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.
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.
How to perform a content audit?
Determine the business objectives
Collecting data indiscriminately not only costs a lot of time and resources, but it will probably lead you to dead ends. That’s why your audit needs to be focused on an objective.
- increased organic traffic: to reduce paid media costs, increase brand recognition or improve the effectiveness of strategies such as Inbound Marketing;
- improve CTR: to benefit campaign performance or increase the number of page views on the site;
- strengthenlead generation: to analyze content and call to action (CTA) performance and provide optimization actions;
- reduce the rejection rate: identify problems in content and SEO elements that are harming the user experience and provide solutions;
- raise conversion rates: invest in site configuration and content production improvements to attract qualified audiences and increase marketing and sales conversions.
Create a content inventory
Collect and analyze data
Fortunately, there are practical tools that help with the process of auditing content more quickly, without the need to focus for hours — or days — on the task, filling out spreadsheets.
It is worth mentioning that in a certain moment when a site or e-commerce already presents hundreds or thousands of pages, these tools cease to be an option and become a must — because the chance of making mistakes and omitting information becomes quite large.
Screaming Frog is a platform focused on SEO auditing. Basically, what it does is track all the links on your site and categorize them within a series of criteria so you can analyze the performance of your content very easily.
One of the differentials of this platform is that it keeps a progress report based on your audits’ history. That way, you can follow the evolution of your site and optimize your strategies.
WooRank boasts one of the most complete panels for content analysis and auditing, in addition to very interesting functions such as Site Crawler, which helps understand how search engine robots “see” pages.
Manually verify the indicated actions
The tools help enormously in data analysis and problem detection, but we cannot rely solely on their results. This software’s algorithms are quite accurate, but many aspects of content go beyond technical criteria.
- in this model, we consider that pages with less than six months old do not present sufficient data for analysis, except in special situations — such as product pages or event landing pages;
- the Ahref team understands that the page that has had at least one visitor per day in the last 12 months is content with a minimum acceptable level of traffic, but these values can be modified according to the parameters of your business;
- the same goes for the proportion of organic traffic since these numbers tend to vary according to your strategy;
- backlinks are the links that point to the page in question, which implies the need to configure redirection (redirect 301) when we delete it to avoid empty destinations (error 404).
Provide the necessary actions
In general, it is never advisable to exclude content from a site, especially when it has been on the Internet for some time and might be receiving some traffic from external addresses.
Besides, we cannot forget that all content is an investment: either of time and energy (when you are the author) or of financial resources (when you hire professionals to produce them).
So the best way to deal with URLs that give little return is to improve them (update them) or gather similar material in a new high-quality post (better output when there is a case of cannibalism of keywords).
Making Your Content Audit Last
Once you have completed the content audit process, you should have a clear path to improve performance and effectiveness. Most websites have gaps in one or more of the areas identified above. The key is to use your audit to drive improvements over time and adjust your content strategy accordingly.
With this said, be realistic about your capacity to fix outstanding issues. Depending on how much content you have, a full content audit might take more time than you have resources for. In that case, a lean audit like the one mentioned above might be your best bet.
Regardless, success depends on your ability to maintain high standards over time. Run through audit results with your entire content team so everyone understands where gaps exist and how to address them. While you may not be able to fix everything at once, if you’re diligent about improving content quality and train your team accordingly, you will see results over time.
Content Audits: Final Word
A content audit can be the driving force for a new site-wide governance strategy. The process can help you understand whether your digital marketing strategy is successful or not. It should also help you build capacity.
While auditing an entire site might be a daunting task, once you have completed the process you should have a clear path to improve site content over time. After making the requisite changes, your content should better serve your users’ needs and your business goals. Win-win!
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Tim Frick founded Mightybytes in 1998 to help mission-driven organizations solve problems, amplify their impact, and meet business and marketing goals. He is the author of four books, including Designing for Sustainability: A Guide to Building Greener Digital Products and Services from O’Reilly Media. Follow Tim on Twitter or connect with him on LinkedIn.