In an age when content is king, brands are furiously trying to pump out new kinds of content almost on a daily basis. Every day, something new grabs the world’s attention and content marketing teams scramble to create something quirky around it, in an effort to stay on top of trends. Dunzo, a Bengaluru-based delivery services company, does it brilliantly with their puns and clever wordplay.
But this approach is not without its caveats. What if your content style gets stale and people tire of your content marketing strategies, meaning people start ignoring your posts altogether? To avoid this, you should conduct a thorough content audit.
What is a content audit?
The meaning of content marketing is not to simply put out an avalanche of posts or repurpose/repackage old content blindly. It’s also about going through all your content with a fine-tooth comb to see what works and what doesn’t. Put simply, a content audit is about taking stock of your existing content volume and your future content pipeline, and assessing whether it’s in line with your larger marketing goals. It’s about taking an inventory and methodically analyzing all the indexable content (content that can be discovered and ranked by search engines) on your digital properties, be it your website, landing pages, blog, social media pages, ad campaigns, emails, videos, FAQs and more. It is a qualitative evaluation of your content strategy measured against your business KPIs. Think SWOT analysis, but for your content.
When done in the right manner, an effective content audit will help you answer the following questions regarding your content pieces:
- Which topics/themes are resonating the most with your audience?
- Which posts performed the best and truly struck a chord?
- Which posts did not get any kind of traction?
Why you need a content audit
A content audit is usually carried out for two reasons:
- SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
SEO is the lifeblood of digital products and can make or break your content marketing, meaning you have to meticulously plan for it. A content audit compels you to review your keyword strategy to target higher ROI-generating keywords. You learn to anticipate what users search for and craft content around it, driving value and thereby shooting up the SERPs. You can track competitor moves and create comparison blogs, highlighting why you are the better choice. You might also discover that long-form content works better for your audience or adding more backlinks leads to greater reach. Last but not the least, it can uncover basic errors that you’re committing, like redundant blogs, keyword stuffing, audience mismatch and so on. You can incorporate all these insights into your content strategy and drive humongous amounts of organic traffic to your website.
- CRO (Conversion Rate Optimization)
Conversion is the ultimate goal of content marketing, meaning all that spike in traffic counts for naught if it doesn’t move down the funnel. Content audits give you complete visibility into the leakiness of every stage of your conversion funnel – awareness, consideration and decision. Each stage has its own rules vis-a-vis messaging and tone, so these audits can help you identify and plug gaps in your funnel. Your content quality or relevance improves resulting in higher engagement levels (likes, comments, shares, downloads). And the more people download and use your product, the better your odds of converting them into paying customers are. Or better still, turning them into brand advocates.
Define your objectives for this audit
As British-American author and inspirational speaker Simon Sinek so eloquently put it, “Start with why”. A content audit is a time-consuming and cumbersome process, so it’s important to clearly define its objectives before you dive into it. The first step is aligning all the stakeholders with top-level business goals. Some of them can be:
- Identify web pages having a high potential to come on the first page of Google search results.
- Improve internal linking and eliminate orphan pages.
- Figure out what type of content (blogs, videos, images, infographics) works best for different target segments.
- Find out which pages generate the most leads.
Then, you need to match these business goals with the correct content metrics. You can measure the following:
- SEO – Google rankings, organic traffic, paid traffic, CPC (cost-per-click) bids, number of backlinks, etc.
- Behaviour – Dwell time, bounce rate, scroll depth, heatmaps, average session duration, pageviews, etc.
- Engagement – Clickmaps, shares, likes, chats with a chatbot, etc.
- Sales – Signups, conversion rates, subscriptions, repeat customers, LTV, etc.
Clarity during this stage will make execution a piece of cake.
How to conduct a content audit
- List down ALL your current content pieces
Instead of manually entering data into a spreadsheet, use a service like Screaming Frog to automatically crawl your domain and export all your existing pages. The free version lets you crawl upto 500 links. Just enter your root domain URL and hit Start. Once it’s complete, filter it by HTML and export the results. This is your master sheet. From the exported sheet, keep only the URLs that have a status code of ‘200’.
- Monitor key metrics
Pull up metrics important to you from Screaming Frog or other sources and track them obsessively. Some of them can be:
- Length of the title – A catchy title can boost your CTR (click-through rate). The recommended length is 55-60 characters.
- Keyword search volumes – You can get this from Adwords or another keyword research tool like SEMRush.
- Number of backlinks – The higher the backlinks, the higher your rankings will be. Use Ahrefs or Majestic to get this data in bulk.
- Social shares – Use Sharetally to get the complete distribution of your social shares.
- Create rich user personas
Know thy audience. You should know your audience inside out – their likes/dislikes, topics they’re interested in, their pain points, etc. Create detailed avatars (user profiles) to get all this information at a glance.
Use these psychographic insights to pre-empt topics and keywords they might be interested in reading about.
- Bridge the gaps
At this point, you should have two sheets.
- One containing all your existing content and metrics
- One containing all the content ideas your target audience might be interested in (your prospective content calendar)
Now, just compare both sheets and fill in the content gaps. You should look out for two things here:
- Topics you have missed altogether
- Topics that underperformed
And voila! You suddenly have a carefully thought-out, new content strategy that you can put into action.
Common auditing mistakes to avoid
- No concrete goals
We can’t stress this enough. You need to have a specific objective for your content audit. It can be traffic, leads, blog subscribers or revenue. But you have to explicitly define it beforehand. You CANNOT just wing it.
- Chasing the wrong metrics
This is a knock-on effect of the first mistake. You need to decide what metrics to track AFTER you settle on your auditing goal. Doing it for SEO? You need to examine meta descriptions, inbound links, drop-offs, average time on page and more. Brand awareness is the goal? Check social metrics like comments, ratings, reviews, likes, shares, et al.
- Trying to do it manually
Manually conducting an audit is a tedious process and can waste precious time. Time you can spend strategizing and executing. Let online tools do all the grunt work for you. There are tools for every step of the process – Google Analytics, Keyword Planner, Buzzsumo, Moz, SEMRush, Ahrefs, etc.
- Write everything down
Your content auditing strategy should be documented clearly for others to access and execute with their eyes closed. Explaining everything in layman terms also prevents ambiguity and misinterpretation.
- Content inventory is NOT equal to content audit
An inventory implies just listing down all your existing content pieces with a few basic metrics thrown in (title, description, word count). An audit is a comprehensive process requiring careful deliberation and systematic implementation, leveraging tools, instincts and know-how. As such, taking an inventory is often the first step for a content audit.
We hope that this quick guide comes in handy when you actually get down to performing a content audit. Remember, auditing is not a process, it’s a mindset that you need to instill in your team. But once you do, you can expect your content to appeal more to the masses than ever before.