I’m not going to lie. Today’s post will probably bore most of you to tears. Why? Because it’s about conducting a content audit.
I mean, just the words “content” and “audit” make you want to thump your head on your desk and scream “I’m so bored!” at your computer or phone. But there is no way around it. Content audits are necessary for the growth of your writing empire.
So today, we’re going to dive into the world of content audits, and hopefully, by the end of the post, you’ll have a better idea of why you should conduct one. If not, have your favorite vice on hand to help alleviate the boredom.
What is a Content Audit?
Most of you have probably never heard of a content audit before, so here’s a bit of background information. It’s a term that is frequently thrown around by content creators or freelance writers, and it’s a fairly new practice for companies and bloggers.
And it’s definition is relatively straightforward:
Content Audit: takes a look at all of the content on your website and assesses its relative strengths and weaknesses to prioritize future marketing activities. It’s a qualitative assessment and evaluation based on set key performance indicators (KPIs).Single Grain
Holy moly, that’s a mouthful. In simple speak, it means that you will look through the content of your blog and social media platforms to see if they’re performing to your standards. Whatever they may be.
Content audits let you see what you have, what’s working, and what isn’t. That then enables you to decide what to do to get the results you want moving forward.
Why You Need to Do One
As your brain turns that furiously over in your mind, you may be thinking about all the posts you have on your blog or social media. You may feel the pinpricks of tears at the corner of your eyes, thinking about the sheer volume of crap that you have to go through.
I’m not going to say those tears aren’t warranted, but you must choke them back. The results you get from this is worth the time and effort. Period.
For content marketing to work, the content has to be in great shape. Which means it has to serve an audience incredibly well.Sonia Simone
Which, of course, relates to those pesky search engines. This quote by “Sugar” Rae Hoffman sums this up nicely:
Google doesn’t want to make websites popular; they want to rank popular websites. If you don’t understand the difference, you’re in for one hell of an uphill climb.
We write content to be found on these search engines because we ultimately want to build an audience and sell more books.
However, Google and many social media platforms keep changing their algorithms to serve their users better. And it messes up the content creation side of things for us because we have to continually alter our content to suit the search engines.
Additionally, we’re fighting a losing battle against time. The content we’re producing today may not pique the interests of those five months to two years from now, making it obsolete.
It is why we need to conduct content audits regularly. To make sure our work can be found and that it’s still relevant.
Additional Content Audit Perks
Aside from keeping ourselves visible, content audits are excellent for generating new ideas. If you always have issues coming up with new ideas, do a content audit. As you go through your old posts, you’ll find things that you missed or a new angle to explore on a topic you’ve already covered.
It also allows you to re-share old posts that were great but were overlooked because you didn’t have the audience you needed.
How to Conduct a Content Audit for Your Website
Okay. We’ve committed to doing the work that comes along with a content audit. Now we need to find that starting point, which will come in the form of an Excel sheet (Google or Microsoft will work).
If you hate Excel for some reason, you may want to check out this WordPress Content Audit plugin. I haven’t used it myself, but it allows you to create a content inventory directly in the Edit screens in WordPress. Set a few conditions, and you’re good to go.
Before you do anything, I’d add the following information into your spreadsheet: page/post title, the date it was published, URL, search engine optimization (SEO), and actions required. You will probably add more categories after figuring out what you want to come out of this audit.
Pro tip: you may want to create a template that lists all of the information you’ve inputted into the spreadsheet. That way, you’ll only have to add the new blog and page information next time you do a content audit.
I did this, and it’s going to be a time saver this upcoming year. I’ve been adding new blog posts and pages as I create them, and I don’t have to rewrite the list.
Figure out what you want
The first step is to identify what you want to improve or get more information on. Most content marketers and businesses want to know how their content’s SEO is doing or their engagement rates. Or it could be a combination of both. Either way, both of those things split into four types of metrics: SEO, user behavior, engagement, and sales.
