Important: This article is a part of my step-by-step guide on how to create a fully functioning Content Marketing Strategy that will serve as a backbone of your content marketing efforts.
Step 5) Performing a quick content audit <<< YOU ARE HERE
Important: This article is a part of the step-by-step series of articles on the topic of creating your content marketing strategy. As such, it will solely focus on providing you with the insights that will inform your content marketing strategy so you can cover the entire buyer's journey with high-quality content as the final goal.
Content audits are super-laborious and super-important to do.
In this article, I will attempt to remove as much of the work as possible while still keeping what's necessary to accomplish the most important goal of this article series.
And that is gathering valuable insights that will inform your content marketing strategy.
The result will be a relatively fast content audit geared towards beginners that will help them uncover content gaps and help them decide what content to focus on next.
What is a content audit?
Content audits are dreaded by many marketers out there.
Traditional, in-depth content audits can take days or even weeks to perform and, for that reason, are not performed more than once a year.
Still, performing a content audit once a year is something every marketer should do to stay relevant and on top of their content marketing strategy.
What is a traditional content audit?
A traditional content audit is a process of evaluating your content based on previously set relevant KPI's (Key Performance Indicators).
In other words, a content audit involves going back to your old content and checking out how well it's doing.
One important thing should be noted from the get-go and that's the fact that it takes 8-12 months for new content to mature and get placed in the SERPs.
This means that content under a year old can be left out of the traditional content audit because you just wouldn't be able to judge its performance well.
However, because the type of a content audit I'm going to suggest has a very specific goal to accomplish and is NOT a traditional content audit, ALL the content will be included in it.
This will become clearer as the article progresses, I promise.
Why do you need a content audit?
Content marketing sometimes feels like throwing mud at the wall and hoping some of it sticks.
That's why it's crucial to publish as much content as you can and be aware of how well it's actually performing in the SERPs.
And even when you do your best to exclusively publish high-quality content all the time, which you definitely should, you never really know for sure which content pieces will end up doing well.
Hence, you need a content audit to find that out and continuously update your content marketing strategy.
A traditional content audit involves scraping all of your content into an Excel sheet or Google spreadsheet and pulling all the relevant SEO data like backlinks, bounce rate, average session duration, social shares, conversion rates, CTR, etc.
After you've populated the Excel sheet, you end up comparing data points in order to determine how well each and every piece of content is doing.
Yeah, it's a tedious task.
But it has to be done, at least periodically.
Because you want to:
- Delete content that's bringing nothing to the table
- Combine relevant thin content into meatier pieces
- Improve content that's performing well but not excellently so
- Pinpoint best-performing content so that you can double down on what works
- Properly interlink your content
- Uncover content gaps
In the rest of this article, we will be focusing on the last two points – properly interlinking content and uncovering content gaps.
In my opinion, this kind of content audit comes close to the 80:20 rule which is getting 80% of the results by doing 20% of the work.
A content audit I'm talking about is based on the advanced search intent categorization.
So, without further ado…
What is a content audit based on the advanced search intent categorization?
To answer this question, I first have to explain what I mean by the "advanced search intent categorization."
Advanced search intent categorization means breaking down search intent based on the problem-solution dynamic.
I call this the "advanced" search intent categorization because it revolves around problems and solutions to those problems.
And connecting people with solutions to their problems is at the very core of content marketing.
It's a relatively newer approach to categorizing search intent, hence the word "advanced."
Here's a fantastic video by Brendan Hufford that describes this search intent categorization if you want to check it out.
Basically, the advanced search intent categorization classifies search intent into 4 categories:
- Problem Aware – User recognizes that they have a problem. Your job is to empathize and to let them know solutions exist.
- Solution Aware – User is aware of the solution. Your job is to show them how 'your' solution can help them.
- Product Aware – User is aware of your solution. Your job is to prove why your solution is better than any other for them.
- Purchase Ready – User is convinced your solution is the best for them and they are searching for the purchasing information. Your job is to provide purchasing information to them.
Creating content for each of these categories means being present and aiding your potential customers along the entire purchasing journey.
Which is something that should definitely be incorporated into your content marketing strategy.
What are content audits based on advanced search categorization useful for?
The primary goal of a content audit based on advanced search categorization is to pinpoint which areas of the purchasing journey you didn't cover sufficiently.
