The word “audit” doesn’t usually bring up happy thoughts in most people. But performing a content audit can ensure that your content is up to date and effective…ensuring you get the best results possible.
Don’t worry, though. No government agencies involved here. This is good for you :).
The following is an overview of what a content audit entails.
Content ownership becomes an issue in larger corporations.
Questions have to be answers and roles have to be assigned. If more than one person is responsible for the content process then there needs to be a remarkable level of communication between them in order for everyone to stay on the same page.
Who will be responsible for writing the content? Who is responsible for planning the content? Who is responsible for promoting the content? This also depends on the mode of promotion: SEO? Social Media?
Who is responsible for analyzing the content once it is live?
And…who is responsible for analyzing the content that already exists.
For most small businesses and individual entrepreneurs there is good news and bad news.
The good news is answering these questions is very easy.The bad news is the answer to all of these questions is: YOU!
Once the person in charge is defined, you can get started with the content audit.
Before you begin creating a strategy for new content (and definitely before you actually start creating it), it is important to note what you already have – what content already exists.
Creating an inventory of existing content allows you to analyze what you have so you can see if you are going in the right direction, if there are gaps, if you need to edit/delete something and so on.
The content audit phase is actually relatively simple, but can be time consuming if you are already trying to manage a large site.
The content audit consists of three phases: the “quantitative” (a simple count), the “qualitative” (a quality assessment) and what I like to call the “technical” phase.
The Quantitative Step
This simply involves recording all of your content in a simple, easy-to-view format – usually a spreadsheet.
Literally list all of the content you have on your website along with some details. At the very least, this list should include the title and the URL of the content. You can get as detailed as you want, however. You can add topics, tags, dates, etc.
Remember: the more detail you add, the more flexibility you will have in terms of filtering and research in the future.
Your content inventory should be something ongoing. It is up to you whether you think it is more efficient to update the inventory every time new content is created, or do bulk inventory assessments. The bottom line is that the inventory list should be kept up to date.
If you do not have any content yet, you can use the same method (using a spread sheet) to plan out future content that you will be creating.
Did I mention that the content inventory should include all of your content? This includes your off-site content. This can include
- Off-site PDF e-books and reports
- Videos on video hosting sites like Youtube that you are not featuring on your own site
- Guest posts on other people’s blogs
And I’m sure you can come up with countless other examples.
The Qualitative Step
So now it’s time to assess the quality of the content you already have.
You have a list of all of the content you currently have control of, but how good is it?
Is the content accurate? Is it timely/up to date? Are the titles descriptive and tell you exactly what’s there? Is it useful for the reader? Is it well written? How is the grammar? Does it fit your audience and your end goal objectives?
At this point you get the idea. Make notes on the quality of certain content. You may need to edit some of the content or delete it altogether.
The Technical Step
Remember that writing for the web is different than just writing on paper. There are many different elements that all come together to create the perfect piece of content.
Once you have a list of all the content you have and assessed its quality, you need to take a look at how it’s going to react with the big players in the web game.
In other words, you need to make sure that your content is going to play nice with Google.
At this point you need to do a review of the SEO of your content.
What is the keyword density? Do you have proper titles/slugs? Do you have proper tags in place?
External Content Analysis
Before creating your own plan of action, it might be a good idea at what others in your industry are doing. What kind of content are they creating? What kind of topics are they covering?
Influencer Analysis: Influencers are the people with huge followings. People will listen to their word as if it was written by the social media gods. They are not always necessarily correct or align with your business processes (or plans), but their content is still worth looking at.
You can take the strategy of aligning with their thoughts or by defying them completely. You can ignore them altogether too :). Whatever you choose to do, it’s important to know what they are talking about because it can be a hot topic of discussion in the industry.
Competitor Analysis: What are your competitors talking about and doing in terms of their content strategy? What topics are they talking about? How well is their content converting?
Your competitors are out there for the same customers you’re after. Analyzing what they are doing can give you a competitive advantage by taking what works and improving on what doesn’t.
Auditing Yourself! Performing a Content Audit by Eugene Farber