For many companies, online marketing is built on having great content. If this sounds familiar, you should be checking your content regularly to make sure it’s still up to scratch.
Does your current content fit the strategy? Is it helping you to achieve your goals? What are the KPIs of the existing content? These are the types of questions that both arise and can be answered with a content audit.
In this article, I give an overview of the theoretical elements of a successful content audit, so you can start right away.
A content audit might sound a bit intimidating and like a lot of effort at first. The term comes from quality management, and describes the quality check for process and rules.
Considering the basis of the term, it can’t be denied that a diligently implemented content audit costs time and effort. But, the result of such an analysis is so great that it’s definitely worth it. To assess your content marketing and ensure its success is impossible without conducting regular content audits. A content audit is also the basis for your content strategy, which sets out the long term content goals you are aiming for. By carrying out a content audit in regular intervals, you can assess whether these goals have been achieved.
How often and to what purpose the content audit is implemented therefore depends on the goals that are to be reached. But a content audit can also serve different purposes, such as in the examples explained below.
In general, a content audit can be divided into three parts:
1. Assessment of existing content, the so-called content inventory
2. Quantitative content evaluation using indication parameters.
3. Quantitative content evaluation using quality indicators.
Depending on what you want to find out, you can highlight one of the aspects above to change the type of audit, or of course you can add questions, or subject certain parts or categories of your content to the audit.
It’s also completely up to you how frequently you want to carry out a content audit. One-off content audits have the advantage that they are implemented individually and effectively, but regular content audits are a great way for ensuring that your content strategy has the right impact long term.
As a content audit requires a fair bit of work, it shouldn’t be implemented just for the sake of it. Having certain goals you want to achieve with a content audit makes it an exciting and important task.
These are some potential goals of a content audit:
Against the backdrop of these goals, there are a number of reasons for carrying out a content audit.
With large projects, a content audit should be carried out every quarter, and this can also be combined with legal questions. But, you should mainly focus on whether you have achieved the goals of the current content strategy. You can create a content marketing plan on the basis of a regular or specific content audit.
If a company is sold with a domain, or a stand-alone domain is sold, it is necessary to evaluate the domain and its content. The evaluation metrics can be, for example, ranking positions, and average cost per click for keywords that are used to achieve better ranking. Another metric could also be the costs that were spent on creating the content. If the content was created externally, you may have to declare this in your financial report. This could also bring up questions about the value of content.
When relaunching a website, it is also a good idea to audit the existing content. It would usually be sensible to delete lower quality pages, so that you increase the relevancy of your content, and thus improve your search engine rankings.
A change in the content team should also be seen as a cause to audit the content, so that you can continue with successful methods, avoid mistakes in the future, and allow content innovation.
Checking and altering the content strategy to appeal to different target groups, or for adjusting to different brand and corporate strategies also makes a content audit necessary.
A content audit can also be initiated externally. If one of the large platforms changes its guidelines and algorithms, a content audit may become necessary to ensure the content is appropriate for the platforms in question.
There are many reasons why a content audit should be carried out. After conducting your content audit, the first thing to do is asses the data:
After the content inventory has been assessed, it must be evaluated. This evaluation can be done based on quantity or quality.
A quantitative evaluation comprises:
The spectrum of the qualitative evaluation is disproportionately bigger. That is due to the fact that the quality of the content can relate to the input as well as the output. However, you should not overdo it with the quality criteria, because not every concept of quality is objectifiable.
Here are some common ones:
If you consider the assessment and evaluation criteria above, it becomes clear that a content audit can be quite elaborate. However, you can significantly reduce time and effort by using tools that automate the assessment and evaluation of content, or at least allow for part automization.
Here are some helpful tools you can use for the content audit:
1. It's always best to assess the content when it is created. That is what an editorial calendar is for. During the content audit, all you have to do is add the evaluation to it.
2. When evaluating the degree of optimization, there are a lot of solutions available. Ryte can help assess the degree of optimization as a whole, but also on individual pages with RYTE Search Success.
Figure 1: Check clicks, impressions and click through rate with RYTE Search Success
3. The Google Search Console gives you reliable data on ranking positions and click rates for any page.
4. Google Analytics is essential for assessing the engagement KPIs, and also helps with technical performance parameters like page load-time.
Once the objective of the content audit has been decided, this would usually indicate who should be tasked with carrying it out. In strategically important situations, like the sale or valuation of large projects, it makes sense to bring in external auditors for the content audit. Here, it's important that all stake-holding partners accept the auditor, and of course they need to have enough expertise to carry out the audit.
For regular testing of strategy suitability, an internal audit should suffice. This can be carried out by the entire content team on its own. The results can be the basis for both budget discussions, and further developments in strategy.
Despite the time and effort required for a content audit, it’s still worth carrying it out. At any rate, for a successful and goal-orientated content marketing, it makes sense to check the results and impact in regular intervals. This is the way to achieve a successful content strategy long term.
Practice makes perfect!
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Published on 02/19/2018 by Dominik Große Holtforth.
Prof. Dr. Dominik Große Holtforth teaches business studies and media management at Fresenius University of Applied Sciences in Cologne. He is also head of the e-Commerce department which deals with strategy-related questions, the controlling of key performance indicators as well as competition strategies in online marketing and e-Commerce. Prof. Große Holtforth is co-founder of the e-Commerce agency Warenkorb.com and founder of the online plant shop “Meine Orangerie.” This is how he combines scientific expertise and practical experience.