You can use this type of content audit on a few different levels:
- Single product or topic – audit content related to a single product or topic and make sure you've covered it more comprehensively than anyone else
- Product range – audit content related to an entire range of products and make sure you've covered all the popular options
- Category – if your website has more than one category of topics, use this content audit to find out what sub-topics you missed and need to cover next
- Niche or website - audit your entire website and see how well you've covered your niche so far and adjust your content marketing strategy accordingly
Tip: while auditing your content using this method, take advantage of having a bird's eye view of different levels of content to properly interlink your content.
Doing this would only add a tiny bit of extra work but the SEO benefits could be substantial.
Competitive research is another area this type of a content audit is useful for.
Wondering how well your direct competition covered a product or topic on their site?
Use this Google search command and find every title containing the keyword of choice on your competitor's domain:
Pinpoint their content gaps and start creating content with a goal of covering this product or topic more comprehensively than them.
This kind of research should also give you plenty of content ideas along the way.
Performing a content audit based on advanced search categorization in 6 easy steps
Step 1) Depending on the level of content you want to audit, pull all the relevant content pieces into an Excel sheet.
Step 2) Assign each piece of content to one of the advanced search intent categories (Problem Aware, Solution Aware, Product Aware or Purchase Ready).
A single piece of content can only belong to one category.
Step 3) After categorizing your content, assign numbers to them from one to however many pieces you have.
Step 4) Create a funnel-type image that represents the advanced search intent categorization.
You can do this on a piece of paper, in Paint, Canva, or any other graphic design software.
Step 5) Populate the funnel with the numbers representing your content pieces by placing them in their respective sections of the funnel.
You will end up with a result that resembles something like this:
Step 6) Analyze your findings
What this hypothetical funnel tells you is that there's a severe lack of content in the Solution Aware category.
This category includes users who are aware that 'a' solution to their problem exists, but they're still not aware of 'your' solution.
Your job is to create informational content and show them how 'your' solution, or the solution you're promoting, can help them solve their problem.
Each of these categories are important links in the buyer's journey chain.
Lacking content in any of them means two things:
- You're losing potential reach because you're not covering keywords and topics in this category
- You're missing out on building authority in the eyes of both the users and the search engines because you're not covering your niche or product comprehensively
In a situation like this, the next step would be to modify your content marketing strategy to fill the glaring content gaps.
Going one step further and introducing elements of a traditional content audit
Let's say you've discovered no crippling content gaps on any levels, or you want to do a traditional content audit too regardless of the findings, it's perfectly fine to do so.
Traditional content audits are a fantastic way of finding out which pieces of content are performing poorly and can't remain on your website in their current form, which ones are OK but need a bit more work to raise to the top of the SERPs, and which ones are performing amazingly well and should be emulated.
Create an Excel sheet with your content pieces and start pulling the KPIs you want to base your audit on.
Here are three free tools that can aid you with your traditional content audit:
- Screaming Frog – desktop app which crawls your website and pulls valuable information like missing meta descriptions, bad redirects, messed up title tags, broken links, etc.
- Google Analytics – allows you to pull information like bounce rate, average session duration, time on page, etc.
- Google Search Console – allows you to gather CTR and backlinks
Some of the paid tools like Ahrefs, SEMrush, or Moz will allow you to easily gather even more information about your website and content so if you have them, use them.
Remember how I mentioned that content audits are laborious and tedious?
This next part is why.
From here, you have to analyze your content and grade it (from 1 to 10, for example) based on the performance.
When you're done grading the content, you have to decide what to do with your insights.
For example, you can decide something along these lines:
- Content graded 1 or 2 must go
- 3 or 4 needs to be massively improved from the ground up
- 5 or 6 needs some improvements
- 7 or 8 can stay as is
- And 9 or 10 should be promoted since that's your best performing content
Important note: what I've described here is not a thoroughly done traditional content audit.
Still, even a superficial content audit like this is better than nothing.
Like with anything else, if you're a beginner, don't expect to do a professional-grade content audit on your first try.
Do the best you can and build upon your work next time.
Content audits can be intimidating to beginner marketers and publishers.
While they're undoubtedly a fantastic tool and should be done, traditional content audits can take days or even weeks to do.
This is why I attempted to simplify this process and create the best "bang for the buck" type of content audit.
Do this content audit quickly and gather invaluable insights that will help you pinpoint content gaps and inform your content marketing strategy.