How to drive organic growth with a content audit

Elizabeth Leigh in Content marketing on 19th of Dec 2018
Content Audit

Content audit

What if I told you that most of the content you write will never be liked, shared, or worse… read. Well, in actual fact, 91% of published content receives no traffic from Google (Ahrefs). For a content marketer, that’s a waste of valuable time and words.

But there’s a simple process that will help you sift through all this pointless content and repurpose what’s valuable. This process is called a content audit, and here’s how it’s performed.

Define your marketing goals

Before you start, sit down with your team and discuss what content means for your business —- why it’s important and how it functions. Every piece of content you create needs a purpose, whether that’s for lead generation, brand awareness, conversion, etc.

Above all, your content needs to shine in the eyes of your audience and to make this happen, it’s best to understand how a content audit will align your team and improve your content marketing strategy.

Here are some benefits of a content audit:

  • Improve SEO

Not every piece of content is evergreen. Some content created years ago may not be relevant to your readers today. By removing content that’s old, you have a better chance of engaging your audience.

Your SEO goal should focus on identifying high ranking content on Google, areas to add internal linking, and articles that need an update.

  • Optimize conversion rates

Your content needs to fit into each stage of the buying cycle. To ensure you’re making the most of your content, categorize each piece into one stage of the marketing funnel: TOFU (top of the funnel), MOFU (middle of the funnel), and BOFU (bottom of the funnel). This ensures that each piece of content has a clear focus and outcome, leaving nothing to waste.

  • Analyze performance

By looking at how your content has historically performed, you can improve what’s existing and optimize for the future. A performance review will put a spotlight on content gaps and areas for improvement.

Map a content inventory

Mapping every piece of content on your website can be a daunting task, especially if you have a blog with hundreds of articles. But thanks to content analysis tools like SEMrush’s content audit, you don’t have to copy and paste every URL into a spreadsheet manually. This tool will help you audit your content based on your sitemap data. You can choose a particular domain like “/blog” to collect all relevant URLs and add them to a spreadsheet.

Once you’ve added all your URLs to a spreadsheet, create columns that further break down the category and purpose of each link. This becomes your content catalog, and you can sort your content by the following criteria:

  • Content type: determine what type of content each article fits under. For example, blog article, customer testimonial, video, case study, product overview, etc.
  • Category: each article should be nested under a category that aligns with your content objectives. For example, “latest,” “growth hacking,” “marketing automation,” etc.
  • Date of publishing: list a publish or last modification date, so you know the age your content
  • Author: determine if you want to label each writer or contribute each content piece to the company
  • Stage of marketing funnel: identify where each piece of content sits in the buying cycle: awareness, opinion, consideration, preference, or purchase
  • Status: as you optimize each piece of content, you’ll want to label it’s current state, whether it’s being adjusted, deleted, reconsidered, etc.

Here’s an example from SEMrush:

SEMrush’s content catalog

Identify high and low performing content

Now you’ve collated all your content, it’s time to start identifying what is working, and what isn’t.  Avoid making decisions using guesswork or opinion when doing this — the data is the only thing that matters. Use Google Analytics to see how your content performs on your website, andif you’re publishing content on social media, review your “like,” “share,” and “engagement” metrics.

Analyzing your data may take some time, but the benefits are definitely worth it. By examining the metrics of your content, you can accurately determine what content is high and low performing.

There are many factors that contribute to low-performing content. So before deleting a piece of content altogether, look for what can be salvaged. For instance, a high bounce rate may be caused by a click-bait title, and therefore your content may not align with the reader’s initial expectations. In this case, you might want to re-think your titles or re-write your content.

Start a competitor analysis

It’s always a good tactic to know what your competitors are doing (especially the competitors that are getting it right!). When a consumer is looking for a solution, it’s safe to say they’re checking out your competitor’s website and content.

To keep top of mind, you’ll need to create content that rivals your competitors. To do so, audit your competitor’s content too. Create a list that identifies their key categories and break down their top-performing content. Replicate what you’ve done for your own content audit to see where the gaps lie.

You can’t measure all metrics associated with competitor content but with tools like BuzzSumo Backlinks you can track relevant links included in their top-performing content.

This tool will help you see which sites your competitors are linking to and what popular content they’re amplifying. It may give you an idea of what to research and what to write about.  

This isn’t a license to copy your competitors’ content. When conducting competitor analysis, you want to get content ideas for your own creative output. Google will punish your website ranking when it detects outright duplications, and in any case, original content is more interesting to read.

Design an action plan

Now that you’ve defined your marketing goals, mapped a content inventory, identified high and low performing content, and conducted competitor research it’s time to devise an action plan. This plan will help you define the next best steps to take when it comes to creating content. With an action plan, you can align your team, set tasks, establish goals, and create better content than you ever have before.  

Here are six steps you can take to improve your content and complete your audit:

Step one: restructure your content in a way that’s optimized for Google and makes sense to your readers. Add content categories to improve your ranking on Google and ultimately help users find what they need.

Step two: identify new categories or styles of content. You might need to create gated content like eBooks, or more engaging and creative content like videos or podcasts. Think beyond the blog.

Step three: refresh your CTAs and links. Ensure every piece of content finishes with an action, whether that be a “subscribe to our newsletter” or “trial our product.” Also, review the links in each piece of content to ensure they’re still, up-to-date, relevant and useful.

Step four: update your images. Between content audits, your website may have gone through a rebrand. If this is the case, you might need to redesign your blog images to align with the new brand. This may take some time, so appoint a dedicated designer.

Step five: improve your metadata by optimizing it for SEO. Re-write meta tags, titles, and descriptions, so that Google displays the correct information about your content. It will also enhance your authority, presence, and search ranking.

Step six: assign new roles to your content team and fire up your new content marketing strategy. For example, assign one member to news stories, another to customer case studies, and another to product launches. Create a content roadmap that identifies how much content you’ll be producing, who’ll be writing it, and the date of publication.

Until next time

Finally, you’ve come to the end of your content audit. It may have been a time-consuming and tedious process, but now you have a clear action plan. Your content marketing strategy will become the heart of your customer acquisition strategy so analyzing each article is definitely worth it in the long run.

Some marketers encourage websites to perform a content audit once per quarter, others once per year. It really depends on the rate of change among team, brand, and content. After performing an audit, you’ll know what your business needs, so it’s up to you to determine the right time for the next one. Until then, read our blog on content marketing for content strategies you can implement now.

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