Improve Your Content with a Content Inventory Audit
You’re creating regular content for your blog, white papers, guides and other downloads, but you’re still not getting the results you want. Does this sound like you?
Should you just forget about content marketing? Not at all. But you should make time to take to take stock of your website and perform a content inventory audit. The occasional audit is necessary when it comes to your tangible products, and you should be checking up on your intangibles, too.
What is a Content Inventory?
Let’s start with the basics. A content inventory is a list of all of the content from your website – text, images, videos, audio files, PDFs, etc. Your content inventory is a tool to help you audit your online presence and diagnose problems with your content.
Any public-facing content, regardless of format, that you have published on your site could be considered for your inventory. Before beginning, define the scope of what you plan to review. Doing a full content inventory of your entire website can be overwhelming. Focus on a particular date range or type of material to narrow it down.
Even after narrowing down the publish dates, pulling together this information can be a beast. Try options like Screaming Frog or a WordPress plugin for creating a report to detail what’s live on your site today.
What’s the Goal of Your Content Inventory Audit?
Once you’ve completed your inventory, you can begin to audit your assets. Formulate a hypothesis for what you’ll discover or identify some issues you want to uncover.
Two key reasons for conducting content inventory and audit are to:
- Evaluate how well you optimized your content for search
- Analyze your content performance
By clarifying your intentions, the whole process will be more efficient, and you’ll avoid any unnecessary data crunching.
A clear understanding of your goals for doing the inventory will reveal what information to collect for your list. If you’re working on SEO, you’ll want to gather keywords, meta descriptions, categories/tags, backlinks, and so forth. However, if your aim is to improve your overall content marketing efforts, you need to examine topics, formats, length, keywords, design, and style.
Gathering the Data
Depending on your proclivities, this will be the most exciting or most boring part of your inventory and audit process. If you love cataloging information worksheets about every detail of a single piece of material on your website, you’re gonna love this step! If that sounds like an “ugh” situation, never fear — we handle the workload concerns in a section later on in this guide.
What you need to gather for each item in your inventory worksheet:
- Publication date
- Revision/update dates (if applicable)
- Contributor name
- Content type (blog post, PDF, video, etc.)
- File location/how you access it (in your content management system, via your server)
- Target keyword
- Meta description
- Categories or tags (if you use them on your site)
After gathering this information, you need to begin collecting metrics for each item. Learn more about the right performance metrics to track in the section below.
Evaluating the Data
After you’ve gathered all of the necessary information for your content inventory audit, you can begin the work of collecting measurement data to analyze the assets in your content inventory. Conducting an audit will help you to pinpoint what’s working and what needs improvement in your content marketing strategy. To evaluate your successes and failures look at metrics such as:
- Number of shares
- Number of backlinks
- Search engine rankings
- Internet traffic
- Bounce rate
- Dwell time
- ROI per content asset
Search for patterns in your highest performing pieces of content. This valuable information will show you any topical gaps that need to be filled thereby guiding you in the creation of future content. This step will also uncover where improvements can be made to already published assets.
Vanity Metrics vs. Vital Metrics
Vanity metrics can make you feel great and give leaders a warm fuzzy, but they are primarily ego strokers. What’s more important than vanity metrics? Their corresponding “vital metrics.” Vital metrics are the ones that can help you identify what needs to change; they are actionable. Here are a few examples.
|Pageviews||Conversion rate||Pageviews alone merely tell you how many people view the page. Conversion rate tells you whether or not people are responding. You can identify pages or elements to A/B test based on conversion rate information.|
|Social Media Likes||Social Media Engagement & Referrals||A “Like” is cheap and easy, and it gets you almost nowhere. Engagement data and referrals, on the other hand, tell you what social media activities are capturing attention and driving behavior.|
|Keyword Rank||Total Visits by Keyword & Equivalent Cost to Acquire via Paid Search||Who cares if you rank number one on Google if the keyword isn’t bringing traffic to your site? Use Google Search Console or a tool like SEMRush or Moz to figure out what words do bring visitors and how much those visitors would cost if you acquired them via paid search.|
Need some additional examples of vanity → vital metric combos. When you get stuck on the feel-goods about one of these vanity metrics, remember to dig into a related, actionable metric.
- Subscribers → Opt-in Conversion Rates
- Leads → Sales
- Content Spend → Return on Investment
- Total Customers Acquired → Acquisition Cost per Customer
- Monthly Revenue Per Customer → Customer Lifetime Value
- Keyword Rank → Total Visits by Keyword
- Total backlinks → Conversions by Backlink Source
Handling the Workload of a Content Audit
Tackling your content inventory doesn’t have to be a solo activity. Since much of the work involved is data entry or copy/pasting information from your site and reports to a spreadsheet or database, consider involving other employees or outsourcing the busywork to a third party. Websites like UpWork give you access to freelance administrative and clerical professionals who will work with you remotely.
Software tools can do a lot of the basic work for you too. If you use Google Analytics, check the available content reports for a useful, free place to start. A quick export will put your data into a CSV, Google Sheets, or Excel format. What other platforms hold pertinent data that you want to track for each asset? Make a list of all the data you want to track and where to find it.
After compiling all of your data go back through, add another column, and start determining what work needs to be done to improve your SEO or content marketing efforts.
Upon the completion of your audit, you should have a list of links, keywords, titles, and notes on changes needed. You may even want to track spend per piece of content and your return on investment for each. If there’s a group of people working on the project, you’ll also want to delineate who is in charge of each task. The file should be easily accessible by everyone on your team. After taking care of any edits and updates, use the information from your content inventory to brainstorm new ideas for your editorial calendar.
Don’t Forget Your Offsite Content
Not all of your content lives on your brand’s website. Don’t forget to review your offsite content such as SlideShare presentations, YouTube videos, social media content, podcasts, guest posts, LinkedIn Pulse articles, posts on Medium and other blogging sites, and any other place you publish. Also, review any profiles you have on vendor directory websites to ensure the information accurate, compelling, and up-to-date.
Beyond vanity metrics of counting likes and comments, Google Analytics can help in reviewing offsite content too. Look at the Acquisition tab to see what or who is the source of your referrals. Another way to check up on clicks from social media is through the utilization of UTM parameters in your shared URLs. Doing so lets you see what specific pieces of content are sending the most traffic to your website.
Check Out the Competition
At this point in your auditing process, you may consider analyzing your competitors’ websites. What are your competitors doing well? How do their efforts compare to the items listed in your content inventory? This extra step can help reveal where they’re outperforming you.
You won’t be able to complete a full audit of their sites because you can’t see their Google Analytics, but you can look at aspects like social shares, backlinks, and some keyword metrics with the right SEO solution or partner.
Customer-Focused Content Requires Attention
Setting the time aside to do a full content inventory is time-consuming and can take days, weeks, and even months, but the time invested allows you to make better-informed decisions when rehabbing existing content and planning future customer-focused content. To learn more about creating your content inventory download our Content Inventory and Audit Template by registering below.