The content on your site can be an incredibly powerful tool. It is your chance to build a relationship with your audience and educate them about the need for your product or service.
If your content serves someone’s needs well, it is what gets them coming back to you for more. And, further down the line, persuasive content is what converts them into a customer.
The icing on the cake is that when your content is really on point, it can be thing that inspires your customers to become brand advocates.
But how do you ensure your content is capable of this?
The fact of the matter is that, while there is a wealth of content creation best practice out there (some of which you definitely should follow), there is no magic formula for creating content that excels every time.
This is why a test and refine culture is at the heart of any good content marketing strategy. Analysing what is working well, so that you can emulate and build upon this success, is the key to making your content deliver consistent results.
A crucial part of defining your content strategy is to conduct a content audit beforehand. Only by determining the parts of your current onsite content that are or are not performing can you plan out ways to improve.
What is a content audit?
A content audit assesses how well optimised your content is for each digital marketing channel that you intend it to attract traffic from. It is a way of judging the extent to which the content on your website meets the needs of your target audience and of search engines.
We know that meeting audience needs is important to search visibility because it is one of the factors Google takes into account when rating the quality of content it shows in its results.
A comprehensive content audit will provide a quantitative and qualitative assessment of your inventory of content and an analysis of how your audience has engaged with it.
Why do you need a content audit?
Put simply, you need a content audit because you can’t move in the right direction if you don’t know where you currently are. A content audit enables you to take stock of your onsite content so that you can develop an effective content strategy that moves your site and business forwards.
The output of your content audit should be a clear set of actions that equip you to:
- Play to your strengths – an audit identifies content that compels your users to do what you want them to most effectively. This enables you to make more of content that is working well by repurposing it, or creating new content that emulates it
- Ensure consistency - by auditing content across your site, you are able to see the big picture and identify any inconsistencies in your messaging. This allow you to deliver a joined-up content experience that aligns with your brand’s objectives
- Make improvements - a content audit also shows you what isn’t working so well, so that you can look to improve audience engagement by optimising these pieces of content. Or perhaps cut them from the site entirely
What aspects of your site should a content audit evaluate?
1. Decision cycle
Good content can convert a prospect into a customer, but not everyone visiting your site will be on the verge of making a purchase.
A content audit gives you the opportunity to assess whether your site has content relevant to all phases of the decision cycle, including:
- Trigger events – does your site have content that hooks in to the real life events that establish need for your product?
- Awareness – does your site have content that engages a prospect when they have become aware of a need for your product?
- Consideration – does your site have content that enables a customer to evaluate how well your product meets their needs?
- Choice – does your site have content that hooks into the logical and emotional processes that lead to a purchase decision?
2. User journey
Having strong content on your site that meets the needs of your audience at each stage of the decision cycle is no mean feat. But once it is there, you need to ensure that your users can find it.
A content audit should look at the user journey, to ensure that your audience is able to find relevant content on your site easily. Important content that your site should be proud of must not be buried away.
Attention should also be paid to the categorisation of content, to make sure this will make sense to the user and not just to the brand. Sometimes a category will be named something that is actually an internal naming convention and isn’t immediately understood by someone outside of the company.
When you are auditing your site, you should also explore the navigation and ensure that this allows for a seamless user journey which will ease the path to conversion.
3. Content optimisation
Another way to help your audience find your content is to make sure that it is optimised for search engines. A good content audit should assess this and make recommendations for improvement where needed.
Some things to look for are how well meta content such as page titles, meta descriptions and URLs are optimised. They should be written in a way that ensures Google understands exactly what your content is about and in a way that compels users to click through from search results pages (SERPs).
4. Editorial standards
For your content to effectively engage, persuade and convert your audience it must be well-written. A review of editorial standards, therefore, is an important aspect of a content audit.
A content audit should consider whether onsite content clearly communicates a message in an appropriate and understandable way to the intended audience. Reviewing punctuation, grammar and spelling is a part of this.
Checking that content is well written isn’t just about ensuring that it speaks to the user onsite; it is also important for search engines. Google’s Search Quality Guidelines highlight the fact that pages with a lack of editing and poor spelling and grammar will be considered low quality.
As such, it is important that your audit is carried out by someone who knows good writing when they see it. The best content audit teams are often made up of journalists and experienced digital copywriters.
5. Brand message
Onsite content is your tool to communicate your brand’s message to your audience while they are on your site. Auditing is a good opportunity to check that your content is communicating the right message.
As well as looking at how messages are framed through the words, videos and graphics used, you should also consider the tone of voice. A content auditor should review this in line with any existing guidelines to sense check that the personality and values of the brand are coming over in the tone used.
In addition, a thorough content audit should consider whether the style and design of the site sets the right tone and adds to the brand message visually.
6. Page performance
A key element of a content audit is an assessment of how pages are performing in terms of analytics data and social shares.
Some key metrics to consider are:
- New vs. returning visitors – is this page better at attracting new visitors to your site? Or is it working most effectively as a means of bringing visitors back to the site? Does the data you’re seeing measure up to what you intended the page to do?
- Time on page – how long are people spending consuming the content on this page?
- Social shares – how many people are compelled to share the content on the page? Which platforms are they sharing it on the most?
- Conversions – how many people actually end up doing the thing you wanted them to do on the page, such as downloading that document or making an enquiry?
7. Content types
Different content types and formats appeal to different audiences at different stages of the buying cycle. For example, a comparison table might be really helpful for someone at the consideration stage but a video exploring an issue that relates to events in their life might work better at the top of the funnel.
A content audit should give you an overview of all of the content types and formats onsite and assess how appropriate these are to the audience being targeted. It should also make recommendations as to new content types that should be created in order to better engage those audiences.
8. Search intent
The content across your site should aim to meet all of the needs of your audience that are relevant to the product you provide.
Meeting these needs effectively shows Google that your site’s content is relevant to searches that relate to those needs, meaning that it is more likely to show your content prominently in search results. The extent to which needs are met is a key consideration in Google’s Search Quality Guidelines.
When your audience engages with effective needs-based content, they are more likely to share it because it has genuinely helped them out. It also means that they will form an association between your brand and that need, which can help sway future purchase decisions.
A content audit should assess the extent to which your content is meeting the search intentions of your audience that relate to their needs. In this way you can identify gaps in your content strategy that need to be filled.
9. Content and devices
You must also consider how your content is consumed across devices. The audit should assess how optimised your content is for mobile, especially if this is the medium through which most of your audience access it.
A good audit will also pay attention to the framing of content in relation to the device being used, and how this relates to the buying cycle. The mind-set can be different for mobile compared with desktop among different audiences and your content needs to align with this.
What do you do with the results of a content audit?
A content audit that covers these nine key aspects of your site will give you a clear idea of how you can improve your content to better attract, engage and convert your audience.
This crucial information can form the basis of your content strategy. A well informed, data-led and audience focused content strategy will enable you to:
- Generate quality inbound traffic to your site
- Boost the performance of other marketing channels
- Increase audience engagement with your content
- Increase enquiries and sales
- Build your brand’s authority
To assess how hard your content is working for your business, get in touch to ask us about auditing your content today.