Having a comprehensive content marketing strategy is easier said than done. When people think of achieving their marketing goals, it’s always about putting fresh content out there. However, this type of approach might not be the most calculated decision on your part.
Jumping into content creation without proper thinking will only do more harm than good. Sometimes repurposing or updated old content can do wonders for your content marketing strategy. Consider conducting regular content audits so that your business can identify relevant and trendy topics that you should be talking about.
What is a Content Audit?
A content audit is a systematic process of analyzing and grouping the content on a website. The main objective of doing a content audit is to figure out the strengths and flaws of your existing content strategy and how you can make changes. The changes will be in line with your new content marketing goals and will outline the content plan that you should go ahead with.
What is the Website Quality Audit?
Website quality audit is very important when you’re looking to make your site more efficient. Search engines only send web traffic to “high quality” websites. The website’s quality score plays a huge role according to Google’s Algorithm. Now, this quality score determines whether your website will index, rank, and crawl less or more over time.
The organic quality score that Google assigns is what SEOs need to optimize for. Therefore you need your website to be ranking a high-quality score according to Google’s Algorithm. It has all the tools and metrics by which it will judge your site’s performance and give you ranking.
How to know if your website is “high quality”
There is a way to make your website score a higher quality score. Let’s see some things that make your website “high-quality” according to the search engines.
A proper structured and coded website per Google Webmaster guidelines.
A site that guarantees relevant search intent and content depth with informative and high-quality content.
A site that is ‘popular’ or gets mentioned across the internet a lot.
This is a very easy way to describe how the search engine would see your content. The reality is that Google’s Algorithm uses certain metrics to assess ranking and give you a quality score. The aforementioned things are just simple things that make a website seem ‘high-quality’.
Set up the content audit file
This is the first step that you need to set up a base for all the analyses that you will do in the content audit file. Just follow a simple template or include the following headings in the sheets:
- Final URL
- Next Step
- Pillar (Hub)
- Cluster (Spoke)
- Last Modified Date
- Word Count
- “Best” Keyword
- Bounce Rate
- Average Top
- $ Conversion Rate
- Goal Conversion Rate
- % Change
- Losing Traffic? Links
- SERP CTR
After you make an excel document with these headers, go ahead and copy stuff from the website quality audit and paste it into this document.
This section of content marketing is popularly known as ‘hub and spoke’ or topic clusters system. In this section, we are going to model our website content in such a way that it is structured. Topic modeling comprises content organization.
In this particular type of content organization, we are going to use a single page (also referred to as the ‘pillar’). This ‘pillar’ will act as a hub for the rest of the posts (commonly referred to as ‘clusters’). These ‘clusters’ will be internally linked to ‘pillar’.
Topic Clustering is very beneficial if you see in terms of SEO. If you have organized your content in a particular way then you’re in a position to rank for more competitive keywords. These ‘pillar’ pages are supported by ‘clusters’ internally and will depict a lot of knowledge in the competitive subject.
The internal linking allows for a seamless relationship between different pages on your website. These ‘pillar’ pages will serve as a path to drive traffic to the different pages or ‘clusters’ that elaborate on the complex topics. Topic clustering will improve your user experience drastically and develop user journeys for the better. Search engines will understand the content depth and relationship of the website much better when you have topics modeled in an organized way.
You must be wondering what the business advantage of content organization is. Well, to put it in simple terms topic clusters enable content creation and strategy. This way you are focused on the core topics that mean the most to your business. You will be better equipped to execute a targeted content marketing campaign. Topic clustering will also help you efficiently manage your resources.
The Topic Cluster Model
Let’s see how the pillar and cluster model works for making your website rank higher in search engine results!
Pillar (Hub) Pages
Pillar pages are going to extensive pages that have in-depth topics that are central to your business activities. If you’re confused about what things to include in the pillar pages, then you can include key products/services of your business.
Ideally, you should be including things that are relevant to the target audience and the industry which you are catering to. These are things that will drive traffic to your website and will positively impact the business. The pillar pages will keep all the things that you should be talking about.
Clusters (Spoke) Pages
Cluster pages are topics which are stemming out of the pillar pages. These pages have topics that explore the things that are mentioned in the pillar pages. Pillar pages have one big topic and the cluster pages have topics that will support the big topic.
Clusters are in-depth topics that will boost audience engagement and also drive traffic from all possible avenues. If you have any supporting data on your pillar page that needs more information, then you can create a cluster page for it. Cluster pages are there to support the pillar page data and also elongate search time. With clusters, you are giving the necessary depth to the main topic which is on the pillar page.
How to come up with Hub and Spoke page ideas?
Now that you know the function of the pillar (Hub) and cluster (spoke) pages, the next step is coming up with content ideas.
Content ideation is very important. You need to have topics that revolve around the core business operations and services that your company is focused on. Coming up with ideas is probably one of the most difficult things. You must have good ideas that will be central to your content marketing strategy.
When you are coming up ideas for your business, consider asking these important questions:
Does this trace back to the original product/service/industry that my business is catering to?
The content that you are putting out needs to be aligned with your core business activities. The reason why we are repeating is that you have to stay relevant to your industry.
If you talk about a lot of topics that don’t affect your business, then you are wasting time and resources. You will use up a lot of resources to deliver content, so why waste them in irrelevant topics?
Always see if you can link the topics to your services and products. This way you’ll always stay relevant to the industry and attract the right audience. Focus on attracting quality traffic which will make an impact on the business. Content marketing is ideal for lead generation which will turn into a sales conversion. So, choose topics wisely.
Is this something that you can talk about?
Now, this is an extremely important question that you need to consider when you’re looking at ideas for content. While it’s easy to just do basic google research and write about practically anything, it’s not always right.
A good example of this is medical information. Whether it is diet tips or nutrition guidance, the information that you deliver needs to be properly researched and true. You cannot just cite a couple of references from other sites to support your claims. This is an important aspect that is overlooked by marketers. So, stick to the things that your company knows about.
An important algorithm update of 2018 changed the way marketers design content strategy. To generate traffic and engagement, marketers urged businesses to dip toes in a broad range of topics. These topics weren’t necessarily linking back to the business, they were solely to boost customer engagement and traffic.
However, this is a really bad approach. You are essentially deceiving the people with information because you don’t have the necessary knowledge. This can affect your business very badly. The algorithm update of 2018 rectified this to a great extent. Now, the search engine will only trust your content if you have content depth and popularity. If you want to achieve content depth then pillar and cluster model is the best! Popularity is based on the number of shares and engagement on that content.
You shouldn’t be talking about things that you don’t have expertise in. Especially when you’re wanting the audience to perceive your business as authentic and genuine, then stick to relevant topics that your industry has.
Example of Pillar and Cluster Pages
Let’s take an example of a digital agency for whom we are doing a content audit. The first step when we are analyzing the content topics for the digital agency is to write down the core services. So if you can see the core services or business operations of a digital agency are social media, the price per click, SEO, design, and development.
Now that we have identified the core of the digital agency, we can come up with pillar topics that are easy to link back. If we take ‘technical SEO’ as a pillar topic then we can have several clusters like tools for technical SEO, canonical tags, robot.txt, etc. So basically you need to identify topics within the industry which can relate to the services.
The images below show an example of how you can design content for an e-commerce store.
(Source: Google Images)
Call To Action Phrases
Deep Dive into URL Actions
URL actions is a directive that will include all the things that must be included in that page. This is along the lines of Website Quality Audit but with different classifications.
Let’s delve a little deeper into the classifications of URL actions.
This classification is for pages that have been posted less than six months ago. You leave such pages as it is. This is because it still hasn’t quite taken off but might be still relevant for attracting traffic. You don’t want to get rid of a page that was recently published.
If you have posts and URLs that are older than six months and generate good traffic then leave these pages as is. The visits per year should be greater than 100, which means that the post is relevant and up to date.
The relevancy of the process is to get rid of pages that are underperforming and not up to the mark. You have to get rid of pages that are not working to attract any sort of engagement or web traffic. Only get rid of pages that are dragging the website down.
Now let’s look at a category of irrelevant posts, which generate no traffic, and have no trace back to the pillars. Such pages must be redirected because they don’t add any value to the website. These pages are just bogging down and negatively affecting the performance of your website.
Many content audits will suggest you take down your URL by a 404 page. However, we suggest that you do a 301 redirect if the page has keywords and existing links. Even Google support mentions that 301 redirects are the right way to rename or delete URLs.
(Source: Google Images)
By choosing to redirect, you can provide an additional field where the updated information is available. So, you’re essentially not losing the traffic like in a 404 page but just redirecting it.
If you have a group of pages that serve no value to search engines but have value to website visitors, then the best option is to block that section from being crawled. You need to manually move such pages into the archive section of the website so that they are not crawled by the search engines.
Let’s take an example of a news publishing company like BBC.com. BBC.com will have content on their website which will date back to the early days of the internet. This old content is relevant but is not generating enough traffic or engagement, therefore affecting the performance of the website. Deleting such content is not a smart choice. So what do you do?
Then you group such pages by an URL structure (i.e. /archives/). Shift the content to new physical folders and voila, your content is practically invisible to search engines. This works well on large, publishing sites that have a lot of old content. This classification of URL action is not for a new e-commerce site or local businesses.
