It’s no surprise that the American Marketing Association’s 2021 report found that more than half of all marketing budgets are allocated to entirely digital efforts. The internet gives you the ability to invite anyone in the world to interact with your firm with just a click of a button, so it’s crucial to keep your online space updated and easily accessible. But it’s not as easy as just updating your blog or having a functional website – those things are important, sure. But they don’t matter much if no one can actually find your website.
That’s where search engine optimization, or SEO, comes into play. SEO includes any steps you take to increase your chances of ranking higher in online search results. It’s all about making it easy for Google to find your site and deliver it in search results, so that more people will click the links and find your business.
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As a content creation company, we know that proper SEO techniques can be the difference between a marketing campaign’s success or failure – especially for financial advisors trying to set themselves apart from the pack.
That’s why we’re creating a digital marketing series on SEO just for financial advisors: a comprehensive and step-by-step guide to everything you need to know about increasing your online visibility. The first step?
Today, we’re walking you through the ins and outs of conducting a content audit, including why your firm needs one and how to get started.
To conduct a content audit is to take stock of every piece of content your company has created. It’s the process of assessing your content’s strengths and weaknesses, finding any gaps in your messaging, and gaining insight into how to best move forward in your content strategy and practices. Although a content audit can seem like a big undertaking, we’ve created a step-by-step process with easy to use templates and checklists to guide you through the process.
But before we begin, it’s worth exploring the underlying question:
Why do financial advisors need content audits in the first place?
The importance of a content audit can be directly tied to the importance of creating original content. Content creation is the basis of inbound marketing – it fosters natural conversation between your firm and potential clients in an educational way. It’s all about offering authentic and empathetic materials that effectively demonstrates your expertise.
You don’t want to spend your valuable time and money creating content that doesn’t serve this purpose – it’d be a waste of resources and potentially even a turn-off to readers. That’s why a content audit is so important to your marketing process: it can help keep you on track for your marketing goals while also offering insight into how to better foster those key conversations with clients.
A content audit can serve multiple purposes, including:
A content audit can uncover areas of your website that need a refresh. Have your services changed? What about your pricing? Your contact information? It’s imperative that you give your clients recent and relevant information regarding how you conduct business, right from the start.
You’ve spent the time creating your firm’s target personas – but do you have content specifically targeting each of those at every stage of the marketing funnel? A content audit can help identify any gaps in your messaging.
Old, irrelevant content doesn’t cut it when it comes to the Google machine. A content audit can help you figure out which pieces of content can be updated and repurposed, and which pieces are better off in the trash bin.
Your content audit should reveal where your audience is engaging the most. Is a particular blog post really resonating with your clients? Has your newsletter plateaued in terms of gaining new subscribers? The answers to these questions can help you create a stronger gameplan moving forward.
Continuous communication is key in advisor-client relationships. Your most consistent form of communication with your clients shouldn’t be their monthly bill – rather, your content should serve to deepen those relationships and help build greater trust. A content audit helps to paint the full picture of how clients are interacting with your firm on a regular basis.
When prospects visit your website, they’re looking for reassurance that you’re a legitimate firm with advisors that know all the ins and outs of the business. Content is a great way to position yourself as that authority figure. A blog, for example, can demonstrate profound knowledge on subject areas directly related to financial planning. A content audit can help reveal which areas already show off your firm’s know-how, and which areas you could expand on more.
Now that you know the “why” behind a content audit, it’s time to put that knowledge into action and conduct your own content audit – let’s get started.
Your first step is to download or copy our free, easy to use content audit template. This template will act as your guide throughout the content audit process while also helping to organize your content.
To download as an Excel file, click File>Download>Excel file
To make a copy of the Google Sheet, click File>Make a Copy
Ready to get started with the content audit template? Click here to download our free content audit checklist
The main focus of this template is to gain a comprehensive view of all the content you currently own.
This inventory could include:
Website content; such as blogs, landing pages, white pages, service descriptions, etc.
Downloadables; such as brochures, checklists, ebooks, templates, etc.
Interactive and shareable content; such as youtube videos, quizzes, etc.
The first step in organizing your content is to give your pieces distinct titles – this isn’t the time to develop your very own shorthand. You don’t want to get through your content audit and then realize you or your coworkers can’t figure out which blog you were actually referring to!
For example, if I were entering a blog titled, “What is Financial Planning?” into the spreadsheet, I would put the full, exact name under the title section.
Further down the spreadsheet, you’ll also see a section for URLs. If you have a link to your content, make sure to add it in as well.
The next step is to identify the type of content the piece is. In our template, we’ve already set up four separate content type categories: blog, ebook, fact sheet, and webinar/video.
Maybe you have only blogs to log in the template, or you have an interactive quiz that doesn’t quite fit under the current column names – that’s okay! If some of your content doesn’t fit exactly into these categories, make the necessary changes and add or subtract columns as you go.
A marketing funnel is generally separated into three sections: top, middle, and bottom.
The top of the funnel is all about increasing awareness and knowledge about your firm. This is where the majority of your content should fall into – these pieces are usually educational content that a person could find on the internet without necessarily knowing about your firm beforehand. Top of funnel (TOFU) content usually includes blogs, videos, infographics, and more.
Middle of funnel (MOFU) content is aimed at clients who are actively searching for a solution to a problem and currently deciding between their options. Your focus here is on showing that prospect why your firm is the right solution for them. This could be through free trials, email campaigns, or video demonstrations.
Bottom of funnel (BOFU) content is for clients who are already hooked – they know and love your firm. BOFU materials could include events, promotions, feedback surveys, or referrals.
In your content audit template, decide which spot in the funnel each piece of content belongs and mark and “x” accordingly.
Next, classify each piece of content based on which persona it should appeal to. For example, if I’m writing a piece about investing in your 20’s, my persona probably shouldn’t be the 50+ year old midwestern couple.
If a piece of content doesn’t line up with any of your personas, it might be best to take a closer look and see if the content is actually serving you or any of your clients. Could it be tweaked to better fit one of your personas, or is it wise to focus on creating new content and leave that one behind?
If you have a blog on your website, you probably have a way for visitors to search through your content or browse by specific tags.
Similarly, you’ll want to organize your content by topic in your spreadsheet. This will allow you to see which topics you’ve covered thoroughly and which topics are lacking enough content to satisfy your clients.
If you’re not sure what content you should be creating more of, a good idea is to look at what’s performed well already – which blogs consistently see the most readers every month?
Another way to find out what your readers want more of is to just ask! You could invite your clients to fill out a feedback survey on blog topics they’ve enjoyed or submit questions they’d like answered.
Also take the time to mark off whether the content is original to your firm or not (most, if not all, of it should be). This is a good way to double-check against accidental plagiarism when you’re repurposing or updating content.
The final section of your template is for your notes – this can be thoughts or ideas you have for the piece, names of contacts who could offer valuable insights, or any other relevant information. It could be as simple as writing “this piece is good to go” or “this one needs some revisions.”
And if you feel inspired along the way, we’ve also included another tab in the template for all your fresh ideas.
Want these six steps in a simple, on-the-go format? Click here to download our free content audit checklist
We suggest a content deep dive annually, but you should probably check up on metrics and progress more regularly, particularly if you’re launching a new campaign or strategy. How often you should conduct a content audit really depends on your firm’s unique needs and challenges. That said, when in doubt: more often is better than not often enough. Knowledge is power, right?
Need help jump starting your content audit? Have questions about how to use the template? You can click here to reach out to the Three Crowns team today.