Content Audit: The Ultimate Guide To Improve Your Content Marketing Results

Content AuditThink that a content audit is a yawn?

Don’t worry you’re not alone!

Like many marketers, you may not realize that a content audit increases the value of your content marketing and  business assets.

The real long-term value of your content marketing depends on its on-going optimization and distribution. When your content is updated and re-imagined, it can thrive across a wide range of devices, platforms and contexts.

Done properly, an organization-wide content, information and data inventory, audit and on-going governance position your marketing team at the heart of managing these assets. As a result, you not only increase the value of existing content assets but also decrease marketing costs to create  unnecessary content.

And, here’s the secret most executives don’t realize:
Once you establish your content inventory, content audit and content governance, you set your content marketing strategy up for long-term success.

At the same time, you reduce the work needed to keep your content gems at peak performance. This provides a roadmap to transform your voice-only and legacy audio content into stellar voice content performers across platforms.

So what are you waiting for?
Let’s set your marketing and business up for voice-first success with limited incremental investment.

What Is a Content Inventory and Why Does It Matter to Your Business?

A Content Inventory :

  • Lists every piece of content and information your business has;
  • Includes both digital and non-digital content assets over time;
  • Captures key information about each piece of content; and
  • Defines major content chunks where appropriate such as product instructions.

Most frequently, a content inventory collects the content-related information into a single place. While many CMS and other tools offer a variety of versions, often the simplest option, namely a spreadsheet, works best.

Because you can distribute responsibility for updating it across your organization.

In turn this encourages employees across departments to look for existing information before creating new and unnecessary information from scratch.

Where do you find your organization’s existing content?

Don’t assume that all of your organization’s content is filed in your current CMS (or content management system). Since many businesses never converted non-digital content to digital formats. Further, your CMS may only contain marketing and sales-related content.

So look for existing content that may be in a wide variety of non-digital formats:

  • Current CMS and other legacy systems. Focus on those containing content, communications and information. Include content and information for older internal and external platforms like Flickr.
  • Corporate Communications and/or PR. Since this area is responsible for creating and monitoring mentions of your business, they often have complete files related to key business events, conferences, speeches and other information.
  • C-suite executives. Beyond being the key spokespeople for your organization, they have support staff that remain in the area to maintain continuity. As a result, they not only have important content and speeches but, more importantly, they know where to find it.
  • Product areas. Maintain documentation on current and past products including information about parts and user manuals. At a minimum, this information is useful to legacy customers.
  • Customer service. They have records of the key customer questions and answers along with related data. This can help you create FAQ information quickly.

Actionable Content  udit Tips:

  • Break your content inventory into manageable chunks. For example, focus on one area at a time.
  • Work with a member of each area’s staff to appreciate the value of the information you uncover.

How Do You Audit Your Existing Content?

When creating a content inventory for your business, think beyond present needs to encompass future needs as your business grows and develops. By doing this, you avoid the need to entirely redo this inventory as your business expands.

As you go through each piece of content or information, capture the following attributes. Make each one into a column heading on your content information spreadsheet.

  • Actual name or title of the piece of content. If one doesn’t exist, create one that describes the information.
  • URL, link or other location description. Remember not all content exists in digital format. So make sure it can be found easily. This includes the original format.
  • Main subject of the content. Align these topics with your key pillar content or organizational departments.
  • Short content summary. Include a high level summary in a few sentences.
  • Content format. Include the breadth of options both digital and offline including text, video image, audio, PDF and others.
  • Creation date and last revised date.
  • Author. Include the name and department of the original creator.
  • Key stakeholder or subject matter expert (aka: SME.)
  • Metadata. Include relevant information such as page title, keyword(s) meta description, alt text and more. Where relevant include version and IP rights.
  • Number of words. Also include file size where necessary.

Actionable Content Audit Tip:

  • Add an Index number to each piece of content to aid findability. It should be based on content use or categorization. Creating an index helps everyone across your organizations.

How Do You Catalog Content To Remain Usable?

To manage and keep your business’s content viable for the long run, start by understanding the difference between a Content Management System (aka: CMS) and a Digital Asset Management (aka: (DAM).

Then transform your non-digital content into digital assets and organize your non-text assets to them easily findable within your organization as well as visible to search engines and people who can’t see them.

How Are CMS and DAM Defined?

A Content Management System (or CMS) makes creating, editing, organizing and publishing content easier. Content producers can include various media formats into a specific piece of content and these media assets can be reused and appear on different published web pages.

Also it allows more than one user to contribute, create, edit and publish the content without the need for a developer. As a result, it provides version management and supports your content creation workflow across your organization and multiple, large websites.

A Digital Asset Management (DAM) system stores, shares and organizes an organization’s content media assets in a central location.

As your cross-organizational content sharing and storage solution, a DAM extends the usefulness and findability of these media assets along with the appropriate digital rights and permissions. As a result, they can be accessed by multiple departments and teams.

