Is Your Content Dusty?
We’re all for holding on to threadbare t-shirts, despite what your significant other might say. But old website content? Not so much.
Chances are, you’ve created dozens or even hundreds of pages of website content since you launched your business. Product descriptions, landing pages, blog posts, videos, press releases—they’re all there to inform your audience, drive traffic to your site and sell your product or service.
But this information can get stale. And stale content can hurt your business, because poorly performing content—content that doesn’t answer your customers’ questions, contains information that is duplicated on other pages or has very little information Google’s algorithms find useful—can negatively impact your search engine rankings. That’s a bummer, because it means your customers and prospects will have to dig to find you online. And chances are they won’t. Statistics show that somewhere between 71 and 92 percent of clicks occur on page-one results.
If it’s been six months or more since you reviewed your content, it’s a good idea to conduct a content audit. It’s time consuming, but at the end of the exercise, you’ll know which content to keep, which to update and which to delete or redirect. You’ll also be able to identify gaps in your content—information your prospects and customers may be searching for that you’re not yet addressing.
How do I conduct a content audit?
Step 1: Inventory your content
Start by opening a new spreadsheet and making a list of your indexable content. If you need help finding this information, take a look at your sitemap, or, if you don’t have one, use a sitemap generator tool.
Next, add the following columns to your spreadsheet to create a dashboard. (It’s okay to customize the columns to whatever you find useful.) Your spreadsheet could include:
- Content title—the name of the piece
- Publish date
- A short description about the topic
- Content type—white paper, blog post, image, video, product page, etc.
- Location (if you haven’t already organized the document by URL)
- Audience—who the piece is intended to address
- Funnel stage (awareness, consideration, decision, purchase, post-purchase)
- Keywords you’re targeting
- Call to action—what you’re asking people to do after they view your content
Once you’ve filled out your spreadsheet, you’ll have a snazzy new content inventory that will help you develop a plan to regain your status as a content superstar in no time.
Step 2: Analyze your results
Now it’s time for the fun part—the content audit, where you gaze at the spreadsheet until your eyes glaze over. Just kidding. Take a peek at the data you’ve compiled to see what kind of adjustments you need to make. Are certain pieces missing a call to action? Are product pages outdated? Have you overloaded the top of your funnel with content but neglected to create materials for prospects who are nearly ready to make a purchase?
To help you prioritize next steps, consider adding another column called “PRIORITY.” Then, assign each piece of content a number (from 1 to 10 or whatever system you want to use) so you know which pieces to tackle in which order. For each piece of content, ask yourself:
- Does it deliver what it promised? (Does the body of the content match the title/intro?)
- Is it accurate?
- Does it answer your customers’ and prospects’ questions?
- Is it well written? (Check for typos, grammar mistakes and inconsistencies.)
- Is the formatting inviting (lots of white space, line breaks, subheads, etc.)?
- Do title tags, metadata, headings and image tags conform to SEO best practices?
- Does the content contain dead links?
- Are people finding and interacting with it? (Use your web analytics here.)
- Are they taking the desired action?
Step 3: Take action
Now that you’ve ranked your content, create one more column—“ACTION.” Here you can enter steps like “Update,” “Delete,” “Redirect,” etc. Make sure not only that you address problematic content, but that you poke around for holes, too. Updating stale content is critical, but so is creating new content to answer the queries your prospects and customers are typing into Google and Bing. Pro tip: Repackage your best-performing content by, for example, turning your top 10 blog posts into an e-book. Then promote the heck out of it. You can also re-promote content that performs well. (It’s actually a best practice.)
Do you have any content tips for your fellow entrepreneurs? Let us know!