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Content audit. Have you ever tried it?
Without this, your content marketing strategy will likely be a mess.
Just as internet audits help companies grow their revenue and expand, a content audit shows you opportunities for creating the right content. Content that will drive targeted traffic and conversions to your business.
Why does your website need a content audit and what are the benefits of conducting one on a regular basis?
There is a danger that just because you think that the content on your website is of high quality that you mistakenly ignore the most important factor and that is the actual consumer.
How is his or her experience navigating around the site and how user-friendly is the website as a whole. Does the content meet it’s full potential?
A content audit will take a careful look and examine your website’s existing content and ensure it is doing the job it is supposed to do: driving the right traffic, containing the correct keywords and engaging the reader by improving conversations.
What is a content audit used for?
Its purpose is to produce a list of the website’s content, usually in a large spreadsheet format. Download a content audit template.
A typical content audit template like the one below shows you content that exist on your site, content that users want, and how to align subsequent content to convince potential clients.
The list is a valuable resource and reference point to keep coming back to at various stages of the project. It will remind you of every detail of the content and a starting point if you are upgrading to a new management system.
By compiling the list and taking the audit you will get a far better idea and understanding of the content as a whole.
You may spot things that are new to you or you didn’t even know existed. By putting the data in a table it’s also very easy to spot things like duplicate content.
Items Included in an Audit
Knowing what's included in a content audit is critical to your success. It is necessary to include all content information in the audit, nothing should be omitted.
The following elements are usually included in the audit:
- Meta description
- Content type and description
- Topics & tags
- Last updated date and date audited
- Related links
- Meta description
A very important thing to remember about a content audit is that there is no right or wrong way of doing it. It is an aid for you to use throughout your project, so create something that is easy for you to use and will help you.
How to Conduct A Content Audit – An Overview
- Copy our template here and copy it into your own Google Drive Sheet.
- Open Google Analytics and export all of your pages on your site.
- Copy the URL, Pageviews, Avg. Time on Page & Bounce Rate columns from the Google Analytics export into your Google Drive Template.
- Begin auditing the content.
Step 1 – Copying the content audit template
Open our template here and copy and paste it into a new Google Sheet.
Step 2 – Exporting the data
In Google Analytics, go to Behaviour, then Site Content and choose All Pages. Be sure to set the Show Rows at the bottom of the dashboard to what ever number you need to show all of the pages in your website.
Now click on Export and choose Google Sheets as your version.
Step 3 – Copy the URL, Pageviews, Avg. Time on Page & Bounce Rate columns from the export and past into the Content Audit Template.
The reason why we copy over data such as pageviews, average time on page and bounce rate is because depending on the type of audit we want to do we will use this data as a starting point.
If you have limited time it is best to start with auditing your highest performing content, so we would sort the data by highest number of pageviews.
Content audit is not a fancy term, it's necessary. In fact, a study by Conductor found that a well audited content campaign can improve search traffic and rankings.
At a later date, once you have completed this audit, you might want to focus on the worst performing content and see how it can be improved. For this you might want to sort by highest bounce rate or lowest amount of time spent on page.
Step 4 – To speed things up we will be tweaking the URL column to make all the fields the correct hyperlinks. For this we will use an addon in the Google Extensions.
In the menu of your Google sheet go to Add-ons, Get Add-ons. In the search box in the top right type ‘text2link’ and install this addon.
Now in the Add-ons menu you will see text2link, in the dropdown select Convert to links, a window will open.
Select the Use New Link tab and in the text box enter your domain name followed by %s. Be sure not to add a trailing ‘/’ at the end of the domain.
Correct: example.com%s | Incorrect: example.com/%s
Now select the entire URL column in your sheet and then click convert. The ad-on will now add your domain name to all the fields in the column and turn them into hyperlinks.
We now have our content audit spreadsheet setup, it’s time to being the audit.
Open the first URL and when on the page, click Edit Page (remember; you need to be signed into wordpress admin).
Before you start the editing bear in mind the purpose of your audit, why you are doing this project in the first place.
Put yourself in the shoes of the reader or consumer; what are their wishes and demands? And above all remember the ultimate goal is to get to the payments page (or whatever your end goal may be) as smoothly and quickly as possible.
When editing your URL make sure that it accurately describes the content that is in text and there are no stop words.
Remember: Before changing URL’s ALWAYS make sure you have a 301 redirect setup.
ii). Page Title
Keep the title catchy and short, under 70 characters. Try to include your keywords but do not sacrifice readability. Make sure it makes sense and is easy to read and reflects upon the content directly.
For even better results think about split testing a few headlines to see what performs best. KingSumo, Nelio and ABPress are 3 highly recommended plugins to do this.
iii). Meta Description
Most searchers will enter your website through a SERP, the title and meta description are very crucial at this stage.
If these are not clearly written and concisely describe what is contained within the site then there is a good possibility that readers will ignore your site completely.
To assist you in implementing these correctly use a plugin like SEO Ultimate or Yoast.
