How Often You Need To Audit Content to Stay on Top

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Illustration of a magnifying glass examining data on a computer screen next to a growth chart showing increased revenue

Illustration of a magnifying glass examining data on a computer screen next to a growth chart showing increased revenue

Content marketing is a never-ending quest for meaningful user engagement. First, you equip your website with high-quality resource pages, blog posts, infographics, and videos to vanquish your SERP foes and collect the first-page reward. In time, your website’s newfound prestige woos users and generates more website traffic and conversions. Congratulations! Your content is now King of the Search Query and can cast aside its rough-and-tumble upbringing to live a fulfilling, peaceful life in its cushy first-page home.

Unfortunately, that peace is short-lived.

Your usurped competition lurks in the shadows of page two, bolstering their content and sieging against your hard-earned SERP ranking. Without a content audit, you may remain blissfully unaware of the impending doom your content faces. And soon, your content will be dethroned.

A regular content audit is among the most important and often forgotten tools in your content marketing arsenal. Audits can highlight underperforming content, spark ideas for editorial calendars, and give you insights about what content resonates best with your users.

But what is a content audit, why is a content audit important, and how often should you audit your content?

Keep reading to find out.

What is a Content Audit?

A content audit evaluates the qualitative performance of a website’s content over a specific length of time. Audits typically analyze data from an analytics platform, SEO tools, and social media reports. Often, audits cross-check if content abides by in-house style guides and brand guidelines. Editorial-focused audits may also evaluate word count, keyword focus, spelling, grammar, and voice and tone.

How Often Should You Audit Website Content?

The type of content you audit determines the audit frequency and evaluation metrics you use. At a minimum, we recommend an annual content audit; however, content in some stages of the user journey requires more frequent audits than others.

Awareness Content – Audit Every 6 Months

Awareness content, such as blog posts, need time to mature and draw user engagement. A brand-new blog post can take upward of three-to-six months to begin ranking on Google within the top three pages—if it ranks at all. During that time, much of the traffic going to awareness content is likely being driven by social media, paid advertising, or existing users. Six months is generally enough time to know if your content is going to perform organically, or if it needs adjustments to achieve the goals you’re setting.

Common audit metrics for awareness content include:

  • Pageviews (segmented by organic/social/paid)
  • Unique Visitors
  • Time on Page
  • Bounce/Exit Rate
  • Social Shares
  • Comments
  • Backlinks

Consideration Content – Audit Every 3-6 Months

Consideration content, like a how-to guide for your product or service, is often among the most popular content on your website. Quality consideration content can lead to fast user conversion, so you should keep up-to-date on its performance. Auditing this content every three-to-six months gives you time to respond and adapt to shifts in users’ behavior or needs. If you’re auditing every three months, predictive analytics may shore up shallow data pools and empower you to make better-informed decisions.

Common audit metrics for consideration content include:

  • Pageviews (segmented by direct/organic/social/paid)
  • Unique Visitors
  • Time on Page
  • Bounce/Exit Rate
  • Assisted Conversions
  • Backlinks
  • Trust Flow
  • Social Shares

Conversion Content – Audit Quarterly

Choosing how often to audit a conversion page is tough. If you have an e-commerce website and earn thousands of conversions per day, you’re going to have an easier time evaluating content performance than a manufacturing firm that converts once or twice per week. To accommodate for both scenarios, we recommend a quarterly audit of your most important conversion content. This timeframe often gives enough data to spot data trends. Conversion content can also be audited monthly, depending on how long the user’s conversion timeline is and how much data you have.

Common audit metrics for conversion content include:

  • Pageviews (segmented by direct/organic/paid)
  • Unique Visitors
  • Time on Page
  • Bounce/Exit Rate
  • Goals/Conversions

Retention Content – Audit Annually

Retention content, such as a tips-and-tricks guide or previews of upcoming products, often have low engagement metrics because the target audience is current or prior customers. To ensure you have enough data, perform an annual audit.

Common audit metrics for retention content include:

  • Pageviews (segmented by direct/organic/social/paid)
  • Unique Visitors
  • Time on Page
  • Bounce/Exit Rate
  • Assisted Conversions
  • Conversions/Goals
  • Backlinks
  • Social Shares

If you’d prefer to audit all of your content at once instead of segmenting it by user journey, we recommend performing either an annual or quarterly audit. Each option has benefits and drawbacks.

An annual content audit is beneficial because you’ll have a full year’s worth of data, which lets you discover clear patterns in user engagement and content performance. This data can empower your content team to identify content that needs updates or a rewrite or enables you to change the direction of your content entirely. However, because you’re only performing this audit once a year, you’ll be behind the curve on adapting to industry trends or user whims. Annual audits work well for companies with long, intricate content strategies.

A quarterly audit limits the breadth of data you’ll operate with but allows swift modifications to industry changes, early performance metrics, or consumer demands. Quarterly audits work well for websites with ample visitors and frequent content updates.

How SEO Influences Your Content Audit Frequency

Your SEO goals also affect how often you should audit your content and the metrics you should evaluate. The three most important evaluation metrics are backlinks, target keywords, and keyword rankings.

Backlinks

If you’re performing a quarterly, six-month, or annual audit, backlinks can give you a great idea of how well your content will rank organically as it matures or gets updated. The more backlinks from reputable websites your content earns, the more likely your content may rank well on search engines. You can also create an outreach strategy to earn backlinks on underperforming pages to help bolster their value.

Target Keywords and Keyword Rankings

If you use a keyword tracking tool like Ahrefs, SEMrush, Moz, or STAT, you should include the most relevant keyword rankings in your audit. Any content that doesn’t rank for its target keywords should be nominated for edits or removal. Content that performs well for its target keyword or is rapidly gaining keywords can transition to a target for your outreach campaign.

Remember that keyword growth is a long-term plan. Audits every one-to-three months will show a clear keyword growth pattern, but don’t get scared if your content isn’t ranking within the first three months. However, if you perform a bi-annual audit and notice your content still hasn’t started ranking, then it’s time to take a closer look at the content to determine a cause.

Content Audit Next Steps

After your audit is complete, what’s next?

Prioritize the Results

Depending on the audit metrics you use, you’re going to be swimming in an overwhelming amount of data. The first step is to comb through the audit results and begin segmenting your content into four update priority level categories:

  • High: this should be updated within the next two weeks
  • Medium: update in the next month
  • Low: update in the next three months
  • None: leave the content alone

Build a Content Calendar

After the audit results are prioritized, begin building an editorial calendar. The calendar should show how the content will be updated and when the updates are due.

Set a Date for Your Next Audit

Once the editorial calendar is complete, and you’ve started to update your high-priority content, plan the next audit so you can monitor the changes you’re making.

Final Thoughts

Good content marketing strategies require more than just rolling the dice and hoping your content ascends the search query throne. A regular content audit helps fortify your ranking content against pesky challengers from page two. And when you’re the sly usurper trying to dethrone the reigning king, an audit better equips your content for the SERP battle ahead.

The post How Often You Need To Audit Content to Stay on Top appeared first on Portent.

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