Are your student enrollment, alumni participation, and donor funding slowly decreasing? If so, when’s the last time you updated your website content?
The needs of your prospective and current students, donors, and alumni are always evolving, and your institution’s website should evolve with them. Website audits allow you to update your content so it’s more engaging, accurate, and aligned with your marketing strategy’s goals. To conduct one successfully, you should understand what a content audit is, the value it can offer your institution, and how to develop an effective auditing plan.
Consider the Benefits of a Content Audit
Much of your time is likely spent seeking out, creating, and distributing new content to ensure that your college or university’s marketing strategy moves forward. But many higher ed marketers skip the step of looking at existing content to identify whether that content can be updated, improved, or repurposed in other formats. Doing so could make your overall marketing strategy more efficient and set the tone for what you’ll do with future content, so all that hard work doesn’t get buried in the archives.
Even stellar content typically becomes out of date or just plain forgotten as your institution and audiences evolve, and previously produced content may also lack important search engine optimization (SEO) updates, making it harder for your readers to find. A content audit provides you with valuable insights on how your content and your overall website are performing right now and highlights areas you can augment or improve going forward. You can find out whether your existing content is optimized for search, how your readers are interacting with it, and if you’re meeting your marketing goals.
Conducting a content audit can help you ensure that the content you’re publishing:
- Establishes and maintains your college or university’s credibility as a top institution of higher education and a thought leader
- Is easy to find and rediscover through site navigation and online searches
- Is timely and relevant to the audiences you’re trying to reach
- Adheres to new SEO rules
- Does not contain any errors or out-of-date communications
A content audit will also help you and your team identify gaps in the type of content your audience is looking for in terms of what is available on your site. It will also offer insight into how you might extend your content’s reach by translating it to other formats like video or podcasts.
The 4 Decisions You Will Make During a Content Audit
What you uncover during a content audit will help you make strategic decisions about what to do to make sure your content is working for your website goals. Using the data and metrics you’ve collected on each piece, you can determine which of the following actions is appropriate:
- Keep: High-performing, regularly accessed, relevant content can probably remain on your site as is, and you can consider repurposing it in other ways, such as in email communications, social posts, and recruitment presentations.
- Update or Improve: Some content just needs a little boost to make it relevant or highly read again. Look at your pieces that feature stats, past events, or other stale information that could be updated to make it current. Make small tweaks to the content so it better fits your audiences’ needs – like mentioning new research or opportunities for student involvement that fit within the existing content. This is also a good time to consider whether the content would make more of an impact in a different format, like a video.
- Consolidate: Can any of your underperforming but still high-quality content be edited down a bit and merged with a related article that’s doing well? Consolidation will allow you to get the original article’s message across in a format your readers are already responding to.
- Delete: Removing content that is completely out of date, irrelevant, duplicated, or consistently low-performing will free up space and searchability for your high-performing content to shine.
Create an Action Plan
After you’ve gathered all your content insights, you need an action plan. First, look at how you want your content to help you meet your marketing goals. Then, look at each piece of content you’ve decided to keep, update, or consolidate and consider some of the following actions to make that content work better for you:
- Repurpose content by grouping related pieces, editing down underperforming content and combining it in a high-performing article, or showcasing successful content in other formats like newsletters and social posts.
- Refresh or partially rewrite existing content by updating statistics, relevant events, or research opportunities or adding new examples, testimonials, or tips.
- Update links, SEO keywords and tags, metadata, and other elements that make your content more searchable for your intended audiences.
- Add new images and video clips that add interest to existing pieces and enhance engagement potential.
- Update your call to action to ensure that readers can take the next steps you’re hoping for – whether that means touring, applying, enrolling, or donating.
Setting clear goals at the start of your content audit process and keeping an open mind when it comes to deciding what you’ll keep, update, consolidate, or delete will help make this process less overwhelming and make future content creation more purposeful.
LIGHTSTREAM can help you analyze what content is working best for your college or university’s goals and guide you in updating and creating content that makes you stand out in the competitive higher ed market. Contact us today.