Friday, December 14, 2018

How to conduct a content audit

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 the Microsoft Office Online content team 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 quality traffic and leads.

How can you ensure that your content delivers results? One important process to adopt is the content audit.

Once Microsoft performed a content audit, it was able to remove irrelevant content, repurpose existing content and restructure its site. Afterwards, 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 wanted to find.

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How can your marketing team conduct an effective content audit?

Any marketing team can conduct a content audit in four simple steps: develop a content inventory, analyze the data, decide on action steps and adapt the content strategy for the future.

However, before you dive into a content audit, you need to understand how it can benefit you.

Conducting a content audit will enable you to:

1. Improve and update existing content.

Updating old content can generate more leads and improve SEO results. For example, let's say that you created a list of 20 SEO tools a few years ago, but some of the tools are no longer available. People who come to this page might leave quickly once they realize that the content is not up-to-date, and search engines might also start to rank it lower when they discover other articles that are more recent.

Updating your previously published content is an effective method of ensuring your content stays current while retaining your search engine rankings.

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 generates more leads and sales than other topics do.

A thorough 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 optimizations.

Depending on your situation, you may have other goals for doing a content audit, including:

  • Remove duplicate content or content that is no longer relevant.
  • Identify content gaps or ideas for new content.
  • Figure out which pages on your site perform the best and determine how to leverage those assets.
  • Organize content so that it is easier for users to discover.

How to conduct a content audit

Conducting a content audit can seem like a big undertaking. But if you break it down and tackle the project one at a time you'll have a fully audited site in no time.

Develop a content inventory. The first step in conducting a content audit is to develop 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, total comments and social shares or any other data that might be important.

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 update some articles.

This can be a daunting process depending on the volume of previously published content. That is where a content audit platform like Atomic Reach can help.

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.

The folks at Kissmetrics, which offers a high-end analytics solution to small and medium-sized businesses, used to have a blog when the company was owned by Neil Patel. They found that when they wrote about how to grow a blog, the content didn't attract the right visitors. So they shifted their content strategy to focus on topics like content marketing and conversion optimization for businesses, which significantly improved their results.

Decide on action steps. Once you've analyzed your data, you can decide on what actions to 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.

Adapt your strategy for the future. One of the best parts of an in-depth content audit is being able to adapt your content strategy so that it can produce better results in the future.

You can prioritize the updating of 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 are crafting content that drives more leads for your business and not expending resources on content that doesn't perform well.

Michael Bibla is the content strategist at Atomic Reach, a content intelligence platform used by marketers to generate more leads from their text-based content. A version of this article originally appeared on the Influence & Co. blog.

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