A website content audit involves taking inventory of all the content produced on a website over a set period. The content is then analyzed both quantitatively and qualitatively to determine what is drawing traffic, leading to conversions and offering relevant information to users.
It’s an involved process. But as part of a good content marketing strategy, it’s worth doing to keep your content updated with the latest information and to generate ideas for future content.
The following are some ideas that should guide any website content audit.
Limit the Scope
There’s no need to go back more than 10 years to look at content. Whatever you did then is likely no longer relevant to users. Ten years should be the absolute maximum you go back. Five years is likely far enough. That keeps you from biting off more than you can chew in terms of the amount of content you evaluate.
See What’s Working
This is the quantitative side of the audit equation. By looking at data from website analytics, you can determine what content has drawn the most readers into the site and from what source (search engine results, social media, a link from another site, etc.). Are people taking the desired action on the page (i.e., filling out a form or leaving their email address?). This helps determine what is and what isn’t working in terms of the bottom line (traffic, user actions).
Evaluate the Content
Parts of this are more qualitative in nature. You want to create great website content throughout your site. But you want to make sure that all of it is professional. One bad content item can drive a visitor from your site. When evaluating content, ask yourself:
- Is the content clear on what it is about?
- Is the content clean (have typos, misspellings, etc., been cleaned up)?
- Is the content presented logically?
- Is there a consistent voice on content across the site?
- Is the content good but needs updating?
- Does the content serve both the needs of the reader (answering a question, providing information) as well as the site owner (directing readers to other parts of the site as well as landing pages)?
Answering these questions can help direct you to additional steps. But if the content is professional, up-to-date and is still drawing traffic — leave it alone! There’s no reason to update content just for the sake of updating.
In some cases, you must update. This could simply involve updating statistics in an article or a graphic. In other cases, the content might make reference to people or events that are no longer relevant to readers. These references should be removed or updated. Another way of updating is that you might find content that can be combined into one, longer piece that will more effectively address a topic.
Doing a website content audit can also lead to ideas for new articles. Looking at massive amounts of old content can generate a host of ideas that can keep your editorial calendar full for months to come. It also clues you in on gaps in your content where issues around your product or services are not being addressed.
The other main point to keep in mind in this area is that successful content should be used as a springboard to create new content. In other words, you want to create content that is like the already popular content, but different. It’s kind of the way Hollywood will often rehash popular concepts (girl meets boy, fish out of water, alien invasion) with just slight variations and a different kind of character. Give the readers what they want.
Another facet of a content audit is to ensure that all the technical details of SEO have been addressed. This means title, keywords, metadata and image tags must all be checked to ensure they have been done properly.
That’s an overview of what a website content audit should cover. Keep in mind that hiring content marketing specialists can be the best move given the scope of a content audit. But whether you hire outside help or do it yourself, make sure to audit content routinely - it will not only show you what worked in the past, but guide you toward what type of content to create in the future.
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