3 steps to conducting a content audit you'll actually use
by Anna Kaine on 7 January 2019
Content audits are a vital way to… okay, we can already hear you yawning.
We know, we know, it’s certainly not the sexiest-sounding task – be honest: how long has it been since you last conducted a content audit? Have you ever done one?
The thing about this task – the act of collating all your content together, seeing where the best content is and where the gaps are – sounds like the most time-consuming, repetitive and dull chore you could think of. Who would want to spend time doing that? And so you bumble along, creating new content, on top of other content, on top of even older content, in the hope that no-one will notice you’re repeating or entirely emitting topics.
As HubSpot says in their advice for agencies when auditing client marketing strategies:
"The start of a new year is an ideal time to begin one very meaningful conversation: the annual plan. Annual planning meetings don’t have to be a daunting. They can be an opportunity to build a deeper relationship between agency and client. Use the meeting to collect a holistic picture of your client’s business, past and present, so you can plan for the future."
Here are a few reasons you might want to reconsider your auditing strategy:
During our HubSpot onboarding process, we encourage clients to conduct an audit before we plan and proceed with their campaign. This enables us to see content that has previously performed well, identify gaps in content and helps us ideate a direction to move in, based on real data.
We are all guilty of not prioritising this task – but just like every chore you ever hated as a kid – the more you do it, the better and quicker you become at it (and the more you reap the benefits). With our mission to make Everybody Smile More, we want to help you take the sting out of your next content audit and get into good habits. Go on, rip off that plaster – here’s how to get going.
The first step is to chart the content you already have. You can do this through a website crawler, such as Screaming Frog, or use the HubSpot content audit feature to create new topics based on your existing pages and posts.
You can always do this manually too, if you’d prefer – though it takes longer, going into each lead magnet, webpage and blog posts individually might give you a more in-depth and comprehensive overview of your starting position. We suggest a good old-fashioned spreadsheet to collect this information, acting as a library of materials.
Questions you need to identify include:
There are several success metrics to take into account once you’ve collated your content – there’s no use creating more content on topics people just aren’t reading. Likewise, if someone is only on your page for 8 seconds, those ten-minute reads are wasted content on many of your visitors.
Some of the considerations you want to make are:
Once you’ve learnt from all this digging around, you need to create some reports – you can do this through your marketing dashboard within HubSpot, or through another platform such as Databox. This activity allows you to step back and formally acknowledge the patterns emerging, helping you decide what action to take next.
Create some reports showing:
Single Grain says:
“When it comes down to it, a content audit isn’t just a one-off process that you conduct once in a blue moon. It’s a mindset that you should apply to both your website content and the other marketing channels you use. 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.”
Try setting yourself a new aim to conduct a content audit every quarter, or even every month, you’ll find it’s only the first one you complete that takes a lengthy time. From thereon in, you’ll find it gets easier and quicker as you make this a consistent, repeatable process.
Search Engine Journal recommends doing it even more regularly:
“Once you’ve caught up and added all of last year’s content into your Excel doc, you’ll want to repeat this audit activity for new content on a weekly basis. It will be much easier to keep track of your content and audit it regularly when you’re only having to go back one week to input data... upload the most recent numbers and stats on a weekly basis.”
However often you manage to update your content audit, just make it a regular, documented process – get it in your calendar (and the calendars of your colleagues) so people know it’s got to be taken seriously and have plenty of time to gather the data. The less time you leave between audits, the less burdensome the task will become!