As content marketers, we feel pressure to keep creating new content all the time. But despite how daunting, scary, gross, and technical (we could go on), a content audit sounds, it’s just as necessary to your overall process as content creation.
Hidden in that blog post you published two years ago or that landing page you put out last quarter, there are content opportunities lurking in every corner. A content audit will give you the power to discover quick wins where you can republish, reoptimize, or rework content to help it earn the traffic and attention it deserves.
But the devil is in the details. So how do you go about conducting a content audit?
How to Do a Content Audit
You spent all this time writing content 2 years ago that is still great and relevant. But no one’s reading it anymore. What do you do? Audit. Where do you start?
1. Identify Older Pages That Aren’t Driving Traffic
The first thing to do is to identify which of your older pages aren’t driving a lot of organic traffic.
Go into your analytics platform (Google Analytics, Adobe Analytics, WordPress Plug-ins, etc) and export a list of the worst traffic-performing content on your site. Then you will need to prioritize your actions and to develop a plan for addressing these pages.
Depending on the size of your site and what you’re working on, you can set your own parameters for what qualifies as an underperforming page. Our recommendation would be to pull pages with if/then statements. For example, filter pages that rank 3 or higher for a keyword, but have less than 100 visits in the past 6 months. Those pages have the greatest potential for turnaround.
Our pro-tip: Keep a record of which pages need to be updated, who is making changes, what actions you’ve taken and the date you made the change. This will make it easier to record how successful your content audit was, and the results of your individual efforts.
2. Analyze Your Content to Determine What Your Action Items Are
Now comes the content analysis. When looking at your list of underperforming content, try to discover commonalities in which pages aren’t working. For example, is your product-related content falling off the radar of search engines? Maybe one of your buyer personas isn’t responding to your content? Or are bounce rates higher on your early-stage content?
At this point in your content audit, a content map can make categorizing pages a breeze. Mapping out your content into buyer personas and across the buyer’s journey will help you identify where there are gaps for new (or better-optimized) content. Don’t have a content map in place? We’ve got you covered. Here’s a guide to creating a content map.
One you’ve made connections about what content isn’t pulling its weight in traffic, you’ll be able to diagnose large problems and address them. This will also give you a sense of which of your past content has been most successful. Then it’s time to ask yourself the hard questions.
- How can I alter these pages so they start driving traffic?
- Are there a host of pages missing an on-page element, like a header tag?
- Do I need to republish my content so Google can tell it’s new?
- Can I rework the content to target an answer box or a new keyword?
These are just some of the many questions you should ask when conducting a content analysis. A successful analysis of your content’s underperformance will make or break your audit. But, because there’s a lot of grey areas when it comes to diagnosing and fixing problems, we laid out a few basic scenarios we’ve seen:
How to Fix Underperforming Pages
Content audits take time and can be painful, but they are a necessary nuisance. Never forget that the intent of a searcher can change quickly, and that pages that ranked for a keyword two years ago, aren’t always still ranking.
When looking at older content, evaluate whether the keyword you targeted is still relevant, how monthly search volume has changed since you published, and whether your content still aligns with what is ranking in the SERP. If you find that the keyword you targeted isn’t right anymore, don’t be afraid to go back to the drawing board and select and integrate a new keyword. Rule of thumb: Great content is only valuable if people can find it.
3. Track Any Changes You Make to Your Content
After you make changes, tracking your content’s performance is essential to your content audit process. You’ll be able to measure the success of your analysis and actions based on the ongoing performance of your content. While tracking isn’t the sexiest part of the content marketer’s job function, it can be massively rewarding at this stage.
For today’s content marketer struggling to attribute revenue to their actions, the single most important task is tying numbers to your actions. And at Conductor, we’ve seen our clients drive impressive traffic, conversion, and revenue gains after making simple changes to their content. So, buckle up, get your tracking in place and watch as the changes you make start to make a noticeable difference in your content’s performance.
How can you track your content? There are a number of great content tracking and reporting tools. One we recommend? Content Activity Reporting in Conductor Searchlight.
Content Activity Reporting automatically tracks changes to your page’s content on a week-by-week basis and plots them over time alongside your organic traffic. You’ll be able to measure gains in traffic and easily tie them back to specific actions you made during your content audit. In addition, you can cluster all the pages you’ve updated into a group, and view the success of your content audit on a macro-level.
Aside from Content Activity Reporting, you can rely on your analytics platforms to help you monitor individual and groups of pages. Be wary, not every analytics platform can’t track the on-page changes you make. So be sure to record every action you take in a log, either through Google Sheets, Microsoft Excel, or some other tool.
4. Use Your Audit Insights to Inform Your Content Strategy
We’ve talked about the bad, but what about the good? Your content audit will unearth as many of your successes as it does your problems. As you audit, take note of what’s worked for you in the past. Is one of your buyer personas responding well to your content? Which of your past pieces are standout successes?
Whether your team revisits your content marketing strategy on a quarterly, half-year or yearly basis, you’ll want to craft your future strategy based on what’s proven to work for you. If you can use your content audit data to nail down exactly what has worked for you in the past, you’ll be able to craft a content strategy that will help you hit all your future goals.
The long and short of this? While content audits can be messy, take a lot of time and energy, and distract from creating new content, you should keep auditing constantly. The future of content marketing will be informed by data, and lots of it. So, don’t fear the audit. Embrace it.
And check out the next blog post in our series: How to Get to the Top of Google and Win Answer Boxes.