When did you last review your blog content? Can you say with confidence that all posts meet your current audience persona needs?
Research from HubSpot recommends companies publish three to four new blog posts a week to maximize their organic traffic. This means a brand would ideally create more than 156 new posts in a year—and you’re at an extreme resource disadvantage if you treat each of those as one-and-done content.
Most content you create can become an evergreen resource that drives steady traffic to your site, as long as you give each piece the ongoing attention and pruning that it deserves.
Let’s explore how to conduct an efficient blog content audit and the simple changes you can make to your outdated content to keep it audience-focused and brand-relevant.
How to Conduct a Blog Content Audit
It will likely take a significant amount of time to audit your existing blog content. However, it is well worth the time investment, and there are multiple ways to optimize the process.
Use a tracker to document your blog content audit journey and serve as a project management tool that guides your team through the next steps. We’ve created this free blog content audit template to get you started.
Follow these steps to fill in the blog content audit template and complete your audit:
Step 1: Add each piece of blog content to its own row.
Starting with your most recent blog post, paste the title and hyperlink it to the published article on your blog. This way, your tracker will become your new content inventory, replacing the need to search through content on your site manually.
Step 2: List the topic and audience persona tied to each piece.
Briefly skim each piece of content to identify its primary topic and the audience persona it is geared toward. If the topic is still of interest to your audience, but the content is outdated, or the writing doesn’t match your existing brand voice, mark it for a refresh in the action column.
Step 3: Flag irrelevant posts for removal.
After a cursory scan of your content, identify any pieces that are no longer relevant for your audience, do not meet an audience persona need, or refer to outdated concepts or technology. Tag them for removal in the action column.
Step 4: Pull KPIs on each piece of relevant content.
For this step, skip any posts that you flagged for removal. For the rest, there are a few metrics that help inform what to do with the content that is still relevant for your audience:
- Social shares: List how many times the piece has been shared on social media channels. You can find this information through your social sharing plugin, incoming social referrals in your analytics tool, or a tool like Buzzsumo.
- Pageviews: List how many times the page has been viewed, including unique page views. If a post has a high number of page views with a much lower number of unique views, this implies that the piece is a valuable resource, and readers return to it often.
- Entrances: Entrances show how many users begin their session on this page. Posts with a high amount of entrances are serving as a gateway for readers to get to your site instead of them starting from a different piece of content or page.
- Percent Exit: Exits show how many people leave your site after viewing this piece of content. Your exit percentage can inform which posts need a stronger call to action or more valuable links to other pieces of content or pages on your site.
Step 5: Prioritize highly shared and viewed content.
Sort your grid by “Social Shares” to see which content your audience is actively sharing with their communities. Then, check the “Original Publish Date” column to see which of this highly shared content is aged and potentially ready for a refresh. Do this again by filtering by page views.
Step 6: Include an action for each blog post.
Work row by row to assign an action to every piece of content. If it is fine as-is, put N/A. If it needs to be refreshed, put refresh. Be consistent with your naming, or use a data pulldown so you can later filter your grid by this column.
Step 7: Prioritize your action items.
Finally, filter your grid by the action column to then prioritize these actions. Immediately retire your content flagged for removal, making sure to put a redirect in place and update any content linked to the piece. Then assess which pieces of content should be updated first. Break this down by week, month, or quarter.
Your team may want to track other KPIs to inform your prioritization. You will want to refine our template audit sheet to fit your individual needs. If your team has not previously conducted a content audit, this initial audit could lead to tens or even hundreds of posts that need to be updated.
6 Ways to Refresh Existing Blog Content
With your blog content audit complete and priorities set, you can now work through your content refresh.
There are often a lot of unknowns when you’re first creating a piece of content:
- How well will it perform?
- What questions will readers ask?
- How will readers apply this information?
- Will readers need further resources?
After your post has been live for several weeks, you’ll have answered many of these questions, and you can now optimize the piece based on this knowledge.
In most cases, these edits will be minor enough where you just update your original blog post. However, significant revisions to a post could mean that you post an entirely new piece. You would then leave the original post on your site but link it to the new article. The Content Marketing Institute does this often, including an article I wrote on defining your brand voice. My original post appeared in 2015, and I updated it in 2018 to include links to new resources, click-to-Tweet quotes, and more.
There are six primary ways to lightly refresh your existing blog content to keep it brand relevant and valuable for your audience:
Strengthen your content ecosystem by adding links to and from your own content. Too few content creators think through this, which is why my team has templates that include backlinks as part of the planning process.
Also, link to articles and resources from third parties. Use a tool like Answer the Public or Buzzsumo to identify engaging related content on your topic that you can link to (if it’s not from a competitor, of course).
Call to Action (CTA)
You’ve had that CTA on the original post for some time now. Maybe it has been working well, or you may need to spruce it up a little. If it has trailed off on driving readers to take that next step, you can plug in a new CTA given the topic’s current state.
Images are a powerful way to break up long blog posts and provide a new way to approach the content. Create images that pull a tip or quote from your content, summarize main points, or provide clear steps for the reader. Visualize concepts or frameworks that further illustrate your key points. You can additionally use these images to re-promote the piece on your social media channels.
Even the best content can be left unread if there is no way for people to find it organically. A low entrance rate or total views could imply an SEO problem. Tools like SEMrush are incredibly effective in streamlining your SEO efforts. Two primary SEO areas to consider when updating your existing blog content are:
- Keywords: Take everything you know about your ideal customer personas, how their pain points have evolved, and how they measure success and use this information to refresh your language throughout the post. Review your headline and body copy and include the keywords your audience is most likely to search for when looking for this type of content. Remember, though, you should write content for people first and foremost. Great blog content is not written for SEO—it’s optimized for it.
- Meta description: The meta description is a short blurb that appears with your content on search engines and social media previews. This copy should address the “what’s in it for me” for readers and provide a brief look at what readers will learn.
Stats and research
Revisit any research or resources that you linked to in the original piece. If you reference data that is now more than three years old, search for a more timely stat and rework the copy to reflect this current reality.
Interview customers, coworkers, or industry peers to expand on your content. Marketers are frequently on tight deadlines for their initial publish date, so these hot takes usually don’t make the first round. You have more time to solicit influencers’ thoughts and layer in their valuable insights with a refresh.
Extend The Value of Your Evergreen Content
Now that you have a prioritized plan for updating your blog content, your work is almost over. Huzzah! Your final step is to create a new set of social media posts to promote the content you’ve refreshed. Reuse any images that you created to illustrate the posts as a way to “stop the scroll” on your ideal readers’ social feeds.
It is important to remember that each of your social channels has its own unique community. Do not simply share the same social media copy across all your channels. Instead, follow these best practices for content marketing on social media.
Outdated content is often misaligned with your current audience persona needs. When you conduct an annual blog content audit, your team can say, with confidence, that you are meeting your community’s needs, and providing a consistent brand to the public.
Download our free blog content audit template [no email address required!] to get started, and leave a comment with any questions I can address.