Last year, I wanted to look at SEO and content health, which includes engagement. I wanted to boost my SEO across the board and update my content, which would eventually tie into my goal to grow my blog following 500 people by the end of the year. The SEO would help boost the traffic into the site, and if I were providing great content, they’d most likely follow and engage with me and my content.
Once I figured out what I wanted to measure, I put all of that into my spreadsheet, which looks a little something like this:
I followed the advice of Copyblogger on what to look for since they are mostly content-based, meaning they aren’t always focused on selling you something. This year, I may expand this to make it more detailed, as explained in Single Grain’s article.
Do what feels comfortable and manageable for you. You don’t need a spreadsheet with 101 columns and tabs if you don’t need it. And honestly, simple is usually best in these types of scenarios. The only reason I might add things to it is to keep track of the SEO changes and keywords I’ve been implementing this year.
Gather and Analyze the Data
Once you have everything set up, you need to do the work. This is where the hard part comes in because you have to go through each page and post and objectively look at it.
I’d set aside a week or two to do this, depending on how much content you have. On January 1, I will have over 300 pieces of content to go through, and I have set aside three weeks to go through all of that with a fine-tooth comb. It may take a little longer than this, but I know that things will fly once I get into a groove.
While you’re rereading everything you’ve ever written, you’ll want to fill out your spreadsheet and take notes. In other words, it’ll look something like this:
Once you’re done, you should create an action plan to fix the “broken” content and proceed with new content.
Implement Your New Strategy
Now that you have your results and know what you need to fix, you need to act. So create some realistic goals to keep you on track.
Don’t worry about fixing everything up at once. It’ll be too overwhelming. I’d start with the posts that need minimal changes, or you can focus on the ones that need overhauls first.
For me, I’ve been slowly updating the old content and republishing it where I can. I’ve also been trying to find new ways to repurpose old content, turn smaller blog posts into infographics, and then add them to a longer piece. Or I’ll talk about an old topic in my newsletter before I fix it up and republish it here.
How to Conduct a Social Media Content Audit
In full disclosure, I have not done a content audit on my social media before, so this section is as much for me as it is for you. I don’t think it’s going to differ too much from what I’ve outlined above. Either way, I’m excited to go through the process. (I’m also judging myself for saying that.)
With social media content audits, we’re not looking at our websites but our social media platforms. From these audits, we should be able to tell the following, according to Hootsuite:
- what’s working and what’s not
- whether impostor accounts are stealing your fans
- which outdated profiles you need to revive, repurpose, or shut down
- new opportunities to grow and engage your audience.
Social media content audits are arguably easier to do than website audits. That is why many social media gurus suggest conducting one at least once a quarter, if not once a week. Honestly, do what works for you. I think our time is better spent writing stories and content than looking at metrics.
With those things in mind, let’s dive in!
Track Down All fo Your Social Media Platforms
The first thing you need to do is list all of your most-used social media platforms. You may know all of this information off the top of your head as I do, or you may need to do some Googling. Performing a Google search on yourself is probably not the worst idea because you can spot any imposter accounts that way.
If you do come across any fake accounts, note it and then contact the appropriate people to remove them. Start by contacting each account holder directly since it could be a simple misunderstanding. But be prepared to escalate matters to the social networks for help if you can’t resolve this yourself.
It will also help you figure out what platforms you’re not on and may want to pursue in the future. (My personal opinion on this is not to stretch yourself too thin. Keep it to a handful of platforms if you’re handling everything yourself.)
Once you’ve found everything, you will want to set up a social media monitoring program to keep an eye out for any new impostor accounts that might pop up.
For my content audit, I will be looking at three platforms: Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. I use Instagram the most, and it will play a significant part in my social media strategy next year. Facebook will probably be my next project, and I mostly use Twitter to keep up to date on industry news.
Ensure All Accounts Are On Brand
Once you’ve recorded all of your accounts, take the time to look at each one thoroughly to make sure it’s consistent with your current brand image and standards. And because we’re authors, our personal brand is our brand.
