Content Audit: Step-by-Step Guide For Conducting It
For many companies, online marketing is built on having great content. If this sounds familiar, you should be checking your content regularly to make sure it’s still up to scratch. Does your current content fit the strategy? Is it helping you to achieve your goals? What are the KPIs of the existing content? These are the types of questions that both arise and can be answered with a content audit. In this article, I give an overview of the theoretical elements of a successful content audit, so you can start right away.
Content Audit – the First Step in Your Content Strategy
A content audit might sound a bit intimidating and like a lot of effort at first. The term comes from quality management, and describes the quality check for process and rules.
Considering the basis of the term, it can’t be denied that a diligently implemented content audit costs time and effort. But, the result of such an analysis is so great that it’s definitely worth it. To assess your content marketing and ensure its success is impossible without conducting regular content audits. A content audit is also the basis for your content strategy, which sets out the long term content goals you are aiming for. By carrying out a content audit in regular intervals, you can assess whether these goals have been achieved.
Type, Extent and Frequency of the Content Audit
How often and to what purpose the content audit is implemented therefore depends on the goals that are to be reached. But a content audit can also serve different purposes, such as in the examples explained below.
In general, a content audit can be divided into three parts:
1. Assessment of existing content, the so-called content inventory
2. Quantitative content evaluation using indication parameters.
3. Quantitative content evaluation using quality indicators.
Depending on what you want to find out, you can highlight one of the aspects above to change the type of audit, or of course you can add questions, or subject certain parts or categories of your content to the audit.
It’s also completely up to you how frequently you want to carry out a content audit. One-off content audits have the advantage that they are implemented individually and effectively, but regular content audits are a great way for ensuring that your content strategy has the right impact long term.
Goals of a Content Audit
As a content audit requires a fair bit of work, it shouldn’t be implemented just for the sake of it. Having certain goals you want to achieve with a content audit makes it an exciting and important task.
These are some potential goals of a content audit:
- Assessing the value of content in an online shop or a website
- Checking and deciding the value of content investments. The important question here is whether existing content should be improved, or whether new content should be created.
- Assessing content relevance for existing and new users, and client groups.
- Checking and assessing the rate of content improvement – this also gives you a good evaluation of your current online marketing.
- It may be necessary to carry out a content audit, if for example you change the company guidelines, or if there are any changes in copyright law.
Reasons for a Content Audit
Against the backdrop of these goals, there are a number of reasons for carrying out a content audit.
1. Regular audit of content inventory
With large projects, a content audit should be carried out every quarter, and this can also be combined with legal questions. But, you should mainly focus on whether you have achieved the goals of the current content strategy. You can create a content marketing plan on the basis of a regular or specific content audit.
2. Sale of a company and/or a domain
If a company is sold with a domain, or a stand-alone domain is sold, it is necessary to evaluate the domain and its content. The evaluation metrics can be, for example, ranking positions, and average cost per click for keywords that are used to achieve better ranking. Another metric could also be the costs that were spent on creating the content. If the content was created externally, you may have to declare this in your financial report. This could also bring up questions about the value of content.
3. Relaunching a website
When relaunching a website, it is also a good idea to audit the existing content. It would usually be sensible to delete lower quality pages, so that you increase the relevancy of your content, and thus improve your search engine rankings.
4. Changing teams in content marketing
A change in the content team should also be seen as a cause to audit the content, so that you can continue with successful methods, avoid mistakes in the future, and allow content innovation.
5. Changing the content marketing strategy
Checking and altering the content strategy to appeal to different target groups, or for adjusting to different brand and corporate strategies also makes a content audit necessary.
6. External alterations on content and advertising platforms
A content audit can also be initiated externally. If one of the large platforms changes its guidelines and algorithms, a content audit may become necessary to ensure the content is appropriate for the platforms in question.
