How to successfully audit your website content
Abraham Lincoln, America’s 16th president, once said: “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe”. Safe to say that coming up with that quote won’t go down as Lincoln’s greatest achievement, but it is good advice for anyone running a content marketing strategy.
Rather than jumping straight into the fun and games of creating new blogs and landing pages, spend some time sharpening your axe (or auditing and improving the content you already have).
In this post we’ll provide actionable tips that can help you audit your website content more effectively. We’ve split the post into two sections. In the first section we’ll run through the most common content gaps based on our experience creating and executing content marketing strategies for clients.
In the second section we’ll dig into some of the tips, tools and processes that can help you run a more successful content audit for your website.
4 quick wins for finding and filling common content gaps
Auditing your website to find missing or weak content can be a big job. And with any big job some quick wins at the start can really help keep everyone invested in the longer-term goals of your project. So, here are four places to look for immediate opportunities to find and plug gaps in your website content:
1. Dedicated landing pages
First up, we have landing pages. If you want to get movement in search, landing pages are usually the best place to start. One of the most common opportunities when auditing your website content is to create or improve pages that talk about the specific products or services you sell.
If you currently have a single page providing a run down of what you do, you should consider creating a dedicated page for each item. If you already have those pages, then see how they stack up against the pages currently ranking in search for the keywords you’re targeting. As a general rule, adding more relevant and useful content to these pages will boost their search performance and also add more value for users.
Takeaway: create dedicated pages for your brand’s products, services or areas of expertise. If you already have these pages, compare them to the competition and look for ways to add more value for people reading them.
2. Top-of-funnel blogs
After missing or improvable landing pages, the next most common content audit gap is to be found on your blog. Most websites have blogs these days and blogging is a very common inbound marketing tactic.
But often blogs focus too much on the bottom of the sales funnel. The posts tend to be about what the company is doing or highlighting particular product features. This content can be really useful in helping people feel confident about doing business with a particular brand at decision time, but it doesn’t do much to extend that brand’s reach.
A blog should tap into the questions your target audience is asking during the early, research phase, before they’ve decided who to spend their money with. Providing helpful and useful content that answers those questions gets your brand in front of new people who you can build relationships with and eventually nurture into customers.
Takeaway: your blog should feature helpful and useful content that answers the questions your audience is Googling in the early stages of the sales cycle. This will help you get at people before they’ve decided which brand to use.
3. Videos you already paid for
Video is hardly a new content marketing tactic. In fact, according to the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) 75 per cent of content marketers use it as part of their strategy, making it second only to social media.
But there are two areas where video is often underused. The first is on landing pages where video – particularly how-to videos – can make a really big difference to engagement and conversion. According to HubSpot, 72 per cent of people would rather watch a video to learn about a product than get the same information from reading text.
The second is on your blog, which is the ideal place to repurpose video created primarily for other channels, such as social media. Video is cheaper and easier to create than ever before. But really good quality video is still a significant undertaking, so once you have it you should take every opportunity to use it. If you have a video that explains how to do something, then embed it in a new post that spells it out in text form as well. Just because you made the video and posted it on Instagram doesn’t mean your website visitors have already seen it.
Takeaway: good video is expensive, so make the most of it. Use your videos on your landing pages to boost engagement and conversion. And take the videos you create for Instagram and YouTube and spin them into new posts for your blog.
4. Nurture emails
Email newsletters are the top tactic among Australian content marketers for distributing their content. More than 90 per cent told the CMI they use email to get their content in front of the right people. But more often than not email strategy starts and stops with a monthly newsletter. The same CMI study revealed that less than a third use email for lead nurture.
A successful website content audit extends beyond the blog and landing pages. Email is hugely important for driving high value traffic back to your site, so you’ll want to make sure your content audit finds and fills the holes in your EDM strategy too.
If you have the right content, you can send better-targeted emails and run more sophisticated email campaigns. That could just be a case of segmenting your audience and sending them more relevant content. Or if you have marketing automation software you can run drip campaigns that automatically send emails based on actions your recipients take.
Takeaway: if your email strategy starts and stops with a monthly newsletter you have a big content gap you can fill. Good email content combined with marketing automation software can help you run effective, low-touch nurture campaigns.
5 essential tips, tools and processes for running a successful website content audit
Once you’ve had a look for the obvious gaps, it’s time to dig into the detail. In this section we’ll run through some of the tools and processes you can use to ensure your website content audit is thorough and effective.
1. Content Audit Template
The first job is to pull together a definitive list of all your website pages. You can use a third party tool to do that for you or do it manually in a spreadsheet. How you decide will probably be determined by the size and complexity of your site. Once complete, this list can form the beginning of your content plan. You can use it to identify the gaps first of all and then the improvements you can make to existing content.
Takeaway: a content audit should start with a list of all the pages on your site. However you choose to do this, seeing all the pages in one place will flag some gaps immediately and give you a starting point for a more detailed content plan.
2. Competitor Analysis
Your competitors can be really helpful when auditing your website content. First of all, you can look at what topics your competitors cover on their blog or what landing pages they’ve created. Comparing this to your site will highlight immediate gaps.
You should also look at the sites ranking for search terms you want to target. You might not regard these sites as head-to-head competitors, but anyone occupying the same space in search results should be on your radar. There are a number of good third party tools to help with this, but the aim is always to identify the characteristics of successful content that you can emulate.
Takeaway: competitors are an excellent source of ideas for new content and improvements to existing content. Remember that when it comes to content marketing, a competitor is anyone chasing the same audience as you.
3. Sales and customer support
Your sales and customer support teams have the most direct impact with the people who buy from your business. This means they will often be in tune with what questions customers and prospects are asking and what topics they’re most interested in. Canvassing your sales and customer support teams is an excellent way to get at this raw intel and compare it to the content you’ve already got.
It might also be helpful to get at some of the tools they use, such as support emails or live chat. Any user-generated content provides an insight into what your target audience wants, which should be the main driver when improving or creating new website content.
Takeaway: sales and customer support spend more time speaking to prospects and customers and answering their questions. They can help you identify existing content that’s failing to hit the mark plus ideas for new content.
4. Google Trends and Google Analytics
Whichever third party tools you use to support the auditing of your website content these two are essential. Google Trends can help you spot spikes in interest for certain keywords that you can exploit. In some cases, your industry will have cycles or seasonal trends that are reasonably predictable. But changes in customer behaviour – such as a particular way to describe what they want – are less so.
Google Analytics can tell you what’s happening on your own site. Pages that have below average engagement metrics, for example, can go to the top of the pile for a rewrite. And if you have a search box on your site, you can use Google Analytics to analyse the most common queries and create content that will provide better answers next time.
Takeaway: Google Trends and Google Analytics are essential tools for your content audit. They will help you spot spikes in search volume and understand how users are engaging with your existing content.
5. Progressive Profiling
Marketing automation software is an excellent way to learn more about your target audience. Once a user has been identified, marketing automation can track them around your site and build a profile based on their behaviour.
If you have a lot of repeat visitors to your website you can use progressive profiling to ask different questions each time they complete one of your forms. So, if you already have their name, email address and job title the next time they want an ebook you can ask what topics they’d like to see covered more often on your blog.
Takeaway: marketing automation can help you better understand your audience. Progressive profiling captures new information each time a user completes one of your forms.