Content is the backbone of any successful inbound marketing strategy. You have been writing blog articles and creating other content like a well-oiled machine all year. It feels like your content inventory is growing almost faster than you can keep up. It's a common problem that marketing teams don't know what their content library holds — kind of like grandma's attic. Things accumulate over the years, but no one really knows what's there, and some are afraid to look. Well, it's time to take inventory and organize your content. This means a content audit is necessary.
What is a Content Audit
A content audit is the process of measuring, analyzing, and organizing the content you use as part of your inbound marketing strategy. Content includes blog articles, resources like eBooks and white papers, videos, website copy, and webinars. Each one of these impact website SEO and your rankings on the SERPs. The information and data you gather from your content will help guide your content strategy so you can increase your organic website traffic.
How do you know when you need to do a content audit?
The short answer is that you need to do a content inventory if you have content. You should be taking stock of your content at least annually. It's especially important if you have recently joined a company that has never done a content audit and really doesn't have a good idea of what they have. The only way to know what's in your content library content is to roll up your sleeves and dig in.
What is the purpose of a content audit?
A content audit will identify where you might have content gaps and whether the existing content is relevant or outdated. You'll learn what is and isn't resonating with your audience and which pieces are driving the most traffic to your website. This will help you create an effective marketing strategy. If your content is lacking, your marketing strategy will also be lacking.
What are the benefits of a content audit?
A content audit will help you keep your content relevant, improve the ranking of your website pages, and bring value to your audience. In addition, a content audit will:
- Provide data-driven insight into the performance of your content, helping you make informed decisions based on factual information rather than just assumptions.
- Identify areas for content repurposing or updating content that hasn't been performing well.
- Identify pieces of content that perform best that you can leverage by creating additional ways to use that content.
- Understand more about what your audience likes and dislikes.
- Content maintenance becomes easier when you have an understanding of what you're offering.
This isn't a process that can be done quickly, especially if it is the first time a content audit is being done to a robust content library. If you don't know where to start, HubSpot has a great content audit template (as part of its SEO audit kit) you can use.
What tools do you need to perform a content audit?
Having a tool to help you with your content audit is optional, but it will help speed up the process, saving you a ton of time. If you don't have access to a content audit tool, you will have to note all the URLs manually. If you have HubSpot Marketing Hub or CMS Hub Starter, Professional or Enterprise, this capability is built right in. Here's a useful article from HubSpot that walks you through the process of exporting content data from HubSpot.
How do you perform a content audit?
It's important to perform your content audit in a well-thought-out manner. You can't start in the middle and expect it to work.
Define your goals — What do you want this content audit to accomplish? An example of an overall goal could be to increase conversions or boost website traffic. Then nail down some more specific goals about how you plan to reach your overall goal. They could be things like:
- Identify high-performing content to be utilized in new ways.
- Identify which topics are getting the most traction and create more content around them.
- Determine if your topic tags are being used correctly or need updating to organize content in a logical easy to navigate way.
- Update or remove outdated content that isn't resonating with your audience.
- Identify what stages of the buyer's journey have content gaps.
Overall and specific goals will vary depending on what you want to accomplish with your content audit. The key is to set specific goals and match them to the metrics that can help you determine how to plan your content strategy.
Determine the scope — Will you be auditing content for a specific time period, for example, the last 365 days, or maybe you want to focus on data from all time? Will you examine your entire content inventory or focus on a specific type of content?
Identify the metrics — What are you going to measure to accomplish your goal? You could be looking at traffic metrics like page views, time on page, bounce rate, or page entrances and exits. In HubSpot, you can set up dashboards to monitor these metrics after you implement your strategy.
Collect your content — Do a full inventory of the content within the parameters you determined in the project's scope. Typically, these could include landing pages, blog posts, and resources. Collect the URLs of all of those content pieces and add them to your content audit spreadsheet. Collecting all the URLs manually can be a time-consuming and daunting project. One of the benefits of HubSpot is that this functionality is built in for you if you have HubSpot Marketing Hub or CMS Hub Starter, Professional or Enterprise.
Categorize your content and populate data — Now that you have all your URLs added to your content audit spreadsheet, it's time to categorize them and gather the data you defined earlier in the content audit scope. The way you categorize your data will depend on what you want to accomplish with the content audit.
Here are some of the things you might need to identify:
- Buyer's journey stage
- Buyer persona
- Topic tags and topic clusters the piece is attached to
- Meta description
- Word count
- Content format (resource, blog post, case study, etc.)
- Publish date
- Page views
- Time on page
- Bounce rate
- CTA clicks
- Keyword ranking
Quick tip: If you are using a CRM like HubSpot, you can export most of this information with just a couple of clicks of your mouse.
Analyze your content data — Here's the fun part. Analyzing your data to see where you need to make improvements or can leverage opportunities with content that is performing well.
These are some of the important things you should analyze to help you determine your next steps:
- Which content is underperforming?
- Why is this content underperforming?
- Which content is performing well?
- Why is this content performing well?
- Which content is becoming outdated?
- Identify any content gaps
Create Actionable Steps for Improvement
This can seem like an overwhelming endless task, but the benefits are well worth the effort. An easy way to start is to break your action items down. Think about it like cleaning out grandma's attic. Take a quick first pass at everything and divide it into two boxes (actually — add two rows to your spreadsheet and label them): keep and delete. Don't overthink it. You have the data to drive these initial decisions. Next, ignore your delete box like it's already been taken to the thrift store.
Grab a couple more boxes. Label them as update and repurpose (add two more rows to your spreadsheet). Now it's time to dig into your keep box and decide if the piece of content is:
- Working well in its current form — keep.
- Outdated but a valuable piece of content — update.
- Resonating well with your audience — has the potential to be repurposed or broken into smaller chunks and used in other ways.
Now you have a spreadsheet of data-driven information about your content that you can use to create an action plan as part of your overall marketing strategy.
This is a lot of work! It is a good idea to keep this spreadsheet updated with the basic things like URLs, keywords, buyer persona, meta description, author, and buyer's journey as you create new content throughout the year. When you get ready for your next content audit, you will only have to export the performance analytics and be able to focus more quickly on creating a content strategy.
If you are feeling overwhelmed and not sure where to start head over to our inbound marketing page to explore how inbound marketing can help you reach the right people at the right time.