Originally published on Nov. 13, 2018. Updated on Nov. 30, 2021.
What if you found out that of the 10 million pieces of content on your company website, 3 million of them were going completely unread? That’s what Microsoft discovered.
Your business might not be Microsoft, but imagine how many resources are wasted creating content that isn’t even being seen.
Content marketing can be very effective, but it comes at a cost. If you’re going to invest in content marketing, you will want to make sure that your content is performing and driving high-quality traffic and leads.
How can you ensure your content delivers results? One important process to adopt is the content audit.
Find out what kinds of content you should be creating to meet your business goals.
Once Microsoft performed a content audit, it was able to start removing irrelevant content, repurposing existing content, and restructuring its site. The result was that people were able to find the content they were looking for more easily, and Microsoft was able to identify the information and resources its audience was really looking for.
Performing a content audit can help your business improve its content marketing ROI. So what is a content audit, and how can your marketing team conduct one?
Learn how you can improve your content marketing performance.
What Is a Content Audit?
A content audit involves taking inventory of your existing content and analyzing its corresponding engagement data in order to identify:
- Trends in existing high-performing content.
- Opportunities for website page improvements.
- Gaps where content is missing on your site.
- Recommendations for future content.
- Suggestions for site structure updates.
Any marketing team can perform a content audit in five simple steps:
- Take a content inventory.
- Analyze the data.
- Conduct a competitive analysis.
- Decide on action steps.
- Adapt your content strategy for the future.
But before you dive into performing a content audit, you need to understand how it can benefit you.
Why Should You Perform a Content Audit?
Conducting a content audit helps ensure you are maximizing the potential of your website and the content you create by enabling you to:
1. Improve and update existing content.
Updating old content, also known as historical optimization, can generate more leads and improve SEO results. For example, Influence & Co.’s marketing team performed a content audit and discovered that one of their blog posts from 2014, “How to Pitch Your Content to Editors: 5 Elements of an Effective Email,” had started to rank lower on search engines, which led to a decrease in organic traffic.
After making some updates based on the Influence & Co. team’s findings, they saw the following results in just five months:
2. Identify high-performing content.
A content audit can also help you discover which content is performing well so you can use that data to optimize your content strategy for future content creation.
For example, let’s say that some of your content is 1,200 words in length and those articles ended up generating more traffic and leads than other pieces. Or maybe you discover that content that you wrote on certain topics generated more leads and sales than other topics.
An in-depth content audit allows you to see what types of content are helping you achieve your goals. This will tell you which topics to create content around moving forward.
3. Assess content performance.
Finally, a content audit helps businesses assess the performance of their content marketing and make decisions for future optimization.
Depending on your situation, you may have other goals for doing a content audit, including:
- Removing duplicate content or content that is no longer relevant.
- Figuring out which pages on your site perform the best and determining how to leverage those assets.
- Organizing content so that it’s easier for users to discover.
Tools to Help You Perform a Content Audit
Having the right content management system is crucial for managing and improving your content’s performance. A CMS makes it easy to access in-depth insights into your content’s traffic and lead generation trends.
You can also utilize SEO tools to paint the full picture of how your content is performing. Some options include Google Analytics, Screaming Frog, and Semrush:
- Google Analytics is a popular free tool that extracts granular website and audience data. It’s great for analyzing your traffic over time and can provide in-depth insights on where your audience is coming from and what actions they take on your website.
- Screaming Frog has a free SEO tool that will audit your website and uncover common issues. You can crawl up to 500 URLs for free, or you can buy a license to remove the limit and access other advanced features.
- Semrush is an online visibility management platform that offers a ton of paid tools to help evaluate and improve your content’s performance.
How to Perform a Content Audit
Conducting a content audit can seem like a big undertaking. But if you break it down and tackle the project one piece at a time, you’ll have a fully audited site in no time.
1. Take a content inventory.
The first step in conducting a content audit is to take an inventory. You can use a spreadsheet to do this, including the URL and title of each piece of content in separate rows. You can create separate columns for other important data, including things like average monthly traffic, keyword rankings, and any other KPIs that are relevant to your content marketing goals.
Add a status column where you can state what action you will take with each piece of content. You might choose to leave some articles alone, make minor adjustments to others, or completely overhaul some articles.
2. Analyze the data.
Once you’ve developed a content inventory, you are now ready to analyze the data. The way you do this depends on what your objectives are.
If increasing visibility and traffic through SEO is your goal, you can look at what content is driving traffic to your site. Aside from traffic, some businesses also like to measure conversion rates.
Conversion rates, bounce rates, and traffic sources are key performance indicators that can help tell the story of your content performance by identifying where your readers are coming from and which content they resonate with the most.
To get a solid understanding of how your on-site content and website pages are performing, ask yourself the following questions:
- Does this content perform well organically? (e.g., organic traffic, keywords)
- Does this content perform well on-site? (e.g., bounce rate, conversion rate)
- Are the CTAs performing well? (e.g., click-through rate)
3. Conduct a competitive analysis.
Now that you’ve analyzed the data of your own content performance, it’s time to see how it stacks up against your competitors. This can be done by conducting a competitive and gap analysis.
The information collected during this research offers valuable insights that can help improve the performance of your content and gain an edge on the competition. Pay close attention to your competitors’ keyword rankings, content topics, and overall user experience to determine whether there are any areas that you fall behind in.
4. Decide on action steps.
Once you’ve analyzed your data, you can decide what actions you’ll take next. Action steps can include updating, consolidating, or even archiving old content, as well as revising your content strategy moving forward.
Be sure to break everything down into very specific action steps that you can execute to improve your results.
5. Adapt your content strategy for the future.
One of the best parts of an in-depth content audit is being able to adapt your content strategy so it can produce better results in the future.
You can prioritize updating high-traffic and high-performing articles to maintain a great visitor experience and retain your high SEO rankings. Moreover, you can make strategic adjustments to your content creation strategy so that you’re crafting content that drives more leads for your business and not expending resources on content that doesn’t perform well.
Ensure you’re including all the necessary components in your documented content strategy.
If you’ve invested resources in content marketing, you should definitely plan to do a content audit at least once a year. If you’re creating a lot of content, you may want to increase the frequency to once a quarter.
Content audits help you identify opportunities for future content, monitor and improve the performance of your existing content, and overhaul your content strategy so that the content you create in the future will drive better results for your business.