The quality of content that your brand creates is something that is likely near and dear to every brand manager’s heart.
Yet how often do we inspect and audit the content that we published months or even years ago? How do we know that the content that’s out there for everyone to see is still telling our story and properly representing our brand?
The reality is that most brands change over time. Most websites change over time too. But we don’t always take the time in this busy world, to go back and review the content we’ve created. So every now and then, it’s a great idea to take a look and re-evaluate your site’s content. Most people typically don’t do this regularly but will only perform a content audit when they do a site redesign. In fact, recently, Liquid Web spent time doing a content audit as part of our process of launching a new website.
What is a Content Audit?
A content audit is a process where you go through and review all of the content on your website and systematically and evaluate it to make sure that it’s up to date with accurate information, it’s optimized for SEO, and it continues to meet your quality of standards. Ideally, every page (and blog post) on your site should regularly have its content checked, updated, improved and potentially interlinked with other posts.
A website is always changing and evolving. If you have a blog, you’re adding new content every time you post something. Because of this, it’s important to make sure that you take time to update and improve your older content to reflect your brand, your message, and any changes to the topic you wrote about.
How to Conduct a Content Audit?
A content audit is a very tedious process, especially if your website has been around a while. I had one client back in the day that had 30,000 pages they needed to run through. What’s worse, is that it was their first time ever performing a content audit!
Now there are many ways to go about performing a content audit and depending on who you ask for advice, they will generally give you a lot of information. If this is your first time conducting a content audit, I would urge you to check out this article which I’ve grown to consider the authority on content audits over at Moz.com.
This will likely overwhelm you and you’ll feel like a content audit is something that you should do all the time. While I want to assure you that you should, in fact, regularly audit your content, there are a few easier ways to do it. I want to give you my two ways of running a content audit that I’ve used hundreds of times when working with clients.
The Lean Content Audit
I have found that occasionally it’s good to give yourself a lean content audit. What is a lean content audit you ask? Well, it is an audit that just focuses on your newest pieces of content. It shouldn’t take a lot of time. How often should you perform a lean content audit? Whenever you think it’s appropriate. That’s the great thing about these audits. You can schedule them monthly, quarterly, or even yearly. You can also schedule them just after x number of articles are published.
The goal of a lean content audit is the same as a large content audit, just on a smaller scale. So let’s talk about the ways to perform a lean content audit.
WordPress makes it very easy for us to run content audits. In fact, if you want to stay right within your WordPress dashboard, you can use a plugin called Content Audit. This allows you to set up the frequency with which you want to perform the content audit on every piece of content within your site (assuming your site is wholly within WordPress). I recommend that every 6 months, you at least go through and look at old content.
Using Google Analytics
Another way I have told my clients to undergo content audits is by logging into Google Analytics and running a report for the 100 most visited pieces of content. Then take this list (which you could export into a CSV) and make sure each piece of content is still relevant.
Once you’ve pulled your content, how do you determine what to do?
In any situation, I look at each piece of content and then categorize it into one of these four points:
- Remove: can you dump it?
- Keep as is: don’t touch it.
- Improve: can you make it better? If so, how?
- Consolidate: can it be merged with other content? If so, how?
These options work really well and can provide you with a way to organize your content while allowing you to give your attention to the pieces that matter most.
While the lean content audit works great for shorter or smaller content audits, what should you do if you’re looking to redesign your site?
The Large Content Audit
When the time inevitably comes for you to redesign your site, I would encourage you to take a long hard look at your content audit procedures. If you don’t have a process in place, now is the perfect time to start looking at running a content audit. In fact, many of my previous customers would perform a content audit as part of their website redesign project.
When it comes to a large content audit aside from recommending Moz, I also recommend using a number of tools to help you. The best tool I’ve come across that will give you a comprehensive look at your content is by Content Science and is called the Content Analysis Tool.
The Content Analysis Tool (CAT) is purpose-built to create usable, detailed, and automated content inventories. Designed with an easy-to-use dashboard interface, CAT allows users and administrators to manage multiple content inventory projects quickly and easily while generating a rich set of data to enable deeper analysis. And there’s nothing to install—it’s all in the cloud!
I haven’t looked at all the tools in this list, but DynoMapper has put together this pretty concise list of what other tools you can use for help with your content audit.
If you’re looking for a person to help you out with your content audit, or you are looking to increase your resources a bit to get the work done faster, then you need to check out Rebecca Gill over at Web Savvy Marketing. She and her team will be able to help get you going with your content audit. They will meet with you, perform the content audit, and make all the recommendations for you.
When it comes down to it, a content audit isn’t just a one-off process that you conduct once in a while when you do a redesign or launch. You need to be in a mindset that allows you to continuously think about your website content.
By carefully inventorying your existing content pieces and assessing the data you’ve gathered for each item, you can make informed marketing decisions that will help you to save time, cut costs, grow your brand, and improve your overall advertising ROI.
And remember, there is no one-size-fits-all solution here. Content audits can take many shapes, routes, approaches, and scopes. It all depends on your needs and your goals.
Are you ready to launch your new project? Before you do, take a look at our 14 Strategies for your Next WordPress Post Launch Plan.
AJ Morris is the Product Innovation and Marketing Manager at iThemes. He’s been involved in the WordPress community for over a decade focusing on building, designing and launching WordPress websites and businesses.
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