Kick Off 2016 With a Content Marketing Audit That Works

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Kick Off 2016 With Content Marketing Audit That Works | SEJ

Welcome to 2016! It is a new year, which makes it a great time to start fresh and organized. And what better place to start than with your content? With so much being published each day, it is becoming more and more difficult to make your content stand out.

How much content are you competing with?

According to Marketing Profs, over 2 million blog posts are published each and every day. 

If each of those posts was a dollar, you would be able to give $1.30 to each of the 11 million people who watched last season’s premiere of The Walking Dead—every day of the year. That is a lot of content to compete with.

The good news is, there is simply no way that much content is all high-quality. You do stand a chance.

Also, keep in mind, what was considered quality content two years ago might not be considered quality content this year. Which is another good reason to look back at all of your content.

Kick Off 2016 With Content Marketing Audit That Works | SEJ

Doing a content audit might seem overwhelming. It is a ton of work. But I will show you how to break it up into smaller chunks which you can then assign out, or you can split it up and tackle each task week by week.

The biggest step is getting started.

Let’s dive in.

What are Your Goals?

Before you change even one word, you need to take the time to consider what your content audit goals are. Why are you putting in all this effort?

A content audit is a huge undertaking, and it will be much more effective if everyone involved knows exactly why it is being performed.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself and your team:

  • Are you looking to help drive more traffic to older content?
  • Do you want to improve SEO on your site?
  • Are you looking at what types of content are successful so you can create similar content?
  • Are you looking to update content to new standards?
  • Do you want to figure out which content does best on social?
  • Are you planning your content strategy and want to get a lay of the land?

Your reasons are likely a combination of several of those above, and that is totally fine. What matters is taking the time to discuss and write down your goals with your team.

Get Organized

The first step after defining your goals is to locate all the content you have produced—ever. This is a big undertaking, and may need to be split up.

The method you use to do this will vary based upon where your content is located and how much you have. You may choose to use a crawling tool, like Screaming Frog, or you may be able to pull the information from Google Analytics.

This is a huge job, but it shouldn’t be taken lightly. I highly recommend outsourcing this if just thinking about it makes you cringe. This is the first step, and it is also where a lot of people get stuck. If you have an analytical mind or Excel lover in your group, this is a good task to assign them.

Content Insight offers a very detailed guide for building a content inventory spreadsheet which includes every bit of information you might need. Their guide is pretty detailed, and it might be more than you need.

Here is my list of details to pay attention to:

  • Title
  • URL
  • Publish Date
  • All-Time Traffic
  • Traffic in the Last Year (the time period may vary)
  • Meta Title
  • Word Count
  • Description
  • Next Step (I will go into more depth later)

You can also add more customized details based. For example, if you publish on four distinct topics, it might matter which topic each piece of content covers. Or, if your goal is to increase social shares, you might want to note the number of social shares for each piece.

Create a spreadsheet with all the variables you deem most important and start adding your data. Good times. Just remember, this is the worst of it and you only have to do it once!

Analyze Your Results

You pulled all your data. Great.

But what does it mean?

Now is the time to consider what success looks like for your business and your content marketing strategy. For a smaller blog, success might mean a few hundred reads. For an indie creative company, success might be getting dozens of social shares.

Success may also look different for different pieces of content. For example, if you are looking to drive webinar registrations, success for an announcement post will be based upon how many people clicked on the registration link. If you wanted to promote white paper downloads, you will want to look at those numbers.

As you look at each piece of content, fill out the “Next Step” row. Should you update it? Leave it as is? Create new content that is similar? Whether or not a piece was successful, it does have something to teach you. Make sure you are paying attention.

Here are a few areas you should be sure to spend time analyzing:

Look at the Old

SEJ has been around for over a decade, so we have a ton of content that is probably no longer super relevant. SEO tips from 2005? Probably not going to get much traffic these days, but that doesn’t mean we want to delete it, either.

If you have been publishing for a while, you need to look back at what you published years ago. Here is what you want to consider when looking at older content:

  • Is it still relevant, or could it be if it was updated?
  • Does the content get much traffic?
  • Does the content have many links?

If you look at all your content, you will likely come up with a few older pieces that do get decent traffic and may be worth updating. Define what ‘valuable’ means to your brand by setting parameters—for example, posts that get over X amount of views per month, or have X number of links—and set a schedule to update those posts.

Here are a few key ways to update your content: 

  • Proofread
  • Replace broken links
  • Update keywords
  • Optimize for semantic search
  • Update internal links
  • Update external links
  • Add images

For more detailed information about updating older content, I suggest looking at this detailed guide from Hubspot.

Consider the New

Now that you have seen the type of content you have produced, it is time to plan for the new content you will be producing over the next year. Remember, content marketing best practices will change, so you just need to do the best you can with the information currently available.

A few basic best practices:

  • Produce better quality content, not just more
  • Test new content formats – webinars, podcasts, videos, etc.
  • Add high-quality images
  • Always proofread
  • Keywords matter, but relevance matters more

Above all, listen to your audience. The content they are engaging with is the type of content you need to be producing more of. Period.

Your Content Audit Checklist

Ready to get started? Performing a content audit is one of the best ways to improve your content market strategy, and the new year is as good of a time as any! Here are the main steps to performing a content marketing audit that works:

Step 1: Set Your Goals

Step 2: Pull All Your Content Data

Step 3: Analyze Data (What does success look like for you?)

Step 4: Look at the Old

Step 5: Consider the New

Step 6: Make a Plan for the Future

Are you planning on performing a content audit this year? What do you think the keys to a successful audit are? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section! 


