What is Content Marketing Audit and what are the best ways to do it?

Content marketing audit may be a new term for some of us but it has been an essential part of online marketing since day 1. In this article, you will learn what a content marketing audit (generally called content audit) is and what are the best ways to do it.

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What is a Content Marketing Audit?

The performance of any content website follows an 80/20 rule where almost 80% traffic is a result of just 20% of content. That means a few articles work as the largest traffic pulling and conversion catalyst. 

Usually done on an annual basis, a well-performed content marketing audit can provide deep insights into the website’s marketing strategy in terms of the blogs and content which are way ahead than its dry stature.

The Need for an audit

The need for an audit can be understood by the fact that, often we never go back to any content, once it is published on the website and in the meantime, it might have gotten outdated and completely irrelevant.

Hence, it is a good exercise to keep revisiting all of your content from time to time in order to keep a check of its freshness and usefulness with the transformed world, since it was first issued.

By now you must have got an idea of what a content marketing audit is about.

A content marketing audit or content audit involves checking up on all of the content on your website and evaluating their strengths and weaknesses to plan out your future marketing strategy.

The evaluation is qualitative and based on the KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) decided beforehand.

A well-executed content audit will aid you to answer the following questions:

  • Which ones are the top performers?
  • What topics does your audience most engage with?
  • Which posts have exceeded their expiry date?

This implies, your audit will give you tips on further planning of both SEO and marketing strategies and can give you insights on where to increase the focus of your future efforts to improve your sales, lead generation and marketing progress. 

Listed below are five key steps to keep track of while performing a healthy content marketing audit for your website.

Define Your Objectives

A content audit is a tedious and hard task to do and is often enough to strike fear into the most experienced bloggers and marketers. Hence, it is necessary to define your goals and performance metrics before starting the audit.

Proceeding in this direction, first clarify your business needs. What is it you want to achieve with your content audit? What benefits are expected?

For instance:

Objective: To Improve SEO Rankings

  • List the top 10 web pages in terms of SEO potential
  • Figure out what action, whether removal or updating, needs to be done to what content
  • Examine and optimize your internal linking

Objective: Enhance Audience Engagement

Objective: Increase Conversion Rate

After defining your goals, the next task is to select performance parameters and list down the best performing content based on this. There are a huge number of available metrics classified into the following 4 categories:

  1. Engagement metrics
  2. User behaviour metrics
  3. SEO metrics
  4. Sales metrics

For example, for analyzing your SEO performance, examine the number of backlinks and check your SEO ranking in search engines. Whereas for understanding which topics engage your audience the most, user behaviour and engagement metrics are the tools you need.

Create a Content Inventory

Now, before deciding on how to audit your content and form an inventory of data and URLs, it is important to land upon what type of content you need to review.

You can opt for internal content such as news, blogs, educational stuff, product reviews and the landing page, or external content.

Other content such as a PDF, video or some interactive content like quizzes can also be assessed. Here, however, we will focus on text-based content.

The first step to making an inventory is to collect the URLs of all the webpages you want to analyse. This process is technically called Link Analysis.

An efficient way to do this is to use some crawling tool such as Ahrefs ($7 for 7 days trial, free for website owners to analyze their own sites), Ubersuggest, Screaming Frog (free for up to 500 URLs) or URL Profiler that identify all the URLs on your website and compile them in a CSV file, available for download.

If you have a sitemap, you can quickly audit your content based on sitemap data. And if you don’t have a sitemap, you can always use a sitemap generator tool to get one.

Sitemaps, duh!

A sitemap is a must-have if you want to keep up in the race. It not only helps in content auditing but also makes it simpler for the search engines to understand the flow of your website and find all the important pages as per your choice.

Free sitemap generators like XML-sitemaps.com can be used and don’t forget to submit your sitemap to Google Search Console once your sitemap is ready.

Preparing for Index

Now, once you have collected your content, use an online tool or a spreadsheet (which is more used these days) to sort them by different criteria and follow it with your team members. The following fields (not exhaustive) can be used to catalogue your content:

  • Buyer's Journey (Awareness, Consideration, Decision)
  • Quantity (blog post, news, educational material, landing page, etc.)
  • Content format (only text, image/video, etc.)
  • Word counts
  • Date of publication
  • Author

Collection of metadata for all content is also of great use to keep a check and update it all in the same place. Finally, as per your defined KPIs, create columns to collect data for each webpage.

