"Audit" is a scary, often pejorative word. No one likes going through a tax audit or a compliance audit, so who wants to do a blog content audit?
So let's call this a blog check-up instead. I'll be going through the various steps to conduct a basic audit on your content.
In this post, I'll be talking about:
- why you need to audit your blog
- the audit process
- the free template
Why You Need To Audit Your Blog
Whether your blog is simply a hobby or a pivotal marketing tool for your business, it's important to understand how your content is performing and what you can do to make it better.
Your aim is to create high-quality, relevant and valuable content. Stopping to check your content every once in a while is a worthwhile time investment because:
- It improves your website performance. When you understand what's on your site, you can learn to manage it better. Cut low-performing content, reduce image sizes, etc.
- It allows you to continue to create valuable content that resonates with your audience. Oh, and also content that converts.
- It's crucial to establishing a starting point before embarking on any large campaign.
- It helps you understand the gaps in current content and how to fill those gaps.
- It helps identify any missed opportunities to attract and convert leads (Maybe there's a series of blog posts that can be converted into an ebook, which you can make available for download in exchange for an email address. Boom, new lead opportuntity.)
- It improves your SEO performance. You can look at your keywords, meta content, headlines and other SEO to determine whether your content puts your audience first and search engines second. Because extremely valuable content=fabulous rankings.
Step 1: Do Inventory
The first thing you need to do is an inventory of your current content. Compile a list of your URLs in a spreadsheet. If you are collaborating with your team, use Google Sheets. If you have a small site (100-200 URLS), you can do this manually. If you have a larger site, I recommend using a tool like Screaming Frog to compile your URLs. Once you know what you've got going on, you can look at why each piece works or doesn't.
Step 2: Measure Performance
The next thing you want to do is measure your current performance. Take your top performing content, which you can pull from Google Analytics or another web analytics software, to determine which pieces of content resonate with your audience. Having this list will help you create your content strategy.
Step 3: Analyze Content
This is the crux of this process. It takes a while, so strap on your seat belt, grab some coffee and get to work. For each URL, you want to review these 7 components: headline, meta data, images/video, URL, keywords, links and content. I'll go over the specifics of each below.
Your headline is precious real estate, so you want to get it right. A good headline will answer "yes" to these questions:
- Is my headline no longer than 65 characters? (This is Google's cut off.)
- Does my headline follow the 4Us: unique, urgent, useful and ultra-specific?
- Does my headline contain my keyword(s)?
- Do I convey emotion in my headline?
Meta what? This is the bit that shows up in Google under a search result.
Make sure your meta data is up to snuff by asking yourself these questions:
- Does my meta data contain my keyword(s)?
- Is my meta data 160 characters or fewer?
One of my favorite tools to help you figure this out is Yoast. It's simple and free Wordpress plugin that gives you an SEO "green light" by listing all the things you can do to ensure your post is SEO optimized, including the length of your meta description and whether it includes your keyword.
Your images and video need to be optimized. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Do I have an image or a video?
- Is my image properly tagged? Have I included my keyword in the alt text behind the image?
When you review your URLs, ensure that the URL contains your keyword, does NOT contain any weird numbers or characters. I've included an example of a URL I goofed up. The correct URL indicates the category and contains the keyword. In this instance, my keyword is "kids up front". As you can see in the incorrect link, I have a series of numbers and characters. This tells you nothing about what the actual post is about.
Note that if you discover an incorrect link, either leave it as is OR set up a 301 Redirect to redirect your audience to the right post.
Keywords are a key tenant of a content strategy. When reviewing your keywords, here are some questions to consider:
- Do I have a keyword for this content?
- Is my keyword a long-tail keyword? A long-tail keyword is a specific, low competition word such as "family-owned automotive shops in calgary". Compare that to a short-tail keyword, which is generally more broad such as "automotive shops"
- Have I stuffed my keywords? Keyword stuffing is when you load your keywords in an individual post in order to manipulate search engine rankings. Note this is NOT an accepted practice in SEO. Use keywords strategically and sparingly.
Links within your post help build your value and authority. Here are a few questions to get you started:
- Have I linked to a source outside my blog?
- Can I link a relevant previously-written post to my current post?
Review the actual post. This is meaty, so be prepared to spend some time here. Ask yourself these questions:
- Is my content readable? Are my sentences written in active voice? Are my paragraphs short and simple? Can I format some content into bullet points?
- Is my content grammatically correct?
- Is my content valuable and relevant for my target audience? Check when you last updated your post: is it still relevant? Maybe spruce it up and re-promote it.
Step 4: Discover Gaps
One of the best things about doing a content audit is it gives you a high-level view of how your content works, how it flows and where it lacks.
- Are there any topics that you could write about that you haven't thought of yet?
- Are there any blog posts that can be reproduced and promoted as an infographic, ebook, or white paper?
- Have your business goals changed? Make sure your content aligns.
- What are your competitors talking about? Can you put your own spin on it?
Step 5: Create Strategy
After you've done Steps 1-4, it's time to create your content strategy. You know where you have gaps and what content performs best. And you know your audience. So make a list of potential topics and create a loose editorial calendar. This can be as simple as creating a two-column spreadsheet with topics and dates. However you set up your editorial calendar (P.S. I'm developing a post to help you set up an editorial calendar, so stay tuned!), decide on a schedule and stick to it. Remember that consistency is more important than frequency.
Step 6: Download Template
To help you get started with this process, I have developed a template for you. Download it here.
Need some help with an audit?
Audits can be an arduous and confusing process (and a bit boring). The good news is I can do this for you! If you want to understand where your content stands and what the heck to do about it, contact me and let's create awesome content together!