How to do a content audit

Estimated reading time
5 minutes
5th March 2019
Author: Dani Mansfield
Posted in: Strategy & planning

 

Without the detailed view that you get from a content inventory and audit, you can’t meet your organization’s big-picture requirements.

– Brenda Huettner, president, P-N Designs Inc.

Audits don’t have to be restricted to the finance department. You could be sitting on a content goldmine buried in the subfolders of subfolders. Periodically conducting a content audit will help you understand the full scope of your business’s content ecosystem and how to strengthen its performance.

The principles of tracking, investigating and organizing can be applied to pretty much every activity within a company. And content shouldn’t be treated any differently.

After all your content is an asset. A serious asset.  It’s your story. Your brand. Your message. Your tone of voice. Your bridge to your customers and potential customers. And assets need to be analyzed, scrutinized, inventoried and nurtured to make sure they work hard and provide a healthy return.

Sounds a little daunting? Sure. But there are some very worthwhile benefits.

 

Why do a content audit?

1. Save money

During the course of a content audit, you are likely to find work that has been unpublished but that could be used with a brief refresh or edit. According to SiriusDecisions around 65% of content created gets wasted. That’s a staggering amount. So get sifting and develop new assets by repurposing old ones.

2. Drive efficiency

A thorough content audit will make it easy for other teams in your organization to identify relevant content and USE it too. This will be especially pertinent to the Sales Team who need to be delivering content throughout the entire customer journey. If they don’t know it’s there they can’t use it. And an audit allows you to find weak content too. De-cluttering will provide clarity and improve efficiency. See it as a kind of content marketing spring clean.

3. Ensure consistency

Organizations re-organize all the time — software systems change, business goals adjust, messages are revised etc.

A content audit will help you to align your content consistently with where your business is at today. If the historic content doesn’t match the current state of play or cannot be revised and tweaked to do so. Well … you know what to do … bin it.

And once you’ve completed your audit you’ll be able to take a wider analysis on what’s worked well and what hasn’t. This will help to inform the direction of your future content. It’s all about learning and improving.

Design your content inventories and audits to serve your organization’s goals.

– Paula Ladenburg Land, Senior Content Strategist, NASA Earth Sciences Data Systems Communications Group

How to do a content audit

1 – Identify audit goals

Woman sketching a business plan on a placard at a creative office

 

These will be unique to each organization but could include:

To increase audience engagement

Identify the most engaging types of content for your audience. What topics have your readers shown interest in? When have they shared content, actioned a CTA, made a comment etc?

To increase lead generation

Identify the best performing lead generation content and define the most efficient content types for each stage of the buyer’s journey.

To improve SEO Results

Identify content that has high SEO potential and which pieces lack proper optimization. Discover what content assets need to be updated or removed and keep in mind its SEO potential.

2 – Unearth every asset …

Wielding a magnifying glass

It can be a dirty job, siphoning through a dense back catalog, but you don’t want a potential prospect stumbling across an old blog post that goes against everything your business and the world now know and hold true. Scraping tools like Screaming Frog can help you get a quick list of every page on your website to make this more manageable. Otherwise, you’ll need to go digging in your shared drive, speak to other functions, and use search engines to identify public content.

3 – Map your content

Cropped shot of a group of young designers using sticky notes during a brainstorming session

After you’ve collated all your content get tagging. How you do this should have relevance to your overall marketing structure per se. But it could be by persona, by topic, by industry, author, business owner, stage in the customer journey etc.

Not only are you now getting organized but beginning to see an overall top-level picture that will help in directing new content. Use an online tool or a spreadsheet to sort your content asset information. It could look something like this:

spreadsheet

Example tags:

  • Content type: News story, blog, article, presentation etc.
  • Basic content description: A brief reminder about what’s on the page
  • Topic or category: Metadata for products, articles, news, blog posts
  • Author: Who wrote this content?
  • Owner: Who is responsible for the content?
  • Date last updated: When was the content last updated?
  • Attached files: How many files are attached, and what type of files are they?
  • Related: What other information is linked if any
  • Availability: Is the content available to desktop, mobile and/or app users? Where else is the content syndicated?
  • A numbering system: An index to help you when referring to each content item.

4 – Choose what to keep

The best bit!

By going through your content assets granularly you’ll be able to see what content you can reuse, repurpose or delete. Be ruthless in your weeding out. If it cannot be repurposed – bin it. Generate an action plan on what you intend to do.

Consider the following:

  • Reuse your content. Try to combine different pieces of content to create a new one or publish it in a different format (ebook, infographics, slides, etc.).
  • Rewrite your content. If you have blog posts that are not performing well enough, try to rewrite them with new examples, tips, and practical details.
  • Refresh your content. Sometimes, you don’t need to completely rewrite your article; you can just add some relevant information (for example, new stats and trends or new product details).
  • Structure your content. A clear and logical structure can help users better interpret your content. Note: ‘How to articles’ often do well.
  • Update your CTAs. Replace outdated CTAs with relevant ones to reactivate your content marketing funnel and improve your conversion.
  • Add videos. Think where can you incorporate video to improve engagement
  • Add images. It will make your content more engaging, grab attention and attract more readers
  • Add interactive elements. Whether polls, quizzes, shareable soundbites etc. Anything that encourages engagement is worth including.

 

Machines are great at gathering data;
humans are better at evaluating it.”

– Paula Ladenburg Land

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