A Step-by-Step Guide to Content Audits

How clean is your content strategy? Content audits are a great way to find out.

When’s the last time you explored the blog section on your website, pruning any old, outdated, or just plain bad content? 

Most companies know that they need to create a regular flow of excellent content to thrive online. However, it’s easy to forget that you also need to regularly audit your content strategy to ensure that you’re sending the right message to both your audience and the search engines. 

Performing a content audit is how you determine whether your website is performing at its absolute peak, or whether you’re missing topics, keywords, and other crucial components that could be essential to your business growth. 

Fortunately, we’re here to guide you through the process of auditing your content. 

What is a Content Audit?

A content audit is an essential part of your market strategy. 

With an audit, you examine every piece of content on your website, from blogs to podcasts. During this search, you assess your assets, removing anything that could be harming your ranking, and upgrading your strategy. 

During a content audit, you can pinpoint harmful content in your campaign, and remove it from your website. However, you also get a chance to see which of your pieces are driving the best results, which could mean that you know where to strategically focus your budget. 

Regular auditing is how you ensure you’re sending the right message to your customers, and the search engines.  

Why Do a Content Audit? 

Content audits are helpful to marketers for several reasons. 

Audits lead to improved rankings, better conversion rates, and new opportunities to improve on your SEO and promotional efforts. Auditing your existing content opens your eyes to opportunities for improving the overall quality of your website. 

Content audits:

  • Outline problems with your content: This could include broken links, performance issues, accessibility, or just pages that aren’t ranking well. 
  • Identify opportunities for repurposing: Valuable information could easily be converted into new blog posts, podcasts, or videos.
  • Diagnose content gaps: Highlight areas where you’re missing options to rank specific keywords targeted by your competitors. 
  • Improved information structure: Ensure that Google can crawl your website properly. 
  • Evaluate content quality: Make sure your existing content is up to scratch. 
  • Better SEO: Google makes endless changes to its algorithm every year, a content audit is a chance to ensure that you’re up-to-date. 

When Should You Do a Content Audit?

Ultimately, the only website that doesn’t need a content audit is a brand-new one. Since your website is fresh, your content and strategy will be up to date too. 

Even if you’ve only had your site running for a couple of months, you could still probably benefit from a small audit. The size and age of your website will generally determine how extensive your audit needs to be. For instance, an audit of a particularly large website will usually take more budget and time. On the other hand, a site with only a handful of posts can be audited with ease. 

If you need a quick way to see whether you need to prune some content from your website,  do a quick search on Google. Type your domain into the search bar with your blog directory too see the number of pages you have indexed by Google. 

What Tools Do You Need?

The first and most important tool that you’ll need for a content audit is a dedicated individual. You can do your content audit on your own – but this can be an exhausting process. 

You can also share the duty with some other employees or hire a professional content auditing company. If you hire someone, you don’t need any tools at all – because your pro will already have the services required. However, if you’re going solo, some basic tools can be useful, such as:

  • Ahrefs: Ahrefs includes some handy tools for content auditing, including keyword evaluation, and content gap analytics. With content gap analytics, you can see which words your competitors are ranking for that you haven’t accessed yet. 
  • Screaming Frog: This is one of the main go-to tools for crawling website content. You can crawl up to 500 URLs with a free subscription. Plus, you can access details like title tag information, response times, and meta descriptions too. 
  • Bynder: This is a digital asset management solution that helps you to both create and organize content on your website. 
  • Dynomapper: This software allows you to audit the issues that might be affecting your search visibility and user experience on your website. It even comes with a free trial so that you can start searching without spending a penny. 
  • Google Analytics: Google Analytics allows you to keep track of useful SEO information during your audits, such as a number of page visits, bounce rate, conversion data by page, and time on page too. 

How to Perform a Content Audit: The Step by Step Guide

Now we get to the meat of this guide: actually doing your content audit. 

The first thing you need to do is decide why you’re doing your audit in the first place. One option might be that your marketing initiatives aren’t delivering results or that you’re trying to get a better understanding of your customer’s journey. 

The most common reasons for conducting content audits are:

  • For SEO: Content audits help you to identify the weak spots in your search optimization strategy so that you can improve your chances of ranking. Cataloging different keywords, word counts, and other elements make it easier for you to determine which changes you need to make to improve your position online. 
  • For content marketing: Another great reason to conduct your audit is that you want to improve your content marketing efforts. Here, you can look t things like visit metrics, page length, and social shares to ensure that you’re delivering the right experiences to your audience. 

Generally, you should be able to use your content audit to improve both your content and your SEO at the same time. 

Step 1: Create a List of your Content

First, figure out which content you’re going to be auditing. You might be looking at blog posts, multi-media, and product descriptions, for instance. Alternatively, you might want to look at content types one at a time. Create a list of everything you want to analyze. 

