A content audit of your website or latest marketing campaign is an absolute must. But let’s be honest: most marketers and business owners despise them and are terrified of them in equal measure.
They can be tedious, time-consuming, and confusing.
But this is not a post on how to conduct one, though. You can read guides from Quick Sprout, Mightybytes, Majestic, and Duct Tape Marketing (of course) if you want step-by-step instructions.
Instead, we’re going to focus on some of the mistakes that businesses make when it comes to their content audits. As the saying goes, if we don’t learn from history, we’re doomed to repeat it. So let’s learn.
These five mistakes are common but easily avoidable.
Mistake #1 – You Have No Concrete Goal
There is no one-size-fits-all audit process. There is no one reason to conduct an audit.
Before you go any further, you need to know exactly why you’re doing the audit in the first place, because that’ll influence everything about it.
So ask yourself: why?
Maybe your sales and marketing departments aren’t playing well together, and that means lost leads and blown opportunities. Companies that include a blog in their content strategy, for example, generate 67% more leads than those that don’t…but only if those two teams are working together (collecting names and contact details, passing that info along, and so forth).
Or maybe you’re seeing plenty of traffic arriving at your site, but it’s not creating the leads and revenue to go along with it.
Or maybe your content is failing to attract a crowd. Whatever the reason, you need to identify it beforehand.
A content audit can examine your SEO, or assess the quality and user experience, or examine conversions, relevancy, whether stuff is up-to-date, its accuracy, and more.
An audit is a means to an end, not the end unto itself. You’ve got to use the data collected to inform and guide your content decisions and marketing strategy. If not, you’ve wasted a lot of time, energy, and money on a fancy spreadsheet that will sit and collect digital dust for you.
Answer why so you can document a concrete process and goal.
Mistake #2 – You Focus on the Wrong Metrics
This is really an extension of the first mistake because if you don’t have a clear reason and goal for the audit, you’ll have no idea what to look at when the data starts to pour in.
Once you have those in place, you can zero in on the metrics that matter to that goal and reason without wasting time or effort on unnecessary data points.
An audit concerned with SEO? You’ll want to examine keywords, title tags, meta descriptions, inbound links, images, average time on page, headings, and more.
Looking for content that’s falling short and needs to be improved or updated? You’re going to focus on the number of sessions, bounce rate, and conversion rate. In this case, content with high sessions and bounce rate but low CVR signify that it needs an overhaul. People are arriving, but leaving quickly without purchasing, downloading, or subscribing.
Concerned with the overall quality and UX? Sift through metrics like a number of social shares, word count, general topic, type of content, calls-to-action, and the number of comments, as well as spelling and grammar, factual accuracy, scannability, and consistent voice and tone.
Save yourself a lot of hassle and only deal with the data you need for your particular goal. Everything else is superfluous.
Mistake #3 – You’re Trying To Do It All Manually
If you’ve got four pages on your website, you can get away with collecting and organizing the necessary data by yourself.
But let’s assume you’ve got a bit more going on under the hood. You could collect and enter everything by hand…but why would you want to?! Aside from the extra time that would take, you leave yourself open to input errors and missed pages.
There are tools galore to make an audit as fast and painless as possible.
For site crawling, you can opt for Screaming Frog (free up to 500 URLs), Beam Us Up SEO Crawler (free with no limits), URL Profiler (paid plans), or the subscription service ContentWRX Audit, among many others. Export and import to a spreadsheet.
Use SharedCount for content shares, likes, and more.
Google Analytics is your go-to platform for data on your traffic, sources, and the general condition of your site.
Whatever you’re doing, there’s a tool out there to make it easier. Don’t be afraid to spend some money in order to get fast, accurate, and reliable insight. It’s priceless.
Mistake #4 – You Have No Documented Audit Process
Write. It. Down.
Make it a ritual that your marketers and/or IT personnel can perform with their eyes closed and as often as needed.
Much like your content strategy itself, your audit process should have a written plan accessible to everyone. Goal X? Collect and analyze metrics A, B, and C. Goal Y? Metrics A, F, and L. You get the idea.
An audit open to interpretation or debate means inconsistent data points and metrics, which means you can’t really track performance over time or even rely on the accuracy of the data and what it suggests.
Make it the same each and every time for each individual goal. Use the same metrics and tools.
Mistake #5 – You’re Confusing Content Inventory and Content Audit
They are not the same thing.
An inventory is a basic list of the content appearing on your site, likely with little more than the title and link. Any crawler can do this for you in a matter of minutes.
An audit involves the collection of additional data on a slew of other metrics. It requires several tools and sources, advanced analysis, and specialized knowledge.
A content inventory is often the first step of a content audit, but far too many businesses stop there. They slap themselves on the back for conducting an “audit” because the content marketing influencers all said they should. They’re missing the point.
An inventory is stage one. Just make sure you continue.
These mistakes are all easy to avoid. Ultimately, the worst mistake you can make with your content audit is not conducting one at all. Make it a regular feature of your content strategy for maximum impact and success.
Have you tried your hand at a content audit yet? What advice would you give those thinking of making the plunge? Leave your comments below.
About the Author
Aaron Agius, CEO of worldwide digital agency Louder Online is, according to Forbes, among the world’s leading digital marketers. Working with clients such as Salesforce, Coca-Cola, IBM, Intel, and scores of stellar brands, Aaron is a Growth Marketer – a fusion between search, content, social, and PR. Find him on Twitter, LinkedIn, or on the Louder Online blog.