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Charity Stebbins

Content Audit: The Smartest Thing You'll Do This Quarter

Charity Stebbins
Content Audit: The Smartest Thing You'll Do This Quarter

How often do you conduct a content audit? That question usually leads to squirming and overpromising on par with asking someone about their flossing habits. You know you should do it… but how often do you? Really? …Really?

We took a survey in our recent content audit webinar with Moz, Wordstream, and Skyword (go to minute 13 for a shout out to SEMrush!), to help us get a sense of our collective content auditing habits.

While 12% are rock stars with multiple content audits per quarter, the majority of us perform content audits rarely, never, or just have no idea. Which group are you in?

As content marketers, we often singularly focus on creating new content, without spending much time thinking about what’s already on our site. It’s a cultural misconception: if we slow down the pace of new content creation to evaluate and fix what we have, our content KPIs will stop going up and to the right. Right? Wrong!

4 Great Reasons to Start Auditing Your Content This Quarter

Taking care of the content we already have just makes sense. Four of my favorite reasons:

  1. Content audits are the single best way to understand what content our audience responds to. They show us what fails and what succeeds. You’ll be able to assess what content formats your audience likes, what topics, what tone, etc.
  2. Consumer demand changes! The keyword you targeted when you initially published your content may not be the highest volume keyword anymore. Read this story for more on that idea.
  3. If there are thin or old parts of our sites, it’s bad for our users. A content audit helps us spot and correct those poor site experiences.
  4. Content audits can be huge wins – check out this case study on an 8x traffic increase from Inflow’s content auditing initiative!

3 Practical Steps For Content Audit Benefits Before the Quarter’s End

It’s not too late to reap the benefits of a content audit, and see those pay off in your end of quarter results! Once you’ve identified content that’s underperforming, here are a few quick tips to improve your performance:

  • Delete some old articles. Does your page serve a unique purpose? If not – delete it, and redirect it to the most relevant page. This’ll be a boon to your content and SEO goals because you’ll consolidate PageRank in your strongest pages. A quick word of warning: don’t redirect to a high-level category page or your homepage; it must be truly relevant.
  • Make little tweaks to under-performing content. Changing a headline and other small tweaks can make a big impact, especially on your ranking. After all, headlines are your users first impression on a SERP (Search Engine Results Page) and is often the make or break reason they click on your content vs. your competitors.
  • Run tests. What actually performs best for your blog? What authors resonate most? What format or length? You’ll never know unless you test it! In the content audit webinar, Isla from Moz discussed one cool word count test she and the Moz team recently ran. To their surprise, they discovered that the best performing content on their blog is 1200-1800 words, much longer than they anticipated.

Don’t Be a Crazy… Be Crazy Good.

Those are just a few tactical changes you can make, but don’t limit yourself: keep testing and learning! For inspiration, let’s take a moment to return to the big picture. I love this compelling content audit metaphor from Isla:

“Think about your content as a business. My husband is an artist, and he's got a backlog of work from his entire life. If he had a gallery show where he presented all of that work, from his first attempts to his latest ones, people would say: ‘Why do you have all these finger paintings on the wall?’

It's the idea with your website; when you've got a bunch of content there are going to be things up there that aren't as good as what you're doing now, or they're not as relevant, or they're not as timely, and if you don't cut those out, or fix them, then it's not showing who you are now.”

In other words: your content hasn’t always been at its best. And that’s ok! If you’re a good content strategist, you’ve been experimenting. The result, of course, is that some new ideas succeed and others fail.

A content audit helps you identify those successes and better understand your audience…meaning that every single piece of content you create this quarter, and for the years to come, will be better informed, more relevant, and effective.

Questions about starting your content audit? Don’t forget that the SEMrush community is an awesome resource. Please comment below.

Charity is the Senior Content Strategist at Conductor. Besides creating all kinds of content and getting ready for an ever more spectacular C3, you'll find her riding her bicycle, investigating new SERP elements, and fastidiously adding the Oxford comma at every opportunity.

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