How to Assess the Content Inventory
There are many reasons why a content audit should be carried out. After conducting your content audit, the first thing to do is asses the data:
- First of all, all URLs are listed in order of their rank or function on the site. These can be category, sub category, product, blog post or social media post.
- Then the URL, the page title, focus and related keywords, potential scope, ranking indications and degree of optimization should be entered
- After that, you should assess whether there are legal limitations for a URL. These can come about due to limited usage rights for text, images or videos. You should also be sure who the author or editor is.
- Previous evaluations can also be brought into the documentation assessment. That way, you can evaluate the development of content over time.
Evaluation of Content
After the content inventory has been assessed, it must be evaluated. This evaluation can be done based on quantity or quality.
A quantitative evaluation comprises:
- Input factors such as information on amount of text, as well as images and videos.
- Result or output factors such as visits, bounce rates, conversions, load times and social media KPIs like applause rate, amplification rate or conversion rate and more.
- With KPIs that provide the media or market value of a page, the result-based monetary evaluation of content pages also belongs to the quantitative evaluation.
The spectrum of the qualitative evaluation is disproportionately bigger. That is due to the fact that the quality of the content can relate to the input as well as the output. However, you should not overdo it with the quality criteria, because not every concept of quality is objectifiable.
Here are some common ones:
- The level of search engine optimization: Even if during the creation and upload, the content should already be optimized, it’s not always a given. Optimization requirements and strategies change, which also changes the level of optimization of existing content. The optimization level of existing content can be assessed with the scoring method. With this, you can subdivide content categories in relation to their respective level of optimization. Spelling and other formal aspects also belong to testing the optimization level.
- The user orientation and relevance: You can only carry out successful content marketing if you truly know your target groups. That is why it is important to set the benchmarks for evaluating the content from the point of view of the users. These can be engagement parameters like time on site or bounce rates. Social media parameters can also be added to get a good feel for the users’ assessment of your content. Information such as direct feedback, ratings, comments and other user reactions are even more valuable. Finally, you can also consult experts who can estimate the content’s quality from the point of view of users.
- Publishing quality: But it’s not only the users who rate the content. Journalists, webmasters who are creating links, or influencers are also relevant for the success of content. For publishing quality, it’s all about how people or pages with higher reputations and trust values rate the content.
- Values of brand and company: It is also worth testing whether and how the content represents the brand and company values. This test is based on subjective estimates and can be done internally or externally.
Content Audit Tools
If you consider the assessment and evaluation criteria above, it becomes clear that a content audit can be quite elaborate. However, you can significantly reduce time and effort by using tools that automate the assessment and evaluation of content, or at least allow for part automization.
Here are some helpful tools you can use for the content audit:
1. It’s always best to assess the content when it is created. That is what an editorial calendar is for. During the content audit, all you have to do is add the evaluation to it.
2. When evaluating the degree of optimization, there are a lot of solutions available. Ryte can help assess the degree of optimization as a whole, but also on individual pages with RYTE Search Success.
Figure 1: Check clicks, impressions and click through rate with RYTE Search Success
3. The Google Search Console gives you reliable data on ranking positions and click rates for any page.
4. Google Analytics is essential for assessing the engagement KPIs, and also helps with technical performance parameters like page load-time.
Who Should Conduct the Content Audit
Once the objective of the content audit has been decided, this would usually indicate who should be tasked with carrying it out. In strategically important situations, like the sale or valuation of large projects, it makes sense to bring in external auditors for the content audit. Here, it’s important that all stake-holding partners accept the auditor, and of course they need to have enough expertise to carry out the audit.
For regular testing of strategy suitability, an internal audit should suffice. This can be carried out by the entire content team on its own. The results can be the basis for both budget discussions, and further developments in strategy.
Despite the time and effort required for a content audit, it’s still worth carrying it out. At any rate, for a successful and goal-orientated content marketing, it makes sense to check the results and impact in regular intervals. This is the way to achieve a successful content strategy long term.