How to Audit Your Online Content in 7 Steps

Content Marketing: Find Hidden Gold in Your Online Assets

Do you have gold hiding in your online content?

Don’t know the answer to this question–then you definitely need a content audit.

Performing a content audit has a great benefit–it helps you to reduce content marketing costs.

Before diving into a content marketing plan, gather and organize all of the online content your business has created and distributed.

Auditing your online content is an important element of any content marketing strategy. Further, it’s an on-going process not something you do once and forget about it.

7 Steps to auditing your online content for marketing gold

Here are the seven steps to audit your online content to manage your online content assets.

1. Take an inventory of your content collection. Before you start gathering all of your firm’s online information it’s important to decide what you’ll classify as a piece of content. Since some forms of content are composed of other content items, it’s easiest to think in terms of units of content. For example, while a blog post may consist of a combination of text, photographs and graphics, it’s simpler to consider it an article. Here are seven content options. (Here’s a fuller list of 26 content marketing options.)

  1. Articles are mainly text. It includes short text pieces, blog posts, white papers and reports.
  2. Images include photographs, drawings, infographics and other non-photographic visuals.
  3. Videos include all types of video both in real time and recorded. It also encompasses animated presentations and webinars.
  4. Audio includes music and spoken word.
  5. Presentations include slides, either individually or together. The presentation may just be created for the purpose of distributing your content.
  6. eBooks can be in text or presentation format. This is a longer content format.
  7. Comments and reviews are generally text content (although they can include video and/or images) created by your customers and the public on your owned media where you have rights to it.

2. Track your content across Internet venues. Specifically look for your content on the following:

  1. Owned media. This includes your website, blog and other owned entities such as microsites.
  2. Social media. This is your content that you’ve placed on social media entities such as Facebook, Pinterest, Flickr, Google+, You Tube and others. (To ensure that you retain rights to the content, it’s a good idea to have your legal counsel check the terms of use.)
  3. Third party sites. This includes articles, interviews and other content that you’ve placed on other people’s media. (Again, to ensure that you own it, it’s best to check the terms of use before submitting the content to a third party.)

3. Catalog existing content. As you collect the content, it helps to use a spreadsheet or other form of documentation to keep track of the salient factors. To this end, use a form of collaborative documentation such as Google Drive (formerly Google Docs) to allow members across your business to work on it. You don’t want people emailing a spreadsheet with this information around your organization because it’s a file of your corporate assets. Understand that you can modify this list to meet your specific needs such as adding product SKUs or keywords.

  1. Category (or other classification system) helps you to track this content. If it was a blog, it would be your main topics.
  2. Content title is the actual title of the piece of content. Preferably it should a unique name not a number.
  3. Content URL is the URL where the content is located.
  4. Short description should explain what the piece of content is about.
  5. Content type or format. Where appropriate use MIME type such as image/gif or text/html.
  6. Content creator or author. This is the person who created the content. It’s not the last person who touched the content!
  7. Creation date (or last modification date). This is a time stamp to determine when it was last amended or changed.
  8. Version (if appropriate). This is important for product instructions, terms of use and other financial and legal information.
  9. Rights. This is an area where you should get guidance from your legal department. Does your firm own the rights to this content? Did the content creator retain any rights.
  10. Size. This is important to your technical team so they have an idea of how big the piece of content is.

4. Assess each piece of content. This is a manual process of analyzing the content’s marketing effectiveness and what actions are needed to ensure it meets your current branding and standards.

  1. Delete. This is often referred to as R-O-T which stands for redundant, outdated or trivial.
  2. Fix. Specifically this applies to easy-to-fix technical issues such as images that don’t render and broken URLs. This is particularly important if the main focus of your audit is for search optimization purposes.
  3. Keep. This content is still useful and appropriately branded. 
  4. Improve. This content is still effective but needs some work beyond technical issues. Here’s an area that can be rich with content marketing gold. You may have a treasure trove of useful content that just need reframing, updated branding or new formatting.
  5. Protect. This category is often overlooked. This applies to content that you uncover during your audit that’s public but should be password protected. If you’re in doubt about how the content should be handled, check with your legal department.

5. Ascertain where your content offering has gaps. Once you’ve completed your content audit, assess your content collection to ascertain where you’re missing content. Here are three important types of content you may be lacking.

  1. Evergreen content. This is the information for which prospects, customers and the public are always looking. This means topics that are perennially important to your audience. Think in terms of your FAQs and Basic 101 information on your field.
  2. Promotional content. This is information you need for your current promotional plan. Think in terms of special types of holidays and celebrations around which you can create content. (Here’s information on promotional calendars that can help you develop your list of content.)
  3. Competitive content. Perform a competitive check to identify any content gaps you may have relative to your peers. You wouldn’t want your prospects to leave your site to get their information from your competitors would you?

6. Decide where to extend content through new content creation and reuse. Think of the content audit as a giant content brainstorming session. Here’s where you can polish some of the content gold you’ve found. Based on your findings, create the following lists to enhance your content offering.

  1. New content ideas. These are titles and topics for new content based on your content gap analysis.
  2. Expanded content. These are areas and themes where your existing content has resonated with your target audience and you can create more in-depth or related information. Don’t underestimate the value of curating your older content with newer content.
  3. Reuse content. This is content that can be combined or chopped up to create new content that your audience would be interested in such as a presentation or an ebook. (Here are fifty-six ideas for content reuse.)

7. Plan for your content’s future. This means that you need to ensure that every piece of content is itemized so that you can keep track of it and maintain it for future use.

  1. Establish a process for continuing your content audit. This doesn’t need to be a major annual event. It can be incorporated into every content creator’s process. Make sure that it’s part of someone’s position or it won’t get done.
  2. Ensure that there’s a way to do versioning. This point can be very important to your lawyers since it’s critical to know which version was in effect at specific times. There are a number of software packages you can use for this including the open-source application, CVS.
  3. Check that your content items are included in your backup and recovery procedures. You don’t want your content to get destroyed because a system crashed or a file was accidently deleted.

By using a content audit to document your organization’s online assets, you’ll be able to get your content marketing on track for success. In the process, you should find content gold that you didn’t realize existed, that can be repromoted or reused to achieve your marketing goals. Further you should have developed a list of content creation ideas to keep your content marketing team going for a long while.

What else would you add to this content audit? Have you performed a content audit? If so, what did you learn in the process?

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen


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  • Sheetal Sharma

    Audit of content be it online or print is essential to monitor online reputation of your company.The steps listed in this article are very true and quite practical to apply. I am fortunate enough to work for content management team at Synechron where i get opportunity to manage online content via article writing.

  • David Anzel

    Hello

    Great article that everyone should read.

    Great free marketing for your business you have to use:

    - Tell everyone what you do

    - host an event to become a lot of people

    - Use the Internet to promote yourself

    - provide special offer to other businesses

    - Do as much public speaking as you can

    Best regards, David

  • igor Griffiths

    Well hello Heidi, thanks for listing the steps and many pointers on how to best implement each of them, as I approach the end of another company year this is very timely indeed. I have content online and I do not have a clue whether it is helping or hindering my business and that of course in itself is a problem because all this content should be acting as a pointer to the way forward for better engagement with my prospects.