – the benefits it brings are too significant to let it slide.
The Benefits of a Content Audit
A content audit will help you accomplish a number of important goals:
- Figure out what works. A content audit helps you identify which pieces of content, topics, and content formats are getting results, so you can invest more of your time and money into creating content that will pay off.
- Identify the types of content that aren’t really working. Every business doing content marketing is going to end up with content pieces that just don’t hit. A content audit will help you ensure you don’t keep wasting your time on content you know doesn’t appeal to your audience and help you remove clutter from your website.
- Find opportunities for repurposing. Too many businesses produce all their content from scratch. There’s a good chance you have old content that can be tweaked to fit new formats. You’ll save your team some trouble by identifying these pieces and creating a plan for re-purposing.
- Update old content. A blog post from five years ago could be filled with mostly useful information, but also some outdated stuff that makes it look less authoritative. Like re-purposing, updating old content gives you a chance to make better use of what you already have with less effort.
- Clean up and organize your website. You probably have pages no one visits, either because your audience just wasn’t interested, or they weren’t easy to find. A content audit helps you identify what content you can remove, and how to make the rest of it more accessible.
By committing time now, a content audit saves you future work so you can craft a path moving forward that will be more successful.
5 Steps to Complete a Content Audit
Doing a content audit well does require some time, but by structuring the process and going in with a plan, you’ll be able to get more out of it.
1. First, clarify your goals.
Before you do anything else, ask yourself what you hope to get out of your content audit.
Most content audits will have multiple goals. You may want to improve the SEO on your website, figure out how to increase conversions, or come to better understand how specific personas respond to different types of content – just to name a few possibilities.
Whatever your particular priorities may be, it’s useful to take the time to articulate in specific terms what you want to accomplish during your content audit so that you can structure your efforts around achieving what’s most important to you.
2. Create a list of all the pieces of content you have.
Your next step is to list out all the content you have now.
This should include every blog post you’ve ever published, any current landing pages, your videos, your podcasts, other site pages, any long-form assets you have, and anything else you’ve ever created as part of your content marketing that’s still live on your website.
Get it all into a spreadsheet, then start to organize and build out the various fields you want to track as you go. How this spreadsheet should look depends on the goals you lined out before you started, but you should probably include fields or categories for:
- All metrics you want to track in relation to each piece of content (e.g., page views, downloads, conversions, email signups, social shares)
- The goal for each piece of content (awareness, email signups, clicks to other content, etc.)
- The content format
- Primary topic covered
- The target keyword (if applicable)
- The audience or persona it was meant for
- Number of links that point back to the content piece
- Comments or feedback from your audience
- Whether a CTA is included
Think of everything you could possibly want to check about piece of content and get a field into the spreadsheet for it. If you’d rather plug and play than DIY, Moz and Buffer both have solid content audit templates you can use.
3. Review the analytics you have for each piece.
Every tool you have for collecting analytics should be put to use during your content audit.
For most businesses, that should include Google Analytics. In some cases it will also include tools like HubSpot, Kissmetrics, and the analytics provided by your main social media channels.
Any metric that tells you something about the success of a piece of content – especially any that relate to the goals you established at the beginning of the process – should be included in your analysis and plugged into the spreadsheet you’ve started.
4. Make a decision about what to do next with each piece of content.
You’ll be able to start dividing your content into a few main categories at this point:
- The pieces that perform well now;
- The pieces that aren’t doing great, but have potential; and
- The pieces that aren’t getting any attention or results.
Let’s review what to do with each category in order.
For the Content Doing Well:
A good performance doesn’t mean you just leave well enough alone. Figure out if there’s a way to make it better. Brainstorm ways to get more out of this content. Promote it more. Figure out ways to re-purpose it by breaking it into smaller pieces, expanding it into a longer piece, or covering the same topic in a new format. See if there are ideas within the content pieces that can be turned into new pieces of content. When you hit on what works, use it as inspiration and keep it up.
For the Content with Potential:
Perform an analysis to determine what the problem most likely is. In some cases, it could be as simple as a bad title or a little bit of outdated information; in others, it could be a bigger issue like targeting the wrong audience or not providing accurate information.
Try to diagnose the issue with each piece in this category so you can determine the best steps to take moving forward to improve it. You may want to make some simple updates to these pieces, rewrite them completely to be meatier, or figure out how to make them more focused on a target keyword.
For The Content Not Getting Results:
For the last category, you’ll have to make some hard choices. It feels counterintuitive and wasteful to remove content someone worked hard on from your website entirely, but in some cases it’s the best choice. Decide what content can be discarded entirely and put it in the “to be removed” category.
Some of the content not getting results could be improved upon with some changes. If you feel that’s possible with some of the pieces in this category, bump them into the “content with potential” category.
5. Craft it all into a content strategy with clear deliverables and deadlines.
Everything you’ve put into your spreadsheet so far will help you with this step. Turn all the information you’ve collected and insights you’ve gleaned into a clear plan. Assign each task you want to take on to someone on your team (the writer, designer, editor, SEO, or content marketer) and start working up a list of realistic deadlines.
Get to work on a new, better content strategy based on the wealth of knowledge you’ve just gained. And to hold yourselves to staying on top of things in the years to come, go ahead and put a date on the calendar in a year or two for your next content audit. You’ll never get to the point where a bit of analysis won’t do your content strategy a world of good.
What has been your experience performing a content audit? Share your successes (or mistakes to avoid) in the comments below!
Kristen Hicks is an Austin-based freelance content writer and lifelong learner with an ongoing curiosity to learn new things. She uses that curiosity, combined with her experience as a freelance business owner, to write about subjects valuable to small business owners on the HostGator blog. You can find her on Twitter at @atxcopywriter.