When’s the last time you took a step back from planning and creating content to evaluate the content you already have? Conducting a content audit is an important part of maintaining your content library and optimizing your future content.
While there is no single content audit template for every team’s needs, there are four major steps that any team or business can use. Plus, there are certain content audit tools that can help facilitate your process – just like this free, downloadable content audit spreadsheet that you can use to get started right now!
What is a Content Audit
A content audit is a systematic review of your brand’s content to help you organize, evaluate, and refine your content. Content is basically any asset that is created with the purpose of distribution, like blogs, videos, whitepapers, images, infographics, advertisements, and more. Even a simple social media post is a form of content!
Of course, there are many different kinds of content out there, each of which may serve a different purpose. For example, your marketing team may use blogs and videos to attract potential customers to your website, while your HR team may distribute infographics internally to educate employees on certain policies. Chances are, almost every department works with some form of content.
Benefits of a Website Content Audit
Because almost every department works with content in some way, performing a content audit can have wide-reaching benefits. For instance, when you conduct a website content audit specifically, you may achieve the following:
- Uncover site errors
- Maximize online visibility
- Revisit keyword opportunities
- Optimize audience engagement
- Increase conversions
Step-by-Step Guide to Completing a Content Marketing Audit
Despite how intimidating a content audit might appear, the process is actually extremely simple. It’s just four steps that any business can use! Plus, the tools we’ve provided in this article (like the downloadable spreadsheet template) will make your audit go that much smoother.
Step 1. Form a Question
One of the most daunting aspects of starting a content audit is knowing where to start. There’s a virtually endless amount of content and data to review, and you have a limited amount of time. While evaluating all of your content at once can be valuable, it can also be too overwhelming and time-consuming. It may be more realistic to focus your audit on one specific group of content. You can then repeat the process for other groups of content.
You can focus your content audit by forming a question. What do you want to know? Don’t be afraid to get specific with your question!
Compare these two questions: “How is our content performing?” and “What downloadable resources are buyers using?” Think about how you would approach answering these two questions. Which question provides more direction on what should be reviewed and evaluated?
The first is too general; it doesn’t specify a content group or identify the kind of insights you hope to draw. However, the second question gives you two important starting points: the “what” (downloadable resources) and the “who” (buyers).
Here are some possible questions you can customize for your content audit:
- What assets keep buyers in the marketing funnel?
- What content is generating the most leads?
- What content is our sales team sharing with buyers?
- What content is out of date?
- Which persona are we giving the most tailored content?
Step 2. List Out Your Content
Now that you have a question you’d like to answer with your content audit, you should start to gather a list of all the relevant content. Remember, a content audit is a systematic review of your content. That means that before you start evaluating your content and making decisions, you’ll want to organize all of your content in one place and decide on the data you’ll be evaluating.
Collecting and organizing your content into one location is probably the toughest step in a content audit. If you know that you’re going to be assessing a large amount of content, it may be best to use a crawling tool to locate all the relevant URLs on your website. If you’re evaluating only a relatively small subgroup of content, then you may be able to pull all of the data manually.
You’ll want to collect URLs (or the links to wear each piece of content lives) in a spreadsheet first. Then, you can add necessary details such as the type, title, who the intended audience is, and what the intended objective is for each piece of content. This will help you easily identify each piece of content as you evaluate it.
Finally, you’ll want to pull any data that will help you answer the question you set up in Step 1. This data could be quantitative, such as the number of asset downloads, page views, or bounce rate. Or this data could be more qualitative, such as the general topic, call-to-action, or the associated stage in the buyer’s journey.
Remember: Even if your content is in a central location, consider all the places data on your content is stored. For example, all of our downloadable content lives in our DAM system, which does give us analytics on the content, but we also have access to complementary data in HubSpot. If you have a similar situation, you should consider pulling all the data available.
All of this data and information is going to go into one place. You’re probably thinking, Wow, that’s a lot of data to collect! But don’t worry. With the proper tools, like the spreadsheet below, you can wrangle a large amount of insightful data and set yourself up for success in Step Three.
Free Content Audit Spreadsheet Template
This template is extremely helpful for completing Step 2 of the content audit process. We have set it up so that you start by filling out the content details to help you easily identify each piece of content. Then, you fill in the website data to the right. This portion is customizable and you may want to add more columns depending on the KPIs that you are evaluating. Ultimately, a completed spreadsheet will have the identifying details of each piece of content, a link to where it lives on the website, and key data points specific to addressing your question from Step One.
Step 3. Evaluate your Content’s PerformanceYou’ve spent time collecting all the content and data relevant to your question from Step One. Now it’s time to evaluate your content’s performance. How does your content perform when it comes to its goal?
As mentioned above, depending on what you’re evaluating and how, you might have some different criteria than what’s provided in the free content audit spreadsheet. But thankfully, it’s customizable to meet your team’s needs. Here are some criteria you might use to evaluate your content:
- Brand: Review the writing style for voice, tone, and messaging. Review the visual expression for photography style, colors, and fonts.
- Business value: How closely tied is the content to your business objectives?
- Clarity: Does the writing and layout present the information clearly and concisely?
- Information: As your industry and company evolves, is it reflected in your content? Review your content to identify what information is no longer accurate.
- Utility: Does it provide value to the reader?
Your evaluation criteria and ratings should give you a clear direction on what content needs to be optimized, what needs to be archived/deleted, and what needs to be created. Remember: if you’re working with a team on your content audit, it’s important that the criteria and rating scale are agreed upon before you start evaluating.
Step 4: Inform Your Team & Take Action
Once you’ve completed your evaluation, it’s time to inform your team (or teams!) of the findings. Loop in the people who will be affected by the results of the audit by giving them an opportunity to see the process and reasoning behind the changes. Instead of just saying, “Hey, update this,” you can provide more guidance on what will help improve the content based on your findings and content strategy.
The list of people who might need to get involved in optimizing content may be longer than you think, and may include the following:
- Developers who may need to make changes to the website
- Content writers who may need to revise or create blogs
- Graphic designers who may need to update logos, infographics, or other designs
- Social media managers who may need to take down posts or links
Best Content Audit Tools
Now that you know the step-by-step process of conducting a content audit, it can’t hurt to have a few content audit tools in your pocket. In addition to the free spreadsheet in this article, you might find the following resources helpful:
- Google Analytics provides page visit, bounce rate, and average time on page data. You can export the data and add it to your spreadsheet to see which URLs (and respective pieces of content) are performing best for these KPIs.
- Crawling tools like Screaming Frog identify all the URLs on your website for you, which you can then download and add to your spreadsheet. This eliminates a ton of time and manual labor collecting URLs.
- A tool like Shared Count can help you understand how your audience is engaging with your content on social media. You may also be able to understand how your audience is engaging with your content through a DAM solution. Why not use both?
The Best Way to Learn the “Contours” of Your Content
Ernest Hemingway said, “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them.” While the attention to detail and organization required to conduct a content audit can be time consuming, that’s exactly why it’s the best way to learn the contours of your content.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published on December 4, 2017 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness because #contentaudit.