Rather than focusing on new content creation, invest time in reviewing the content you already have. Content audits cover multiple issues, some of which have changed over time. Content audits may be painstaking, but they are necessary for many reasons, and there are tools for simplifying the process. Here is your guide to performing a content audit in 2017.
Make a Content Inventory
A content inventory may already exist or you may need to create one in a spreadsheet. You need to capture the title, type of content, subheadings and URL. You should have a unique identifier for each piece of content so you can track what you’ve updated and what you haven’t. This includes your product directory pages. It is wise to identify who owns each piece of content, such as press releases, product descriptions or video. For example, you should know which content comes from an RSS feed or is an article from a periodical. If you already have a content management system, this information may already be in the CMS.
Rate the Content
Each piece of content needs to be reviewed. You may give each piece a score of 1 to 5 in general, though the better option is to give it a one to five rating on each of these metrics: brand voice, customer needs, SEO and conversion rates. There are a number of tools for calculating the conversion rate of visitors to your website to paying customers. However, it takes a human to determine if content is hopelessly out of date or too far from the company’s current mission.
Decide How to Fix the Low Ranking Content
Start with content that is very thin or has grammatical errors: this includes content with keyword density so high that the language seems unnatural. You will need to decide if you want to write new content to rank well for specific SEO terms or revise existing content. Revising older content may be cheaper and faster than writing new content on a topic. Yet new content will also certainly benefit search engine optimisation and will be of higher quality.
Even well written older content likely needs to be reformatted. Clear headlines, sub-headlines and short paragraphs need to be incorporated. Titles and subtitles should be rewritten to include key phrases or conversational SEO. Don’t neglect meta descriptions for each website, which are normally missing from older pages, as this is what search engines present to users.
Update calls to action so that they remain relevant. The last thing you want to do is have someone land on a page and be ready to sign up, only to see that it offers a reward that has expired. You should also update evergreen content, even if this is only in terms of keyword density, titles, subtitles and tags to fit what search engines prefer today.
Fix Your Links
A content audit is a great time to scan your site for dead links and either remove or update them. Don’t forget to check for working links that go somewhere you may not want customers to go, and update links to take customers looking for a service or looking at information on your old product models to pages on your latest and greatest product. You should also reduce the number of links on older pages, such as those that had hyperlinks on all of the key phrases. Remove links from sites that have a low trust factor with search engines.
Crawl All Indexable URLs
Create New Content Where Necessary
A content audit may find holes in your existing content, such as product models that lack their own product pages or insufficient information on troubleshooting error messages. You may want to consolidate content, too, as there might be overlapping topics competing with each other.
To conduct a successful content audit, first make an inventory of your entire content, and then rate it compared to your current brand strategy, quality and SEO. Decide how you will fix the lower ranking content. Rewriting versus writing new content will depend on your schedule, budget and skillset. Fix the links to your content and cross-links. Once you’ve done this, have your site crawled to identify technical issues to be fixed. Then create new content where appropriate, though this is a lower priority than improving existing content.
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