Content audit: Prep your blog for 2017 by reviewing posts

4 key steps

With the new year approaching, it’s a great time to conduct a blog audit to assess what’s working for your blog. Performance, trends, reader response — these are all things you should look for when reviewing your posts. By optimizing your proven, high-performing content, you can supplement your new content in 2017 and develop a content strategy that’s sure to turn heads. Repurposing, republishing, and monetizing previously published blog content can lighten your workload and increase revenue.

Give your readers more of the content they know and love, all while staying true to your brand.

Performing a content audit on your posts

Content Audit LaptopBefore you delve into planning your 2017 editorial calendar, it’s a good idea to do a content audit on your blog. Examine posts with high traffic, look for trends in your content, and identify articles that can be repurposed or republished to complement your strategy in the coming year.

There are four steps to auditing your past blog posts:

1. Identify your top posts.

First things first — you need to find your best-performing posts. There are a couple of ways to do a content audit by using different analytics programs across the internet and even within your own blog.

Google Analytics. Use Google Analytics to identify your top 10 to 20 posts each month over the past year. Then make a list of your top posts for the last 12 months and all-time.

Pinterest Analytics. Visually, what did people find appealing from your blog? Look at the all-time performance for your domain in the Pinterest Analytics dashboard. Export the list of Power Pins, Most Saves pins and Best Search pins for your domain.

Content Audit Social Media Analytics
Photo: Alan O’Rourke via VisualHunt / CC BY

Facebook Analytics. Though Facebook’s analytics tool only reaches 90 days into the past, it can be valuable in helping you determine which content performs best with your audience.

Pro tip: If you want to capture more than 90 days, set a reminder in your calendar to periodically review Facebook Analytics and save the results to review when it comes time to plan your editorial content.

In Insights, look at the “Posts” view. Sort by reach and engagement to view the top posts for the last 90 days. Export the data to look deeper.

Posts list on your blog. Go through your posts list. Which posts might be rewritten and republished next year? Which are missing information? Which should be deleted? Make notes detailing which should be edited, deleted, repurposed and/or linked to future posts.

From memory. Anecdotally, make a list of remarkable posts from this past year. Was there a lively discussion about a post on Facebook? Did a large number of your email subscribers click on one post link in particular? Do you remember a post that people commented to you about in person? Did a sponsored post network ask to syndicate or advertise any posts?

2. Analyze trends to build out your editorial calendar for next year.

Content Audit TrendsLook for common threads between the posts that were top performers on your blog, Pinterest and Facebook. Examine comments on blog posts, and note the number of shares to identify the characteristics that make that post resonate or stand out to your followers. Consider the following:

  • Voice and point of view. Are you sharing humor, honesty or a certain tone in your writing that helps readers connect with your content?
  • Topic. Is the topic timely? Does it reach a certain demographic within your larger following? Are there several posts in the same genre or general topic? For example, if half of your top recipe posts were for slow cooker recipes, “slow cookers” is a top topic for your blog.
  • Trendiness. Is the topic trendy and possibly out-of-date for the coming year? What does the response to the post tell you outside of the trend? Look at other factors beyond trendiness in high-performing posts, such as a pain points.
  • Pain points. Do the posts solve a common problem? Posts that save money, provide solutions to problems, and show how-to’s have high value to readers and good potential for repurposing.

3. Identify posts for editing, repurposing and deleting.

When doing a content audit, start with your top 10 posts from this past year, and then work through them in chunks as time allows. The posts on your list should fit into one of five categories:

  • Edit. These are posts that are missing information, need information removed — such as expired coupons, missing long-pin images, missing meta data, missing alt tags on images, broken links, etc. — or need an edit to improve the usefulness of the post.
  • Monetize. Turn posts into money makers through affiliate marketing, partnerships, adding product links, adding content upgrades and other money-making strategies.
  • Republish. Identify posts that can be updated and republished again this year. Some can be republished as an individual post, or they can be grouped together and republished as a new product, such as an eBook.
  • Skip. These are posts that are monetized, hit all the key marks for SEO and content, or are sponsored and cannot be edited.
  • Delete. These are irrelevant posts that no longer fit your brand message and get little to no traffic. Do not redirect these links — a 404 error tells search engines to stop indexing that post because it no longer exists.

While edit, skip and delete are fairly self explanatory, there are a few things to think about when it comes to monetizing and republishing content. Keep reading to see how optimization plays a key role for both.

4. Optimize the posts.

Optimizing posts is an all-around beneficial practice. It improves the reader’s experience, boosts search engine ranking, reinforces your brand, generates leads and email subscribers, and helps you make money.

A great content audit can reveal tons of opportunities for optimization.

 

Consider the following strategies:

Paginate posts.

