If you’ve never gotten knee-deep in a content audit before, you’ve probably heard they’re boring and tedious but worth it—clearly the type of task we hate the most. Nonetheless, it’s something you have to do and it really will pay off in the end. This year Google made it clear through many of their changes that they are figuring out ways to gauge the quality and relevancy of content, which you can learn more about here on Higher Visibility’s blog. This makes a content audit this year more important than ever. Take a few deep breaths because the sooner you start, the better.
Fortunately, understanding how content audits work and having a plan beforehand can help you be successful and make this dreaded task a little bit more fun. After all, there are some people who enjoy content audits (guilty…) so don’t count yourself out just yet.
Quick Recap: How a Content Audit Works and Why It Matters
Content audits are typically thought of as a way to go through your blog and look at content, and while this is true, a content audit can (and should) also be about other webpages on your site. A blog is a good place to start, but don’t forget that you might not be done if you really want to give your site a full audit. Whatever you decide is best for you; you’ll be gaining a few major benefits:
- You’ll understand your site better and get a feel for the content that needs updating.
- It servers as a second set of eyes if you’ve done an SEO audit (if not, you’ll be doing one now with this process).
- It will help you determine where you need the most help with content, which could change some of the responsibilities in your company.
- This is a great first step in developing a content strategy if you don’t have one already.
- By looking at analytics, you can see what content is most popular and uncover some trends you never knew existed.
Sometimes you will find that companies refer to “content audits” as gathering all the data, and then analyzing that data, building out pages and writing/changing content, etc. is something different. However you want to look at it, you have to do something with your data once you gather it, so expect this to be at least a one week process depending on the size of your site.
Step-By-Step List to Help You Start Your Content Audit
If you’ve never gone through a content audit before, don’t sweat it. It does take a lot of time to complete (it has to be done manually be a real person—do not bother with any of those automated systems), but it shouldn’t be too difficult once you really get into the thick of it. Annoying and frustrating maybe, but not difficult.
A few very basic steps that will help you be successful include:
- Create a plan. Like any good project, you have to start with a plan. You need to know who will be completing the content audit (I recommend at least 2 people), what you want to get from the audit (what you want will affect your strategy), and finally, where you’re going to begin.
- Make sure you have a spreadsheet to stay organized. This might seem obvious, but it’s really what you should be recording in your spreadsheet that can get you confused. Below are some of the categories that I use when I create a spreadsheet, but keep in mind you can add many more!
Date, Title, URL, Author, Category, Keywords and Audience, Timely or Evergreen, Needs Change, Traffic, Social Popularity
3. Keep SEO in mind and know about the changes that occurred. When you’re going through, check your anchor text and see if you can switch some of those around to not be a keyword. You should also know how to set up a 301 redirect if necessary (or at least record this so someone can go back and make changes).
So why is now the best time? The answer is simple: It’s the beginning of the New Year. You likely have quite a few things you’d like to evaluate and complete as we jump into the New Year (it’s often the best time for a fresh start), but a content audit is something that shouldn’t wait. Your content is going to be arguably the most important aspect of your company this upcoming year, and unlike past years, many content strategies will have to change in response to all the Google changes we saw last year. Hint: They almost all put a focus on quality content.
For a much, much more detailed step-by-step list to a content audit (652 steps to be exact), visit this article from Portent.
What to Do After You’ve Completed Your Content Audit
As with many projects, you’ll want to keep your data going to make things easier for the future. You already have your spreadsheet in place, so try to add new blog posts and analytics to that spreadsheet throughout the year.
Have you already completed your content audit this year or have done so in the past? What did you find to be the hardest part, and what ended up being most beneficial? Let us know your story and your thoughts in the comments below.
Photo Credit: thinkstockphotos.com; Photographer and Copyright: Aquir