What do you know about the content currently living on your website? Do freelancers create it or is it produced in-house? Who handles its management? Who edits and proofreads the content? A content audit is the answer to all these questions.
Let us look at the two words distinctly. For our purposes, “content” is useful and relevant information presented according to the context. It comes in the form of text, audio, or images. “Audit” is the systematic examination of information to identify key areas for improvement. Thereby, a content audit is the assessment and review of content you have on the web. Running a content audit might seem like solving a difficult puzzle. To help you carry out the task, let’s look at the audit types and their usage for content analysis.
The first step in the audit is the quantitative analysis approach. It works to identify and explore the present state of content. It is not only about collecting and filling up the spreadsheet with URLs. A quantitative assessment will serve as the inventory for developing content. Choose what to record, according to your goals. You can use a Google sheets or Microsoft excel for this purpose.
The Content Spreadsheet may include the following categories:
- Serial Number – Writing down the serial number ensures easy identification of a content asset
- URL – Link to the page where content is present, so content can be viewed quickly
- Format – Type of content residing on a page which can include text, image or video
- Topic – The current subject of what the content is all about
- Meta Data - Includes the relevant keywords and tags for a content piece
- Traffic stats – Source of traffic and shares content garners.
- Owner – The person/people responsible for content creation and publishing
- Update – The date of original post and the last time it had been updated
The tools to help you in the process may include Screaming Frog, XML Sitemap Generator, Content Analysis Tool.
The qualitative analysis goes beyond mere working with the content inventory. It includes latent content analysis to interpret the underlying meaning of the words. The findings include usage of words to prove credibility. For analyzing the effectiveness of existing content, human eyes are essential. The key is to identify relevant content suited to your audience needs and the organizational objectives. The assessment combines the business strategy with the user needs.
Record the following qualitative factors:
- Usefulness – Does the content provide value to the reader and is it actionable
- Findability – Is the content searchable for organic search rankings
- Accurate – Inappropriate content can mislead your readers, so ensure you identify what’s outdated.
- Messaging – Are you conveying the message which you want content to communicate
- Usage – Check for grammar and clear sentences.
- Structure – Is your content arranged well, with long and short paragraphs and appropriate subheads
- Tonality – Ensure the language, tone, and voice of your organization
- Web practices – Metadata information should be in-line with the content present on the page
Though, looking at all the pieces of content is a challenge if you have a large website. Conducting a category wise audit is the answer to this problem. When you continue to conduct a category wise audit, a precise analysis is possible.
Do you have content which relates to a specific segment? Is your competitor ranking for the keywords you are targeting? With audit report analysis, you can identify the key problems with content. You'll be able to find the missing links in messaging to encourage communication. To take decisions-related to the removal, update, and addition of content consider them in the light of internal as well as the external factors. The internal factors include the organizational concerns which include the stakeholder suggestions. For example, the CFO might need you to put her research reports in a case study. Addressing the concerns will ensure every one of the stakeholders is on the same page. Competitors and the changing business landscape form a part of the external factors. Competitors may target specific common keywords; you need to identify the content. Tools like Ahrefs help you in competition analysis to help you find the gaps. The time you spend in analysis will help save more time in the content creation process.
Coming to the external factors, the changing business environment includes current events, advances in technology and trends which affect the people. Take, for example, the rise of Snapchat among millennials. Understanding the external environment will help you create new and interesting content. You can also work out on techniques to enhance the user experience by including different content types. As online video is on the rise, could you leverage it to boost conversions? The analysis phase is worthwhile, to sum up your findings, create an action plan, and keep the stakeholders on the same track.
The Way Forward
A content audit can help you leverage existing content to charge ahead. It saves your valuable time and resources by digging into the content you already have. It is the way to create more purposeful content addressing the audience needs.