How to Perform a Content Audit: 7 Steps

8 December, 2023

Nothing stays the same. No matter how effective your content strategy used to be, your company’s goals, your audience’s expectations and your competition’s efforts will change over time, so your content strategy must evolve as well. It’s important to perform a content audit at least once a year to maximize the ROI of your content marketing efforts.

Step 1: Understand Your Content Assets

To get started, you need to know what content you have. Make a content inventory that includes blog posts, infographics, white papers, case studies and other resources.

Next, categorize your content by:

  • Product and/or Buying Persona - Which product and/or buying persona does this piece speak to? For example, you want to keep your life insurance pieces separate from your commercial property pieces. You may also want to separate pieces by the intended audience.
  • Purpose - When is the content used in the buyer journey – during discovery, evaluation, decision, or after the sale? Keep in mind that content is sometimes used in more than one phase.
  • Function – Which of your team members use this content? For example, is it only used on the website or is it also used in offline sales, marketing, customer service processes?
  • Accessibility - Note if the piece is presently gated or ungated.
  • Promotion - Where it’s promoted? Are you linking to the content from social media channels, PDF handouts, emails or other web pages? If you change the content, will you need to update the communications that link to it?

Step 2: Thoughtfully Consider Usage & Performance

While it can be tempting to rate content using simple metrics such as page views or landing page conversion rates, there’s usually a lot more to the story. Your page views and conversions are only going to be as strong as your promotional efforts. If a piece hasn’t been adequately promoted, it will not perform. Likewise, a great piece of content could be stuck behind an ineffective landing page.

In addition, different teams may be having different content experiences. A piece that is doing little on the marketing side may be a powerful sales tool. Talk to your sales team and ask them which pieces are working best for them.

The metric used for each piece should align with its purpose. For example, if your goal for a blog article is search engine optimization, you could check page rank improvement. An article could be effective from an SEO perspective even if your sales team says it doesn’t help them close sales. If your goal for a case study is to build credibility, you could check to see if sales is using it during bottom of funnel interactions to increases closing rates.

The key is to be thoughtful and understand the full story behind each piece of content. Of course, one piece rarely makes a sale. You need multiple touches to create a snowball effect, so don’t get too hung up on the metrics for one piece. Focus on your overall impact.

Based on your assessment, start formulating a plan:

  • Which pieces are performing above average? These are your stars. You want to study them to determine why they’re succeeding. Is it because of a catchy title? A useful topic? A popular keyword that you’ve managed to rank for? Focus on replicating this success with new pieces of content.
  • Which pieces are performing below average? These are your duds. Again, try to pinpoint the cause for the low performance. If you’re making a mistake – such as hiding stellar content behind a boring title – you might be able to fix the issue for this and future pieces of content. Before ditching a piece, make sure it’s been adequately promoted and integrated into sales and marketing processes.
  • Which pieces used to perform well but are losing momentum? Some of your stars may turn into duds over time, and once again, you want to know why. In some cases, it may be because the topic was timely. For example, an article about preventing frozen pipes might do well in the winter, but it probably won’t get much traffic in the summer. Pieces like this may become popular again. However, other pieces may have become outdated, and they may need a refresh. That brings us to the next point …

Step 3: Decide Which Pieces to Update

You may have some gems that have gotten a little dusty with time. These content pieces used to perform well, but the views and clicks have dwindled. Most of the information is still relevant, but some of it is no longer current. With a few adjustments, these pieces could be star performers again.

  • Update outdated references. For example, the introduction might say something about how it will be 2022 soon or that it’s been one year since the COVID-19 pandemic started. Replace these references with current or timeless alternatives.
  • Replace old statistics. If your article includes statistics, see if you can find more recent figures to use instead.
  • Fix broken links. Some of your internal and external links may no longer work. Test each one, and if it doesn’t work, either track down the URL that’s correct now or replace the section with something else.
  • Update your CTAs. Does your Call to Action (CTA) encourage people to sign up for a webinar that took place in 2021? It’s time for a new CTA. (And make sure your CTA link works!)
  • Rethink your SEO strategy. For example, maybe a keyword that used to perform well is no longer yielding results. Consider adding new keywords (without keyword stuffing) and updating your metatags. Maybe you’re ranking on page 4 and want to move up. Consider expanding your article or adding an FAQ to increase authority.
  • But keep the URL. If you change the URL, all your old links to the piece will break. To avoid that, repost the updated piece on your blog so it shows up as recent content, but keep the current URL, and submit it to Google for reindexing through your Google Search Console.

