Unlocking potential: A guide to effective content audits

Jacob Spencer
Published July 25, 2023 by Jacob Spencer – Tech Lead
Optimizely content strategy analytics

One of the key advantages of a content management system (CMS) is the ability for marketing and communications teams to publish content quickly and effectively across their organisations websites. Over time, as more and more content is published it’s not uncommon to see organisational websites with a few thousand pages. So how do can you go about auditing your content and making informed decisions on what should be updated, removed or reshaped?

In this article, we'll look at a practical strategy for prioritising and categorising your CMS content, and how to conduct an effective website content audit.

What is a content audit?

A content audit plays a pivotal role in optimising your CMS content to achieve your business objectives. By employing a systematic approach, you can evaluate and analyse your existing content using a range of criteria and metrics. This insightful process enables you to identify the strengths and weaknesses of your content, while also uncovering valuable opportunities and potential areas for improvement.

Through a comprehensive content audit, you gain the ability to align your content with your marketing goals, target audience, and overall strategy. This ensures that your content consistently reflects your brand messaging and values. Moreover, the audit empowers you to maintain a high level of content quality by ensuring accuracy, relevance, and user-friendliness. 

It serves as a strategic tool that guides your content marketing efforts, helping you achieve sustainable growth and build strong connections with your audience.

In any content strategy, integrating a content audit as a fundamental element is crucial. By conducting a meticulous inventory and analysis of your content, you open up the possibility of discovering a treasure trove of valuable information. However, it is essential to approach the process with thorough preparation to maximise the benefits yielded from the audit.

Preparing a content audit

It's essential to clearly define the scope, purpose, and goals before starting a content audit to ensure its effectiveness. Decide on the type of content you want to audit and the reasons behind doing it while outlining specific outcomes or objectives like increasing engagement, reducing bounce rates, and driving more traffic. Defining these elements will help concentrate your efforts and accurately measure the results.

Conducting an audit

Executing a content audit involves gathering and scrutinising data pertaining to your CMS content. Depending on the nature and extent of your content, as well as the criteria and metrics you wish to employ, various tools and methods can be employed. One straightforward approach to conducting a content audit is by creating a spreadsheet that catalogues all your CMS content along with relevant details:

  • URL
  • title
  • category
  • tag
  • date
  • author
  • Folder/parent
  • Target audience
  • Date last modified
  • Page views
  • Decision
  • Comments

Using programmes like Google Analytics (GA), Optimizely Experimentation, or the CMS reports to gather data to be entered into the spreadsheet, you can group content based on how relevant it is to your customer’s journey. It’s important to customise your spreadsheet based on your own customer and business needs.

Optimizely Content Marketing Platform's analytics

Using these types of tools you can discover dead content, specifically pages that do not appear in your analytics. These tools will also enable ranking the popularity of the remaining pages, looking at search terms to make sure it matches the language of the audience you’re targeting and ensure those pages which are your “goal pages” are monitored so you can see where people are dropping.

Interpret your content audit data

To gain a comprehensive understanding of your website's content, it is essential to analyse your content metrics holistically.

Consider a scenario where a web page receives a significant amount of traffic but exhibits a high bounce rate and low session duration. This usually indicates that users are initially drawn to the topic but fail to find the desired information within the content, although it can mean that they’ve already found exactly what they want. In such cases, it becomes crucial to assess various elements of your content to determine why users are leaving the page. The issue could be related to content relevance, titles, call-to-actions (CTAs), or even page load time. 

Additionally, it is important to consider the different stages of a user’s journey. Your "awareness" content may attract substantial traffic, but its conversion rate might be lower. Conversely, your "consideration" content may receive less traffic but generate more leads. Evaluating these metrics across the user’s journey allows you to identify strengths and weaknesses at each stage, enabling you to optimise your content strategy accordingly.

How often should I undertake a content audit?

You should do content audits on a regular basis. But exactly how often you do them will depend on the size and complexity of your website, and how often you publish new content and update old content.

A good rule of thumb: Conduct a content audit at least once a year. But for larger or rapidly changing websites, you will probably need to audit your content more often.

Optimizely Content Marketing Platform's engagement rate tracking

A checklist for conducting a website content audit

Before you begin, here's a concise summary of the steps to conduct an effective website content audit, serving as a handy cheat sheet:

Establish clear business goals

Define specific objectives for your content audit, such as enhancing SEO results, audience engagement, or conversion rates. Align these goals with relevant content metrics, such as organic traffic, bounce rate, shares, and ROI.

Determine the type of content the audience needs and values

Qualitative user research programmes, which includes interviews and usability testing of the current content, are most often used for this purpose.

Gather content URLs and categorise

Collect the URLs of your content and organise them based on the stages of the customer’s journey, content type, author, or any other categories relevant to your strategy.

Utilise analytics tools for data collection

Leverage analytics tools to gather performance data on your content assets. Apply predefined metrics to evaluate each content asset, categorising them into "Keep," "Update," or "Delete" statuses.

Prioritise actions based on business goals

Prioritise your actions by referring back to the business goals established in step one. Develop a detailed action plan for each piece of content, outlining whether it needs to be retained, updated, or removed.

Adapt content strategy based on audit findings

Regularly review and adjust your content strategy based on the insights gained from the audit. Revisit the results at least once a year to ensure your content strategy remains aligned with your objectives.

Wrapping up

By utilising this website content audit checklist, you can systematically evaluate the performance of your content and make informed decisions that align with your business objectives. These decisions will resonate with your target audience and yield meaningful results for your organisation.

If you're considering conducting a content audit, dotcentric is here to support you with a dedicated team to help guide your strategy. Get in touch.

Interested in working together?

To learn more about working with us, talk directly with Alastair on 0203 8876616 or email al@dotcentric.co.uk.