Everyone loves creating new content and sharing it on different channels, but no one likes to do a content audit. It’s unsexy, boring, and frankly, thankless. If you do a great job, nobody cares. If you do a bad job, nobody can tell the difference, so why bother? Conducting a regular content audit is essential, just like annual spring cleaning. It’s boring and stressful, but the result makes it all worthwhile. Here are some key benefits of content audit:
- Optimize your site for SEO
- Refresh and update content for better user experience
- Understand the content gaps
At some point, a website content clean-up project is essential. People usually do that when they are ready for website redesign, refresh, upgrade or migration.
I am usually asked to do content audits by clients for two reasons:
- Some clients just want to have a grasp of what content is out there. Then, share that with the whole team so that everyone has a holistic view. People who are responsible for outreach can pick and choose what to share. In a way, you create a master list.
- Some clients want to understand if it’s possible to map existing content to different purchase journeys, then determine if there is any content gap in each stage. The audit result will guide the future editorial planning. In this case, you map content based on purchase or customer journeys.
As you can see, these two types of content audit serve different purposes. Therefore, I’ve developed two simple templates to align with the deliverable and goal. Here is the truth: there is no one-size-fits-all standard content audit template. You need to understand your own (or client’s) objectives, then create a new and customized template or modify an existing template.
I’d like to share the two templates that I created for my clients. I hope that you will find them useful.
(You will find the download option at the bottom of the page.)
A quick note: content doesn’t limit to blog posts. It includes video, podcasts, press releases, webinars, case studies, white papers, infographics, ebook, collaterals and other forms.
Content Master List Template:
In this list, I listed all the content criteria that a marketing manager may care to find out. For example: content title, URL link, content format, audience, language, purchase funnel, persona. You should also add your keyword list to help with your SEO snippets. As you can see the categories in this template is LONG! You need to pick and choose the right categories to use. Steps:
- Define the objective and users of the master list
- Work with the team to identify the categories
- Create the spreadsheet based on the categories
- Use content audit tools (or manually) to crawl your websites to pull all the content into one place.
- Review the content and categorize them accordingly. Yes, this is a lot of work.
Note: See popular content audit tools – 33 Amazing Content Audit Tools for Easy Content Analysis
Open this excel file to check out the categories. Pick and choose what fits you. You can divide the content using tabs for different countries or different personas or even different products.
One more note: even though I call it a master list. We will never completely capture all the content. I’d recommend that you follow the 80/20 rule. Based on my experience (almost no exception what so ever), Top 20% of content tend to drive 80% of traffic. It’s OK to focus on the performing content. You can identify your most-read, or most valuable content by looking at views, bounce rates and conversions in Google Analytics or your own web analytics tools.
Purchase Journey Content Mapping List:
The template for this audit is unique because the objective is different. Here we’re looking to identify gaps in our content for each stage of the customer journey. By having the information, it should help us with future editorial planning. The first thing to do is to formalize the stages of purchase journey. Are the stages Awareness, Consideration and Purchase? Or Learn, Plan, Decide and Purchase? Or RACE (Reach, Act, Convert, Engage)? You need to work with your client or your team to determine the stage. Once you have identified the stages, create a list of questions that you want to address at each stage. That will give you, or the content auditors clear guidance to conduct the audit. Steps:
- Identify the purchase stages with the team
- Craft a list of questions that your target audiences would like to address at each stage
- Use content audit tools to (or manually) pull the content list from your websites?
- Manually review (or review the taggings) and evaluate existing content and place them at each stage
- Total content pieces at each stage and create a pie chart
- Use the information to have a discussion with the team about the gap
- Work with the team to determine the content pieces that need to be created to close the gap
Open this excel file to view the template. Modify the customer stage and a list of questions as you see fit. Again, you can divide the content using tabs for different countries or different personas or even different products.
These two content audit templates have served me well. Let me know what you think and how you’ll modify these templates. Love to hear from you. If you continuously create content, it makes sense from time to time to have an annual cleaning to optimize your websites, even rewrite and update your popular content. If we make an effort to make our physical space clutter free, we should also do that for our digital space.