If you have a small website, you can gather your information manually. However, there are tools like Screaming Frog that can do the work for you based on your website’s sitemap. 

Screaming Frog’s free version allows you to crawl up to 500 links on your site – which is a good start. You’ll need to keep all the URLs that you collect with a status code of 200. If you find that you’re missing various URLs, then you know your internal linking isn’t great. In this case, a sitemap generator might come in handy. 

Step 2: Categorize your Content

Next, you need to separate content into categories. 

Content that isn’t performing well is going to bring your website down. After you’ve got your audit, categorize it on your spreadsheet. Online tools can help to categorize your information for you, but you can also go through and create categories yourself. 

Remember to look at things like content types, authors, publication dates, and content formats. Think of the categories that are useful to know based on different pieces of content. For instance, if you’re auditing blog posts, relevant information you might need includes the publication date, the author, and the meta-data. 

Step 3: Assess your Metrics

Metrics will be essential when categorizing your content. While some online tools automatically include parameters, you can use tools like Google Analytics to top up your information. 

By the time you’re finished categorizing, you should have a spreadsheet that features the URLs of your content, meta-data, categories, and metric data. The metrics you might want to collect include:

  • Content title
  • Length of title
  • Category (topic for the page)
  • Search volume (Use AdWords to get this)
  • Current ranking for a keyword
  • Average organic search traffic (Get this from Google Analytics by clicking on Behavior, then choosing the page in question.)
  • Average overall traffic (Once again, get this from the Behavior section of Google analytics. You can look at the last 3 months)
  • Meta description (This affects your CTR and may need to be optimized)
  • Bounce rate of organic traffic (Use Behavior in Google Analytics to check the bounce rate)
  • Average time on page (Same report as above)
  • Number of backlinks (You can use a tool like Ahrefs to get backlink information in bulk)

Step 4: Analyze Your Information

Now that you’ve made a list of all your content and metrics, it’s time to scrutinize your data

When analyzing your data, you’re going to need an in-depth understanding of your audience. If you don’t have one already, take the time to create user personas based on what you know about your readers or customers. Make notes of what your clients are interested in, and what they read on the websites of your competitors. 

When you’re analyzing your data, make notes of:

  • Missing content: What haven’t you covered that your competitors have?
  • Underperforming content: Which pieces aren’t getting the numbers you’d like?
  • Outdated content: If you have old content it needs to be updated or reworked
  • Excellent content: The stuff that performs best in your portfolio

Organize your content based on the results of this analysis.

Our best tip for doing this is to assign different colors to the things that you’re highlighting and color-code your entire spreadsheet. This will also make it easy to see which types of content fill up the biggest portion of your content strategy. 

Step 5: Identify New Opportunities

Using a combination of both your customer personas and your spreadsheet, you should be able to start identifying new opportunities. 

Some of the opportunities to arise from your content audit will focus on removing old pieces of content or updating the content that’s dragging your website ranking down. Other opportunities will present themselves in the form of new keywords you can target. 

For instance:

  • Which terms are your user personas likely to be interested in or looking for based on your knowledge of them? Which terms haven’t you targeted already, and can you add them to your list? Check the difficulty of the terms before adding them to your plan. 
  • Which terms are you missing that your competitors have targeted? This can take some time, but there are tools like gap analysis on Ahrefs that can help you to identify the content gaps in your strategy. 
  • Which terms are performing best? Is there any way that you can capitalize on the top-performing content in your strategy by creating new content, like podcasts, videos, and infographics based on your most popular blogs?

Remember, as well as creating new content; you will need to remove some of the stuff that’s not performing as well on your website. While it can be stressful to simply remove a content asset from your website, you can always put the article or piece in storage just in case you might be able to use it later. 

Step 6: Create Your New Strategy

Once you’ve identified all of the opportunities available to you and removed some of the weaknesses in your content strategy, the final step is creating a new plan. You need a vision of how you’re going to proceed and address the shortcomings that you have identified up until now. 

Create a place to store the unwanted content on your site that isn’t delivering results and make a list of the pieces that you want to restructure. You’ll also need to update your content calendar with the keywords and terms that you want to target based on new opportunities that you’ve found. 

To organize your action items, add a section to your spreadsheet that will allow you to check off when each project is complete. Ideally, you’ll want to start by removing old content and updating the things that aren’t performing as well. 

Once you’ve fixed the existing issues with your content strategy, you can then start to create new opportunities. 

Make The Most of your Audit

A content audit is one of the easiest and most crucial ways to transform the performance of your website in no time. Even if you don’t have a lot of tools to help you, it’s easy to perform an audit on a small site with nothing but an excel spreadsheet. 

By the time you’re finished auditing, you’ll have a better idea of what your customers need from you, which parts of your campaigns need to change, and how you can access bigger and better results from your marketing in the future. 

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