A content audit should have three goals: 1) is your content good from an SEO and reader perspective? 2) Is your content relevant to your brand and 3) is it relevant to the customer's needs?
Google has thrown a ton of changes at marketers over the last few years. From major algorithm updates to voice search, all of these changes follow Google's ultimate goal of creating the best search experience for its users, or so they say. As digital marketers, we have to deal with this, whether we like it or not.
Artificial intelligence plays an important role here; it is getting increasingly difficult to game the algorithm. That means it is not enough to develop and optimize website content for just search engines anymore. As better language processing becomes a major focus for improving search results, your brand's site content is no longer speaking to search engines but to actual people. Who would have guessed?
You Are Not Writing for Google, But Your Customers
To appeal to both people and search engines, brands must evaluate their site content through an audit process. This will allow you to discover what works and what doesn't, and what can be improved. A website content audit is the cornerstone of your entire content strategy.
The aim of the content audit is to identify whether your website content is relevant to your customers, your brand, and your marketing objectives. Audits identify problems with accuracy, consistency, voice and tone; and they provide valuable direction for SEO and social media marketing.
First, Review Existing Content
Not every content audit is the same; it takes familiarity in many different digital marketing channels to set up a framework for success. However, each content audit has a few things in common. The first step in each audit is to record all of a website's existing content.
Every marketer has their own approach here; the important thing is to look at all of the content as an aggregate and see content as part of your overall marketing strategy.
If you used paid promotions before, the hits on individual pages are no longer an objective indicator for content popularity. Likewise, if you are resharing your content on different platforms, frequency and reach of shares must be taken under consideration before the quantitative analysis.
Are You Using the Right Keywords
Yes, Google is looking at the entire text, and the AI is hard to beat, but you still have to check your keywords. Are you using abbreviations that can be misunderstood? Are you using terminology that doesn't identify a product precisely? A technical keyword audit is necessary to improve content on this level.
At Geber Consulting, we also look at all the primary key words and concepts and check them for SEO friendliness, relevance, appropriation by the competition, misleading terminology and so on. Part of this process is looking at your audience's search habits and any historical data you have available. There are plenty of software tools out there to help with you with this analysis.
Next, we layer in qualitative data about the page from a brand level and a content quality level. In particular, we measure key pages against intended audience segments and marketing objectives. As you evaluate each page, you should be able to appropriately grade each page and define next steps for them, too.What that means is that you need to identify any strengths and weaknesses of your site overall.
Sometimes content may lack substance and generate weak traffic, but is still very much essential to the brand. That means you need to update the content, improve its relevance and authority, and make sure it speaks to the next-generation audience.
It is becoming increasingly obvious that social media sites like Facebook, along with the search engines, punish you for irrelevant content. Facebook in particular has a way to hide your entire feed if it repeatedly contains weak content. In such situation it may be necessary to take content offline, or completely rethink your approach to that particular piece of content. Try to identify why it no longer resonates with your audience, and replace it with more meaningful elements.
For B2B audiences in particular, case studies with audio-visual content is often the best, whereas mere product description content may not resonate at all.
Audience Segmentation and Specialization
Successful content marketing is all about targeting a niche and then, of course, making the most out of it in terms of engagement and revenue. That means you need to identify the most successful audiences through segmentation, and re-orientate your content strategy to cater to those audiences in future. Through audience segmentation, you can have laser-focused strategies around each audience type. You have to refine your marketing tactics in a thoughtful manner.
While defining, segmenting and prioritizing your audiences, you also need to define what content type will fill in a gap found in your content audit while also resonating your target audience. For this, do not look just at your own content history, but also at your competitors. There are plenty of ideas out there, you just need to find them.
Realigning With the Target Segment
This is where many companies will struggle, in the realignment phase. You may have identified weakness in certain content types, but in order to get rid of it you have to wait for the next strategy meeting at the end of the quarter, or even year.
You may have found weak content, but the person providing it is above you in the company hierarchy and strongly believes in their work. We understand these difficulties, and this is exactly why an audit is so helpful. Sometimes all it takes is an outside view from a consultant to convince the rest of your team that realignment is necessary. Upon evaluating all aspects of current site content, you can fill in the gaps and create more appealing verbiage for your target audiences. Few brands have mastered this technique, and it's key to be aware of their tactics and how they validate success.
Sometimes realignment means throwing the corporate communications manual or the sales guide over board, and that is a big challenge. Again, there are ways around that, and the data collected in the audit will help you make your case.
The Great Misunderstanding
Geber Consulting does the content marketing for one of the leading semiconductor firms in Taiwan. From the company perspective it made sense to target engineers in that specific field, and people generally interested in semiconductor.
However, over the course of a year and an in-depth audit, we found that we also needed to address the family and spouses of these engineers, because those spend much more time online than the overworked engineer. When we switched to creating content directed to immediate family members, we saw an uptick in CV submissions and job applications.
Lesson learned: the people you want to reach may not be your real target audience. Girlfriends and parents were much better at convincing engineers to apply for a new job at our client. Just consider that 75% of all electronics purchases in households are influenced by teenagers. It doesn't matter how much content you provide for parents' generation - it's their kids you need to talk to.
Luxury car brands have learned this a long time ago. Yes they want to reach the people who can afford the cars, but they are increasingly forced to address a younger demographic. That's why they also create content and products that fit in with a millennial's values, like high value for an affordable price, as well as a strong customer-brand relationship.
Remember: People, not Search Engines are the Real Audience
It is critical to take the time to augment the quantitative data by evaluating each page based on what your human customers value. You need to appeal to both people and Google by being descriptive with a human touch. As artificial intelligence development progresses, the search engines preferences will increasingly align with human interests. It's time to ditch those old-fashioned, technical SEO approaches.