Image Credits

Featured Image: Thinglass/
In-post Photo: Fabrik Bilders/

Danielle Antosz

Danielle Antosz

Features Editor at Search Engine Journal
Danielle is the Features Editor for Search Engine Journal and the producer of SEJ Marketing Nerds podcast. She lives in Chicago, where she spends her days writing, editing, planning her next trip, and proselytizing the importance of the Oxford comma.
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  • Roger Rogerson

    Content Audits *shudder*.
    The website equivalent of a stock-take 🙁
    (What a horrid topic! 😀 Good piece though.)

    These should be split into two groups – those that pertain to the goals of the audit, and those that are the goals of the results from the audit.
    You audit goals may be to identify popular content, but your after audit goals are likely to be traffic or conversion based.
    It’s also important to understand what the potential metrics are, and how you are going to use them!
    General base figures (such as traffic) are generally non-descript and aren’t truly useful. Using Total Traffic with Total Bounces of less than 20 seconds that don’t return to the page – that tells you something.

    There’s no shortage of features to look at, all depending on how detailed your examination and number crunching is going to get.
    * URL (Current/Previous)
    * Title (Current/Previous)
    * Meta Description (C/P)
    * Keywords (target terms etc.)
    * Intro/Short text
    * Primary internal link text (C/P)
    * Main Heading (C/P)
    * Tags
    * Categories
    * Post type (opinion, technical, news, guide etc.)
    * Post size (<500, 500-1,000, 1001-1500, 1501-2,000, 2,001+)
    * Number of images
    * Types of images (informative, decorative etc.)
    * Contained Stats/Figures
    * Contained Quotes
    * Contained linked to resources
    * Contained downloadable resources/media
    * Author
    * Publish date
    * Publish Day
    * Publish Time
    * Update date(s)
    * Social Title(s)
    * Social Description/blurb
    * Target Audience(s) (B2B, B2C, Peers, Public, Existing C, Potential C etc.)
    * Initial traffic (first day/week/month)
    * Secondary traffic (first d/w/m (if reposted/reshared/republished))
    * Total traffic (to date)
    * Initial Social approvals (likes, +1s etc., first d/w/m)
    * Secondary Social approvals (first d/w/m (if reposted/reshared/republished))
    * Total Social approvals (to date)
    * Number of initial comments (first d/w/m)
    * Total number of comments (to date)
    * Tone/Sentiment of comments.
    * Bounce Rate (general)
    * Bounce Rate from later repeat visitors
    * Bounce Rate with scroll/time over N seconds (5, 10, 30, 60, 180, 181+)
    * Conversion type/goal (contact, email grab, subscription, purchase etc.)
    * Initial Conversion rate (first d/w/m)
    * Total Conversion rate (to date)
    etc. etc. etc.

    I know it seems a lot – that's because it is 😀
    But from such data, you can see what types of content perform. You can see if there are better days or times to post. You can see if certain authors do better. You can look at whether your promotions are working, and whether it's worth doing secondary pushes. You can see whether there is a bias between initial publish popularity compared to perceived value over time. You can even see (roughly) how well received a piece was, what may have been wrong etc.

    Yes, it's a lot of work – but if you can see, at a glance, what is blatantly failing – you can decide to examine further, or avoid in future. You could save yourself time/effort and money with proper analysis.
    You can also see, quickly and easily, what appears to work both short and long term.

    Once you've got this setup – you only have to maintain it.
    Note from experience – save, save and save again!
    You want to keep a running record as the "total to date" figures are going to change (well, hopefully they will :D). By duplicating the previous and then amending the figures you will be able to chart changes and monitor performance over time far more easily with far less guess work.

  • huh! its really helpful for us, thanks @danielle antosz

  • Adegboye Adeniyi

    Content auditing is something most people do not create enough time for. We are too much in a hurry to move on to the next big content we have in mind to create. A path-finding content audit can help anyone gain much more and prevent you adding to the already saturated content market. Great job Danielle

    • Danielle Antosz

      Totally agree most people don’t take enough time. Its overwhelming when you have years of content to sort through. Which is why I highly recommend breaking it up and outsourcing where you can. Glad you found it useful!

  • Thomas Flannagan

    So I agree that it’s necessary to update blog or website content. But what if there are too many posts? It is really difficult to schedule everything and control all the content. Maybe you can share some tips?

    • Roger Rogerson

      Have you tried prioritising?
      You define your goals and rate them (1-5, 1 being the highest priority).
      You define your metrics (try to combine base metrics to create informative ones).
      You then rank the content by goals and sub-sort by metrics/scores.

      For things like ecommerce/monetary pages/goals, you can rate them by the most margin/profit. For information content, you can rate them by the most conversions or traffic. For content that is to raise awareness/increase reach, you rate them by the number of new sources/highest link count/greatest traffic.

      That should give you a prioritised list of content types with the most important goals at the top. Pick the top 10% (preferably from the top 3 goal types) and then work through those.
      That should give you the most bang for your buck 😀

  • Siri Innovations

    This was a nice post you have given many ideas related to content.

  • andycal

    Something I started doing when checking my content, both old and new, is to read them out loud. It’s amazing how many errors you notice. Also, you find new and better ways of explaining the same concepts.

    • Danielle Antosz

      Totally agree with this! Also, try reading from top to bottom. Our brains tend to “skip” when we think we know what the next word is, which is how we all miss those grammar mistakes,even when we know better!

  • Thx for usefull material!

  • very useful article. .thanks danielle

  • I just finished my content audit and it was a beast. Truth be told, I had to make tough decisions on what was crucial to address and what could be addressed over time. The primary take-away for me was deleting content that just wasn’t serving my audience as well as it should. This is a great post, thank you.