Content audits: they’re all the rage according to marketing folk. When you talk to someone in the industry, it’s a fair bet that they’ll be pushing you to “get one done.” But what is a content audit? And if you do “get one done,” what’s in it for you? Or is this yet another marketing spiel by people who make a living at marketing spiels? Let’s find out.
CONTENT INVENTORY VS. CONTENT AUDIT
I’m going to start by mentioning a content inventory, which is a bit different than a content audit, although the two should go hand-in-hand.
A content inventory is the first step of an audit. It’s exactly like it sounds; you take an inventory of all the content you have on your site. It’s easy if you only have about five pages and no whitepapers, videos, or other types of content, but can get pretty complicated the further that number goes up.
More in depth content inventories will include all content anywhere (you should be keeping track of that already, but some aren’t). This could include YouTube videos, SoundCloud podcasts, SlideShare slides and so on.
As the first step, it provides you with a “whole forest” kind of big picture. You kind of get the idea of what kind of forest it is, be it a tropical rainforest, temperate or boreal.
A content audit, on the other hand, delves into the “whole forest” of the content inventory to pinpoint specific trees. Here, you started to really take a look at individual pieces and how they’ve performed. Among other things, you dig into:
● Pages and posts you’ve done well on.
● Places you’ve done… not so well on.
● Pages and posts that may not be strong in the SEO or marketing department.
● Places on your site where you’ve strayed off the beaten path in terms of content topics and website focus.
You should always carry out a content inventory first, and then start the audit itself. A great tool to do an onsite content inventory with is Screaming Frog SEO Spider (no affiliation), a crawler program that we use extensively to gain information about a site.
THE GOAL OF A CONTENT AUDIT
There is one major reason to run a content audit – to improve your marketing efforts. While Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a serious bonus to aim for, once you get people to the site your content still has to perform.
As a marketing effort optimizer, your content audit might look at things like:
- Did visitors click to another post after reading this one, or did they leave?
- How long is the piece?
- Did people stay on the page to read it?
- Did they think it was worth passing on to others?
- Did they talk about it with others?
- Did they comment on posts?
BETTER SEARCH RESULTS
This doesn’t stop you from looking at it from a search engine angle, however. You can also look at points like:
- Is the title being truncated in the Search Results Pages (SERPs)?
- Does the description leave anything to be desired?
- Is my page built correctly, with headings in order, bullet points, etc.?
- Can I reword it better for people and search engines alike?
A content audit provides these answers and more. Every time we’ve done a content audit on our own site, we’ve found surprises, and we’ve never had a client that didn’t have at least one shocker.
HOW DOES A CONTENT AUDIT HELP ME?
The longer a website has been around and the more frequently content is let out into the wild, the more often a content audit is needed. Why? How does it help?
As it was already mentioned above, a content inventory and audit provide answers. -And sometimes those answers are for questions you didn’t even know to ask. Here are some of the questions we’ve had answered over the years:
Which types of articles perform better with our audience? We’ve found through the years that our audience prefers more in depth, longer pieces for the most part. We’ve also found that informative with a bit of sass works best. Go figure. The more informative pieces not only get more visitors, but those visitors generally go on to look at more pages on the site. They share the piece more, which brings in even more traffic, and it has a much higher chance of being picked up by a major influencer.
Which topics are better received by our audience? As an international SEO company, we have a lot of topics we can cover, but some just don’t perform as well as others. If you have a large, diverse pool of topics, a content audit can really uncover some interesting information about what ticks for your readership.
Is our content organized in a way that makes sense? We have well over 600 posts and pages on this site. After a while, it can be easy to forget why you were putting one sort of thing under this section, or another sort of thing under that section and so on. A content audit can help you get your website content organized again.
What are we missing? Content audits can help show you topics that you may not have covered as extensively as others, or not at all. As wordy as we are, we’ve found a few holes, as well as a few mountains where we mave have covered a topic a little too much compared to others.
What else can we write about? Finally, a major bonus in auditing your website content is generating new ideas for fresh articles and pages. Did you forget to offer a specific service, or has your services expanded and you didn’t update your content? Could you provide a “how to” on something that you’ve never explained before?
Auditing your website content (or even your offsite content) can be a challenging, time-intensive endeavor. However, the benefits far outway the time spent. By the time your content inventory and audit is finished, you’ll have an excellent idea of your website’s content strengths and weaknesses, as well as a long list of ideas to fill in the gaps.
Need help with your content marketing? Contact us to discuss your project.