The content audit corresponds to an inventory and evaluation of company content. This precise examination of all content serves as the basis for strategic planning in further content marketing. Lessons can be learned, for example, for future topic research and format selection. At the same time, existing resources also benefit from measures that result from content analysis, such as updating, expansion, splitting or even deletion.
What is a content audit?
In other areas, a procedure similar to that for the content audit is referred to as the actual / target analysis. The content audit serves as an inventory of existing content and evaluation of this based on the goals set. That means there is a quantitative component (how much?) And a qualitative component (how good is that?). The result is a map that shows where you have reached with your content marketing efforts so far, where to go and how the route planning should be adjusted accordingly.
Many companies do not have a clear overview of which (content) treasures they are sitting on. A structured inventory helps.
Reasons for content analysis
1. Regular inspection (content inventory)
Anyone who oversees a large website project should conduct an audit at least once a year. It is often advisable to link accounting and legal aspects directly to it. The ideal time would be in good time before the annual statement.
The main aim is to check whether the goals that were set out in the content strategy have been achieved. Depending on how closely the marketing and/or editorial plan was adhered to, these documents can serve as the basis for this.
2. Adaptation of the content marketing strategy
If there are changes to the content marketing strategy, for example in response to changing target groups, marketing strategies or even corporate strategies, then this is the right time to check whether all content still fits.
3. Relaunch of the website
When relaunching a website with planned restructuring or changes to URLs, all content should be backed up anyway if something goes wrong. If old URLs have to be redirected, this is the perfect time to clear out and separate from non-performing pages and only take relevant content with you when moving.
4. Team changes
If a colleague with an important role in content marketing leaves the team and is then filled in this position, a content audit offers a good starting point. No matter how good the handover went, an up-to-date and complete overview of all content including an assessment based on the strategy cannot be replaced by anything, in order not to repeat old mistakes and to continue successes.
5. Change of ownership of the domain
If a domain including the previous content or even the entire company is sold, an evaluation of the content is advisable. As a rule, the evaluation of the content plays a role in determining the purchase price, even if it is “only” represented as total traffic, backlinks or search engine rankings. If the purchase has already been made for other reasons, then the content analysis is definitely recommended for the future operator.
Procedure for the content audit
First of all, the goals of the audit must be defined. Some examples:
- Identify duplications
- Find gaps
- Capture inferior content
- Show positive examples
In addition to the quantitative survey, content analysis is also about evaluating qualitative aspects: Are there thematic gaps or duplications in your own content? Do the existing contents still meet your own requirements? What content best achieves the goals set? Why?
Quantitative analysis (content inventory)
After the goals have been set, data are first collected purely quantitatively. The more selective one is here when choosing the variables to be recorded, the less logically the workload is. An ID or canonical URL for pure identification will always be necessary. The following values also make sense:
- page Title
- Release date (+ dates of updates)
- Author / Owner
- Web analysis data: traffic, page value (sales), entrances, bounce rate, etc.
Results are usually compiled in a table.
Various tools help to collect the data and then evaluate the content. If a complete list of all pages can be exported from the content management system, you don’t have to use a web crawler. If this is not possible, crawlers such as Screaming Frog are the easiest way to get a complete list of the web content. For the evaluation based on hard numbers, it makes sense to enrich the table with data from web analysis (Google Analytics) and from the Google Search Console (and possibly other webmaster tools). Depending on the importance of SEO In the company, there are columns with information about rankings and backlinks.
Qualitative analysis (audit)
Qualitative analysis is about evaluating content based on criteria that are not entirely objective or purely factual. Various analysis schemes can be used to keep results at least comparable. Examples are ARA (currently? Relevant? Appropriate?) Or RED (Redundant? Out of Date? Trivial?) Analysis. The decisions after qualitative analysis can be recorded as status (text), the value on a scale (e.g. school grades) or in the traffic light system (green = everything is good, yellow = revision, red = delete).
Consequences of the content audit
Depending on the objective, different tasks arise after the analysis. When it comes to checking whether existing content individually meets your requirements, the following measures can be useful:
- Keep content unchanged
- Update content
- Correct, adapt or develop content (deepen)
- SEO: Match page elements to the search behaviour (frequently used keywords)
- Delete content
Even if it hurts: By deleting bad or duplicate content, website operators often do themselves a great favor.
On the other hand, if the overall focus of the audit is on structural aspects of the content (keyword: information architecture), the following potential may be evident:
- Create missing content on a topic
- Summarize resources that are too close
- Separate content that is too broad into several, more specific resources
- SEO: Optimize internal linking
Which conclusions can be drawn from the investigation, therefore, depends on the previously defined goals for the content and the goals for the analysis itself. That is why the definition of these goals before the content audit is so important because an examination without practical, feasible knowledge becomes bring no added value – should never be analyzed for its own sake!
Flowchart for a content audit
If you want to start immediately on a small scale, this flowchart should help you with the next decisions:
In many situations, online marketers can benefit from getting a complete overview of their own content resources or at least determining an intermediate status. Equipped with this information, it will be much easier to optimize existing content and develop a far-sighted content strategy for the future.