Keep your meta description short and relevant, no more than 150 characters, do not duplicate yourself and make it easy to read. If somebody is trawling through a number of search engine results then your meta description has to stand out from the rest easily.
If you want to take it a step further you can split test your meta descriptions by creating a few ad variations in Google Adwords. Track the results and the data you get from this paid experiment can be used to improve your organic results.
You should have by now a detailed list of all the keywords you want to target, check if they are delivering the impact you want them to.
Are they portraying the right sound bite about the content on your site? Double check that you are targeting the keywords correctly and effectively.
Take into consideration also that you are not over using these keywords; there is nothing worse than seeing the same advert in every break of your favourite sit-com. So it is the same on your website, over use of keywords can become repetitive and frankly boring.
Content drives your online business.
The most important part of the whole audit, this should be where you take the most time and ensure your site delivers the best content on the web.
A content audit equation shows you how to leverage a single post to drive more traffic and sales. One old content can be used in several other ways – but without an audit, you'll never know.
This is where you have to ensure that you are shouting the message loud and clear and delivering everything that you promised on the headline title.
Make sure there are no silly grammatical errors or schoolboy spelling mistakes.
Ask yourself: Is it long enough to support the theme and is as informative and helpful as it possibly can be?
Links are highly important, whether they be inbound or outbound. They help search engines to quickly crawl and index your site. It also gives your site more credibility as a point of reference or an extra resource for information.
Make sure there are no broken links and the content you are linking is still relevant.
vi). Alt tags
This is the text that you provide for an image in case it is not properly displayed. Ensure that you have proper well written tags in place if an image is missing. The alternative text should be informative and professional.
Make certain that all images displayed on your site have proper Alt tags, with descriptions and the relevant keywords.
To formulate an improvement strategy you need to ask the right questions. The questions below should also be asked at every section of the audit.
What is the content about?
What do you want each piece of content being audited to: describe, do, perform and deliver? What is the subject matter of the content?
Is it accurate?
Other related questions…
Is the content up-to-date?
Is it accurate and topical? Is there any outdated information cluttering up your site? Double check on inventory, descriptions, prices, data information, statistics and images.
Is it supportive of the consumer and achieve business goals?
There are two important factors that drive content in any website, primarily the needs of the customer and secondly the needs of the business. So the site must function perfectly but not at the expense of the confusion of the customer.
Is the content easy to use and find?
A pretty basic question but so relevant to a successful site and therefore a successful business. By using a content audit and perhaps a conversion funnel you can analyze the consumer’s behavior navigating the site.
Are they taking the desired actions on every page? What keywords are bringing them to the site?
Does all the content look business-like and professional?
Nobody likes criticism, but when analyzing your site you must take an objective view. Nothing is ever perfect and alterations and additions are always needed.
Is the content consistent in matter and tone? Are all fonts, italics, spacing and headlines the same format? Are abbreviations and acronyms standard? Is the spelling and grammar above average (it can never be 100% perfect)?
Is the marketing good enough?
Your website might have the best content and products on the web but if nobody knows about them then it is all for nothing. Ensure proper utilization of marketing tools like SEO, keywords, content upgrade, and meta data.
Is there anything missing or new?
Most of the audit is focused on what is already there, you are analyzing data already formatted. Now is the time to look for gaps in your site, what weaknesses you may have overlooked?
For example; Are there holes in your product portfolio? Is your shipping too expensive? Is the reference material up to date, does it need better imaging?
This is the time to step back and look at your site as a whole entity. Does it work as you really want it to? If not what is stopping it from doing so?
In conducting your audit you may have noticed three common areas you could easily group the whole of your content.
- Not so important
- Boring or bad content
By highlighting these areas then your focus can be directed to the driving force of your business and that is the Important Content.
Your main time and effort should be spent in this region improving the part that brings in the business.
Of course the other two areas are important too. Having too much bad or indifferent content on your site can be catastrophic for business.
Not only can it clog up the efficiency of your site’s performance but it can also hinder the customer trying to navigate around and ultimately spend their money.
The remaining columns are for any extra items you wish to include in your audit and for placing the date you last updated content and the date you audited it. Perhaps also a date for future audits to take place.
A content audit is not an easy process to embark upon, it is a complicated task that is time consuming and very detailed. It scrutinizes and analyzes every component of your website, from in depth analysis on content to the optimization of SEO.
However, it can bring great benefits to the day to day performance of the site focusing specifically on the consumer.
The audit simply documents bare facts that are then open to analysis and then highlight what action must be taken and more importantly in what direct areas. This is marketing gold dust, wiping out the guesswork of what might be needed and when.
Above all, it brings to the fore the most important single element that should always be considered first, THE CUSTOMER.
It demonstrates how the consumer interacts with the site and how easy it is for them to navigate around and find the relevant information they need.
Content audits should be undertaken regularly and possibly looked at as a health check for your website.
About the Author – Paul Manwaring is the founder of Outsprung, a multi-disciplinary design and marketing agency based in London. Their aim is simple; to help small businesses and bloggers grow. He has a background in graphic design and UX and has consulted over 1200 websites through his website review service.