When I updated my website earlier this year, I also made a point to do some branding. For that, I created a logo, a font guide, a color scheme, and visual aesthetic that I try to keep consistent across everything.
Here are some things you’ll want to check for:
- Profile and cover images. Make sure your images reflect your current branding and adhere to the social networks’ image size requirements.
- Profile/bio text. You have limited space to work with when creating a social media bio, so it’s important to make the most of it. Check that all fields are filled in completely and accurately with current brand messaging.
- Handle. Are you using the same handle across all social channels? In general, it’s a good idea to do so if you can. Of course, you might need different handles if your accounts serve other purposes. Take a look at your handles and record in the notes if you want to make changes.
- Links. Make sure you link to your homepage, an appropriate landing page or blog post, or a current campaign. You don’t have to link to the same page for each account, but it’s important to record what’s linked from where.
- Pinned posts. Evaluate your pinned posts to ensure they’re still appropriate and up-to-date.
- Verification. This is a simple yes-or-no question. Is your account verified with a checkmark badge? If not, should it be?
Find Your Best Posts
For each account, record which three posts had the most engagement, and include links to these top-performing posts in your social media audit template.
So you’ll want to either create one using a spreadsheet or download a free template. If you go down the build it yourself route, Neil Patel has an excellent post that shows you how to build one in Google Sheets.
But if you want an easy solution, you can sign up for Hootsuite’s newsletter, or you can grab this one from Sprout Social. The Sprout Social one doesn’t ask for you to opt-in for emails, which is nice.
How to find the metrics
You can find key metrics for your social posts using built-in analytics tools for each social network. Hootsuite has created several guides on how to use them:
- Twitter analytics guide
- Facebook analytics guide
- Instagram analytics guide
- LinkedIn analytics guide
- Pinterest analytics guide
- Snapchat analytics guide
When you’ve found the metrics, look for patterns. Do you tend to get the most response when you post photos? Videos? Do people respond to the same kinds of posts on Facebook as they do on Instagram?
Take notes and test your theories between content audits. Over time, you’ll refine your strategy and start connecting with your audience more.
Here’s a sneak peek at my Instagram Insights for the past week and my most recent post:
(Clearly, I have some work to do.)
Evaluate Your Channel
Instead of looking at individual posts, look at the big picture of your account. This is where an overall mission statement or platform strategy will come in handy. It’ll help you figure out what you should be looking for and your goals for that platform.
For most brands, website traffic and conversions are useful metrics to track. You can find all of this information on Google Analytics for the most part. However, if you have a Facebook Pixel’s account, you can find the information for your Facebook account there.
Decide Which Channels Are Right For You
Once you’ve gathered enough information, you’ll want to make some decisions as to what platform you should be spending the most time on. This can be determined on many different factors, not just what the metrics tell you.
It doesn’t mean you need to give up a platform for all time. You may choose to prioritize one platform over another and then switching that out after the next audit. Or you might decide to pursue new channels. It’s all up to you.
And that, my friends, is how to conduct a content audit for your website and social media accounts. I hope it wasn’t too dull for you and that you may be just a bit excited to start looking into your metrics and content.
You don’t even have to limit this to your website or social media either. You can always apply the same systems to your book blurbs as well. There are many authors in the one Facebook group I’m a member of fiddling with their book blurbs to generate more sales.
Remember to take your time and to act upon the insights you gained. If you don’t, you’ve wasted a lot of time that you could’ve put into writing, editing, and publishing your work.
Have you ever conducted a content audit? Do you think there’s value in conducting one? Any tips to smooth the process out from those of you who have done one? Are you going to try out your first one in the New Year? Please let me know in the comments below. I’m curious to see your answers and whether I’m the only one doing this.
Stay safe, everyone.
Until next time.
Makes sense: look at what you have on your site and how it resonates (or doesn’t) with your target audience vis. your message…
Exactly! Like I said, it can be a lot of work, but it pays off in the end. 🙂
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