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How to Conduct a Content Audit to Effeciently Improve Your Marketing

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Should you do a content audit?

Take a moment to consider how much content you and/or your company has created in the past year—and all the work it’s taken to plan, create, optimize, schedule, publish, and promote it. Yikes. I feel exhausted just thinking about ours.

But wait … how do you feel now when you think about what that content is doing for your organization or brand? Do you know how it’s performing? Are you making the most of the good content? Are you improving or archiving the pieces NOT doing so well? Or are you, like so many busy leaders and teams, simply moving forward and creating more content without a clear sense of the kind of content that will truly get results for your brand?

Even in considering the above questions, you’re hopefully getting a sense of whether or not a content audit might be helpful to you and your organization.

Sure, it’s a process that takes time and resources. Yes. But if you conduct a content audit the right way, the ROI is huge. Here’s exactly where to start.

But first, what IS content audit and why is it important?

A content audit is a systematic overview of your published content, most often conducted so that you can evaluate what’s working best and what is not. It’s a process of gathering and assessing the efficacy of your content assets – usually on your website, and sometimes including things like landing pages, blog posts, newsletters, and even social media posts.

Ultimately, a good content audit will show you what kinds of content to do more and less of, and send you brightly flashing signals for what specific pieces/posts/pages to invest more and less time in.

Think of the content audit as a tool for planning future content, and a system for honing in on the data and analytics that matter most in assessing your content’s performance.

Our proven agency system for conducting a content audit (with minimal pain and a whole lotta gain)

There are infinite approaches you might take when tackling your own content audit. We’re sharing here our own tried and trusted process, inviting you to learn from it and make your audit your own.

1. Define the parameters of your content audit

When you’re producing a lot of content, stopping to take stock can feel mighty scary and overwhelming. We get you. And if you’ve gotta keep your content machine rolling, please do so.

Just pick a point in time to audit: a start date and an end date. Also, clarify – for anyone involved in your audit – exactly what kind of content you will be auditing. Our advice is to start with a small window of time, and a small chunk of your content.

Example: your blog content for the last two years (rather than, say, everything on your website since you launched back in 2008). Remember: a chef takes only one small bite to taste the dish—rather than inhaling the whole pot.

There are plenty of templates available if you don’t have a set template in-house to audit your content.

2. Define your metrics—based on your goals

Yes, you can measure all the things. There are plenty of fancy tools that will tell you everything you ever wanted to know about your content.

But, um, what are you actually looking to accomplish with your content?

Are you, for example, hoping to increase brand awareness or to generate sales? Whatever your response, we suggest measuring THAT—more specifically, tracking the content metrics that will show that you’re making progress (or not) on that end result.

Brand awareness could, for example, be assessed by the number of people viewing your blog posts (sessions to your blog in general) or maybe by how many pages they’re consuming (page views). Sales? Measure that by perhaps completion of sale, visits to the sales landing page, or both. Leads? Subscriptions to your newsletter, or completion of a contact form. You get the picture. In your audit, measure what’s actually important to your business.

Once your metrics are clarified, it will become much easier to conduct your audit through that lens and draw the most productive conclusions. To get you started, here’s a great resource from SEMRush to help you define your metrics for your own unique content audit.

3. Go back to your purpose

In our effort to produce content quickly, on a calendar, we can sometimes lose sight of why we are producing that content in the first place—not just in terms of accomplishing business goals, but also in terms of contributing to your own, or your organization’s, purpose.

Our founder Shannon Emmerson delineates why you need to keep asking why to accomplish your purpose in business and life.

Your purpose is what should drive your content, and maybe even your business. Don’t forget it as you dive into the data.

4. Analyze

Once you have identified your audit criteria – including your goals and metrics and making note of content that drives your purpose – you can go ahead and start analyzing your data.

We recommend setting up a simple spreadsheet that enables you to track your criteria for each content item, AND that divides your content items into three fairly broad categories:

  • Keep — this means that, considering all of your set criteria, the content item can and should stay, largely as it is
  • Update — this category indicates that the item may need upgrading with copy, information,visuals or links – include a column that allows you to add these notes.
  • Delete — this one’s pretty clear: it means that based on the item’s performance according to your criteria, the item is irrelevant, and to remove it

You’ll be tempted to get fancy by adding other categories to your audit. In our experience:just don’t.
Be brutal when it comes to trashing what is no longer needed.
Be choosy when it comes to keeping the best as is.
And be specific when you make notes about what needs to be updated, and how.

Forge & Spark Content Audit Instagram screen

5. Plan of Action

After analyzing your content, you’ll have a clear picture of which content pieces are working for you, and which aren’t – along with notes on how to improve the ones in between. This alone will provide you with some direction, in terms of your content marketing.

Take this moment to step back and evaluate your present strategy and add accordingly.

If, for example, visually rich content is working best for you in reaching your goals and fulfilling your purpose, then you may choose to create more visual content.

If, for example, you’re seeing that your content is great, but highly inconsistent, you may choose to establish a more consistent schedule for publication – using the ‘formula’ of what has performed best for your brand.

This step essentially sees you making sense of what you learned from your audit, and integrating those lessons into your strategy going forward.

6. Make a plan to do it again

Yes, we know – this might not be the thing you want to be doing right after finishing an audit. But audits should, ideally, be done at least once a year – and will get easier the more you do them.

Content Audits do get easier – we’ve got you!

There’s no question that it takes time to do a content audit right. But if you’ve just completed one, or more, you also know how rewarding it is to see so clearly what is working, and what isn’t, about your current content plan of attack.

Without doing an audit, you just don’t know. And that can mean wasted time, wasted effort, and failing to achieve the right results—sometimes for years on end.

And please don’t forget that help is always at hand. We’re super-nerds when it comes to content reporting and analysis, and we’d love to support you in sorting out your first audit. Get in touch with us to talk.

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