A big part of a content audit is taking an inventory on your own site to understand what’s performed and why. Taking a close look at your own site’s content can provide valuable insight into the following:
- What content has performed well socially?
- Who shared or linked to the content?
- What social networks did it perform well on?
- What content has performed well organically?
- What keywords are driving sessions?
Armed with this data, you can develop or enhance your current content marketing and promotion strategy.
To implement this process, we’ll be using a couple tools that are either free or have limited free versions. Because my background is in search engine optimization, I like to start by analyzing how a site’s content has performed in organic search.
While the organic sessions report I provide below is from Google Analytics, a similar report can be pulled from SiteCatalyst. In Google Analytics, pull back the date range to when you first started collecting data, select Organic Search as a Channel, Landing Page as a Primary Dimension, and then export.
Now that we have our pages and organic sessions, I’d like to match that up in Excel with other on-page data that we’ll get from Screaming Frog. While you need a paid version of the crawler to access all of the great features it offers, the good folks at SF will allow you to crawl up to 500 pages on a free account. If you’re using the free version of the tool, you may want to limit your crawl to a specific subdirectory e.g. www.yoursite.com/blog/.
Once I have my crawl data, I’m going to marry the two data sets using VLOOKUP in Excel. It’s important to note that GA only exports the URI (everything after the domain) so you’ll need to use CONCATENATE to join the hostname (your domain) with the URI.
Next I’ll use I’ll use Niels Bosma’s SEO Tools for Excel to learn how the page or post was shared across social networks and how many links they each earned (see below video tutorial). Now l have a report that provides insight into the following:
- How many organic sessions from search engines the page has received
- User engagement metrics for the page like Bounce Rate, Pages / Session, Avg. Session Duration, and any goal completions (posts may often have a high bounce rate)
- Word count (how long was the post?)
- Title, H1 tag and meta description
- Engagement metrics from Facebook, Google+ and Twitter
- Which content earned links
When all is said and done, I’ll have a report that looks like this:
For those readers that are visual learners, I’ve created a short video of the steps in my high-level internal content audit process.
Making It Actionable
While this is all very interesting, it doesn’t necessarily tell us why or how a certain page may be receiving more visibility than another, so it’s up to you to play detective and make correlations based on the data.
We do know that while there are over 200 factors in Google’s ranking algorithm, inbound links still play a large role in how the authority and topical relevance of websites are evaluated. And while it’s great to get content amplified on social media, I want to know who shared my posts or pages so I can start working on building relationships with those users.
One excellent feature offered by BuzzSumo is the ability to explore both the inbound links pointing to a page and also who’s shared your content – both of which are essential for improving your existing content marketing strategy.
You can see from the red boxes I’ve added to the above screenshot that you can view specific backlinks, who shared socially, where it was shared, and the ability to export the data for additional analysis.
BuzzSumo also has an API, making importing the data directly into a workbook or Google Doc. a breeze. The ways you can combine data sets to inform strategy are only limited by your imagination and skills in Excel.
That’s it! With all the data outlined in the post, you should have enough data to get started or refine the following:
- Content creation –what types of posts of topics performed
- Content promotion – leveraging your audience, fans, and advocates to amplify new content
- Social strategy – understanding gaps and opportunities and acting on
Let me know in the comments below how you audit content and what you’d add to the internal content audit process outlined in the post.
Brian Jensen is Owner and CEO of Real Integrated Marketing, a boutique agency that provides its clients with a customized, holistic approach to digital marketing. Brian is a moderator for the Content Marketing Community on Google+, and has a passion for helping businesses develop and execute data-driven content marketing strategies. Connect with him on Twitter and Google+.