Do you remember those commercials with the Energizer Bunny? The stuffed rabbit had Energizer batteries in him that kept him beating his little drum. He kept going… and going… and going. That’s how your website’s content works for you.
Content on your site doesn’t just work when it’s new. It keeps drawing traffic long after. We have a client who had multiple posts that weren’t performing at all. After we improved them, they now bring in thousands of hits a month, even though they’ve been on the site for well more than a year. It’s a mistake to think that only new content works for you. You should get the most bang for your buck out of “old” content too. That’s why your website needs a content audit.
What’s a Content Audit?
A content audit is when you review all of your website’s content to ensure it’s doing all the work it can for your brand. You’re essentially taking an inventory of your site to determine what content is working.
A content audit looks for:
- Outdated information
- Hyperlinks, images, or videos that don’t work properly
- Opportunities for SEO revision
- Chances to improve post structure or Calls-to-Action
- Ways to better serve your audience with existing content
When doing an audit, you decide the best course of action if a piece of content isn’t working as well as it should.
Content options from an audit:
- No Action. You can choose to do nothing with a piece of content based on an audit. You wouldn’t do anything with a post that’s performing well or is relatively new.
- Create. An audit can help you notice holes in your content strategy. Whether based on keywords or information your audience needs, these missing pieces become the basis for new posts.
- Update. Sometimes you have content that performed well for a while, then stopped. It probably would benefit you to update that content (think info and links) to make it relevant again. Consider updating any content more than a year old that isn’t performing at the level you’d hope.
- Rewrite. If a piece of content never performed as well as it should have, rewrite it and try again. It’s much easier to strengthen a piece than to start over.
- Delete. Deleting content should be a last resort. You should do this only if the content isn’t salvageable and is no longer relevant or useful to anyone, anywhere. If you do decide to delete a post, you need to set redirects for that URL so you don’t end up with 404 errors.
Why Your Website Needs a Content Audit
A content audit helps you clean up your site and get more from what’s already there. It also helps Google recognize what content is important on your site if you have a ton of pages. In short, it optimizes your site’s content, keeping it relevant to your audience and the algorithms that send them there.
Benefits of a content audit include:
- Provide Data. Content audits mean you look at the data on what’s working for your site. Then you’re able to make content decisions based on that data. It results in research-backed decision-making, not just gut feelings.
- Reveal Issues. During the content audit, you’ll discover issues on your site that likely impacted your search results, like broken links or improper headers.
- Applied Knowledge. Your writing and understanding of just about any issue improves with time. Updating or rewriting content on your website lets you apply this new knowledge for your audience.
- Identifying Opportunities. You have content on your site to serve your audience. Taking inventory of what’s there helps you recognize opportunities for new content and ways you can repackage content to meet your audience where they are. For example, you may realize that a popular blog post would make a great social media graphic too. So, you can serve two audiences with the same content.
- Improved User Experience. You can make your site better for visitors by improving links and CTAs, among other things.
- Better Performance. You can improve your content’s performance in search by improving your SEO efforts, link quality, post length, etc.
- Adhere to Best Practices. Best practices in search change often. Content audits help you strategically update posts so they adhere to these changes.
- Inform Future Content. You can get a better idea of what works by taking a closer look at the content that’s performing well and determining why. You can then use this information to inform future content.
- Organized Analysis. It would be really overwhelming to look at all the posts on your site and try to decide how to improve them. A content audit is an organized process for analyzing your content that you perform on a regular rotation. It’s still a big job, but it takes the uncertainty and overwhelm out of the process.
How to Perform a Content Audit
Like with many things, there’s more than one way to perform a content audit. And many different ways are acceptable and will get the job done. Here’s how we recommend you do it.
1. Know Your Goals and Measures
What do you want your site’s content to accomplish? What does reaching those goals look like in action? Thinking about what you want each piece to do means having higher-level goals, but also considering what measures you want to look for during your review. For example, will you update any post that doesn’t get a certain number of visitors? Reviewing goals and setting measures before beginning the audit helps you know what to look for.
2. Decide What to Review
Which content do you want to review? Will you look at all blog posts and pages? Will you consider content older than a year but not younger content? Once you decide the scope of what to review, gather the URLs for those posts.
Deciding what posts to review also helps you set a cadence for audits. For example, if you review all content that’s a year old or older, it makes sense to do that once a year. Also, once you perform a content audit, it’s easier to do in the future because the foundation for what you’re doing is already there.
3. Collect the Data
The data collection is where a content audit becomes easier after you’ve done it at least once. Once you have most of your content in a spreadsheet, you only need to update the numbers each time. But in the beginning, you’ll want to create a spreadsheet of the content you want to analyze. What you include in your spreadsheet depends on the measures you decided are important to review in Step 1.
Data to consider including in your spreadsheet:
- Content type if you’re reviewing more than blog posts
- Format (video, text, graphics, etc.)
- Word count
- Date of publication or last modification
- SEO keyword
- Average time on page
- Bounce rate
- Search queries
There are many measures to consider. Again, make sure to gather those that make the most sense, given your overall goals and the metrics you decided were vital to the success of your site. Then use your regular analytics tools, like Google Search Console and Google Analytics, to gather the info you need.
4. Analyze the Data
Once all the content and measures are in the spreadsheet, analyze the content. What isn’t performing up to your expectations? Mark these items in a new column based on how you plan to repair the issues. Are you going to update, revise, or delete them? It also may be helpful to determine which posts are a priority since you can’t do it all at once.
5. Take Action
Work through updating and revising the content as you determined is best for your site. These changes may take a while to work through. Remember that it all doesn’t have to be done at once. Create regular space in your workflow to do them a post at a time.
6. Revise Your Strategy
Don’t forget to give yourself time to think about what you learned in the content audit. Are key components missing from your content strategy? Are there new posts or pages you need to add? Is a certain area of content getting more attention than you expected? Use what you learn in the content audit to revise your overall strategy.
A single content audit will teach you a lot about your content, its performance, and holes in your strategy. But major insight is built over time. Set a regular time or season in which to perform a content audit. Look at changes year over year. Of course, you won’t wait a year to see how changes from any audit are performing, but the more consistently you perform audits, the more you’ll begin to really understand what your site visitors want and need.
Let Content Journey Help
Content audits aren’t simple or fast, but they’re worth the time. If nothing else, a content audit ensures that your investment in content keeps working for you over time. Don’t have the time, expertise, or interest in performing your content audit? We get it! Content Journey can help. Book a call to discuss how we can help your content work for you.