Content Audit PagesPaginate posts to increase ad revenue, lower bounce rate, and improve readability by breaking up an existing high-traffic post into multiple pages. Rewrite the content to help propel the reader through the pages of the post. For example, a DIY tutorial post can be broken into a first page with the “before” photo, a second page with a supply list, and a third page with a final reveal and tutorial

Each time a new page is opened on the post, it counts as a pageview, multiplying ad revenue.

 

Bounce rate will be reduced as new visitors click multiple pages on each visit to your site. There are a few plugins you can use to paginate posts in WordPress, but for a quick tutorial check out this article from WP Beginner.

Things to consider before paginating:

  • Pagination should enhance the reader’s experience. The story needs to be compelling enough to get people to click through to the next page or you lose the benefits of pagination.
  • Consider mobile implications. Pagination can be difficult for mobile users if the navigation buttons are too small.
  • Weigh ads against content carefully. As of August 2016, Google weighs the ratio of ads to publisher generated content in their ad limit per page guidelines. Pages with multiple ads and very little content may hurt your site’s search engine ranking.
  • Track revenue. Make sure your ads are well-placed and working so you can capture the revenue benefit from pagination.

If your posts are already paginated, use Google Analytics to see if readers are clicking through to all of the pages in your post. If they are not, analyze and then edit the post to remove pages or change the flow of the story to improve click-through.

Monetize.

Posts that bring traffic to your blog are perfect for monetization. There are plenty of ways to make money from your blog, including ads and affiliate links.

Add affiliate links and ads to posts that feature products or services.

 

If you already have affiliate links on the post, make sure they are working and that the product is still available. Add a relevant content upgrade with an email opt-in to capture leads. You can also consider doing sponsored blog posts for other sites. Exposing your name and your writing to new people can in turn send them back to your site, spiking clickthroughs and engagement.

Rewrite posts.

Content Audit RewriteImprove popular posts by rewriting them to add valuable information:

  • Answer questions from the comments on the post within the body of the edited post.
  • Add links to related posts from your blog to lower your bounce rate. Use plugin WP Optimize by XTraffic to make linking keywords to related posts easier.
  • Add links to related posts from other reputable blogs and sites for SEO value.
  • Add new information that can improve a reader’s experience.
  • Add new images that tell a better story or match your current branding better (think watermarks!).
  • Improve readability. Your writing is probably stronger now than a year ago, so edit your post to make it sound better and more aligned with your brand tone.
  • Make sure there is a great pinnable image in every post.

Republish posts.

Identify evergreen posts over 12 months old that can be updated and republished as if they were new posts. Rewrite the post, adding new information, monetization, and other improvements outlined above. Publish these edited posts as new posts with a new date, keeping the original post url the same so that you don’t lose any referral traffic. Rewrite the posts in a word processing program then paste the new content into the old post and republish it manually. The Content Replay plugin allows you to edit and schedule a previously published post as a new post.

Note: If your URLs have the date in them, avoid republishing. The URLs will change when the post is republished, resulting in a loss of referral traffic.

Create a product from posts.

If you have a popular group of posts, you can pull content from them and turn them into an eBook for sale or to use as a content upgrade. For example, if your paleo dessert recipes are really popular, create a “20+ paleo recipes” eBook with all of the recipes in one easy-to-print PDF. You can sell the eBook, monetizing each paleo dessert post featured by including sales copy and a link to the eBook. Use the eBook as a content upgrade, editing the paleo dessert posts to include an email option button that will deliver the eBook to new subscribers via an email automation. While editing each recipe post to add the sales info or opt-in, be sure to optimize.

In conclusion

By optimizing and monetizing past high-performing content, you can decrease the amount of new content you need to create next year and increase your revenue. You’ll also be better informed about what kinds of content perform well with your audience. Let’s recap the four ways to do a sound content audit to prep your blog for 2017:

  1. Identify your top posts.
  2. Analyze trends to build out your editorial calendar.
  3. Identify posts for editing, repurposing and deleting.
  4. Optimize your posts.

Use this information to give every post the potential to be a high-performer! Have any tips you’d like to share? Leave them in the comments below.


Also published on Medium.

Image by: baracoder via Visualhunt / CC BY-SA

Jennifer Priest
Jennifer Priest is the chief creativity evangelist at jenniferppriest.com, sharing a love of DIY in a practical, modern way. She enjoys clean recipes, clever projects, and witty jokes — everyone loves a good laugh! Jennifer lives in Southern California with her multi-cultural family plus a clan of cats and two dogs. During the day, she runs an influencer marketing consulting firm with a prestigious client list in the craft and hobby industry. She is extremely passionate about connecting influencers with brands, developing digital marketing strategy, and managing social media marketing programs for creative businesses, both large and small.