Google ‘content audit’ and the results will make you feel stressed and bored in equal measure. No one loves an audit – it smacks of wrongdoings and shortcomings exposed, a tedious and laborious process, resulting in tedious and laborious spreadsheets. But let’s look at it a different way. Let’s edit out the word ‘audit’ and replace it with something more positive. I prefer ‘discovery’, alluding to exploration and exciting findings. It is discovery that is your key to moving forward.

As with all tasks, you need to start with the ‘why’. A job worth doing is worth doing when there is a definite purpose. Here are some examples:

1. Cutting out the clutter – streamlining your content

Microsoft once did a content audit and discovered that 3 million of their 10 million pages had never been visited. Never has the cliché ‘If a tree falls in a forest but nobody hears it…’ seemed more appropriate. You need to spring clean on a regular basis because:
a) Getting rid of irrelevant content makes the relevant content much easier to find. It’s not unlike clearing out your wardrobe – you always find a nice shirt that you forgot you had.
b) Ditching or editing the content that isn’t working, even if it’s painful, is necessary. Like that 8-minute video that cost a fortune and involved every stakeholder in the business but was ultimately pointless because it’s boring and, in fact, also now out of date.
c) Pruning out duplicated content on your website is important to avoid tut-tutting from Google.

2. Helping to maximize effectiveness of existing assets in your entire ecosystem

When it comes to great content (like that nice shirt in point 1a) you should make the most of it. Your mantra should be: COPE – “Create once, publish everywhere.”
a) When you’ve identified your best existing assets, build on them and adapt them for different channels and purposes.
b) Find all those missed opportunities for links to and from content throughout your brand ecosystem.
c) Don’t let content stagnate lonely and unnoticed on a website: parade it on your social channels; use it to draw your audience to you.

Taking these actions has the potential to vastly increase customer reach and engagement.

3. Demonstrating an ROI

This is especially relevant for retailers, when content and commerce need to work in harmony to drive sales. A recent audit for a major fashion retailer uncovered a broken customer journey:
a) Products featured in blogs were not available to buy.
b) Some links in emails did not lead anywhere.
c) 80% of products featured in a ‘Lookbook’ were “not available to buy”.
d) Social media (where most of the audience was) was underused.

All brands want to see a return on investment for a content marketing strategy. This brand was struggling, but the fixes were easy.

4. Helping brands to remain competitive

Auditing competitor brands is almost as important as auditing your own. You need to know what you’re up against to create something better. Consider this:
a) Your customer research may have confirmed that you are producing helpful and practical content, but your competitors might be providing the same content in real-time – making it twice as ‘helpful and practical’.
b) What if the ‘how to’ product guides you’re quite pleased with on your brand website are competing with Facebook Live demonstrations offered by a competitor?
c) You also need to review who you see as your competitors – they might not be who you think they are.

Top tip: review competitors regularly.

If they are a genuine threat their strategy will be continuously evolving and adapting.
Ultimately, the true purpose for all of the above should be to provide a foundation for content strategy development.

Your content is your brand’s best asset. It’s your chance at a real conversation with your customers. You took time to build up your blogs, your videos, your social feeds – now it’s time to discover the truth about what is working, what is not, and what to do with that information.

Content Audit Checklist to download

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