After months or years of publishing content regularly, your organization will accumulate a substantial archive. While this depth of content is incredibly valuable, not all posts are created equal. In fact, poorly written or formatted posts can hurt your organization more than help it.
To address this problem, there’s no better solution than a content audit. The auditing process will help you identify top-performing content, tweak outdated posts and remove content that might be undermining your goals.
There are many ways to conduct a content audit, and your organization may develop a unique approach. The most important factor of a content audit, however, is gaining a deeper understanding of what works for your organization and how you can continue to leverage content to reach your association members and potential members too!
What is the purpose of a content audit?
According to an article from Semrush, “A content audit is the process of systematically analyzing and assessing all the content on your website. The final objective is to reveal strengths and weaknesses in your content strategy and content development workflow, and adapt your content plan to your current marketing goals.”
Simply put, it’s an opportunity to see what content is performing well on your site and what pieces your association members are interacting with most.
Why is this important?
Because it can help dial in your writing efforts and ensure you’re creating content that actually resonates with the needs of your membership. For example, if your members are looking for professional development or insights into future technologies, creating well-researched content on those topics will help keep them coming back to your site.
Your content audit checklist
The first step in any content audit is putting all your data together in an easy-to-read and use spreadsheet – we recommend Google sheets so your entire team can collaborate. Your content audit spreadsheet should be tracking a few key factors, including:
- Title: Adding the title just makes things easier to read and research. This is also a good opportunity to make sure that your focus keyword is in your title.
- Blog Length: On average, blog posts should start around 500 words. If you have some blogs that are short of that length, that’s an easy place to start. Additionally, you can use word count and other analytics to determine what lengths work best for your members.
- Content Goals: Was this post made to promote a webinar? Was it a piece you were looking to get backlinks from? A part of your content strategy should be including a goal for your posts.
- Social Analytics: Your content strategy should include a social component. Whether you’re just cross-posting on social media or boosting posts through your member email campaigns, looking at the “acquisition” tab in your analytics platform will give you an idea as to where traffic is coming from.
- Search Analytics: How your posts perform in search results is critical. Not only does tracking this data point let you know where you’re growing from, but also it helps to see what keywords your posts are showing up for. Pay special to how many clicks you’re getting in comparison to impressions. This could mean that the topic you’re discussing is super popular (because of how much search traffic it’s getting) but your post is not – use this part of your content audit to identify priority blogs to update.
According to an article on Search Engine Journal, some additional information you may want to track during a content audit is the amount of time on page along with new vs returning users.
For the on-page time, it’s important to see how your members are interacting with your content. While most readers have an attention span of about 15 seconds, if you’re writing in-depth and interesting content, they should be on there much longer.
Pay special attention to your longer content pieces. If you have a pillar post with 2,000+ words and your audience is only on the page for a few seconds, it could be a reflection on the subjects you’re tackling and the formatting of your posts.
Similarly, for associations, you want to be sure your content is attracting new and existing members. Not only is this an organic way to create growth in your industry, but also a reflection on the success of your existing content.
Using your findings
A content audit is an ongoing process that gives you the insights you need to start forming your content strategy. As you’re looking for ways to use your findings, be sure to keep these four essential steps top of mind:
Step 1: Update old content
While many organizations strive to publish evergreen content, references to specific time periods still manage to creep in. Often, statistics and data fall quickly out of date as more recent figures emerge.
As you examine old content, flag any posts that are significantly out of date. Once you have a shortlist, you can dive into refreshing any information that’s no longer timely. This can be as simple as finding a data point from the current year or as significant as updating a post to reflect a change in policy.
Once you update past content, add a note to let readers know what changes you made. This transparency will be helpful for readers who discover the page from an existing citation that once referenced its old version.
Step 2: Unpublish irrelevant content
All content strategies ebb and flow as times change. As your organization refines its mission and vision, some content may fall outside the boundaries of your brand.
Your content archive might contain a cluster of posts about a service that’s no longer offered. There is no benefit to keeping this content on your website; it won’t attract a relevant audience or help you rank for keywords.
But instead of fully deleting irrelevant content, simply unpublish it and store it as a draft. If your organization ever decides to embrace that topic again, you’ll be glad you won’t have to reinvent the wheel.
Step 3: Apply your style guide (including SEO)
As your content strategy evolves, your house style may shift considerably. A content audit presents a great opportunity to bring past content in line with your current style.
There’s no reason to line edit each post; just focus on high-impact features such as headlines, introductions and subheadings. Additionally, look for other opportunities to optimize content using strategies like:
- Setting a focus keyword for your post (this often depends on the plugins you’re using for your site)
- Adding a title tag and meta description that includes your focus keyword
- Doing research on the topic and answering related questions in new headings
- Look at the “People also ask” section in the search results for content ideas
- Interlinking related blogs you’ve recently published as well
This will bring continuity to your content archive and polish your overall brand.
If your early posts don’t use SEO best practices, be sure to incorporate them at this stage as well. You never know when an overlooked post could begin to climb search rankings.
Step 4: Incorporate new calls to action
It’s important to review and remove any outdated calls to action.
In their place, incorporate calls to action that your organization plans to use for years to come. Newsletters, social media channels, and donation buttons are all calls to action that are unlikely to change with time.
This is also a great opportunity to promote premium assets, upcoming webinars and other helpful information for your members.
Unlock the power of Sidecar for your entire association.Learn more
See what we did there?
Data and the future of your association's content
Creating content in a vacuum is never a good idea. For associations, your membership is a constantly evolving and growing audience that has different needs. As such, using a content audit to gather data and insights is integral. Best of all, data can be visualized in a way that’s conducive to your team, identifying trends, popular topics and micro-communities within your own organization. Not only will this help streamline your content strategy, but also it will ensure you’re providing the most value possible.
October 29, 2020