Step 4: Wisely Manage Old Content

Before you start deleting all your old content, think twice. According to Search Engine Land, CNET deleted thousands of old articles in an attempt to improve Google rankings, but this effort may have been misguided because Google does not penalize sites for having older content.

You don’t need to cull content just because it’s old. You don’t even need to delete something just because it’s not getting a lot of views. Leaving it there won’t necessarily do any harm. However, you may want to delete old content if it no longer meets your quality standards or if you’ve produced something better to replace it. Focus on quality, not age.

Also, look for internal link building opportunities. If you have multiple articles on different aspects of given topic, and they’re still all relevant, add “See Also” links at the end of each article directing readers to the other related articles. This will create a topic cluster, and could help your rankings.

You may also be able to create a white paper by combining content from all articles within a topic cluster, just by reframing the copy slightly and putting it into a nice design.

Step 5: Identify Holes in Your Content Portfolio

Now that you’ve identified your best performers and updated your former stars, it’s time to start looking for gaps in your content lineup. These are the pieces that you’ll be working on in the new year.

Different types of content fill different purposes. Someone who’s just starting to research their options might be interested in blog articles that provide tips and solutions to common problems. Someone who’s more familiar with a company and is seriously considering becoming a client might be more interested in case studies and buying guides. To appeal to everyone regardless of where they are in the buyer’s journey, you need a wide selection of content types.

Your goals will also impact the type of content you need. For example, if you’re trying to attract more traffic to your website, you may need to focus on developing blog posts that support SEO. If you’re trying to generate more leads, you may need more high-quality, in-depth gated content. Use the Content Marketing Road Map to identify your content needs.

Other content gaps may be related to your site’s organization. For example, if your downloadable content isn’t performing well, consider updating your landing pages and promoting your resources in LinkedIn groups. Also look for opportunities to leverage a content cluster and pillar strategy.

A content pillar is a piece of content that gives a broad overview of a topic. Around it is a cluster of other pieces on related topics, all which link to the pillar post. According to HubSpot, the links tell search engines that the pillar is an authority on the topic, and that can boost the page’s ranking. To make this strategy work for you, identify key topics, establish a pillar piece, and start developing more content pieces to form your cluster.

Finally, consider gaps in your SEO strategy. Identify keywords that you want to target. To make sure you’re focusing on the right keywords, focus on those that have enough traffic to be worthwhile and that aren’t already inundated by excessive competition. Consider user intent, i.e., what is your target audience searching for and what are they hoping to find? Once you have finalized your keyword targets, create content that supports your strategy.

Step 6: Check Your Technical Performance

If your website isn’t producing the results you want, the problem might not be your content; technical issues may be dragging down your site.

Page speed is critical. If your pages take too long to load, your audience might give up and click away. You can’t just focus on desktop performance, either. According to Think with Google, around 50% of web traffic comes from mobile. Check your Google Search Console to see how your website is performing.

Step 7: Assess Your Social Distribution Strategy

Pew Research Center says around seven in 10 Americans use social media. Social media content is therefore an important part of your overall content strategy. You can leverage social media to raise brand awareness and direct traffic to your website, but to see results, you’ll need an effective social media strategy. Ask the following questions to determine whether you need to tweak your strategy.

  • Which social media platforms are you using? There’s been a lot of talk about new social media sites like Threads. However, according to Social Engine Journal, Facebook is still the most popular platform with 3 billion monthly active users.
  • Are you posting enough? If you’re not getting a lot of engagement, you may need to post more often. Hootsuite says the optimal posting frequency depends on the site. For example, on LinkedIn and Facebook, you should aim for one to two posts a day, and on Twitter, you should aim for two to three times per day.
  • Are you posting the right content? Posts with eye-catching images are great for engagement, while posts with links to your site can boost traffic. Consider making graphics and videos to promote your top content. Also consider curating third-party links with information that appeals to your audience so you’re not making everything about your company; being overly self-promotional can turn off potential customers.

Ready to Perform Your Content Audit?

A content audit can help you take charge of your content strategy, and December is a great time to do it so you’re ready to hit the ground running in January. Once you’ve identified your needs, reach out to Inbound Insurance Marketing. We can help you develop the content needed to fuel your pipeline. Learn more.