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Strong and consistent content is vital for the success of any ecommerce business. Undertaking a regular content audit will ensure that you stay on track with your content over the long term.
A website is nothing without the content on it. All the links and pages in the world don’t matter if you don’t have the words, images or video to communicate your messaging to your customers. However, customer needs and perceptions can change, as can the type and way you can communicate information. For example, as wireless internet connections have got quicker and data has got cheaper, it’s been possible to include bigger and higher definition images or video on mobile product pages. E-commerce sites in particular often have a wide range of different content types, for product pages, blogs, social, and so forth. For this reason, it’s good practice to undertake a periodic content audit and review your content plan and how it ties into your marketing and media plans.
A content audit is an in-depth account of all of your content, listing it out in detail, and reviewing the purpose and performance of each type and piece of content. This can take a while, so it’s worth doing well so you only need to do it once a year or so. Because you, as a business, spend so much time creating content in all its various forms, it can be very beneficial to review what you’re doing, how you’re doing it, and how well it’s working. Because content creation is frequently an activity that crosses multiple departments, guidelines and best practices can become diluted over time, so it’s also a good opportunity to review these with the people who are actually doing the work on a day to day basis.
There are a number of benefits to doing a content audit.
Improve organic traffic
As trends in SEO have come and gone, one thing has remained consistent - content is king. It’s the words and images on your pages that create search relevancy and drive search. A content audit should allow you to identify opportunities to improve, add or retire content that will increase the volume of organic traffic that you get, either by widening the breadth of searches you’re returned for or by improving the visibility of your website.
Improve conversion rate
A close examination of performance can give you the opportunity to identify reasons why pages - in particular, product pages - might be underperforming. Because of the large amount of variations in product type, you can set up projects to improve information and data and improve page performance.
Improve customer experience and reduce contacts per order
Good content doesn’t just get a customer over the line to make an order, it also reduces the chances that customers have made an incorrect purchase. As well as product pages, this includes supporting content such as buying guides, FAQ sections, and customer service pages. Reducing contacts per order will make your business more efficient and reduce pressure on the customer service team, allowing them to give better service and satisfy more customers.
Identify content gaps
A content audit doesn’t just deal with the performance of content that you do have; it also tries to identify gaps that are causing your website to underperform. For example, your internal search metrics and customer service enquiries may indicate that customers don’t understand a particular product range on your website, allowing you to fill the gap with relevant video or buying guide content.
Align all content creators
Over the course of time, the people who actually create content may change. Particularly if different content types are created in different parts of the business, this can lead to inconsistencies in wording, style, and quality. A content audit that involves all of these parties is a good opportunity to reinforce these guidelines and to retrain where necessary. The teams that people belong to may well have different KPIs to marketing and as such less of a focus on the content they’re producing, so getting everyone together can produce a marked improvement in performance.
A full, detailed content audit involves examining the performance of each page of your website. For businesses with large ranges of content, this can be a lot of pages, so it’s worth bringing in a few stakeholders to help you with it. Additionally, you are looking for outliers in performance to identify broader improvements, so you can put in filters that will help you reduce the amount of investigation to a more practical level.
While each content audit will be different, there’s a process you can go through to make it easier for you.
List out content types, purpose, KPIs and owners Start by dividing up your content, grouping by type. For example, product description, data, blog content, product guides, customer service content, social media content, graphics, video, etc etc. Then, note down who is responsible for the creation and performance of each content type. This may be a team or person. This step is really important - you are not going to be able to push through improvements unless a named individual is accountable. Also detail the purpose and metrics used to assess the performance of each content type. This helps your assessment not to be too vague - you may feel that it’s fine that a blog post attracts a certain amount of traffic, but if the traffic does not flow into the website and eventually create value, then you will end up spending time without getting a return. It’s very helpful to map these content types to the customer journey - this will make sure everything aligns to your priority.
Download a list of pages and metrics from your analytics tool If you’re using Google analytics, it’s pretty straightforward to download the relevant groups of pages from your website along with the appropriate interaction metrics, be it incoming organic traffic, add to cart rate, etc. From there, you can order by performance to identify the best and worst performing pieces of content. At this point, you can start to investigate similarities within these groups - do the worst performing product pages have incomplete data or a low number of reviews, for example? You can get the individual stakeholders to do this - they are closest to the content and will have the best insight into what is lacking and what is not. If you have translated content, then you should deal with this separately, especially if translation is not happening in full at the same time (for example, product data may be prioritised first and then a longer description).
Having identified gaps and the weakest content, you can create a plan to improve it. The stakeholders you identified will lead this for their own content type. It’s important to put dates and resources needed against each set of actions, as well as the types of improvement to be made and the metrics you expect to see when complete. This way, you can work your way through the set of content that will have the largest impact on website and customer performance metrics. This will overlap a lot with your regular content and media distribution plans, both in production resources and distribution channels, so once the audit and plan are complete, it’s worth aligning them with the broader schedule to see what can overlap. For example, if you have a task to update the buying guides on a certain range or set of brands, then it makes sense to do this in line with any new season range and product launches that might be taking place, especially if you can use third parties to help generate more content.
Overall, a content audit is a lengthy and involved process, but doing it right will create a lot of value for your business in the long run - it’s always obvious when you visit a website and the content is stale, out of date and irrelevant. As an e-commerce retailer, it can be extremely damaging to your brand if you and your website are not seen as providing up to date and accurate information on all of the products that you are listing.