Buzzsumo recently released a research report which revealed that the average number of shares on any social content has halved over the last few years, and most content gets zero backlinks, which means it’s not ranked on Google. If your company’s content is not getting shared across various channels, very few people are seeing it.
We’re drowning in content.
In a world where 27 million pieces of content and 3.2 billion images are released a day and 300 hours of video are uploaded every minute on YouTube, it’s clear that we’re becoming overloaded with content. Most marketers are so focused on getting more and more content out that they’re forgetting that content needs to be both useful and unique. Content needs to be targeted, and it needs to be found.
In our minds, there’s no debate at all. Quality is more important than quantity.
You need a clear idea on how much content you have and what it’s doing, in numbers, to support your wider business objectives.
Unfortunately, when we ask the question ‘What were your results on this?, we get answers like, ‘I’ve asked for that report and I’m still waiting on it. It’s been 2 months!! XXX can you call YYY and check? Or worse, ‘We don’t handle the metrics’ WAAAAY too often.
As marketers, we are the gatekeepers of impact.
And a content audit is a finite first step to successfully establishing it. Touted by content gurus like Neil Patel as something that ‘shouldn’t just happen once every few years; it should happen at least every quarter; ideally once a week’, a content audit is the most overlooked heavy hitter in the digital world.
In short, auditing your content will help you to:
Provide keystone content.
Create better UX.
So, let’s get into the main benefits of a content audit:
Rank higher for organic search.
By doing a content audit, you’ll be able to find pages, posts or videos that are never found, used or shared. If your content isn’t getting found, it’s simply not working for you, and might as well not exist. Once you’ve identified content that’s not performing, you can either delete or redirect it, but if it’s actually high-quality content, it might just need some quick improvements.
Ask yourself if you’re utilizing all the opportunities within the company’s bios. Are the opportunities for visuals being fully utilized? Are you tagging and optimizing? Are you automating as intelligently as possible for efficiency? Are you ruthlessly cutting, and repurposing for best distribution as the case demands? Add internal links and backlinks, restructure, rewrite and craft more compelling headlines. Now test it (make sure you check load times too). If it’s still not getting results after all that…you know what to do.
Neil Patel reduced a case study from 2,286 words to 615 words when he noticed that his readers spent just over 2 minutes on the page. By doing this, he increased leads by 39%. Then he added some testimonials to get a further 11% increase. The end result? 185% increase in sales. While not everyone is a content marketing whizz, the process of testing, restructuring and optimizing is something we can all do if we’re focused on quality over quantity.
Maximize high-performing content.
Lots of content isn’t necessarily a bad thing, if it’s providing value. One indicator of value is if anyone sees it as worthy of sharing or linking. Buzzsumo and Mozanalysed 1 million articles… only to find that most content published on the internet is simply ignored when it comes to shares and links.
A content audit gives you the chance to see what your top-performing content is and gives you opportunities to amplify it.
This means you can use this content in other forms across different channels (webcasts, short videos, case studies, tweets and more), you can use it as a landing page to drive more traffic to other content, or you can use it to convert by including a strong call to action or to drive email conversions. If 85% of content available is less than 1000 words, and long-form copy of over 1000 words gets more links and shares, then we should all probably have a long, hard think about our next blog post.
Avoid legal and compliance issues.
A content audit helps you get clear on the digital footprint issues surrounding legal and compliance requirements, especially for finance and tech industries. Big companies have so many people across so many departments contributing to content that it can be hard to keep track of what’s going out, let alone what’s in the archives. Being out of date isn’t such a biggie if you’re running a food blog, but for a Fintech giant for example, it can have disastrous legal consequences. Imagine a financial brand that advocates buying Mutual Funds in an emerging market at 23% interest. The article is buried in a content graveyard, until someone discovers it and shares it on social media. The article gets a bit of belated virality, only it’s 11 years out of date and that fund is bust. Companies have a responsibility to manage their digital footprint to ensure their content is compliant with a host of legal and regulatory frameworks that keep changing, and a content audit is one way to do that.
Provide better UX.
A content audit allows your eam to dive deep to see if you’re providing the best possible user experience. We like hub pages that make your content easier to find. We’re going to say it again, less is more! Think about whether your content meets a need, if it’s persuasive, if it’s something you’d want to read or watch or share if you just found the page through a google search.
Is your content still even relevant? Remove any old data and replace it with new research or case studies. Map your content to the audience journey! By structuring your content around UX, you can identify content gaps and opportunities for top-performing content. Last but not least, use metrics to replicate high performing content experiences.
If you’ve ever done a content audit, you’ll know that it can be a lengthy process depending on what you’re auditing. In larger organizations, it’s one that requires dedicated resources, high-level support and cross-functional cooperation.
But, no matter how big or how small your company is, you’ll find the answer to the quantity versus quality debate through an audit.
There are some people like Seth Godin who have reached Ninja levels of marketing wisdom in which a 100-word post can create digital mic drops. But in the absence of that, assessing what you have and what is possible for you to sustain on the quantity scale, while not compromising quality, is a good place to start.
A content audit will help you identify which of your content assets truly performing. If your target audience isn’t finding your content useful, there’s usually a reason. An audit can help spot the patterns that help you make informed content decisions, including the hard ones like what to lose. And in the best possible cases, it can help you spot the greater opportunities to build something simplified and lasting for your audience (check out this case study to find out what we did for MacKenzie Investments).
Who should lead the content audit?
If you’re heading a small marketing team, it’s easy to piecemeal the task and delegate to specific team members, supervising the process. However, where marketing is spread over multiple teams, or geographic regions, identifying how the content audit is integrated can be challenging.
Generally, it’s best to establish a central content point of command manage larger audits. If you don’t have a content strategy team, or can’t assign one, employees who manage content on a daily basis is where you start looking.
Another option is hiring external consultants who specialize in content audits. Sometimes it’s better to step away from the process and get an external team to manage your audit. They’ll bring fresh eyes to help inventory and analyze your content assets and their results. And they’ll bring systems and processes that lend heft and solve problems.
If increased utilization, decreased costs and better content mapped to the audience journey is what you’re after, a content audit will help you get there. To chat some more about what that looks like for you, drop us a note to set up a free 45-minute call. Helping people get more from content, while doing less, completely floats our boat!