1. Know your content marketing purpose
Before you set forth on your journey, know the audience that you or you client is trying to reach. Understand their objectives. If you don’t know who is being targeted or what outcome is being sought after, how can you possibly make solid recommendations as to whether what is currently existing on the site is working or not? You can’t.
For example, if you are conducting an audit for a university, there will be a few different audiences that you need to consider. Think about current students, prospective students, alumni, fans of any athletics teams, and so on. Then consider the university’s objectives. Does it want to increase admissions? Focus on graduation rates? Develop stronger relationships with alumni? Disseminate information to the rabid fan base of its football team? The answer, likely, is all of the above.
No matter what line of business you are in, to build a successful content marketing strategy, you need to know the answers to these questions, as they relate to your goals and aspirations. If you don’t have an end purpose in mind, no amount of auditing work will result in the production of valuable content marketing recommendations.
2. Establish a hierarchy of content quality and value
Before you start your process, develop a grading system for the pages you are about to audit. It’s up to you how you ultimately want to rate them, but one way that has worked for us is the traditional letter grade method. Pages that receive an A are the ones that have everything in place and don’t need any revisions or new content. You don’t have to redo every single page. It’s a bit cliché, but keep in mind the old adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Pages that earn a B simply require a little love, but once you start getting into the area of C and below, you are looking at a much higher level of effort to fix the page’s ailments and get it set up to effectively achieve its intended objectives. You will probably find that you have far more pages than you ever knew existed or thought were possible. So if you find some Fs floating around, it may be time for them to go.
Don’t be afraid to drop pages. You might find duplicates of a piece of content in more than one place. You might find pages that were relevant years ago, but somehow lost that relevance and were never removed or updated. Whatever the problem might be, you need to be ready to cut pages if they are hindering the achievement of stated objectives.
Once you’ve got the grading system in place, you need to know what the elements are that you’ll be grading.
3. Have a focus for your evaluation
It’s important to know what to look for, as well. It’s not just the words and images on the page that matter, although they certainly are critical elements to a site’s success. You need to focus on a number of other elements, too, that will help you reach the right audience with the right message and convince them to take the right actions.
So what do you need to focus on, then? Here are a few items that you don’t want to overlook:
- Page names
- On-page copy
- Internal links
- External links
- Meta-page titles
- Navigation details
- User experience considerations
- Social buttons
Keep this list in front of you while you work. Have it laid out in a spreadsheet to ensure that you don’t miss any important elements of the content marketing audit process. This will help you keep on track and stay consistent in your evaluation of every page that you visit.
But don’t just focus on your own pages. No matter what line of business you are in, there are others that are trying to do what you do, so your audit should also include a bit of competitive analysis.
Ok, by now you are likely totally exhausted, and you don’t want to look at the website you are auditing ever again. Good news. When you’ve exhausted your internal analysis, it’s time to clear your head with a check on the competition.
Who is the competition? Who else is doing what you do, and are they doing it better than you are? Who has the potential to steal some portion of your target market? Don’t just focus on those that are doing business on the same level. Focus on those that are doing it far better, and even on those that are doing it far worse. This will give you a reference point to which you can relate the findings of your audit.
Benchmarking against competitors is a time-tested marketing tool. There will always be someone who is doing it better, different, cheaper, and the list goes on. Finding out what they are doing and how it is working for them can be a highly beneficial exercise that can result in new ideas, innovations, realizations that you may be falling behind, or even realizations that you are at the top of your game and need to be watching your back.
So that’s all?
It’s a good start, but even after all of that, there are still some other items that need to be attended to. You need to conduct analytics to determine how the site is performing.
Google Analytics can provide you with a great deal of insight into how various pages on your site are performing. It can also tell you a lot about the actions visitors to your site take when they arrive there. Do they bounce after one page? If so, something is wrong. Do they make it through the funnel and end up on the pages you want them to? I could go on about the benefits and uses of Google Analytics for an hour, but you get the idea.
In addition to analytics, you will need to think about branding. What color schemes do you want on your site? Do you have a logo you want to prominently display? Branding is another topic in itself, but it’s something that should be on your mind.
It is obvious that a social media content audit can not be considered as a quick action to be performed.
It is a process that requires a lot of time, effort and critical analytical overview in order to understand what it works and what is not.
Via Content Marketing Institute