A content audit can help you brush aside the sand and find the burried treasure.
Marketing ROI

How a Content Audit Helps You Dig Through Sand and Uncover buried Treasure

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As a content marketer, your biggest challenge is making the most of the budget available to you. One dollar wasted can mean the difference between paying a freelance contributor on time and losing the trust of your storytellers.

A big way we keep our content strategies honest is through regular content audit processes. In a webinar yesterday hosted by our friends at Conductor, I spoke with other folks on content auditing, its importance, and what insights you can get from running these programs periodically. I want to give a quick shout out to Conductor’s Senior Content Strategist Charity Stebbins for putting the webinar together, Moz Content Crafter Isla McKetta, and WordStream Content Marketing Manager Elisa Gabbert for being awesome people!

Conductor Webinar RosterBackground Information on Content Auditing

An audit is run for a few reasons, but mainly these two:

  1. To discover what content has been most successful in a given period so the marketer can replicate past wins
  2. To uncover best-performing content and figure out ways to repurpose the information

Because content repurposing is a huge part of content auditing, I wanted to make the most of the questions I was asked during the webinar and the answers I gave the audience. Below is a recap of my portion of the webinar.

Question 1: What Does a Content Audit Mean to You?

An audit is a process or system you follow to get to know your audience better. Using available site data, an audit will help uncover the broader or niche themes, individual articles, and landing pages that resonated with your site visitors. By running this process periodically, you can better focus on creating content that matters to your audience, and limit the stuff that didn’t click. It’s an important process for effective content strategy, but I prefer to think of it as doing right by my audience.

Must Read: A Complete Content Audit Guide – by Buffer’s Kevan Lee

Question 2: What’s Your Process for Auditing Content, and Are There Any Special Use Cases?

There’s a lot of site data available to marketers today. I pull together information from a few different sources and tools:

  • Analytics platforms provide me with metrics such as pageviews, time on page, bounce and exit rates, and new versus existing visitors.
  • The Skyword Platform pulls together categorical data from every single article published to the Content Standard.
  • Moz and SEMrush give me backlink data on every page published under the Content Standard subfolder.
  • Screaming Frog scrapes my site and gives me an article breakdown by word count, title world count, and URL character count.
  • MAP/CRM solutions show me subscription data—which articles converted visitors to newsletter subscribers and how many conversions a given article led to.

I’ll pull all that data together into a single spreadsheet, and that’s when the real fun begins. From there, it’s really about filtering results to uncover hidden trends not only in the themes that have performed well in the past, but also in word count, URL structure, and other cosmetic differences. As it turns out, articles about SEO and content strategy, with a headline fewer than nine words and a body word count between 700-900, perform much higher than I had ever expected.

Must Read: The Content Standard Case Study [SlideShare]

Question 3: Should You Ever Delete Old Articles? If So, When?

I’m a firm believer in never deleting old articles unless the angle you took completely goes against your company’s current go-to-market strategy. When I started at Skyword, my first job was building out a plan to merge two content hubs, now called the Content Standard. We were faced with the question of deleting all old articles on the weaker hub, but we ultimately chose to port those pieces over, re-categorize them, and find ways to update images and outdated information to better fit our new strategy.

I think it was pretty powerful to re-launch the Content Standard with hundreds of articles already published. Our readers immediately took notice, and we saw some older evergreen content pick up again. Actually, one of our all-time highest performing articles came from that program.

Must Read: The Best Blog Titles for Your Content: 6 Best Practices for How to Get the Click – by Adam Vavrek

Question 4: Do You Ever Update Articles for Accuracy? Do You Ever Repurpose or Consolidate Articles?

It depends. Skyword’s content strategy has several layers. It’s unlikely that we’ll update a news article unless we got a fact wrong or if a source wants to add a contextual quote to clarify data or something like that. Evergreen is another story entirely.

When we’re running a series, we like to create catch-all landing pages that collect all subsequent posts into one central place. Months later, we might want to add another chapter to that series, so we’ll go back and update the post. Those aggregate landing pages become great paid search and/or social assets. They’re also great for re-targeting programs and display advertising opportunities. Instead of pointing paid viewers to a form, we point people to a completed content series to show we’re here to educate first, sell second.

Must Read: A Year Later: Content Marketing Strategy & Execution in 12 Blogs – by Ted Karczewski

Question 5: Do You Have Any Tips for Prompting Old Content Assets Successfully?

Through a site audit, you’re going to find old content that performed well, but maybe not to the best of its ability. You have to consider: How can I take what I’ve created and find new ways to distribute this information to my audience?

If you’re creating a single piece of content and not thinking of two to three other ways to repurpose that information—even a simple blog post—you’re leaving huge opportunities on the table to connect with people. Take a look at your older content, and ask these questions:

  • Does this blog post follow a central theme? Can I combine this blog with a few others to quickly create a new eBook?
  • Did this article present data that would be better suited for an infographic or interactive data visualization?
  • Am I providing my internal and external social influencers with evergreen content to make the most of the work I’ve created?

Must Read: How to Repurpose Video Content Ideas for Brand Awareness by Ted Karczewski

Question 6: Say You Do a Content Audit and You Find Content That You Know Is Good Quality…But It’s Just Not Performing Well. What Do You Do?

I’m a huge proponent of doing things organically whenever possible. But sometimes you need to give the work you know is great, but that may not be optimized completely, a little extra love. At Skyword, we play around with a few different amplification tools like Outbrain and Taboola, paid social on networks like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, and internal and external influencer programs through Traackr. Ultimately, it’s about planning in advance how you will amplify everything you create and making note of what methods worked and what strategies flopped. Your content auditing can’t just be around content data—you should constantly be evaluating and auditing everything you do as a content marketer.

If amplification doesn’t help at all, maybe it’s time to break up that piece of content into other formats like video. You shouldn’t be afraid to take risks and experiment with what you’ve created. Data can tell you A LOT, but it’s no substitute for creativity. Just because data tells you that your audience loves articles about bacon, and they’ll eat that stuff up on Facebook, doesn’t mean it will work every time. You might want to throw some bacon on the stove and give your audience a how-to video tutorial from time to time. Doesn’t hurt to mix things up for the sake of experimentation.

Must Do: Subscribe to the Content Standard for more great content strategy tips and guides.

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