Content marketing is about providing the right content at the right time to the right person.
When you say it like that it sounds so simple, but as content marketers know, it’s a full-time job (or more!).
In today’s digital age, marketers are more equipped than ever with the data and analytics necessary to effectively engage with their customers. However, oftentimes, marketers find themselves bogged down in day-to-day deadlines that they lose sight of the bigger picture.
The Content Marketing Institute’s annual benchmark report on B2B content marketing this year found that 56 percent of respondents say their organization was very committed to content marketing, but only 37 percent had a documented strategy. The top reasons? Small teams and lack of time.
One of the most effective ways to guide and inform your content marketing strategy, as well as tactical implementation, is to perform a B2B content audit. It can happen at the beginning of a program, at the outset of a new product launch, or basically, anytime you want to check in on performance and develop new data-driven content ideas.
There are, of course, many different ways to approach a content audit. I’m going to discuss one method that directly relates to keyword ranking. And the best news for busy B2B marketers? It doesn’t have to take up a lot of time or manpower and can be tailored to your specific needs and priorities.
Among the top goals of any B2B company engaged in SEO is to rank on the first page of Google results for their priority keywords. These few steps guide you through how to analyze search engine results pages (SERPs) and identify what’s necessary to compete for a top ranking. Then, you can take that information and optimize your existing content or create new content assets.
As with all content marketing initiatives, you must start with keyword research.
1. Identify Priority Keywords
For this content audit, you first need to narrow your list of keywords to a priority list. We’ve discussed how to generate keyword ideas and prioritizing those keywords in previous blog posts. To make the B2B content audit manageable, identify 10-20 priority keywords that directly relate to your business. Try to include a mix of top-of-the-funnel, high search volume keywords, as well as longer-tail terms a more qualified buyer might search.
Just a note, you don’t have to use this method for a large-scale audit; it can be used with one keyword (or keyword theme) for a new product launch or a keyword-targeted blog post.
2. Analyze the Existing SERPs
There is so much you can learn from digging deep into existing search engine results page. We typically will use the SEMrush keyword analysis tool, as well as look at the actual Google results (in incognito/private mode). To get the most out of this exercise, don’t just look at the title and meta description on the SERP, click through to the actual page and read it.
As you review the SERPs, take notes in all the below areas. Spend some time getting a sense of what Google believes is the user’s intent when they enter that keyword. This will give you a clear picture of the search landscape – and what’s required to rank for the keyword.
Are the top results product pages? Blogs? Definitions? A mixed bag? Is there a Google Answer Box, a “people also search for” box, images, or videos in the results? Are there many paid ads? Do the results answer a question (what is xyz?) or offer something more in-depth? If there are blog posts, is it a list-style post or does it take a how to approach or offer a comprehensive guide?
By examining the type of content that’s ranking, you’ll gain a better understanding of what Google believes is the search intent of the user.
Key Content Elements
Dig into the SERPs and take note of content’s characteristics. These items include:
- Level of comprehensiveness/word count
- Number of subheads
- Keyword frequency and appearance (i.e. is it in the title, meta description, subheads etc.)
- Age (and current relevance) of the content
Later, if you decide to optimize or create content, you’ll have a framework to improve/build that asset.
Next, look at the websites themselves. Do you see industry publications or competitors? Research-based sites (i.e. Wikipedia) or scholarly publications? This will help you determine if – with the right content – your site can earn a space on the first page.
Ask yourself, in light of these data points, is your site comparable or better?
3. Examine Your Own Content
Now, it’s time to take all you’ve learned from your SERP analysis and apply it to your own site and content marketing efforts. Where are there opportunities to improve rankings?
Answer these questions:
- Do you have a page that’s already ranking for the keyword? Is it a page that aligns with what you’re seeing in the SERPs?
- Do you have a page that could be ranking if optimizations were made?
- Is your domain authority compatible with the existing search results?
- Is a new content asset necessary? Do I have existing content assets that could be leveraged in development?
With these questions, you’re looking to determine the likelihood that if you put in the effort to create the right content for the keyword, you would realize a return on investment (i.e. higher ranking, improved organic traffic, more qualified visitors).
4. Identify SEO & Content Opportunities
If you’ve determined that there are worthwhile keyword opportunities, it’s time to develop a plan to execute on your content analysis.
With each keyword, identify the target page (existing or new).
For existing pages, use what you learned from the analysis to make on-page optimizations. If you’ve determined the keyword as a priority, don’t be afraid to make significant changes to align with the SERPs; however, be cognizant of the page’s overall keyword performance. For instance, you don’t want to optimize for one keyword at the cost of a keyword that’s already ranking well and driving significant organic traffic.
For new pages, apply the framework derived from the SERP analysis to build out your landing page, blog post, or other content asset.
5. Prioritize & Delegate
We often hear clients say they are looking for “quick wins” – and for good reason, who doesn’t love results with minimal effort?
From your analysis, there may be opportunities that fall into the quick win category. A few optimizations made to a blog post might be the difference between a second-page ranking and a first-page ranking. Or a keyword may not be mainstream in your industry yet, and present an opportunity for your business to establish an early presence.
Other SEO opportunities might be a longer-term investment, such as a keyword-focused blog series or development of new website section targeting particular B2B audiences or industries.
Based on overall marketing strategy, begin to prioritize and delegate responsibility for these content marketing efforts. To support new and existing keyword-targeted pages, identify cross-link opportunities sitewide.
6. Repeat As Necessary
Track performance of your content: is your content asset moving up in rankings? Is it generating organic traffic? Are you seeing conversions or increased time on site? Have the SERPs changed? If the content isn’t generating the results you expected, try to find out why.
This type of audit is something we do quite often as clients come to us with new business initiatives and focus. Getting a sense of the search landscape – and identifying applicable content assets already available – is an important step in the content marketing process.
As we mentioned from the start, there are many different ways to approach a B2B content audit. This method is designed to uncover content marketing opportunities rooted in SEO.
Before you dive into a B2B content audit, it’s best to start with figuring out your objective; ask yourself, what do you want to know at the end of the process? Where are we falling short of expectations? For example, is your content not driving conversions? Has organic traffic to your blog plateaued in recent months? Are you not ranking for important keywords (and perhaps your competitors are)?
No matter how you decide to approach your content audit, it’s a great way to take a step back from your ongoing strategy, gather data points, and refocus your content strategy accordingly.
Have you performed a B2B content audit recently? Let me know how it worked for you on Twitter.