Content audit FAQs
Everything you need to know about content audits
"Content marketing is not a sprint, it's a marathon!" In other words: In order to be successful in content marketing, you should view it as an ongoing process. In this process, content is constantly and repeatedly analysed, optimised, supplemented and perhaps even deleted. One shots in content marketing? They're usually not very successful, at least not in the long run.
For us, content audits are a vital tool to continuously improve the quality of the content we publish. However, they're also a form of stocktaking for one-time projects and thus set the strategic stage for all further action: be it web copy, image materials or social media. Since we constantly receive questions about content analysis, we have summarised and answered the most important ones for you.
What is a content audit?
In simple terms: A content audit is a kind of inventory of all your corporate content. You can imagine this inventory as similar to the one carried out at a standard company that deals with products. Once in a while, you need a target-actual comparison. Much in the same way as products, all content pieces must be reviewed, listed and evaluated during the audit. This includes web copy as well as blog articles, white papers, images, infographics and even social media content. The content analysis not only includes all online channels, but also the subject areas. Sounds like a lot of work? It is. But it pays off in the long run!
In a second step after the inventory, the content is subjected to a performance check. It is evaluated both quantitatively (How much content does the company have?) and qualitatively (How good is the content? Does it contribute to the overall goal(s)? Does the content meet the needs of the target group?).
The result: a comprehensive status quo of the company's own content with important findings as to whether the work done so far corresponds to the specified goal(s). Based on this, recommendations for action regarding the content strategy can be derived, including whether a change of direction is necessary and if so, which one. You can probably already see how important it is to carry out a content audit on a regular basis!
Why does it make sense to do a content audit?
Provocatively, I would like to turn the question around at this point: Are there any reasons that speak against doing a content audit? Well, there you go – now we're on the same page again: A content audit makes sense for all companies that regularly produce content themselves. And let's be honest: Everyone does, somehow ...
But here's a list of the most important advantages of a content inventory:
- Performance monitoring: The audit is the "spearhead" of content analysis. Long-term monitoring of the most important KPIs provides you with valuable insights about your content. After the content audit, you know exactly which content and, above all, how you need to create content in the future in order to achieve your goals.
- Keeping content proliferation in check: Especially if several people produce content in large companies, a hodgepodge of content quickly develops that nobody can keep track of. In the worst case, duplicate content is created that does more harm than good (SEO!).
- Ideas for choosing topics & channels: The result of the content audit provides clarity as to which channels are performing well or not. The same applies to the choice of topics. Reviewing the audit's output, it quickly becomes clear which topics have already been covered and where content is still missing.
- Topicality of the content: Who isn't familiar with this situation – after a few years time, a once well-researched blog article is now out of date. That's exactly where the audit comes in. You'll quickly notice which content pieces could use an update. Tip: Google loves up-to-date content!
When and how often should you do a content audit?
Content audits can be carried out as needed in view of a specific occasion or at regular intervals. If you produce content on an ongoing basis, you should conduct a comprehensive inventory at least once a year. The rule of thumb is: The more content you produce, the more often you'll need to do an analysis of your content.
The most important occasions when a content audit is in order:
You're relaunching the website.
A relaunch, redesign or change to a new CMS (content management system) usually needs to be accompanied by a change in content. Be it a new website structure or a new strategic direction: A website relaunch is the perfect time to optimise pages that don't perform well or to part with them altogether and further develop more relevant pages.
You're changing or adpating your content marketing strategy.
Whenever there is a change in the overall content strategy, it's advisable to conduct an audit. Examples are new target groups, a different product portfolio or changes to the business model. Of course, all content must also be in line with the new strategic focus.
There was a significant drop in search rankings.
If you notice that your website has been losing visibility, it's high time to carry out an audit. The prerequisite for this is knowing your Google rankings, of course, and monitoring them continuously. Among SEO experts, this is both the most obvious and the most popular reason for an audit.
What's included in a content audit?
The content audit includes a specific objective as well as a quantitative and qualitative inventory of all content pieces. The focus of the content audit should always be in line with the goals of the content strategy. For instance, one objective could be to strengthen the brand's image or generate more leads. When evaluating your content, always remember this goal!
Audit part 1: Quantitative stocktaking
The quantitative content inventory is a simple list of all content, from web copy and individual blog posts to downloads such as e-books. Each element is given an ID or, in the context of a website, a URL. In addition, the various content pieces are supplemented by additional variables.
The most important variables are:
- URL of the content page
- document type and name
- H1/H2/H3 headings
- meta tags: title and description
- responsible employee (if there is one)
- content format
- external and internal links
- date of publication and last update
- social media interactions
- page impressions
- dwell time
- bounce rate
- organic views and word count
The quantitative content audit is usually done in a table, for instance, in Excel. Here's the good news: You won't have to laboriously collect all this data yourself. Programs such as Screaming Frog or XOVI can do that for you. Tools such as ContentBird provide additional support with comprehensive visualisations. To get even more insights on the performance of a content piece, you can also use analysis tools such as Google Analytics or Google Search Console.
Our tip: Categorise pages based on subject areas or directories to get an overview. For instance, you can bundle all content pieces in the "winter" directory and then work on them.
Audit part 2: Qualitative stocktaking/content evaluation
In the qualitative part of the content audit, all content pieces are put through their paces. There are various possibilities for this. We recommend a points system based on the following criteria:
This way, you can find out which content pieces are outdated and should be revised or gotten rid of.
- Target group relevance
Content should be relevant for users in the different phases of the customer journey.
As mentioned above, content that overlaps can be combined into one content piece. Avoid duplicate content at all costs!
- Online conformity
Check to make sure the texts are written in a search engine friendly way and enriched with lists, graphics and images. This also includes (unique!) meta tags.
Content must offer true added value for your personas. It's just blah-blah? Throw it out!
The points system quickly reveals the areas where action is urgently needed. Alternatively, a traffic light system based on points can be used.
What happens after the content audit?
Much more important than the results of the audit is what you make of it! After all, for most editors the hard work only begins after the analysis phase is over. These action steps will help you get started:
The content is flawless.
Rejoice and leave everything as it is.
The content is okay, but needs a little tweaking here and there.
Optimise the content. Google will reward you with better visibility!
The content is good, but not complete.
Add to it or check if it can be merged with existing content. The motto is: content curation & recycling.
The content is useless.
Delete it or replace it with valuable content. When deleting the content, make sure you pay attention to redirects and internal links!
The topic hasn't been covered yet.
Create fresh, new content that fits your goals and personas.