Editors note: This blog post was originally published in January 2017 and has since been updated for optimal accuracy and relevance.
For many companies, developing a content strategy involves looking ahead to the next blog post, the next video, or the next eBook. This might involve a brief look back at the performance of past content to see what topics they should cover. However, a more positive approach is to continue to build on what you'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 going forward.
The value of a content audit
The term "audit" isn't the most exciting – it's official and tedious-sounding. 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
In a recent BuzzSumo article, Susan Moeller claims that a content audit is "fast becoming one of the most powerful ways companies can quickly improve their websites' traffic."
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 If it's stale and out-of-date, misses the mark, or isn't optimised, your content isn't going to fulfil its very important purpose.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 that 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 ideal customers.
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 other blog posts:
- How thinking like a media publisher can revive your content strategy
- Clarity is the key to B2B content success
- Key steps to building an effective B2B content strategy
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 ideal customers 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.
Many of us are always thinking about how we can grow and develop our businesses. Carrying out a 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.