If you operate a website (or more than one), you may not be getting the full potential out of your business.
Having a website full of content dating back months or years may seem like the best way to be credible. But in most cases, old content can be a waste of space. Conducting a content audit allows you to understand how your content performs. It also helps you know what to change for better results.
It may seem like a daunting, tedious task. But if you do a content audit once a year, it becomes an easy practice that’s well worth the elbow grease. So let’s look at everything you need to know about how to audit your content.
Content Auditing – What Is It?
What is a content audit? A content audit is when you combine all the material on your site into one document. But it’s more than a compilation of all the data – that’s a content inventory.
A content audit is a qualitative content assessment based on key performance indicators. Performing a content audit can help you answer the following questions:
- Which pieces have the best performance?
- What topics have the most customer interaction?
- What posts aren’t viewed enough?
An audit also lets you know what content you’ve used and haven’t. And it can help you target the content that’s irrelevant and low-ranking.
This massive data collection also gives you insight into your content’s performance. And how well it aligns with your site’s objectives.
An updated content inventory reduces the chance of repeated materials. And the data will be more organized and easier to analyze to detect trends and patterns.
Reasons to Conduct a Content Audit
One reason to conduct regular content audits is to breathe new life into old work. It’s tempting to start with a blank slate and a new topic. But you can end up with a muddied concoction of pieces that seem unrelated and random or sometimes repeated.
According to SEMRush, one of the best marketing tactics is updating or repurposing content.
A content audit can also help you detect weak content to make changes to improve relevancy.
It’s also useful for meeting your content marketing strategy goals. Or you can use the data to create one if you don’t already have one in place.
And it can give you a higher ROI (return on investment). And finally, an annual content audit targets outdated and low-viewed pieces to produce more business and improve performance metrics.
Steps to Conducting a Content Audit
Although there aren’t many steps to a content audit, it’s time-consuming to amass all the content. Breaking your audit into smaller chunks can make it a more manageable task.
Before you begin your content audit, you should know its purpose. Due to the amount of work, it’s only worth doing an audit if you’re making changes to your website content.
There are two reasons for auditing a site. One reason is to critique your SEO practices. You’ll collect data such as word counts, keywords used, and optimized images and their rankings.
The other reason is to determine the performance of your marketing content strategy. This time, look at the number of social shares, metrics for visits, time spent on each piece, and page lengths.
Step 1 – Set Goals and Metrics
The first step is to define your goals and metrics. This is crucial for getting the right results. There are different audit types focused on various aspects. Understanding your goals will help improve your content strategy.
The goals you choose should match your content metrics. They are broken down into four subtypes:
- SEO metrics – dwell time, backlinking, organic traffic, keyword rankings
- Engagement metrics – mentions, comments, shares, likes, upvotes, re-publications, incoming requests
- User behaviors – bounce rate, average session duration, page views, users (new and existing), traffic sources
- Sales – ROI, conversion rates, lead amounts, cost per acquisition, existing leads nurtured, new leads created
Analyzing engagement metrics or user behaviors can identify the most popular topics. Then you can come up with future ideas. And checking your data’s rankings and backlinks is best for a successful SEO campaign.
Goal 1 – Get Better Results for SEO
A content audit is an excellent tool for improving SEO practices. It can determine web pages with the highest potential for ranking in the top 10, which you would see with our SEO services.
An SEO content audit can also identify content needing updating or eliminating. And it allows you to examine and optimize internal links. Sure, this is a time-consuming process, but it is well worth it.
Goal 2 – See Increased Engagement with Audience
Content audits can identify the content material types with the highest audience engagement.
And topics of most interest to your visitors. Then you can find what content types have the most social media engagement.
Goal 3 – Higher Conversion Rates
Use your audit to figure out the pages offering the best experience for your users. You can also determine what content provides the best leads.
Furthermore, you can get higher conversions by fine-tuning the content to match a customer’s position in the buying process.
Step 2 – Inventory Existing Content
Your audit type will determine what data you’ll need to assemble. You can decide to inventory your site based on your goals or specific extensiveness.
