October 2, 2014
Do you know what Google does when it determines your search ranking? It sends its various algorithms out to conduct a precise audit of your content. Google rips through every aspect of it, from the grammar and spelling to the relevancy and keyword usage. That’s why it’s important to perform a website audit before Google so courteously does it for you.
But what about your blog?
Chances are it’s the most active and consistently updated area of your website, maybe even of your entire online presence. You wouldn’t be the first to skip a blog audit because it’s so huge. But should you? The answer is no. A content audit for your blog is a must, and we’re going to tell you why.
The Power of Blogging
It’s no secret that blogging is one of the most powerful content marketing tools out there. It’s cost-effective, easily manageable, and provides strong support for both SEO and content campaigns. But here’s the rub: After about a year, the content you’ve published has likely turned stale and doesn’t drive traffic. It may even be outdated or irrelevant, aka a threat to your rankings because Google punishes sites clinging to dated, irrelevant content.
At the very least, you should strive to conduct a thorough blog audit once per year. However, you can conduct one more frequently, which is a good idea, particularly if you’re overseeing a sizeable blog that is constantly growing.
But beating Google to an audit isn’t the only reason to review your blog’s content. There are some pressing business-driven reasons to dig in:
- Offers Change: If you’ve leveraged your blog to make offers, promote services, or spotlight products, you need to ensure those posts remain relevant. If you remove a service or product, or if an offer is no longer available, it makes little sense to keep the promotional blog post. Deletion may be a good idea.
- Links Stop Working: It’s safe to say you link to other websites in your blog, and it’s not uncommon for links to stop working in time. Other website owners are conducting content audits, and they’re trashing or repurposing old content. The links seasoning your older blog posts could be broken, and they’ll need to be removed.
- Topic Trends Fluctuate: Today’s hot topic is tomorrow’s old news. Your archived blog posts may contain outdated topics or an older way of approaching something. It’s important to weed out this type of content before it weeds you out of search rankings.
Conducting Your Own Audit
So now that you know exactly why a content audit is a must for your blog, the question is how do you conduct one? “Audit” is a pretty intimidating word, but don’t despair. It’s not a super tough action to perform.
If you’ve Googled something along the lines of “how to conduct a blog audit,” I bet you were left feeling disappointed. A Google search returns with tons of information about a general content audit, but there’s next to nothing about focusing on your blog.
- Review Your Topics: Auditing a blog can be intimidating because of the sheer number of posts that you’ve never audited before. The best way to get started is to review the topics. Make a list of the ones that appear to be outdated. They should be your first priority. You can use a spreadsheet via Google Docs to create your list.
- Dig into The Content: Once you’ve established a list of priority posts, start reviewing them. A quick skim can tell you whether a portion or all of the post is outdated. At this point, you have a choice. You can repurpose the content into something new and relevant, update the blog and republish, or simply remove it. If a post is over a year old and more than 50 percent of it is outdated, removing it might be the most time effective method, but don’t overlook a prime opportunity to repurpose or update.
- Delete The Irrelevant: If your post is about a product, service, or promotion that no longer exists, it’s time to delete it. It’s had a good life, it brought in traffic and conversion in its prime, but it’s time to let it go.
- Resurrect Old Posts: If an older post strikes you as worth resurrecting, there are a few ways you can go about doing it. For example, you can update the headlines and the title tags to something more relevant and timely. You can add, remove, or restructure some of the content. You could update the tips, strategies, or technologies mentioned to refresh the content to something current. You can even rewrite the post entirely if you think it’s a topic worth keeping.
- Update the Meta Information: Regardless of whether you keep, update, repurpose, or restructure a post, the Meta information needs to be kept up-to-date. Review your title, keyword, and description tags to ensure they still fit the content contained in the post. Tweak them if necessary.
Establishing a Resource
Ultimately, blogs are resources. The really good ones are historical and timely at the same time. There’s a time and a place for deletion of outdated blog posts, but sometimes keeping old content in your archives is useful.
If you spent last year documenting the latest and greatest in your industry, it’d be a shame to delete all of that research and writing just because it’s been replaced by new trends. Instead, when conducting your blog content audit, identify posts that can be reworked as a history of previously used and accepted techniques or trends. Historical posts are sought after by many bloggers who cover past, present, and future industry trends.
If you put the time and effort into a quality blog, you’ll build a resource. A little auditing throughout the year, or at least once during the year, will keep it on track for strong search rankings and a shining resource reputation.
Julia McCoy is a top 30 content marketer and has been named an industry thought leader by several publications. She enjoys making the gray areas of content marketing clear with practical training, teaching, and systems. Her career in content marketing was completely self-taught. In 2011, she dropped out of college to follow her passion in writing, and since then grew her content agency, Express Writers, to thousands of worldwide clients from scratch. Julia is the author of two bestselling books on content marketing and copywriting, and is the host of The Write Podcast. Julia writes as a columnist on leading publications and certifies content strategists in her training course, The Content Strategy & Marketing Course. Julia lives in Austin, Texas with her daughter, husband, and one fur baby.