Why (and how) someone else should be doing your content audit
Updated: Feb 25, 2020
My post What is a content audit, and do I need one? offered three very strong reasons as to why this is such a valuable task to undertake. However, this is a big job at the best of times and when you are running a business on your own or with only a small team, it’s easy to let it drop to the bottom of the list.
As a freelance content strategist, it’s an obvious move for me to suggest getting someone else to do your content audit. But having a content marketer from an agency, or even someone else from your team not too closely involved in content, undertake the audit has several benefits.
You won’t be overwhelmed by the scale of the task and can map out a process without the stress of knowing that you have to execute it yourself.
It will free up your time to create, refine or repurpose content and/or stay at a strategic level.
You will receive impartial, fresh recommendations about re-purposing, deleting and refining. If you’ve created the content yourself it’s easy to be biased in your critique. Your judgement will be particularly clouded if you don’t like it or didn’t agree with creating it in the first place, or you really love it but it hasn’t performed well.
An outsider can look at the bigger picture and assess quality over quantity. In particular, they will be able to easily identify if you have too many similar (but not necessarily equally good) pieces of content.
An outsider can truly approach the audit from a customer’s perspective and assess readability, value and ease of access. This works particularly well if they have had absolutely no input in any decision making to do with the content or its distribution.
We like to think we know our customers inside out, but internal organisational forces and personal judgement tend to have a heavy influence on the final product. So, unless your content was thoroughly tested by customers, an outside opinion is invaluable.
Freelancers, and agencies in particular, have a broad range of experience so they can audit and analyse your content from a wider industry and marketing perspective.
Once you’ve appointed someone to undertake the audit, you will need to manage the process to ensure you get sufficient, useful information out of it. There are a number of things you can do to make this easier.
1. Write a really clear brief. This should include exactly what you want them to do, why it needs to be done (e.g. to inform planning for the new year, to generate new ideas, to assess the success of your existing strategy), your deadline for completion and how you’d like them to approach it.
2. Create a spreadsheet template for them to follow. While this ensures they collect all of the information you need, still offer them the opportunity to suggest extra columns that they feel will be helpful. The types of data you may wish to collect could include:
The title of the content
Where/when it was distributed,
Whether it needs reviewing and what needs to be done
Potential for repurposing into other formats
Analytics data (this will vary according to what content it is and where it is distributed)
The expiration date and category (e.g. evergreen, seasonal, dated).
Top tip: Download this free content audit template by Veracity Content to help you get started
3. Ask them to look at each piece of content and make recommendations for how it should be refreshed or re-purposed. Ask them to provide justification for these recommendations if it isn’t clear.
4. Ask them to audit how they access the content. Is it easy to find, how quick are the forms to fill out?
5. Break the up task among team members. Ask one person to look at videos, one to look at blogs, one to cover downloads, one to assess web content. They bring them all together to debrief and share ideas.
6. Set a time-frame for the audit. You may be on an annual schedule already and have previous audits to look at. If not, ask the auditor to go back as far as they can so you have a complete overview of your content.
7. Ask your web coordinator (if you have one) to run analytics reports and provide them to the person(s) conducting the audit. This will free up the auditor’s time to analyse and collate information.
8. Set a time limit for completion of the content audit. Don’t let it go on and on or you won’t have time to complete any of the actions that arise from it.
9. Have a face-to-face meeting with the person(s) conducting the audit after it’s been completed. There is likely to be observations outside what they’ve put on the spreadsheet that they can convey to you.
Content audits can seem like a lot of work but, if you divide the tasks up or ask an external content writer and planner to do so for you, you'll find that creating an annual content strategy will be much much easier.