The Christmas holidays are over and January (officially the longest month of the year) is stretching out ahead of us. Perhaps you're already planning to get away from it all – and if you were to wander an airport lounge, in search of a magazine to read on your flight, you would likely come face-to-face with all sorts of dramatic headlines: "New year, new you"; "Make this your year"; "2017: the year your dreams come true."
Having aspirations and ambitions is a great thing and the start of a new year is as good a time as any to work towards your goals – but these types of headlines play on our insecurities; they make us think that we're not good enough already. A more positive approach is to continue to build on what we've already achieved.
And that's exactly what your organisation can do by carrying out a content audit. Day-to-day, it's easy to lose sight of the bigger picture - a content audit enables you to take stock of all the content on your website, from page copy to blog posts. Having acquired this improved view of your content, you can develop a more informed and successful content strategy for the year ahead.
The value of a content audit
The term "audit" isn't the most exciting – it's official and tedious-sounding; it doesn't exactly fit with those eye-catching, new-year headlines. However, carrying out a content audit is a highly valuable exercise – and it doesn't have to be boring or eye-wateringly difficult.
Writing for Moz, Everett Sizemore, Director of Marketing at Inflow, outlines the many purposes of a content audit. These include:
- Determine which pages need copywriting/ editing
- Determine which pages need to be updated and made more current, and prioritise them
- Find content gap opportunities to drive content ideation and editorial calendars
- Determine which pages are ranking for which keywords
- Uncover content marketing opportunities
Ultimately, if you want to attract visitors to your site, and if you want those visitors to convert to leads and eventually become customers, your content needs to be excellent. If it's stale and out-of-date, misses the mark, or isn't optimised, your content isn't going to fulfil its very important purpose.
So, should you carry out an inbound content audit? The answer is definitely yes.
How to carry out a content audit
There's no denying that undertaking a content audit is a hard task, which takes time. However, with a little structure and discipline, it's perfectly achievable. So, where do you start?
HubSpot offers a useful content audit worksheet, which suggests listing every asset in your content library in a spreadsheet, including the following information:
- Content offer title
- Buyer's journey stage
- Content type/ format
- Buyer persona
This straightforward method enables you to see exactly what exists on your website, with no smoke and mirrors. However, it is not enough to simply list all the content you currently have. Returning to Everett Sizemore's Moz article, he explains how Inflow approaches a content audit:
- Gather all available URLs on the site
- Import URLs into a tool that gathers KPIs and other data for each URL
- Analyse the content
- Perform keyword research
- Do content gap ideation
- Write the content strategy
You need to take a fine-toothed comb to your website and find out exactly what content lies within its depths. But, more importantly, you then need to make sure that this content is relevant and engaging for your target audience. In fact, points five and six above are the most crucial steps of all. Creating spreadsheets is hard work but it's methodical; acting on your findings is where you really need to invest your time and brain power.
To explore the concepts of content ideation and strategy further, why not read one of our previous blog posts:
- How can a "serious" B2B businesses use creative marketing?
- Key steps to building an effective B2B content strategy
- Your 2017 B2B content marketing plan: let go of the fear
The critical role of buyer personas
It's impossible to carry out a successful content audit without having first fully defined your buyer personas. These inform all the content that exists on your website – if they're wrong or incomplete, you're on a hiding to nothing. For instance, you won't be able to identify gaps in your blog archive if you don't know the questions your target audience are asking and the problems they are facing. Your buyer personas will also determine the keywords and topics you should be optimising your content around.
As we stand at the start of a new year, many of us are thinking about how we can grow and develop our businesses. Carrying out an inbound content audit is one of the best ways to ensure that your content is working for your company and helping you to achieve your goals.