It’s Monday morning, and your boss has just handed you a new project: Auditing the company website. The problem? Your company’s website is huge and not only are you shaky on how to go about doing a content audit, but the amount of work it’s going to take is overwhelming.
A content audit is the cornerstone of content strategy, which governs content marketing. The aim is to perform a qualitative analysis of all the content on a website (or in some cases, a network of sites and/or social media presences — any content for which your organization is responsible).
Now that we’ve covered what it is, here’s a list of the problems that you can run into, and more importantly how to fix them.
Problem: Auditing Huge Websites
Solution: Determine What’s MOST Important Before Data Collection
If your company’s website has been around for a while, it probably looks more like a strangler fig, than a neatly maintained garden shrub. Pages upon pages, across a large variety of topics, products, services, interviews etc. What you need to do to start is outline with your boss what they want audited. You don’t want to waste time working on the entire site, and thousands of product pages for example, when all your boss wanted cleaned up was the company blog. If the goal is to inform future content strategy, then you need to auditing the valuable content. Keep in mind: It’s a good idea to take audit a few of the product pages as well, just to get a feel for them, and in case the boss wants you to clean those up at a later date.
Problem: Crawling Huge Websites
Solution: Focused Crawls
On the other hand, if your boss does want the entire site audited, you need to be aware of several problems: Time, cost, high probability of exceeding CPU memory limits, deadlines getting pushed back, etc. Using something like Screaming Frog, it can take around 1 hour to crawl approx. 15,000 unique URLs. the amount of time it would take to cover a website with say… 700,000 pages? Not to mention the limitations on the computer’s CPU? A better idea is to do focused crawls. By pulling open your website’s robots.txt you can find the sitemap .xml. From there, if you open that up, and go to the source code, you’re given a list of directories that you can use for a focused crawl.
Problem: Crawl Issues :Limited Memory
Solution: Leverage Cloud Based Services Instead of Local Memory
Everyone has had moments when you’re running several different programs and one will choke and crash, right in the middle of an important edit. The problem here is your computer’s limited CPU. The same problem can happen even if you’re running only one program what you’re asking is massive. Crawling a 100k Url+ website is a prime time that this is going to happen. One way to get around it though is by using a tool called DeepCrawl. With its user friendliness and clean interface, you can set it and forget it, leaving it to crawl through, collecting data, and hosting all of it in the cloud.
Problem: Quantitative Analysis: Collecting The Right Data Points
Solution: URL Profiler: The Secret Weapon
Now that you have your list of urls you need to search through, and you know what you’re going to be auditing, it’s time to get to work. There’s a tool called URL Profiler that can do all of the heavy lifting for you. Although it’s going to take quite a bit of time to complete this crawl, by the end of it, you’ll have the data points you need. Some metrics you might consider using are
- Http Status Code
- Page Title and Length
- Bounce Rate
- Meta Description and Length
- Images and Videos
- Majestic Link Data
- Word Count
- AH Refs Link Data
- Sentence Count
- Moz Link Data
- Reading Time
- Facebook Shares
- Reading Difficulty
- LinkedIn Shares
- Time on Page
- Pinterest Pins
- Page Value
- Google+ Ones
- Mobile Friendliness
- Unique Page Views
Problem: Qualitative Analysis: Too Many Pages to Manually Review
Solution: Qualitative Sampling
Now, you’ve pared down the number of pages you need to manually review, but there are still several thousand. Do you want to manually audit several thousand Pages? Is that even realistic? The answer is a sample size calculator. By inputting the number of pages you have, the error % you’re willing to work with, and your confidence level, it will output an easier number to work with. Let’s say you had 5574 pages, you wanted a confidence level of 95%, a 3% margin of error. Now, thanks to the calculator you only have to go through 896 pages instead! It’s still just shy of a thousand pages, but it’s still a considerably better option isn’t it?
Problem: Qualitative Analysis: Determining What To Evaluate
Solution: Standardize Your Qualitative Metrics
You’ve got the number of pages you need to manually audit, now it’s time to pin down how to evaluate the data in the most effective manner possible. If you don’t get this step right, the insights you gain later are going to be all sorts of wonky. Since that’s the case, you need to standardize the quality metrics that you’re working with. Although this is by no means a complete list, it is comprehensive and should give you a place to start.
- Content Topic
- Content Type
- Share Worthy?
- Target Persona
- Actionability Rating
- Need State
- Quality Rating
- Duplicate Content?
- Overal Recommendation
- Thin Content?
- Link Worthy?
- Conversion Opportunities
- 10X content?
Problem: Qualitative Analysis: Not Properly Defining Your Metrics
Solution: Clearly Define Your Qualitative Metrics With Supporting Data
After you’ve decided on your metrics, you have to figure out how to define them. An audit can be horribly messy if you don’t define your metrics properly. Your boss is going to know the exact reasoning behind why you rated a particular piece of content how you did. You have to be able explain your process in such a fashion that it is crystal clear. A good place to start is Google’s Search Quality Guidelines. They explained what they consider quality across the spectrum, from very high to very low.
Problem: Drawing Powerful Insights
Solution: Cross Tabulate Your Qualitative & Quantitative Data
While you’re always going to have your “go-to’s” the easy to quantify insights, you need to find ways to go deeper and get more actionable insights. The easy ones are things like : What pages are getting the most views, or which ones get the most links. When it comes to finding the deep insights you want to combine your qualitative data and your quantitative analyses. You turn it, and turn it, until you find the story your data is telling. Some examples here might be Looking at how much value different pages have, and what affects that value. Is it pages that have videos or infographics? Or does your audience have more interest in things they can pin easily?
Problem: Spare Your Boss: Avoid Data Overload
Solution: Clearly Lay Out “Next Steps”
For Your Boss After reading this far along, you’re probably overwhelmed, it’s ok! There’s a lot to take in and digest. Now consider how your boss is going to feel if you try and show them everything you’ve done. Not only have you pulled apart the site down to its roots, but you’ve shown them tons of things that are wrong and need to be corrected. How to avoid overloading them? By laying out clear steps to fix things. Here are a few examples that you might consider. Improving pages to be shared on social media, including moving the buttons to the top of the article. Add a newsletter subscription option,. Optimize all images on the site. Round out content to make it more robust. Eliminate content that isn’t true to both the core of the company and is offering little value.
Now that you’ve read all of the worst case problems that you can run into, and the solutions to go with them, you’re probably wondering: Why in the world do I want to put my company through this? The answer is all the benefits that come from having a content audit done:
- Determine the best (and worst) performing pages on your site.
- Identify content that is (and isn’t) attracting shares & links.
- Identify content gaps in your customer’s decision journey.
- Identify & eliminate content that doesn’t align to the specific needs of your customers.
- From a topical perspective, identify what content you should be producing more (and less) of.
- From a UX/UI perspective, determine how to improve readability, format, and visual appeal.
If you’d like to learn more about how content auditing can benefit your company, please contact us.