You can invent internal content like news, blog posts, educational pieces, landing pages, or product descriptions. Or for external components – interactive content like games, quizzes, or tests, PDFs, or videos.
Here are three content audit types:
- Full Audit: A complete inventory of the entire site, organizing and analyzing the data
- Partial Audit: Collecting, organizing, and studying a specific type of content like blog, social media, topic-specific, or niche-specific
- Content Sample: Focuses on a set of example pieces – a subset or from all types and categories
Round-Up Your Used URLs
You’ll need to gather the URLs of every webpage you want to include in your analysis. Content audit tools offer the quickest way to collect all the content on your site.
SEO Spider – by Screaming Frog – is one of the top inventory software tools to use. Or you can choose to use SEMrush’s Content Audit, which makes quick work of auditing using a sitemap.
These tools give you a list of associated metrics for URLs on your site. Or you can choose to limit the analysis to a domain section like a blog or subfolder.
Generator tools can build a sitemap for your website if you don’t have one started already. These maps are excellent for content auditing. And they also help search engines have a better understanding of your site’s structure.
You can also use your site to ensure all the important pages on your website get included in search engines. Then, after you compile a sitemap, submit a copy to Google Search Console.
Keep Content Cataloged
Gathering your URLs isn’t enough to perform a complete content audit. And things can get disorganized fast if you don’t keep accurate records.
The most basic way to track your URLs is to use a spreadsheet. But there are also online tools that let you sort your results by criteria. You can even share the documents with team members.
Ways that you can catalog your website content includes by:
- Word count
- Author(s) – if there’s more than one person who does the writing
- Publication/Modification date
- Content-type – manual, landing page, blog post, video, image, or product description
- Stage of buyer – information gathering, debating, or making a decision
- Content format – images/videos included, with or without call-to-actions, or text only
- Content hub or content cluster
- Meta description
Multiple templates can make things easier. You can get as detailed or as simple as you like.
Step 3 – Pull Together Data and Analyze
Step three – data collection. This step requires more time, effort, and attention to detail.
It could take a long time if you’re gathering data and analyzing it yourself. You often have to use many sources and enter the factors into your tracking tool.
Content audit tools automate the process based on your chosen metrics and goals. And make the job finished faster.
SEMrush Content Audit
The SEMrush Content Audit tool audits for backlinks, content authors, content length, metadata, and social shares from Facebook and Twitter.
And it syncs to Google Search Console and Analytics accounts for extensive data metric collection. By doing so, you can collect additional URL metrics about each session, including:
- Average session duration
- Average time on page
- Search queries
- Bounce rate
You can gather shares, keyword rankings, referral traffic, and backlinks daily.
Google Analytics will track content with the best performance for engagement, conversion rates, and traffic. It allows you to estimate the effectiveness of your marketing goals better.
This tool collects information on metadata, file types, and page-level details. It also gathers screenshots, images, videos, and documents of each page. And then, it organizes all this data or exports it for offline analysis.
You can use Content Square to discover user behavior while also figuring out what works. To find areas needing later updates, you can even analyze customer journeys or check page elements for performance, impact, and usability.
SEMrush Site Audit
This site is useful when your main goal for content auditing is to get better rankings. In addition, we like to use this tool if you suspect your site is experiencing technical issues.
SEMrush Position Tracking
This tool is useful for tracking target keyword rankings. And for pieces with strong SEO potential. – web pages ranked in the top 5 or those ranking close to the top. And making updates to these pages can allow you to improve search engine positioning.
Analyze Audit Data
Before you can make changes and see improvements in your content, you must know what the data means. For each piece, you will need to identify:
- Bounce rate
- Length of stay
- Click rates
- Goal specific data – forms, calls, surveys
Based on your data and metrics, you can determine the future of each piece. You also need to consider your company’s goals, which can help you decide what status to give each one.
Status options include keeping, updating, or deleting the pieces.
If your content stays relevant and performs over time, you won’t need to make updates. Instead, it can remain part of your existing content marketing strategy. Topics include general business information, Evergreen content, FAQs, and success stories.
