How to Conduct a Content Audit

How to Conduct a Competitive Content Audit
January 10, 2019 Dennis 0 Comments

Why do you need to perform a competitive content audit?

These days, it’s no longer enough to have an excellent product or service. You have to know how to share your excellence with the world online. This doesn’t mean just blasting out thinly veiled ads over social media, you have to interact on a human level with your customers and provide value with your content.

If you don’t know where to start, or if you are seeing your competitors do much better than you online, carry out a competitive content audit and discover their strong points. To do this, list two or three of your most successful competitors and audit their content to discover what makes them so successful online.

This process can be very time consuming but it is worth the end results.

Step 1 – Find the content

This might seem easy, but be sure to do a thorough job. Start out by going to your competitors’ website and looking at all of the places they host content. This might be in obvious places on the navigation bar like “Case Studies” or tucked away in less obvious spots like “About”. Be sure to go through all of the submenus, even if they do not sound like a location for content, and don’t forget to check the site footer. The bottom of the page can host a wide variety of content.

Step 2 – Categorize the content

Once you have a list of your competitor’s content split it up into the types of content they publish. This could be any of the following:

  • Blog posts
  • FAQs
  • Case studies
  • Downloadable templates
  • Product guides / reviews / instructions
  • Webinars
  • Podcasts
  • Infographics
  • Videos
  • Features
  • Interviews
  • Press releases

Step 3 – Appraise the content

Frequency, quality, and type of content all come together to make or break an online presence.

Go through each piece of content and think about the quality. Are the photos and graphics of clear, exclusive, and relevant or are they obvious free stock photos just used to break up the text? Is the content well written, free of spelling mistakes, and easy to understand or is it peppered with spelling and grammar mistakes and difficult to understand?

If you were a potential customer would you return to this content and look for more or would you leave after a page or two never to return? Finally – Who writes the content? Is it all written in-house by one or two people or are there a variety of internal and external contributors, guest writers, and industry leaders involved?

Although it is subjective, give each piece of content a grade. This will allow you to rank the content and you can assess what your competitor is doing well, and where their weaknesses lie.

After you have graded, see how often each type of content is published. Do they publish a blog post every day? Have they got a large YouTube following because of their twice-weekly uploads?

Step 4 – Work out your competitors SEO strategy

It is not enough to have great content – people have to be able to find it so working out your competitors SEO strategy will help you to structure your content in a way that ranks you above them in search results.

You can do this by looking at each page from step two and reading the title, page title, H1 tags, and looking at the keyword density. The best way to find this information is to view a website’s HTML source. If you are unsure how to do this there are simple instructions for all web browsers here.

In addition, you can use a free too; such as Moz to discover how many inbound links your competitors’ site has. Each inbound link is like a vote of support for a site and if you can see who is supporting your competitors you can look for ways to gain their support for your organization.

Step 5 – Look at how they share

Finally, you should assess each of your competitor’s social media channels. While the number of followers can be important, it can be relatively easy for someone to inflate these numbers so don’t rely on this metric as an accurate measure of their popularity.

Instead look at how often their content is shared or commented on. Do they receive positive feedback or are they often on the receiving end of complaints or disagreements? View the content they post – what is most popular and what gets shared by followers?

Don’t forget to see how easy it is to follow them and share their content. Is there a tiny Facebook logo in their header that is easy to miss or do they have to have follow buttons for all of their social media channels front and center on every page. Do you have to use your own plug-in or go through a complicated process to share or are there easy to use share buttons on every piece of content?

Step 6 – Put your new knowledge to work

Now you have done all of the hard work let’s look at how you can put all of this knowledge about your competitor’s content to work.

Let’s imagine you are a cat hair farmer and you have audited your main competitor. You have discovered that their content is of generally good quality but they focus on twice-weekly blog posts and monthly webinars. Their content breaks down into:

  • Feeding cats for extra hair growth – 35% – 100k+ shares
  • How to store your cat hair – 25% – 25k+ shares
  • Knitting with cat hair – 15% – 2k+ shares
  • Cat welfare – 15% 6k+ shares
  • Hairy cat breeding – 10% – 4k+ shares

You also see they have a Facebook channel and a Twitter feed but neither channel is used frequently and most of the content they share is ad like.

So your content strategy can now target your weak spots:

Content types

  • FAQs
  • Case studies
  • Downloadable templates
  • Product guides / reviews / instructions
  • Podcasts
  • Infographics
  • Videos
  • Features
  • Interviews
  • Press releases

Subjects / Keywords

  • Knitting with cat hair
  • Cat welfare
  • Hairy cat breeding

Interaction on social media

  • Cat boards on Pinterest
  • Hosted Twitter chats with cat hair farming experts
  • A Cat Hair Farming channel on YouTube – Meet the cats
  • Host a professional Cat Hair Farmers discussion group on Linkedin

It’s worth it in the end

A good competitive content audit can take some time, time you may feel could be better used elsewhere, but in the long term, this will prove invaluable in driving new and returning readers to your site, engaging your target market and becoming the go-to expert in your niche.