How to Audit Your E-commerce Content, and Why
An e-commerce content audit may help a retail businesses identify valuable assets, discover new content or product ideas, improve site design or navigation, generate more site traffic, and even earn more sales.
A content audit is meant to help marketers and business leaders make informed decisions.
Before you launch a new content marketing campaign, redesign your e-commerce website, or take steps to improve search engine optimization, it’s good to know what you have, what’s working, and where there are content gaps.
Why a Content Audit?
There are at least four reasons to conduct a content audit.
Improve conversion rates. Analyzing content on product detail pages, category pages, and landing pages may uncover conversion insights or suggest conversion tests.
Improve marketing. A content audit is an excellent way to identify potential topics or niches for new content campaigns and an opportunity to rewrite or remove poor-performing content.
Improve SEO. Content audits are an important first step in any comprehensive SEO effort.
Improve site design. User experience designers often use content audits to inform site redesigns or improve navigation.
A business’s rationale for an audit will inform the audit’s goals, its scope, its frequency, and even key performance indicators to include in the audit.
Content Is for People
In nearly every possible example, content is meant for people. Its true purpose is to attract, engage, and retain people.
E-commerce websites include content so people will buy products. E-commerce marketers write how-to articles so people can learn a new skill and be engaged. Even SEO-friendly URLs and page titles aim to help people find the content.
Start the content audit process with a clear statement describing the people your content is meant to reach. A clear definition of your audience is an essential part of content marketing and the analysis of it.
Set a Goal
A thorough content audit can be a significant undertaking, especially for a relatively large e-commerce website. There is very little point in making the effort unless your business has some specific goals and a plan to use the information uncovered in the audit.
Start with one of the reasons listed above, for example improved marketing, and define associated goals for the audit. A goal might be to identify content gaps for future content campaigns or to eliminate content that no longer fits your products or business. And don’t forget your audience as you set audit goals. What should your content do for them?
Once goals are set, do your best to limit the scope of your audit. Do you need to look at all content on your website and various platforms, or is it enough to focus on your blog? Do you need to consider all content ever produced or just the content published in the past 12 or 24 months?
Based on the goals you establish and the audience you aim to reach, identify the KPIs you’ll need to collect and analyze any associated information you’ll want for decision-making.
If your goal is to discover new content marketing ideas, look at some of the best-read content you have now and seek to discover related topics you’re not current addressing.
KPIs for those best-performing bits of content might be:
Direct site traffic,
Number of annual sessions,
Number of social media shares,
Time on page.
In addition, for high performing content, audit the topic, type, length, and age.
Content an Inventory
Once you have a clear picture of your audience in view and a set of clear audit goals and KPIs, it’s time to begin a content inventory.
There are, perhaps, three ways to conduct a content inventory.
Manually collect content information. If your company has relatively little content, you may collect it article-by-article or page-by-page, building out a spreadsheet with hundreds of rows and, perhaps, a dozen columns. The process is arduous, but you will have an intimate understanding of your content.
Use third-party software. There are content audit software tools available. These tend to be more or less comprehensive and more or less specific to a particular sort of content audit. So you may want to look at a few options. SEO-driven content audits, as an example, will often use (a) the Screaming Frog SEO spider to collect or count inventory, (b) Google Analytics to locate traffic data, and (c) a backlink checker, such as Ahrefs, to understand associated links. This process is faster and less painful than a completely manual process, but not by much.
A custom content audit solution. Some companies develop custom content audit solutions. These solutions often access your content database directly and use application programming interfaces to gather associated data from third parties. Given the ease of web application development, a custom content audit solution may take less time to build than it takes to conduct an old school, manual content inventory. A custom solution can be reused, so you might conduct a content inventory quarterly, or monthly, or even daily without additional work.
Regardless of the method, the result will be a report listing all of the content within the audit’s scope. This list will include the KPIs and other information you’ll need to properly analyze your content and inform your business decisions.
Analyze Your Content
There is not a specific recipe or guideline for analyzing your content. You cannot say, for example, that a KPI means you should do this particular thing to achieve your goal.
Rather, look for patterns in the content inventory data related to your audit goals. The patterns you find should inform a hypothesis and lead to further analysis and understanding.
In the end, use your content audit to draw insights and ideas that will improve your e-commerce business. It is the application of what you learned in the audit that makes it a worthwhile marketing endeavor.
Originally published July 7, 2017 on PracticalEcommerce.com