Content CreationMarketing StrategyResearch and Insights

What Comes After a Content Audit?

By August 13, 2014 No Comments

There’s a reason Rebecca Lieb refers to content audits as “a cornerstone of content strategy.”

Performing a content audit is the only way to grasp the current state of your content. It tells you (1) what content you have, (2) where it’s located, (3) how it’s organized, and (4) how well it’s performing.

Contrary to popular belief, content audits don’t have to be a months-long process. You can thank the Content Auditor tool for that, which crawls websites, blogs, and YouTube channels to gather content into a single spot.

What Comes After a Content Audit? by @amurphias

But once you perform an audit, all that hard work often sits in a spreadsheet. It goes untouched for days, then weeks, then quarters, and then it’s time to do another content audit. A vicious cycle ensues.

This happens when no one knows what to do with that giant spreadsheet you’ve pieced together. I’ve performed several content audits. And it’s what you do after you’ve gathered all your data in once place that makes the effort worthwhile.

Here’s how you get the most out of your audit.

1. Identify the Fields That Matter Most to You

How do you categorize your content? Think about how your buyers look for information, as well as how your internal team (sales, support, and account management) searches for helpful content to use during the sales cycle. Understanding how you want to organize your content will help you to Identify the key fields you want to track and tag for each asset.

For example, mapping content to persona and buying stage is the best way to ensure you’re delivering relevant, valuable content to your buyers. But you don’t need to start from scratch. By going through your content and categorizing it by these fields, you’ll be equipped to strategically distribute that content to the right buyer at the right time, moving them closer to purchase more quickly.

Here are a few examples of common content fields you can track:

  • URL
  • Author
  • Publish date
  • Persona
  • Buying Stage
  • Theme
  • Buyer-centric or product-centric
  • Product line
  • Blog category
  • Keywords
  • Content type
  • Competitor
  • Primary call to action
  • Content pillar
  • Social shares
  • Comments
  • Redundant, outdated, or trivial (ROT)

A word of warning:

If you’re performing an audit for your boss, run these fields by her or him first. Make sure how you’re going to get insights on your content is understood and that these fields represent how content will be categorized moving forward.

The most annoying scenario—and this has happened to me before—is that you spend time and effort going through your content and categorizing it to find out that your boss would prefer to see it also tagged by “blog post category”—something previously unmentioned. Save yourself time. Get these fields reviewed by someone who understands the broader marketing strategy.

When I performed our last content audit, I knew that we were building out theme-based nurture campaigns in our marketing automation. I got together with our Marketing Operations team to discuss and identify those themes. I was then able to tag content by those themes so we had a solid view of our content and relevant content to plug into nurture tracks.

2. Tag Content with Each of Those Fields

This is pretty self-explanatory. But the next step is to get in there, go through your content, and start tagging it with these important fields.

Create unique columns in your database or spreadsheet for each field. Make sure the way you tag your content is consistent, so you can more easily sort through it later. If multiple people are working on this project, use the same language and identification system.

The Content Auditor auto-pulls fields like publish date, social shares, author, and URL. The identification step, though, is critical for the more organization-specific fields. Add them by clicking the “Add Content Attribute” button. Make sure each piece of content is tagged with every important category. This will ultimately give you the best picture of your content.

3. Identify Problems to Fix Later

Don’t overlook the technical aspects that make your content professional. Check that links are still active. Make notes for keyword or title changes. Look at how images are titled. Examine the style.

Don’t ignore things that you worry will cause more work down the line. You’re already painstakingly reviewing your content—so do it right. Make a separate column for notes, or get fancy in the Content Auditor tool and create a field that includes most common issues.

For example, content can be tagged with “spelling error,” “broken link,” “outdated keyword,” “broken image,” and so on. With this tactic, you’ll be able to easily go back to fix content later, and you’ll also gain insight into where your content consistently runs into problems.

4. Go for a Walk

Okay, that took some time. You deserve a walk. Seriously. Get up out of your chair, and give your brain and your eyes a rest. Walk for at least 15 minutes. Maybe eat a cookie. Just let your mind reset, because the next step takes a different kind of brainpower.

5. Review Your Goals

Review the goals you set for your content marketing audit. Remind yourself why you’re doing this: to understand the current state of your content, to build a better infrastructure for organizing and serving up content, and to create a more informed and effective strategy.

This will help you stay focused on the task at hand, and will give you context for framing the story you tell when you dive deeply into the insights your content audit provides.

6. Dig into the Data

This part is critical, and it has a few different pieces associated with it.

Find Gaps

Look at how much content you have for each of the fields you identified in step 1—persona, buying stage, theme, etc. Are there any areas that you’re neglecting?

You’re going to want to do this by grouping and filtering your columns by field value, which will calculate the actual numeric breakdown for how many of your content assets fit into specific tagged categories. Here’s a look at Excel skills (and how to build them) from Search Engine Land.

The Content Auditor tool makes this easier. Click the “View Insights” tab to see how much content you have for each category, and which categories are lacking.

Find Easy Opportunities

What content do you already have that fits around a theme? Perhaps you can break down content into smaller pieces, or perhaps you can create an infographic with a survey you completed. Maybe there’s a series of interviews that would make a nice email campaign. Perhaps a theme-based nurture track could engage a key segment of currently un-targeted buyers. Or that eBook that performed exceptionally well? Give it a refresh.

Find What Works

To understand what’s working, engagement numbers are a great place to start. Check out which content assets have been performing well on social media, then dig deeper by adding performance metrics such as traffic, leads, and revenue.

When gauging performance, we find there are four main areas of content marketing analytics you should be tracking: production, engagement, performance, and content scoring. By aligning these metrics with your content audit, you’ll be able to make informed and strategic decisions for your future content efforts, because you’ll understand the kinds of content that perform well for your organization and drive the kind of results you’re looking for.

7. Present Your Findings

The next step is to show off your findings. No matter how fascinating the data, no one wants to dig through a spreadsheet to figure out what it all means. So once you’ve done the work, present what you’ve found in a clear, visual way. And get to your point quickly. Break your presentation into:

  • Overview
  • Strengths
  • Weaknesses/Opportunities
  • Recommendations

Unless you can explain what you found during this process, why it matters, and how this information should inform your marketing strategy moving forward, then all that data you gathered and all that content you tagged won’t do you—or your organization—much good. Especially if you’re looking to build or sustain executive buy-in for your content marketing efforts.

8. Start to Execute and Implement the Structures You Identified

Go through and execute. All those problems you identified? Fix them. All that content that’s outdated or just plain crappy? Get rid of it.

(A note here: If it’s a blog post that might be linked to from somewhere else, make sure to identify that URL and have your webmaster assign a redirect URL. You don’t want to be penalized for broken links.)

Work with your marketing and content team to brainstorm ideas for repurposing content and creating new assets that reach key personas and buying stages. One of the greatest planning strategies we have is to host an editorial board meeting to discuss content needs from internal sources. With the content audit data on your side, you’ll be able to make better decisions about what content to create moving forward.

Anne Murphy

About Anne Murphy

Anne Murphy is the former Director of Content at Kapost, makers of content marketing software. She oversaw the Content Marketeer, a marketing blog dedicated to the art and science of content creation. Follow her at @amurphias.