The functions of a good DAM system include:

  • Asset creation. Add digital assets, either new assets or transformed existing assets.
  • Edit and review. Ensure new assets are edited and reviewed by appropriate managers and stakeholders.
  • Index Authorized personnel should be able to easily find and use relevant assets, including metadata.
  • Content safety procedures, such as version controls. Prevent accidental changes or deletion of files.
  • Sharing and access control. Grant authorized users the right to access and share specific files and prevent unauthorized users from access.

How Do You Transform Non-Digital Assets Into Digital Assets?

Depending on how long your company has created content, you may have non-digital content. To make it easy to find and use, transform it into digital assets.

Your type of business and content determine the depth and breadth of your approach to this project. Where appropriate, get additional support from trained librarians who can help you with additional data to improve findability for a variety of different uses.

For example, legacy media entities like NPR radio stations with shows and recordings of historic value invested in hiring librarians to make their deep catalog of audio content findable for both internal use as well as a revenue stream to license these broadcasts.

Then follow these steps:

  • Transform offline text content into digital format and apply relevant attributes.
  • Convert offline media formats such as images, videos and audio into digital formats and tag with the relevant attributes. In addition add a text version to aid search findability for video and audio content. Also, add text attributes were relevant.

How Do You Perform A Content Audit?

A Content Audit examines, assesses and evaluates the quality of each element of your content inventory.

On a deeper level, a content audit helps you to:

  • Evaluate the quality and effectiveness of each piece of content;
  • Identify gaps and new topics to cover in your content offering
  • Determine which content formats you need based on context, device and visitor needs;
  • Improve content structure to increase search findability and reader comprehension; and
  • Increase content efficiency by repurposing and redistributing existing.

Where Do You Focus Your Content Audit Activity?

Use content performance and related KPIs to assess which content needs to be improved or removed.

Traffic Drivers

  • Search Traffic Champs. Attract the lion’s share of organic search traffic. Check whether the articles have changed.
  • Search Traffic Losers. Have lost traffic over time. Is it because these keywords are no longer relevant and you need to reposition the content? Or, have competitors created better ranking content so you need to overhaul these babies?
  • Search Traffic Potential. Have backlinks and page authority but they need help to grow their traffic further.
  • Email Drivers. Attract attention and get readers to click. Check all of the links across your emailings. Assess how you can improve the power of these attention getters.
  • Social Media Darlings. Attract shares and traffic. Even better, they do so in a highly competitive environment. Assess which are your best posts, titles and social media platforms.

Leads and Conversions

  • Beyond attracting traffic, assess how your content performs to get visitors to take action. Determine whether they convert to leads and their quality. Also check which content drives visitors at different points in the buyer journey.

Actionable Content Audit Tip:

  • Use tools to help your content audit. Among the tools to use are Google Analytics, Email provider tools, SEMrush, Ahrets, Buzzsumo, and

How Does Your Content Audit Improve Results?

Once you’ve evaluated your content based on performance, follow these 10 steps to improve and upgrade it:

  • Rewrite or remove redundant, outdated and trivial content, often referred to as ROT.Use 301 redirects to avoid problems for web pages removed from your site.
  • Update underperforming article pages to attract more traffic and conversions. Where appropriate, improve and expand existing pages. Also, include calls-to-action (or CTAs) to encourage visitor action.
  • Add new information and content formats to attract a broader audience. Also test new titles where relevant.
  • Structure your content and optimize metadata to help search engines and humans better understand your content. Include titles, meta descriptions, H1 tags and internal linking.
  • Inform Google via the Google Search Console of these changes by submitting recently updated web pages to Google’s Index.

How Do You Update Your Content Based On Your Content Audit?

To avoid creating a backlog of articles and content that requires updating follow these 3 steps:

  • Prioritize updated and re-imagined content based on results. Focus on those pages where you can get the maximum improvement in results.
  • Allocate budget to update and redistribute existing content. Avoid the once and done syndrome.
  • Integrate content improvements and revisions into your content marketing editorial calendar. Often, updating existing content is more efficient than creating new content. So it saves budget and yields better results since it’s tested content.

Once you’ve established your content inventory and content audit, you can measure your top performing traffic drivers and conversions on a quarterly basis to keep your content strategy at its peak performance.

How Do You Create Content Governance?

After establishing and updating your content inventory and audit to include the breadth of text, visual, video, audio, voice and other formats, create your content governance to manage these processes across your organization over time.

Content governance establishes the procedures and systems that determine how content is planned, created, published and maintained in your business aligned with your key goals.

To ensure that best piece of content gets delivered to your visitors when, where and how they want to consume it, your content governance documents the:

  • Roles and responsibilities of the creators and stakeholders,
  • Timeframes and basis for decisions, and
  • Escalation and appeal process for changes.

Content Audit Conclusion

Want to get the most value out of your content marketing investment?

Then use a combination of a content inventory, content audit and content governance to ensure that your content strategy delivers the best answer to your potential visitor. This way you’ll be able to attract qualified prospects and convert them.

In the process, you’ll reduce marketing costs by eliminating redundant content creation efforts and focusing on less expensive content updates and revisions.

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on January 15, 2013 under the title, Content Marketing Audit: How To Find Hidden Gold in Your Online Assets.

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen

Heidi CohenHeidi Cohen is the President of Riverside Marketing Strategies.
You can find Heidi on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.


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