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4 Things To Ignore (and 3 Things To Do) in Your Next Content Audit

Have you put your content marketing under the microscope?

A content audit does just that – helping you see how your company’s published content helps or hinders success.

The thorough examination evaluates the impact of each piece of content and the strategy as a whole. It can turn into a tedious and time-consuming process if your audit encompasses too many metrics. To prevent that from happening, I share what you should ignore – and what you shouldn’t ignore – for a helpful content audit.

But first, let me share the value our company found in its content audit.

How a content audit impacted content strategy

We did a content audit to spot trends and missed opportunities, content gaps we could fill, and recommendations for content and site structure updates. We inventoried and analyzed the published content and conducted a competitive analysis.

We discovered three separate blog posts covering the same overarching topic, splitting traffic from those interested in learning about the subject in three ways.

We combined the three blog posts and redirected each original page to a single URL. We also added fresh links and bolstered the content with updated examples and insights. At the same time, we switched up the keywords and scrubbed outdated language.

Within five months, the revitalized blog post generated more than 7,600 views, 32 form submissions, and 26 new leads – and even influenced a sale.

Ignore these 4 things in your content audit

In our content audit journey, we didn’t spend an inordinate time on the process. Why? We knew what to focus on and what to pass over. Here are four items you can ignore in any content audit:

1. Flashy metrics

Vanity metrics look big and flashy but are meaningless on their own. Don’t fall for vanity metrics during your content audit. Focus on the metrics directly tied to your content goals.

Let’s say you want blog readers to convert into email subscribers (the call to action). You don’t need to focus on shares, likes, or even impressions. Instead, look at directly relevant metrics, such as:

  • Number of clicks on posts’ calls to action
  • Percentage of people who saw the blog post and clicked on the CTA
  • Number of people who subscribed using the form connected to the blog post (In some content management systems, this statistic might show up as “submissions” associated with that blog post.)

If you have a few goals you’re trying to achieve, it’s fine to use different metrics to track them. Just don’t clutter up your content audit with unnecessary data.

2. Newly born content

Your content audit looks at the long-term effects of your content marketing strategy, so bypass any content published within the last 60 days. It hasn’t had enough time to show true results.

Have limited time to perform your content audit? Cut out any content published within the last 90 days. You’ll move faster without losing the insights for your more seasoned content.

3. Buyer personas and journeys

You shouldn’t spend time delving into target personas or customer journeys. If you don’t have these elements identified, put the audit on the back burner.

Then, identify for whom the content is intended, what you want them to do on your site and with your content, and the preferred tone and voice to use. From there, you can identify your goals that can be evaluated for effectiveness later in a content audit.

4. Third-party content scores

A few third-party SEO tools and plugins offer up content “scores.” While these tools might be useful in some applications, such as seeing how many times a target keyword appears in the body text or title, they’re not helpful to a content audit. They’re just noise.

In lieu of content scores, ensure your pages are set up well from a technical perspective. Check to see whether user search intent is strong and whether your authority resonates throughout. Measuring something like your schema markup (Google has a simple structured data evaluation tool) is a better use of your time during a content audit.

Include these 3 things in your content audit

Now that you’ve removed the chaff from your content audit, you have room for what counts. For a successful content audit, incorporate these essential components:

1. An inventory of existing content and relevant metrics for your goals. They may include:

  • Page views
  • Entrances
  • Bounce rate
  • Exit rate
  • Average visit duration
  • Total number of ranking keywords
  • Page one ranking keywords
  • Page speed
  • Backlinks

2. Data analysis of the relevant metrics, such as:

  • Keyword and traffic
  • Calls to action
  • Bounce and conversion rates

3. Competitive and gap analyses to compare your website to competitor sites, including the following:

  • Competitors’ keyword rankings where your site does not rank
  • Ranking keywords in lower positions than competitors
  • Navigation (user experience) of your site vs. your competitors’ sites
  • Content topics covered by competitors but not your brand

With the information you glean from your effective content audit, you can make improvements and move forward, knowing your content can achieve its maximum impact and fuel your marketing machine.

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute