When you’re busy running your business, it’s easy to rely on your website as a stock portal of information without ever thinking to nourish and sustain it.
Nourish?! It's not a baby! Wrong! Your website is your baby, and you should be nurturing it. It's your customers first touch point and your best marketing and sales tool.
Once your site’s up and running, either after your first build or a brand new redesign, there’s a temptation to let it tick over in the background, doing its thing without much input or update.
While this enables you to continue with more apparent opportunities for growth and sales, by abandoning your website you’re not doing yourself any favours.
Your website is a vast resource and when used efficiently, it can become your best lead-generation tool. What good is leaving your content to gradually deteriorate going to do for your business?
Why Conduct A Content Audit?
According to Curata, 37% of content marketers never conduct a website content audit. As website content marketing experts, that figure terrifies us.
Just imagine every single item on your website, every blog post, every product and service, every page that was created as a temporary fix and stayed there, all readily available for any of your customers and prospects to see. Are you 100% certain you’re happy with this?
What Are The Benefits?
Find and fix problems - If you don't audit your content then it can become outdated, links can break, and images could corrupt. It affects the quality of your posts and your SEO score; search engines don't like pages with broken links, so it's good to fix them.
Evaluate quality- If you wrote your website content five years ago, it'll need refreshing. Look at it with a pair of fresh eyes and ask yourself; is this the quality our customers are looking for?
Discover content gaps - Let's say you're a mortgage broker and you've got a lot of content for lenders but look a bit thin with content for borrowers. Can you fill in the gaps?
Repurposing content - You may notice that some of your content could be republished or repurposed. Do you think a blog could be improved? Do you think an ebook would make a fascinating webinar subject?
Know your best assets - If you know what your best assets are you will always know what to give your aspiring customers. Use your website content as a sales and marketing tool. If you know you have plenty of resources on a particular subject, give it to your prospects!
As far as you know, your website has been silently helping you to achieve your business’s goals ever since it went live.
The tell-tale sign that you need to get the content audit wheels in motion is that worrying little phrase, “as far as you know.” If you’re not checking your analytics or conducting audits regularly, you have no idea how well your website is performing.
For such a vast resource, that’s a scary thought. If you’re unaware of how your website’s content is helping you to develop leads and attract customers, you’re also not sure how often you’re losing visitors.
For example, a lot of your content could be out-of-date; or you may have changed your business goals, and your content may not reflect that.
So, why do a content audit now? Let us answer your question with another question. Can you afford to keep avoiding it?
Inbound Marketing Your Website
Inbound marketing is primarily focused on attracting customers through relevant and helpful content. You should make your web content with that in mind. It should contain opportunities to grab customers’ attention, opportunities to upsell, and even opportunities to develop and strengthen your brand identity.
When visitors reach your website, your initial goal is to keep them hanging around long enough to want to find out more about your business.
What’s the catch? When someone first comes to your site, they don’t want to know anything about your business. They want an answer to their problem. That’s where you come in.
Stop going on the hard sell and offer them some advice. That’ll stop visitors from bouncing, and you’ve got them intrigued. With a thought-provoking headline and some well-constructed, helpful content, you can snatch their attention. What now?
From now on, it’s your content’s chance to shine! If you continue to grip your customer with helpful, useful, engaging content, you stand a much higher chance of converting. If your website content is lacklustre, they’ll leave, taking their cash with them.
It’s like being on a date; your potential partner is judging everything you say to determine whether you’re a fit. Say the wrong thing, and there’s a chance they’ll leave!
Don’t Ignore Your Blog
One of the biggest mistakes businesses make with their websites is to ignore the company blog. On the surface, this small area of your website can seem insignificant, but the truth is, blogs are vital to the health and relevance of your site as a whole.
A blog that’s been left to run stale content is incredibly off-putting to your customers. If you haven't updated your news section for some weeks, months or even years (it happens!) it pulls the rest of the website down with it. No matter how fresh the rest of your content is.
Still need convincing? Take a look at these seven reasons why you should set up a business blog, and then once you’re on board, take a look at how to create a content calendar for your business, so you never run out of ideas.
Why Do Customers Leave Websites?
There are many ways a website can turn a customer off. Landing on your homepage is no indicator that a visitor will stick around to let you sell something to them.
According to HubSpot, these are some of the top reasons why your customers aren’t staying long enough to hear what you’ve got to say.
- Your content is too difficult to read
- Your design feels outdated
- Your videos autoplay
- Your site loads too slowly
- Your site isn’t responsive for mobile devices
Of course, every visitor is different - they might have jumped off your page to answer a Skype call for all you know - but by running a comprehensive website content audit, you can start to rule out the areas where it just might have been your fault.
Then, it’s merely a case of figuring out how you solve those issues and plug those gaps.
Choose three prominent pages of your website where you feel most of your enquiries come from. What about these pages would turn a visiting customer off? Take a look at this post on content marketing and why your business needs it, and think of ways you could improve customer retention.
Before You Can Walk, Crawl
Starting an audit process can be daunting, especially if your website is large, or spans several minisites throughout a whole business. Take it one step at a time. Now you know what the essential stages are, the only thing to do now is start right at the beginning.
Crawl your site.
Most businesses prefer to have relevant members of their team crawl designated areas of the website - for example:
- Sales team: crawl the products and services
- Marketing team: crawl blog posts and events
- Team leaders: crawl associate/meet the team bios
The major benefit of this method is that it uses your team’s inbuilt knowledge of the business, enabling them to pick up on content that’s out of date, irrelevant, missing or duplicated.
Another ancillary benefit is the sense of ownership. Giving a team control of a website “area” will help to ensure the content they upload and view is self-monitored and continues to be of high-quality.
There are tools you can use to speed up the process. Moz.com recommends enabling a full Screaming Frog crawl of your website. This SEO Spider Tool automatically finds broken links, analyses page data and metadata, locates redirects and discovers duplicate content.
Save valuable time when getting your audit moving, although it’s wise not to rely solely on a crawler tool. Nothing beats real human instincts and insider knowledge.
If using a crawler tool has piqued your interest, take a look at this blog post by Screaming Frog on how to check for broken links for an insight into what a tool like the SEO Spider can do.
Don’t neglect your offline marketing collateral, brochures, business cards and other resources should distribute the same messages as your website
The Best Time To Do A Web Content Audit
Why do a web content audit once when you could feel the benefits every year?
Your inbound marketing plan doesn’t stay the same every year, so why should your website? With every goal that’s agreed on, there are ways to work your site to make achieving your aims easier.
Ideally, you should aim to conduct a full web content audit every 12 months - or whenever you agree to a fresh set of inbound marketing targets. An audit is (or should be) an essential part of any inbound marketing onboarding process, and you should treat it with just as much importance as sales targets.
Using Lifecycle Stages
Using the lifecycle stage to guide you through the audit planning stages can be extremely helpful. This method allows you to group your content in the different journey stages a buyer passes through before buying from you. It can help you identify gaps in your process so you can add that content into your strategy.
The Awareness Stage
Every buyer’s journey begins with an awareness stage - the point at which they’ve identified a problem, opportunity or need which your products or services could resolve for them.
At this stage, they hit search engines and social media hard, seeking out third-party information to help them research the products or services they might need to help them.
Examples of awareness stage content include:
The Consideration Stage
Next comes consideration. Consideration is a vital moment in the relationship between you and your potential buyer. This is the stage at which your customer feels confident that they’ve conducted enough research and are ready to start looking for products within their price range, or for services that suit their needs.
The reason this stage is so vital is that it’s here where you can impart the most influence. Customers who are actively considering their options are still open to alternatives and are less likely to reject an opportunity based on lower priority needs if it seems to be the better choice.
Examples of consideration stage content include:
- Case studies
The Decision Stage
The final stage is decision making. Your buyer has done their research, shopped around and considered their options. They are now ready to buy.
Don’t let them go anywhere else.
If your customer has reached your website at this stage in the funnel, it’s essential that you create an online environment that makes securing their business as simple as possible. Here, you can’t afford to be vague. Don’t beat about the bush. Here are some content ideas to consider to strengthen your website’s decision-making power.
- Free consultations
- Project estimate
- Free trial
You might not have any of these resources, but don’t worry. It means you can create your content strategy from scratch!
- Which search terms take your potential customers to your website? Take a look at your website’s analytics and see how you can get more traffic by tweaking your keywords.
- Take a look at how you display your products and/or services are on your website. If a customer at the consideration stage visited, would they be enticed to make a purchase or enquiry? How could their experience be improved?
- Look at your product/service pages and imagine you’re ready to purchase an item. What roadblocks come your way? Make a list and think about how you can streamline the process.
A Content Strategy For Everyone
By conducting a full website audit, your business will be in an ideal position to build a fully-connected content strategy that takes real-life customer journeys into account. Here are some examples of how this works:
- If you’ve discovered that your website has great content but needs to be faster to load and stronger in its persuasive tactics, find a way to build in fixes to help your customers make decisions quickly and easily.
- If, after your audit is complete, you realise much of your content could benefit from being refreshed and consolidated, it’s time to put a content marketing plan in place.
Read our post on content marketing strategy to get all the the details you need to find out how to create an effective inbound content marketing plan - including developing your web content.
How To Begin
A website content audit isn’t as complex as it sounds. To conduct a successful audit of all the content you’ve created and published on your website, here are the main tasks you need to complete:
- Take an inventory of all your website’s assets
- Make a list of all the areas where your website could be improved
- Assess where there are gaps/where your content is lacking
- Assess the use of keywords
- Assess where to consolidate similar or repetitive content
It all becomes much more manageable when you lay it out this way. Your business will have team members who fall naturally into each area of the audit process, so make life easier by assigning audit tasks to individuals with the skills to complete the first stage effectively.
When it comes to improving the buyer’s journey, there’s nothing more important than making sure their time on your website is as fuss-free as possible. When a customer visits your site, they want to find the information they need as quickly as they can, and if they plan on making a purchase, they want to be able to do this as painlessly as possible.
Put barriers in their way, and they’re far less likely to part with their money or their valuable time. Make their lives easier, and your job will become easier too.
Now all you need to do is conduct your content audit. Luckily, we’ll show you how to do that, too.