While the advent of ChatGPT and other AI content creation tools augurs well for the expediency of content creation, it poses an increasing problem for what can already be construed as a Sisyphean task – that of content management.
Understanding how your content is performing, identifying opportunities for content creation and promotion, and most importantly, ensuring that the right content is available at the right moment to meet your customer’s needs is the foundation of successful content management.
And while AI can produce large amounts of content quickly, it may not always be of the same quality as content created by a human. Content managers will need to carefully evaluate the quality and relevance of AI-generated content to ensure that it meets the needs of their customers and the needs and standards of their organisation.
So establishing a content inventory and auditing cycle is now more relevant than ever.
For the sake of brevity I am going to assume prior knowledge about the information you will want to capture in your audit (from url to meta data). If you are new to content auditing, then you can download the Luminary Content Auditing Template that details the information that should be included in your inventory and audit as well as why this is important.
What is the difference between a content inventory and a content audit?
A content inventory is a list of every piece of content that lives on your website, from blog posts and landing pages to videos and infographics. You can automate this part of your task by using tools such as Screaming Frog to scrape your site – and be prepared to be amazed at how much content your site currently has! When we run content inventories, clients are often incredulous at how much content they have and how unwittingly their 200-page site has grown over the years (this is where having a well-planned and executed content strategy from the start, can help in avoiding content bloat).
A content audit is the analysis of your content inventory, examining the various attributes and performance of your content. Does it meet the needs of your customers? Is it accessible? Is it optimised and discoverable? Does it reflect your organisation’s brand tone? How many instances of duplicate content exist?
You can choose to do a whole-of-site audit, audit to a predetermined page level (up to three levels deep), or using your data insights, you can audit the 50 top performing pages. Whichever approach you choose, you will be able to get qualitative data that will help you gain an insight into how your content is working, what to keep, update or remove, content gaps and content relationships.
Wait, if I remove content won’t that impact my SEO?
Removing outdated content can actually boost your rankings. If the outdated content is not receiving much traffic or is negatively impacting the website's user experience, removing it can improve the overall quality of the website and boost the website's search engine rankings.
According to Google’s Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines, content that contains “inaccurate or meaningless content” is considered low quality. Low quality content will diminish your authority in Google and impact your rankings. So removing, or even updating, old content identified in your audit is going to help.
It is important to work with your SEO expert when auditing to help plan what you will do with your audit findings to minimise the risks through a redirect plan in order to preserve your website’s link equity and minimise any negative impact on search engine rankings.
Your SEO expert can also work with you on the content gaps that you may have found during the auditing phase, helping you target and optimise your content creation efforts, which can lead to increased traffic to the website and more opportunities for conversion.
How often should I carry out a content inventory and audit?
Often a website audit is prompted in response to a burning issue: a website redesign necessitating a content migration, a drop in traffic or in sales. Personally I prefer a proactive approach to content management and recommend site-wide auditing at least once a year.
Depending on the organisation and resources, I may also recommend breaking the audit down into quarters. The cadence of your business operations should help you determine how to break the audit down. For example, you may time a review of company content to coincide with annual reporting, time to ensure all your content is as up to date as possible and reflects information in your annual report.
While content auditing can seem a herculean task, it doesn’t have to be a solo endeavour. Take a collaborative approach and co-opt departments and colleagues to help populate your template, I guarantee this will create a truly useful asset. I will often work with our data analysts and SEO teams to populate fields within the audit template.
And don’t forget to share your insights. Apart from the final report, share insights along the way. This can be anything urgent that poses a risk, to simply sharing some lesser known fact about your site: how many pages, a blog post written 10 years ago that still has the highest traffic… Not only will this keep people engaged in the project but it also helps establish content as an organisational asset. (One of the most enjoyable parts of auditing is finding that hidden gem that, once dusted off and given new life, can become a content beacon for your organisation.)
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