Content is growing to become one of the hallmarks of the digital marketing world. As the sheer volume of content expands, it becomes more important to ensure existing content is effective and new content is aligned with your overall goals.
A content audit is the most powerful way to do it.
Compelling content – the kind that drives sales – is only possible when you know your audience inside and out. Over time, however, trends and preferences change. Inevitably, prospects’ needs change with them. This is as true in B2B as it is in B2C.
With a content audit, you can ensure your content always lands with maximum impact, no matter if you’re starting a completely new project or adapting an existing one to the shifts in your market.
What Is a Content Audit?
In a content audit, you analyze your existing content and compare it to key trends in your market and customer base. Basically, you're taking a step back to get a deeper understanding of what your content has achieved and where you want your content strategy to go.
It can feel daunting when you consider the scope of the project. After all, you're looking at every content asset you have on hand. But the truth is, a content audit is necessary for any company in any industry, no matter its size.
If you don't keep up with your content, you might start seeing warning signs crop up, like your competitors outranking you or your posts stagnating with traffic.
To put it simply, a content audit is going to be a worthy investment of your time and resources, thanks to all the rewards you're sure to reap.
Benefits of Conducting a Content Audit
There are many major benefits you will enjoy after conducting your audit.
You Ensure Relevance.
An audit surfaces all your content, from the start of your website. In other words, you get a bird's eye view of all the assets you have on hand, many of which might be outdated and untimely.
You can find what pieces need to be updated so they're relevant to your audience.
You Identify Top Performers.
By looking at your analytics for all your content, you can sort and organize your top performing pieces of content. These top performers might be generating the bulk of your traffic or have higher-than-average conversions.
Look at what these pieces have in common and take notes on what exactly puts these pieces above the rest. You might uncover insights that you could apply to new content and lower performers to boost traffic.
You Establish Priorities.
With a comprehensive analysis of your content, you can better understand what to focus on first. These priorities should be based on your current goals.
Looking to boost lead generation this quarter? Look at high converting pages and see what elements you can use to add to lower performing pages to move the needle.
Need more traffic? Examine how your low performing content is ranking, and find better keyword opportunities to boost ranking potential. This can inform how you historically optimize low performing content.
You Identify Optimization Opportunities.
Speaking of historical optimizations and seeking out new target keywords, this is another big perk of content audits – you can find quick fixes for your SEO strategy.
Aside from finding historical optimization opportunities, you can also find old posts to redirect and consolidate or make adjustments to improve the user experience on your blog.
You Find Content Gaps.
While looking at the content you already have, you can also spot what content you don't have. You can also discover content gaps using SEO tools, like Moz and Ahrefs.
These tools pull reports to show you what keywords are valuable for your company, what keywords you could rank for, and how you compare against your competitors for target keywords.
When Should You Perform a Content Audit?
You can analyze your content any time you want. Most companies will conduct their first audit because of a specific situation, like launching a new product or service or investing more in their content production.
This initial step can be done hand in hand with your early keyword research and on-page SEO strategizing. It's sometimes called a competitive content audit since content on other sites will serve as a jumping off point for your own content strategy and development.
Secondary content audits can be done on a regular basis after a site has all of its base content done. A content audit is a strategic step, not something that should usually force your team to turn on a dime – performing one audit each quarter or twice a year is enough.
Naturally, if there’s a seismic shift in how things are done in your industry, you should take stock of things with a content audit.
One example: With rideshare apps like Uber and Lyft siphoning business from taxi services, they should consider what content will make them more visible, accessible, and useful to their core customers.
All in all, if you don’t know when your last audit was, it’s usually time.
3 Steps for Conducting a Content Audit
A content audit consists of a few simple steps.
1. Take Stock of Your Content, Its Topics, and Its Keywords.
To get started, you want to know what assets you already have.
If your site consists of only a few content pages, then you can analyze the topics and target keywords of each one. If you have dozens or hundreds of blogs, then you should triage to focus on your most effective content.
Not surprisingly, your web analytics suite will come in handy here.
With analytics, you can find which blog posts or other content is attracting traffic. If you have a huge body of content, then you can start by focusing on the 30 leaders in terms of organic traffic. This gives you a sense of which content already seems to resonate with your audience.
2. Identify Long Tail Keywords You Want to Rank For.
Google Search Console provides you with plenty of insight when it comes to your under-served keywords. Look for keyword phrases of three words or more that are drawing organic search traffic to an article not optimized for them.
