Content Inventory 101: How To Audit Yourself & The Competition

web content audit

Evaluating the content production and distribution efforts in your industry - both your competitors’ and your own - is essential to ensure that your content continues to be relevant and effective.

That’s where a thorough content inventory and audit report comes in. Auditing web content helps keep your content marketing strategy up to date by having an accurate sense of what’s working and what’s dead in your niche.

With that in mind, here’s my guide to take inventory of all the content associated with a brand, generate a content audit report and extract potential growth opportunities.

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    What Is A Content Inventory Audit?

    A content inventory audit (or simply content audit) is a systematic review of a brand’s content to assess its performance and effectiveness in meeting business objectives.

    This brand in question could be your own, as well as of a competitor or another brand that publishes content on topics similar to yours.

    As a brand, you can’t plan ahead for success unless you know where you currently stand, what’s working for you or other sites in your niche, and what you need to get where you want to go.

    So a content audit is a crucial part of forming and updating your content marketing strategy with changing industry landscape and customer needs.

    Image Source: UX Knowledge Base

    For example, a competitor content analysis can help you discover which of their content is performing the best. And then you can decide to create more content on those topics.

    In addition, when you audit web content that belongs to you, you can identify missing or outdated content to add or improve upon.

    Creating and updating the content which is most likely to perform well can lead to a stronger user experience and ranking in search engine result pages.

    Take Content Inventory

    The process begins by cataloging each type of content associated with a brand. In other words, we want to capture everything from emails and blog posts to videos and social media updates. Let’s look at those in detail:

    Blog & Social Media Posts

    This is frequently published content which can provide insights regarding the relative important and range of different content keywords and topics.

    Website Architecture & Content

    This pertains to what type of pages are available on the website, the content on those pages and how they are connected to each other.

    It can help you see how a brand ensures that their audience are able to navigate through and discover the content most relevant to them.

    Podcast Episodes / Audio Recordings

    This is audio content which can be consumed more passively or on the go, a good indicator of how a brand thinks about certain topics.

    Seminars / Webinar Presentations

    Think of this like a big online conference call where someone from the company is presenting and participants can join in to listen and ask questions.

    Previous webinar recordings are often available on a brand’s website, along with an invitation to sign up for a future webinar.

    E-books, White Papers & Reports

    All these are ways to provide more lengthy, meaty, in-depth content which digs deep into broad topics the audience cares about.

    Videos, Presentations & Infographics

    Visual content is just as important as other types of content for a more comprehensive look into a company’s style, voice and tone.

    Transactional, Marketing & Sales Emails

    Arguably the most important channel for any online brand, email communication can reveal what a brand thinks is most valuable to share directly with prospects and customers.

    Taking note of each type of content in your content audit report helps you assess the level of investment, format, keywords and other important factors that a brand has been managing.

    It can take a great deal of time to do this manually. So it’s better to use a tool which can automate this process to some extent.

    That’s where Screaming Frog SEO Spider comes in. Simply put, it is a software that can crawl a website and generate data with SEO insights as well as potential issues.

    Content audit report by screamingfrog

    For the purposes of taking a content inventory, it can extract information such as: title tags, URLs, meta descriptions, subheadings and word counts.

    With the free version of this tool, you can crawl up to 500 URLs. But if you want to crawl a website with a lot of content/pages, you might need the premium version.

    Evaluate Overall Content

    Once the inventory has been taken, the next step in competitor content analysis is to understand the level of focus each type of content gets from the brand, and how the audience gets it.

    Take stock of different types of media and channels the brand is using to publish and share the content, along with the frequency and extent of repetition.

    When you audit competitor content, you can also get a sense of how each piece of content is performing by analyzing trends or patterns in signals such as count of social media shares, backlinks and comments.

    Image Source: Content Marketing Institute

    Input this information into the content inventory you gathered in phase one to get an overall, high level view of the brand’s content strategy. You can do this for all your content marketing competition.

    Identify Noteworthy Content

    Now that you’re done with macro-level audit, it’s time to dig deeper into each individual topic or piece of content.

    But if there is too much content to go through, you can begin with the most popular or the most recent content.

    There are a number of factors to define what best-performing content means for you, and then associated ways to find that content.

    Top Content Based On Internal Links

    One way to find and audit web content which is the most important for a website is to use Screaming Frog SEO Spider as I covered above.

    The content audit report can show you which web pages have the most number of internal links pointing to them.

    It is likely that the content inventory with maximum internal links pointing towards it is the brand’s pillar content. If you’re crawling a competitor’s website, reviewing these pages will give you ideas for the content you should have on your website.

    Top Content Based On Social Shares

    Reviewing your own or your competitors’ most shared pieces of content is another great way to conduct a competitor content analysis and see what type of content tends to resonate well with your audience.

    Using a tool like BuzzSumo, you can enter a domain name and view detailed data on a website’s most shared content.

    BuzzSumo for competitor content analysis

    When you audit competitor content, BuzzSumo has a ton of options to filter and expand on the data it presents. But at the very least, you’ll have a table with the number of social shares associated with each piece of content on the website.

    Top Content Based On Backlinks

    This method can help you research which pieces of content are earning the most backlinks, among your content marketing competition. Using a tool like Ahrefs, you can find the most linked content on any website.

    Audit competitor content with Ahrefs

    This will enable you to collect a list of URLs that have attracted the most inbound links in the past.

    Top Content Based On Organic Search Traffic

    Another great way to look at which content pages get the most organic search traffic. Tools such as SEMrush or Ahrefs can help you in this regard.

    If there are topics responsible for a substantial part of your competitor’s traffic, you might want to create content on those topics as well.

    Furthermore, if your competitor’s content is weak or poorly structured, then you may have the opportunity to create something better and steal the traffic.

    Find Content Opportunities

    As you review each piece of content, take a note of title and description, among other on-page elements.

    Tag each piece of content you analyze with a topic theme (think of this like a category), as well as specific granular topics (like tags or hashtags).

    The outcome of auditing web content this way will be a master spreadsheet which breaks down the brands’ complete strategy. And there begins the task of analyzing patterns and trends.

    Graph to analyze content marketing competition

    By looking at the combination of quantity and quality of content produced so far in your content audit report, you’ll discover two types of insights.

    • Topic themes which have been done to death or so well that there is no opportunity for you to differentiate. So you’ll know to stay away from them.
    • Gaps which leave the readers wanting for more. These are the opportunities you can leverage and weaknesses you can turn into strengths.

    For the pages you’re reviewing, also check the structure, format, comprehensiveness, embedded videos/graphics and information covered to understand why it’s doing well or not doing well.

    These aspects of content inventory are important to understand for ensuring what you create is better positioned for success.

    In other words, you will have the data you need to understand how to differentiate in the space, provide more value to your audience and win at content marketing.

    Final Thoughts

    Conducting a data-driven competitor content analysis is essential to create data-driven content. But it’s not something you can do once, then set and forget.

    While you audit competitor content in your industry and content on your own website, your competitors are probably doing the same to improve upon what they have.

    So if you want to stay ahead of the content marketing competition, monitoring content trends and strategies should be treated as a regular habit.

    I understand that assessing the content landscape in your niche can be time-consuming. But it’s essential in order to write unique content that truly gets noticed in the crowd.

    Did I miss anything? Do you have any questions or comments? I’d love to hear them below in the comments section.

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