New Year Resolutions – are they a failure or success?
Why stopping, reviewing and remodelling can be the most productive of exercises
According to Forbes, only 8% of people who seriously make a New Year’s resolution will stick to it. There are various reasons why we fail and succeed with the goals we set; after all, we know we should be eating a healthy salad after the deluge of cheese, bread and wine over the festive period but, somehow even the crispest of salads does not have the same satisfaction rating as a chunk of bread and mature cheese.
Perhaps cutting it out completely is not the answer; rationing and setting this as a goal, may return better results.
And of course, the biggest factor in reaching any goal successful – and surpassing it – is the ability to stop and review, making any changes necessary.
Content is one of those areas within a business that can be left to flounder; even though you are posting content daily, and bashing it ‘out there’ on the several social media platforms, when was the last time you STOPPED and reviewed what you were doing…? And what the results actually are?
A Content Audit: your objective
The content in your website is of such importance that it deserves some additional attention. As we enter the first few weeks of 2015, the goal posts for content and search engine optimisation of your website have barely changed…
Your content should be written and crafted in such a way that people want to promote it by sharing it or linking with it. The increases the trust and authority associated with your site and hence, search engines are more likely to scan your pages for keywords the next time someone searches for them via their search engine.
Does your content do that?
But, before you start ripping your site to shreds and writing a whole heap of new content, take a look what is on there. Audit it. Review it. Modify it. Recycle it.
WHERE to start with a content audit
You should have some fairly minimal stats on where visitors to your site start e.g. you assume it is your home page but actually, they may land on another first. And, when you audit your content it may be because the information on that page is better, more keyword responsive than the home page.
There isn’t necessarily anything wrong with this and there is no hard and fast rule as to where or why customers should land on the home page first; many businesses find the ‘about us’ page is the most frequently landed/visited page.
The Whole Thing
Ok. You have some bare statistics and now you need to look as The Whole Thing.
What does you website feel and look like (remember this is content audit, not a design review)? What is the tone ‘saying’? Does it fit? Do you still want this tone or has the time come to tweak this a little?
Is it too wordy? Is it formatted correctly?
Keywords do matter and so you also need to audit these too; are they still relevant to your website and business? Do you need to more/take away/ research them again?
The Nitty-Gritty Mechanics
You’ve done the easy bit, now you need to create a ‘to do list’ and this need to contain the detail of the who, what, how, when and where. In other words, you are creating work but it can pay dividends in the end.
Trust us. It does.
Step 1: Set the objectives of your Content Audit
Apart from us telling you this is quite a good idea, what is it you want to achieve from this content audit exercise?
Remember, objectives need to be SMART
- Time bound
So, how about this as an objective…?
- To update all blog posts posted on site in January to June 2014 (24 posts) by the end of April 2015 so that website traffic is increased by 20%, by December 2015
A delightfully SMART objective:
- Specific – we know it is all blog posts and that there are 24 of them
- Measureable – you have 24 blog posts on your website and you have a target of increasing traffic by 20%
- Achievable – yes. With 24 blog posts that is not too many to review and the timescale seem within reason too ( you could set a target of updating so many posts per week, once you have reviewed what needs doing to what post)
- Relevant/ realistic – yes (but only you know your workload)
- Time bound – yes. You are set to achieve the update of keyword by the end of April, and can review your success in December or January of the following year. You could also have mini-reviews once the project to update/recycle posts etc. is complete
Step 2: Create a spreadsheet
Hop on over to Excel or Google spreadsheets (great if you are working in a team, because you can update this spreadsheet and share it via the cloud so everyone can see who has done what and when)
We suggest the following columns, but you can obviously add or delete as necessary:
Date, the page URL (address), Action required, Who? By when?
Step 3: Seeking answers to questions and deciding what must be done to achieve your SMART objectives…
So, as you go through your website, page by page (a great excuse for tea on tap and a biscuit or two), ask the following questions, noting answers and action in your spreadsheet:
- Does the page content fit with your strategy? Is it floating in mid-air or is it linked with the important topics and categories if your site?
- Are some the pages and content stuffed with keywords? (We all did this ‘back in the day’ so don’t feel guilt admitting this; it just needs simplifying!)
- Are the images on the page correct/useful/appropriate?
- What about the headline?
- Does the first paragraph grab the reader’s attention?
- Are there errors on the page?
- Are the links working?
- Can links be added that are more relevant and current?
- Do you have links to other pages on your website?
- Formatting – are words and phrases highlighted? Is it in neat, small paragraphs?
- Do you still want/need the post? Can it be recycled/re-written/re-used?
Your To-Do list may end up looking HUGE but, after you have all this information, prioritise the list – which pages are a must do NOW, which need doing in the next batch and which can be left until last?
A content audit is not about just creating a whole heap of work; it is about looking at what you have got and what can be updated/changed/modified (and even deleted if it’s no longer relevant) and setting some goals for action.
2015 could be the year you are part of that 8% of people who do meet their New Year resolutions… just make your goals obtainable.