Blog posts, whitepapers, social media posts, infographics, – it’s easy to get caught up in the curation and production side of content marketing. This is especially the case when you have a small staff working on tight deadlines to produce content for multiple online marketing channels.
However, if you truly want to maximize the value of the content you offer to your audience, you also need to implement regular content audits.
The Content Audit as an Optimization Tool
Targeted content is a powerful inbound marketing tool, and it is most effective when it aligns with:
- The needs of your audience
- The interests of your audience
- The typical sales cycle of your business
- The structure and flow of your website
There are many types of evaluations that may rightly be called a content “audit”. For our purposes, what we mean is a thorough examination of how well your current content production has addressed the areas above.
Performing the Content Audit
The typical content audit happens in three phases: gap assessment, flow assessment, and analytics assessment. Afterwards, additional content may be needed to address any areas of weakness found in the audit.
In terms of scheduling, most small businesses should consider having a quarterly content audit. For companies with a very small staff, a biannual content audit is still useful and can help to shape the direction of both content production and conversion optimization.
The first step in auditing your content is the gap assessment. This assessment uncovers areas where you may lack relevant content for your target audience and it follows a four-step process:
- List the questions prospective customers are most likely to ask at each stage of the sales cycle (Awareness, Research, Evaluation, Purchase).
- List the content (blog posts, social media posts, etc.) you currently have that addresses each of the questions in your previous list.
- List the multimedia & downloadable content (webinars, whitepapers, presentations) you currently have that addresses each of the questions in your previous list.
- On a scale of 1 to 5, rate how accessible this content is for the average user. For example, a blog post that is displayed prominently on your website might have a rating of 5 for accessibility, while a whitepaper that requires full registration and email confirmation to download might be a 1 in terms of accessibility.
Ideally, you will have content for each section of the sales cycle, with content for the top of the funnel being highly accessible. “Gating” your content – requiring registration or an email address to download an ebook, for example – should be tested in other stages of the sales cycle. You want to find the optimum mix of maximum exposure while still being able to capture information on your high-value leads for sales follow-up.
Don’t Forget SEO: Another aspect of the gap assessment that you may wish to incorporate into your own content audit is Keyword/SEO optimization assessment – how well your content is optimized for the types of searches that occur at various stages in the sales cycle. This will help to ensure that your content gets found by those who need it most.
The gap assessment will expose any areas where your company needs to produce additional content in order to cover the entire sales funnel. By contrast, the flow assessment evaluates your current content, and how well it guides potential customers towards a purchase.
Because every website is laid out differently, your flow assessment will be unique to your company. At minimum, you want to answer these questions:
- How well does my website guide users to related content? (Example: If you have a blog post on dog grooming techniques, are there links to other content such as how to choose grooming supplies or shampoo?)
- How well does my website guide users to deeper content? (Example: If you have a whitepaper on best practices for online security, does it include links to your online demos or webinars for users who want more detailed information?)
- How well does my website help users to find what they are looking for? Is the information presented logically so that someone who comes to my homepage is able to find the information they need with minimal effort?
- How well is my online content integrated with other channels such as social media and email marketing? Can users who come to my website via these channels readily find additional information on the topic that brought them to the site?
Here, you want website visitors to be able to find information easily, and be guided logically towards conversion. If you have minimal links to internal pages, or very few references to where people can learn more, you may be losing visitors in the research and assessment/evaluation phase.
This last component of the content audit helps you to match up your findings in the previous two assessments. By taking a look at which pages of your website are most popular, you can uncover trends in visitor interest that can be used to develop additional content.
Just as important is tying in your content flow with current results. A highly relevant content page on your website may be “unpopular” or it may just be hard to find. Once you’ve optimized the flow for your website, check back to see if interest in these relevant pages picks up.
SEO optimization is also a role in the analytics assessment – take a look at the search queries that brought people to your site, and any internal search queries that visitors have performed on your site.
Which queries led to the most conversions? The least?
Which queries led to the highest engagement? The lowest?
Provide the answers that your website visitors are looking for as you build out additional content throughout the sales cycle.
Performing a regular content audit will help you make sure that your content is working as hard as you do to drive conversions. Take the time to respond to the needs of your audience and reap the rewards of greater engagement, higher conversions, and more sales.
If you need help performing a content audit for your website, get in touch with us. Our team of professionals will be happy to walk you through the process step-by-step, providing objective information that you can use to maximize the results from your content marketing efforts.