Like with anything, websites date over time. Ideally, content should develop alongside a business, but this doesn’t always happen. A content audit and overhaul allows you to adjust content to fit new business goals and align yourselves with your current customer base.
Grab your spreadsheets, your analytics data, and a bit of content-marketing know-how. We’re going to dive in at the deep end to show you what a content audit is all about!
What is a content audit?
When you audit your content, you review every single piece of content published by your brand. No matter if it’s offline, online, written, visual, owned by you or owned by someone else, you have to look at it and assess its merits.
By analysing each piece of content individually and as part of a group, you can determine if it sticks to your core message and is valuable to your reader.
Here are just three things you should look for:
- Effectiveness – Use analytics to see how much traffic comes to/is generated from a page
- Inconsistencies – Check for issues with tone of voice, message, design and even spelling/grammar quirks.
- Misinformation – Look for out-of-date content, obsolete information, mistakes and anything that might be incomplete.
Why do it?
Let’s face it – trawling through every piece of content your business has ever created is a gargantuan task. It takes a lot of time and energy. But don’t worry, it’s worth it!
Auditing your content identifies weaker pieces and either scraps or improves upon them. This raises the quality of all your content, creating a better experience for the user and helping you improve your position within organic search results. Old content often resurfaces after an update, especially if you’ve followed SEO best practice (clue: this means you’ve adopted a semantic search mindset).
An audit is a thorough cleanse that will make sure your message is clear and strong throughout all of your content.
If you audit your content regularly (this means at least once a year), you will be able to create a much more informed content strategy. An audit will outline:
- Content that succeeded.
- Content that failed.
- Content that needs updating.
- Content that needs reorganising (e.g. through an improved site navigation).
- Content that could be repurposed for broader exposure.
- Content that should be deleted and avoided in future
A thorough content audit gives you the opportunity to build on your successes and learn from your mistakes, so that you can revamp your content strategy.
When should you audit your content?
Regularly auditing your content can be very beneficial to your business. However, smaller companies need to prioritise their other content marketing needs, so cannot commit to an annual audit.
Every three years is a good starting point, but you should consider completing an audit of your content now if:
- You’ve never done one before.
- Your content strategy wasn’t updated after the last audit.
- Your business goals have changed since the last content audit.
- You’re having issues with under-performing content.
- Your content output has grown dramatically since your last audit.
- You want to develop a new content strategy or implement content management technology.
How to audit your content
There are several steps you can take to audit your content effectively. Here is an overview of the key ways we’d suggest going about it.
We’ve also created a handy hypothetical to help you figure out how to complete each stage:
Meet Joe, the marketing manager for a top insurance comparison site that launched in 2010 (InsureComp). He’s been with the company four years and hasn’t done an audit so he’s finally getting round to it. Let’s see how he gets on!
1. Create a content inventory
A content inventory is a list of every piece of content you own – this includes content not on your website such as printed brochures. This stage might take some time.
So what does Joe do?
He separates his content into three categories:
- Website content – Uses the site map, and goes through each and every page.
- Other online content – Lists content on third party sites that he can control (guest blogs, social media etc.).
- Print resources – Goes through the company’s digital archives, finding which items he has files for. He then checks the print inventory to check which are still in use.
He lists all the individual pieces of content within this spreadsheet. You could use it too!
|Name||Format||URL||Content type||Date published||Last updated||Category||Audit status|
|About us||Website content||www.insurecomp.com/about||Web page||01/02/2010||03/10/2012||Company info|
|Getting the best insurance deal||Other online content||www.linkedin.com/bestdeal||LinkedIn article||15/05/2012||NA||Tips|
|Why you need to compare insurance quotes||Print resources||NA||Guide||16/07/2017||NA||Educational content|
A content inventory is a really handy tool – even if you’re not doing an audit! It gives you a bird’s-eye view of all your content so you can easily spot items that might be out-of-date or no longer relevant.
2. Determine your strategy
You should have a clear content marketing strategy before you begin your content audit. This will outline the larger story your organisation tells through content marketing.
You must determine what the goal of the audit is. Do you want to refresh, redesign, or overhaul your content? Each will give a slightly different approach to the way you operate – an overhaul might be more brutal than a refresh, with more pieces being scrapped.
Joe’s (trimmed down) content marketing strategy: Present InsureComp as the most reliable and effective way to compare insurance deals. While we deal with all types of insurance, we pride ourselves on getting the best policies for new drivers, so 17/18 year-olds are our target market.
Joe’s plan for his audit: I’m aiming to overhaul our current content so we can become the leading resource in our field. People will come to us for advice, then use our services.
3. Set your standards high
Before you start chopping and changing your existing content, you need to figure out what you consider to be good and effective content.
- Value for the reader.
- Core message.
The above choices may be based on gut feeling and your content marketing expertise. Others can be quantified. Take a look – we’ve even added Joe’s minimum requirements for his ‘website content’ category to help you out:
- Traffic/number of views – Must receive at least the industry average number of views, determined by Google Analytics’ benchmarking report.
- Minimum word count – At least 300 words per page.
- Readability/Flesch score – Minimum Flesch score of 70 as content must be easy to understand.
- Yoast SEO score – Must be green, unless amber is absolutely necessary and the piece has value.
Your minimum requirements could be very different from Joe’s, so think long and hard before setting them.
You could add each of these in as headers for your spreadsheet so you can compare performance across all of your content. If you’re a spreadsheet wizard, you could use conditional formatting to highlight cells green or red depending on whether they meet your criteria.
You will need to decide whether to update or scrap content that doesn’t meet your minimum requirements. It’s worth adding in a notes header into your inventory to remind you of the improvements you need to make.
4. Audit your content
Everything is now set up for your audit. Now all you have to do is go through each piece individually and assess it according to your pre-determined standards.
We suggest splitting all the pieces into three categories. Do this by filling in the ‘Audit status’ column:
- Irrelevant unusable content – Cannot be salvaged and will be removed from the site.
- Outdated/moderate content – Can be improved/updated through a thorough refresh.
- Relevant high performing content – Top-notch content that doesn’t need amendments*.
*However, that doesn’t mean just leave it on your site. Make the most out of it by repurposing or reformatting and sending out across your channels.
Here’s a condensed version of Joe’s finished audit:
|Name||Content type||Date published||Audit status||Notes|
|About us||Web page||01/02/2010||Outdated/moderate||Refresh to include up-to-date information on the company. E.g. Best comparison award 2017.|
|Getting the best insurance deal||LinkedIn article||15/05/2012||Irrelevant unusable content||Methods are outdated, examples irrelevant to current audience. Scrap.|
|Why you need to compare insurance quotes||Guide||16/07/2017||Relevant high performing content||Strong piece, could be reformatted (downloadable e-book, or blog series).|
Top auditing tips:
- Fix easy things such as spelling and format as you go – Joe uses an editorial style guide to keep things in check.
- Remove or edit duplicate content.
- Use tools like Yoast to make sure all your posts stick to readability and SEO best practice.
- Look out for gaps in your content. Make a note, and fill them!
Four simple steps are all it takes to audit your content. Why not try it today and see how a content audit can clean up your site, giving search engines and users a better experience?