Source: Search Engine Journal 

Welcome to 2016! It is a new year, which makes it a great time to start fresh and organized. And what better place to start than with your content? With so much being published each day, it is becoming more and more difficult to make your content stand out.

How much content are you competing with?

According to Marketing Profs, over 2 million blog posts are published each and every day.

If each of those posts was a dollar, you would be able to give $1.30 to each of the 11 million people who watched last season’s premiere of The Walking Dead—every day of the year. That is a lot of content to compete with.

The good news is, there is simply no way that much content is all high-quality. You do stand a chance.

Also, keep in mind, what was considered quality content two years ago might not be considered quality content this year. Which is another good reason to look back at all of your content.

Doing a content audit might seem overwhelming. It is a ton of work. But I will show you how to break it up into smaller chunks which you can then assign out, or you can split it up and tackle each task week by week.

The biggest step is getting started.

Let’s dive in.

What are Your Goals?

Before you change even one word, you need to take the time to consider what your content audit goals are. Why are you putting in all this effort?

A content audit is a huge undertaking, and it will be much more effective if everyone involved knows exactly why it is being performed.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself and your team:

  • Are you looking to help drive more traffic to older content?
  • Do you want to improve SEO on your site?
  • Are you looking at what types of content are successful so you can create similar content?
  • Are you looking to update content to new standards?
  • Do you want to figure out which content does best on social?
  • Are you planning your content strategy and want to get a lay of the land?

Your reasons are likely a combination of several of those above, and that is totally fine. What matters is taking the time to discuss and write down your goals with your team.

Get Organized

The first step after defining your goals is to locate all the content you have produced—ever. This is a big undertaking, and may need to be split up.

The method you use to do this will vary based upon where your content is located and how much you have. You may choose to use a crawling tool, like Screaming Frog, or you may be able to pull the information from Google Analytics.

This is a huge job, but it shouldn’t be taken lightly. I highly recommend outsourcing this if just thinking about it makes you cringe. This is the first step, and it is also where a lot of people get stuck. If you have an analytical mind or Excel lover in your group, this is a good task to assign them.

Content Insight offers a very detailed guide for building a content inventory spreadsheet which includes every bit of information you might need. Their guide is pretty detailed, and it might be more than you need.

Here is my list of details to pay attention to:

  • Title
  • URL
  • Publish Date
  • All-Time Traffic
  • Traffic in the Last Year (the time period may vary)
  • Meta Title
  • Word Count
  • Description
  • Next Step (I will go into more depth later)

You can also add more customized details based. For example, if you publish on four distinct topics, it might matter which topic each piece of content covers. Or, if your goal is to increase social shares, you might want to note the number of social shares for each piece.

Create a spreadsheet with all the variables you deem most important and start adding your data. Good times. Just remember, this is the worst of it and you only have to do it once!

Analyze Your Results

You pulled all your data. Great.

But what does it mean?

Now is the time to consider what success looks like for your business and your content marketing strategy. For a smaller blog, success might mean a few hundred reads. For an indie creative company, success might be getting dozens of social shares.

Success may also look different for different pieces of content. For example, if you are looking to drive webinar registrations, success for an announcement post will be based upon how many people clicked on the registration link. If you wanted to promote white paper downloads, you will want to look at those numbers.

As you look at each piece of content, fill out the “Next Step” row. Should you update it? Leave it as is? Create new content that is similar? Whether or not a piece was successful, it does have something to teach you. Make sure you are paying attention.

Here are a few areas you should be sure to spend time analyzing:

Look at the Old

SEJ has been around for over a decade, so we have a ton of content that is probably no longer super relevant. SEO tips from 2005? Probably not going to get much traffic these days, but that doesn’t mean we want to delete it, either.

If you have been publishing for a while, you need to look back at what you published years ago. Here is what you want to consider when looking at older content:

  • Is it still relevant, or could it be if it was updated?
  • Does the content get much traffic?
  • Does the content have many links?

If you look at all your content, you will likely come up with a few older pieces that do get decent traffic and may be worth updating. Define what ‘valuable’ means to your brand by setting parameters—for example, posts that get over X amount of views per month, or have X number of links—and set a schedule to update those posts.

Here are a few key ways to update your content:

  • Proofread
  • Replace broken links
  • Update keywords
  • Optimize for semantic search
  • Update internal links
  • Update external links
  • Add images

For more detailed information about updating older content, I suggest looking at this detailed guide from Hubspot.

Consider the New

Now that you have seen the type of content you have produced, it is time to plan for the new content you will be producing over the next year. Remember, content marketing best practices will change, so you just need to do the best you can with the information currently available.

A few basic best practices:

  • Produce better quality content, not just more
  • Test new content formats – webinars, podcasts, videos, etc.
  • Add high-quality images
  • Always proofread
  • Keywords matter, but relevance matters more

Above all, listen to your audience. The content they are engaging with is the type of content you need to be producing more of. Period.

Your Content Audit Checklist

Ready to get started? Performing a content audit is one of the best ways to improve your content market strategy, and the new year is as good of a time as any! Here are the main steps to performing a content marketing audit that works:

Step 1: Set Your Goals

Step 2: Pull All Your Content Data

Step 3: Analyze Data (What does success look like for you?)

Step 4: Look at the Old

Step 5: Consider the New

Step 6: Make a Plan for the Future

Are you planning on performing a content audit this year? What do you think the keys to a successful audit are? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section!