Collection and Analysis of Data

Collecting data is no doubt a very tiresome and complex process as you may have to look around in numerous sources and manually fill your datasheets.

Hence, using a content auditing tool is highly recommended which automatically gathers data as per your defined goals and metrics saving a lot of your precious time.

Ideally, your data points will depend upon what you want to get out of your audit as well as the extent you want to go to achieve it.

Data Analysis Tools

The list of data points can be really huge, so it’s necessary to choose what you actually need (which might be a handful data points only) and stick to it.

For instance, suppose you choose the following data points (Screaming Frog generates its own set of data points from which you can make a choice):

  • Page Title
  • Number of Visits
  • Page Bounce Rate
  • Page Metadata
  • Average Time on Page
  • Number of Shares
  • Conversion Data
  • Page “Score”

Of course, adding more data points will bring you more insights about your website but it will take more time as well.

So, you have to land upon an optimized trade-off depending on how much time you can spare, and you can always come back and increase the depth of analysis when you have time. The following resources can be used (recommended):

  1. Screaming Frog: To list down the title tags for each URL under consideration
  2. Google Analytics: It gives points such as number of page visits, bounce rate, average time spent on page and conversion data.
  3. Shared Count: Clear by its name, this tells one how many times the page has been shared socially (you can enter each URL one-by-one or become a paying member and use the bulk option)
  4. Content Insights: Can be used to get data on your file types, metadata and details about pages such as images, videos, documents, etc.

How to Analyze Your Data?

Now, to get the full picture and draw inferences about your site, you need to look at all your metrics as a whole.

For instance, your web page might be getting a lot of traffic but with a high bounce rate and low average time on page, this implies that viewers are interested in the topics you have but are not getting the content they were looking for.

Now in this case, you’ll have to evaluate different parts of your page to check why users are not staying on your page, the reasons could be your content relevance to the title, page load time, etc.

Different stages of Buyer’s journey should be looked at. You may be getting a lot of traffic at the ‘Awareness’ stage but a relatively lower conversion rate.

On the other hand, your ‘Consideration’ stage might have less traffic but a higher lead generation record.

Assessing Your Content

Evaluate each piece of content on the basis of collected data and defined metrics and place them in one of the following three categories:

  1. Keep: If your content is relevant and performs well in the evaluation you probably don’t need to update it. Keep it as part of your future content marketing strategy.
  2. Update: As per the content audit, you’ll get a list of underperforming web pages. Review their content and think of what changes could make it more efficient and effective. Also, some information might’ve gone outdated so surely revise them as well.
  3. Delete: If you feel certain content is beyond improvement and any update will take just too much effort, removing it from the website is always a viable option. You may also have pages setup for seasonal marketing that may have lost their purpose now and remove them as well.

Designing an Action Plan

The next step after evaluating your content is to define measures to improve upon it. The actions should be based on your previously defined goals and conclusions from your evaluation. Here are some such steps:

  • Reuse, Rewrite and Refresh Your Content
  • Structure your content
  • Update your CTAs
  • Add images and videos
  • Optimize metadata and internal linking
  • Inform Google about your updates via the Google Search Console

Calibrating Your Content Marketing Strategy

While doing a Content Marketing Audit, it is necessary to keep in mind your long-term marketing strategy.

Weigh out your successes and failures to understand what changes need to be made to your marketing strategy to reach out to the target audience, enhance your text for better organic reach and better conversion rates.

List down what can be improved and extend upon it. You can also take some insights from similar content from your competitors.

Checking your content marketing strategy is the job of your daily routine as the technical world is transforming regularly. It’s necessary to be updated with the changes for keeping up in the race and finding new innovative ways to reach your target audience.

Readers' Takeaway

In today’s date, transformations are occurring so fast that what works today may get outdated tomorrow. Hence, performing an audit on a regular basis is really necessary to keep up.

A frequency of 3 to 4 times a year is recommended, though you can always adjust as per your suitability. If you have done an audit before and have some additional tips on these, do let us know in the comments.