Larger sites may have dozens of long tail keywords adding hundreds or even thousands of hits per month. Even smaller sites, though, tend to have opportunities that have not yet been tapped.
Pull these out of your analytics and look at these factors:
- Organic traffic received for the long tail keyword
- Search results page rank for the long tail keyword
- Difficulty of ranking a new page for the keyword
If organic traffic is strong and the search result rank is not in the top three, consider how to update the content in a way that is optimized for those long-tail, semantically related keywords.
It's important to look at keywords in terms of topic clusters. The future of SEO belongs to longer form content that takes a comprehensive approach, covering a topic and related subtopics in depth.
Naturally, these comprehensive pieces of content will rank for a parent topic (the main theme associated with a piece of content) as well as semantically related keywords, which are typically longer form. So you can update old content to be more comprehensive and in-depth, while targeting long tail keywords.
3. Compare Your Existing Content to Your Buyer's Journeys.
Keywords provide some insight into how you can expand your content, but they usually help most with web visitors who are close to the top of the sales funnel.
To make sure you are serving those moving toward a purchase, it’s critical to look closely at your buyer journeys.
A buyer's journey, of course, is the set of steps someone takes as they progress from prospect to qualified lead and finally to customer.
Although a lot is said about how nonlinear and mysterious this journey can be, good content helps steer web visitors from one step to the next.
Developing buyer journeys serves an immensely valuable role when it comes time for a content audit – think of them as a compass for content.
To match up your content production efforts with your buyer journey, follow these steps.
- Break down each one of your buyer journeys or sales funnels into their individual steps.
- Identify the key piece of content intended to move the buyer forward to the next step.
- Determine whether those key pieces of content are performing as you expected.
- Tag any under-performing or non-existent content as a priority project.
You might find that it’s time to revise or rebuild a buyer's journey or even that there are certain use cases not yet covered by your content.
Each journey in need of attention might call for another five to 10 pieces of content. It’s usually best to focus first on repairing existing ones rather than building new ones.
3 Sources of Knowledge to Consult With Your Audit
So far, you’ve been able to perform an audit using in-house data. This is not only convenient, but it also provides you with lots of quantifiable information that you can act on right away.
Still, you have plenty of opportunities to go deeper – and it’ll boost your strategy to the next level.
Be sure to consult these valuable sources of knowledge:
Your Sales Team
Since your sales team interacts with leads day in and day out, they are usually the first to deal with big shifts in how people think.
These changes often become noticeable as sales pros encounter new objections they have to overcome to successfully close the sale.
Content must adapt to these objections, as well as novel and unexpected uses of your offerings and changes in the characteristics of the final decision maker. Interviewing sales pros to get their take on trends will clarify what new content you need and tell you how to make current content better.
Market research is essential to both knowing when an audit is necessary and carrying it out.
The demographics of your customers may shift, as well as how your product relates to their goals. In each case, a new buyer journey may be needed – and with it, new content.
Strategic market research can be conducted internally with focus groups, surveys, and other methods. When these methods aren’t attainable, thought leadership publications in your industry can give you a good sense of trends you should respond to with fresh content.
No matter what size your company or how successful it is, competitor research can help you get insight into what you could be doing better.
Competitors naturally have different priorities and resources than you do, but pursue many of the same goals – so, anything they’re doing well can inspire your thinking.
It’s a good idea to identify a handful of four or five direct competitors so your research offers you a broad enough perspective.
Generally, you want to pick out market rivals who vie with you for the same audience so you can take lessons directly from their content.
Your Content Audit Template
Need some help getting started? We created this simple content audit template you can use to see the forest through the trees.
Download the Content Audit Template Here ➡️➡️➡️➡️
Here's how you can use it.
- Pull a report of all your content, including your blog posts, case studies, etc.
- Input your content into the template and fill out the following columns:
- Title: What is the title of the page?
- Campaign: What is the content offer/campaign associated with the content?
- Page Type: What kind of content is it?
- KPI #1: What is the primary metric you're looking at for each piece of content?
- KPI #2: What is the secondary metric you're looking at for each piece of content?
- KPI #3: What is the tertiary metric you're looking at for each piece of content?
- Score: On a scale of A to F, how would you rate the quality and relevance of the content?
- Action Required: What is the next step for this piece of content?
- Keep: Leave the content as is.
- Optimize: Make updates for SEO and UX purposes.