Content audits often lead to old pieces containing some useful info that’s outdated or no longer relevant.
Rather than scrap these pieces, you can update the information. Types of materials include articles with important news, statistical blog posts, and works with low conversion and traffic.
Some content on your site can’t improve or will take too much time to revise.
It might be more practical to remove the content completely rather than leave it in these cases.
Seasonal marketing materials from years past are one topic that you can remove. You can also target content based on events, out-of-stock products, repeated content, and expired campaigns.
This data should go under the column labeled ‘Status’ in your content audit spreadsheet. Then decide if you want to keep, update, or delete. In some cases, you might be able to combine shorter pieces or break up long parts into multiple small pieces or infographics and images.
Use Metrics to Score Content
You’ll also want to keep track of your site’s metrics to better understand how your content is performing. Things that you’ll want to document in your content audit include:
- Organic traffic
- Bounce rate
- Time on page
- Unique visitors
- Pages per session
- New vs. returning users
- Traffic sources
Also, ask the following questions about your content. What are relevant topics that you haven’t covered – missing content? What content doesn’t have strong numbers (underperforming stats)? What content is old and outdated that you can rework or update for better optimization? And what content is performing as expected, with excellent results?
Step 4 – Create a Plan of Action
Next, you’ll create a plan of action to help tackle the changes you’ll need to make for your site.
Your action items will fill the final column on your content audit spreadsheet and work as a guideline to keep track of your changes.
Pick Priority Actions First
Now is the time to set certain pieces as a priority or on a timeline. For priority items, consider your goals to determine which elements to change first.
A smart plan starts with pieces you can edit to align with your business goals without too much work or effort. Tasks like repairing links or updating meta descriptions and image tags are easy, quick edits.
Give Each URL an Action Plan
Once you’re through prioritizing your list, you have to create an individual action plan for each content piece. Label your components with one of the following classifications.
- Reuse – mixing multiple content pieces to create a new article or a different format (slide, infographic, e-book).
- Rewrite – when posts don’t perform as desired, it may be necessary to do a rewrite using new details, tips, and examples.
- Expand – expanding existing content can improve rankings (long read content with more than 3,000 words get better traffic, shares, and backlinks).
- Refresh – keeping the majority of the content but updating it to reflect current statistics, trends or to correct outdated info.
- Structure – proper structure using H2, H3 tags for easier organization and browsing.
- Update CTAs – Call To Actions are important for getting lead conversions into sales but are sometimes geared towards a specific promotion or expired offer.
- Upload videos – one survey conducted by Wyzowl states that 87% of video marketers agree that adding videos to your site can increase traffic and browsing time.
- Include images – images are another useful tool that can get your site more traffic and engagements while also increasing your content’s chances to appear in SERP.
- Rewrite metadata for optimization – make sure keywords naturally appear in titles, meta descriptions, and h1 tags.
- Update internal linking – adding updated links for posts on similar topics can lower the bounce rate. Or you can organize your internal linking so that awareness materials link to consideration pieces, which should link to content on making a decision.
- Add 301 redirects – for each page that you’ve taken off your site, you will need to assign a 301 direct, which prevents the dreaded “page not found” errors.
- Notify Google – once you’ve made all of your content updates, use the URL inspection tool by Google Search Console to submit your new content for Google to index.
Step 5 – Make Changes to Content Marketing Strategy
The final step is to use the information you’ve amassed during your audit to make changes to your existing marketing content strategy on a long-term basis.
Pay attention to what you’re doing that works well, and try to use the same practices in your other pieces. And by keeping track of what doesn’t work, you can prevent the pitfalls in future parts.
You can also study your competition to get ideas for improving your content by studying what they’ve done that work that you haven’t considered.
Let Us Help with Your Content Audit
If you’re looking for a marketing company that can help your business grow to reach its full potential, you’re in the right place. We are Trusted Search Market – a Lancaster SEO company – and internet marketing is our business. If you want to see how we can make your business goals a reality, then let’s chat!