It’s best to zip it all into an archive section and block it from search engines. If a person wants to access these old files, then it’s possible from the archive folder in the navigation or footer section of the website, but not through a search engine.
When the post is losing traffic and also the keyword rankings are sliding (5 – 30) but it has a high potential to rank we want to refresh the content. This means making small updates like page title, meta description, meta title, headings, internal links, and media.
If the page is mapping to pillar pages, the content is deep enough, targeted properly then refreshing the URL is the best option. You are not losing the essence of the website, just making significant changes that will make sure to get the traffic and engagement levels back!
Some changes you can look into are making the title more clickbaity, rectifying the title tags, making the keywords more prominent, and updating the right media for the content. These changes will make all the difference instead of rewriting the whole thing.
If the post is losing traffic and keyword rankings are sliding (5 – 30), has high potential to rank with the current topic but is not deep enough, outdated, and needs improvement. Then in such a scenario, we want to rewrite the content.
For example, if you have a page on your website that has the top 10 mobile phones in 2019. The audience in 2020 is not going to be searching for top mobile phones from 2019. You want to give information that is updated with the current changes in the industry and also the search patterns of the target audience.
As a business owner, you will want your website to have the updates and relevant content. So, if your website has outdated content that is not relevant anymore, you will lose out on a potential audience. Rewriting content gives you a better chance of grabbing more traffic and also delivering quality content.
When multiple posts are covering the same topic, we will want to “merge” them into 1 page that’s the authority on that topic. This will reduce the content redundancy and also avoid any repetitions across the website.
Merging content will make it easier for visitors to glance at the content in one place rather than opening several web pages on the same topic. Now, the question that comes to mind is how to merge content?
An easy to way handle the merging of pages is to 301 redirect it, we can classify them differently for understanding. So, you’re pushing all the content into a single pillar page and cleaning up the remaining pages. This will keep your website clean and also widen the scope for making the content deeper than it is right now.
Target with Links
Many times the content is updated, relevant, and new but just doesn’t attract rank in search engines. This can happen if the page has broken links or no inbound links. If the content of the website is great, but the page is failing to rank, then you can target the page with links. You start targeted links to this page through a successful link building campaign.
How to Build a Content Report
After you’ve gone through each of these steps to painfully analyze and come up with solutions, you need to show your working to the client. You should be able to display the content report in such a way that it is easy to read for a common man.
When it comes to the building stage of an SEO campaign, it’s crucial to show the client what you are working on. These are drastic changes that you will be making for the betterment of the site, so there needs to be complete transparency to the client you are catering to.
The complex spreadsheets and the huge lists will not make sense to a normal person. You cannot send these spreadsheets through and expect them to understand it. If you don’t want to babysit the client, guiding them through each detail, then creating a content report is the best option.
Here are some suggestions that will go into making our content report or content deck.
- A brief overview or index so that the client knows what is in the deck.
- What did you do? This section should explain the things you did in layman’s terms.
- What did we learn? In this section, you should explain the hub and spoke model that you’re using. And then give them an overlook into which are the pillar topics that you have identified for the client’s website. These points let the client know that you have a strategy in place.
- Analyzing the results. In this section, you can include in brief about the URL actions and what decisions you are suggesting. This will serve as a guideline for the client to understand your decision pattern.
- What did we find? In this, you can give like a summary of the pages that you feel need a rewrite, merge, or archive. You can just include the number of pages that you found were fitting the category of the URL actions. You can even include the link for the full content audit.
- What is next for content? In this, we will enlist the next steps that the client has to undertake to make the suggested changes. And also you should be willing to provide some detailed information over call or conference. The follow-up call is important because the client can get overwhelmed with the amount of information that you gave it. Additionally, you should also mention what is the next task at hand for you and the date of completion for the same.
Next steps after a Content audit
A content audit is not a one-time done deal. The results of the Content audit are actionable. You should be willing to make all the changes that we suggested in the URL actions part. Whether it is advancing your content marketing strategy. The suggestions that are mentioned need to be pushed out into production so that they can take effect.
The suggestions need to be taken into action and implemented as soon as possible. The rewrites and merging of content are quick SEO tricks that will save you time.
After you’re finished with the content audit and the proper reporting for it, you should send it across to your client. Write a concise email that has links to the deck and content audit file. Enlist the next steps that you will be targeting to complete. Also, include any important deadlines that you are working for.
To Sum Up
Content auditing doesn’t have to be so difficult. It might be a time-consuming process, but if done right can do wonders for your content marketing strategy. Make sure you take care of the above steps so that you can have a hassle-free time doing a content audit!