- Redirect: Create a URL redirect to a similar piece of your content that is better quality.
- Hist. Opt.: Do a full update to the content (adding H2s, updating data, etc.) and republish it as new.
- Archive: Remove from your site.
- Notes: What else should you and your team know about the content?
- Use your KPIs to sort based on your immediate goals. For example, if you want to look at low converting pages, sort by lowest conversion rate, then take notes on how to improve the content to boost lead generation for that piece of content.
- Prioritize what content to take action on, based upon your scores, the action required column, and the notes on the content.
Use this template to start combing through your existing content and making improvements.
Next Steps: How to Apply Your Audit Findings
Once you conduct your audit, you'll have a ton of data. But what can you do with this information?
There are many ways you can take action on these insights.
Look At Your Sales Funnels.
Naturally, a content strategy needs to not only pull organic traffic toward your website, but also move prospective customers through the buyer's journey. With a content audit, you have a structured and effective way of uncovering the missing links in content.
Use your buyer's journeys that you created (as mentioned above) to show how they align with your sales funnel. The sales funnel is the path you lay out for each prospect, and it should align with their journey of identifying their problem and making a purchasing decision.
With your documented buyer's journeys, sales funnels, and content audit, you can accomplish a couple key goals:
- Find missing steps in your funnels where your leads tend to drop off. For example, after a visitor downloads their first content offer and converts into a lead, you need to add more valuable content to move the lead forward in their journey and through your funnel.
- Fix steps in your funnel that are not performing well. You can find low conversion rates within the funnel and take notes on what that particular step is missing. For example, maybe the CTA messaging is unclear or the lead magnet is not relevant to the buyer's pain points at that particular step in their journey.
Upcycle Existing Content.
When you can sort through your vast collection of content, you will likely find opportunities to repurpose some of your top performing content. Even your low performers can bring potential value if you update and repurpose it in a strategic way.
The process of upcycling calls for you to take components from existing content and, through some creativity, turn it into new content.
For example, you can turn a few blog posts and a report into a SlideShare presentation, or condense existing blog sections to answer questions on Quora.
This is related to the concept of the content cycle, which is the idea that almost any kind of content can become almost any other kind of content with a little work. A short-form blog post of 500 to 800 words is the most basic content “unit,” and all other forms of content can be derived from it.
There are many ways the content cycle works. For example:
- Combining several blog posts to create a great ebook or whitepaper.
- Distilling blogs down to their essence for a slide deck or video script.
- Combining data and a slide deck to develop an infographic.
Look for these opportunities as you review your audit. You can make notes on content that is related by parent topics to find ways to bring pieces together in a new format.
Refresh Your Strategy With a Content Calendar.
Beware: You're going to walk away from your audit with a lot of action items. Here are just a few examples of new priorities you might uncover:
- Create fresh, new content to fill in any gaps in existing sales funnels.
- Introduce email onboarding sequences for low-performing funnels.
- Rewrite email sequences for low-performing funnels that have them.
- Develop new blog posts to capture traffic from long tail and semantically related keywords.
- Split test and improve on regular email newsletters to raise engagement.
- Update or expand middle of the funnel content for mid-performing funnels.
- Use the content cycle to increase production of videos, visuals, and social media.
A content calendar is like an editorial calendar for your content team. It defines individual content projects, who will be working on them, and when they should be complete. It can also help keep track of internal information like target keywords or buyer personas.
Even in a smaller content team, a content calendar is the way to take your content audit insights and act on them in a systematic way.
In a larger one, it helps prevent oversights and rework by ensuring content moves from development to editing to go-live to the social media spectrum.
If life is sounding especially complicated after your content audit, a content calendar is probably what you need. If it will take longer than 30 days to execute on your audit findings, it’s also a good idea to schedule an all-hands status update at the expected midpoint.
Integrating your content calendar with your collaboration suite is your best bet for keeping everyone on the same page.
Remember, tangible results are what drive adherence to any policy. With that in mind, your new or updated content should usually go live as it's completed.
Empower Your Team With Insights
Once your content audit is done, you can empower your content team with their priorities and directions for creation.
These days, a business needs to embrace its role as a publisher to be truly successful online. A content audit provides the framework you need to ensure your content creation efforts are truly on target to help you reach your goals faster.
It may seem complex, but it gets easier after the first time... and the results are worth it. To supercharge organic traffic and conversions, dive into a content audit!