Content Audit: Step by Step Process

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Your content might be well-written and of high quality but that doesn’t mean it is organized. Often, we post blogs and then never visit it again. After a few years, the content turns stale, outdated and irrelevant. Therefore, returning to your content periodically and updating the information is considered a good practice. Here’s where content auditing comes into play. A content audit will represent a qualitative index for all the content that you post on your domain. It is a review process that checks the content’s weaknesses and strengths to prioritize future content marketing activities.

A content audit that is well-executed and conducted on an annual basis can deliver valuable insights into your content marketing strategy including your website’s blogs. These analytics are needed to prepare new marketing strategies. A content audit is acutely different from content inventory. A content inventory is the quantitative accounting of the set of blogs that have been uploaded on your website.

Content Marketing Strategy

Why to Conduct a Content Audit?

Before you begin a content audit, you need to figure out why exactly are you conducting a content audit. Even though a content audit is necessary to maintain consistency in uploading fresh content, there is no correct or exact approach to content audits. Typically, a content audit is conducted for two basic reasons:

1. SEO

To identify any weak spots in your site’s SEO and marketing efforts, a well-executed content audit needs to be conducted. While conducting an SEO audit, using an SEO audit tool helps you catalog the different parameters of SEO like keywords, optimised images, clean URLs, etc. that are associated with content on each webpage. With the help of this tool, you can also compare these lists to your current webpage rankings. This will make it much easier to determine the necessary changes and actions that need to be conducted to improve your website’s organic search ranking. Since most of the online traffic to your website is from an organic search, a content audit is a good practice to be conducted once a year.

2. Content Marketing

A content audit also helps in assessing the present state of your content marketing efforts. Apart from search page optimization efforts, your audit will concentrate on other metrics like page length, the number of page visits, social media shares, etc. All of these will give you insights into your audience’s response to each content piece that you have created and posted. Consequently, you can use this collected data and alter your content marketing strategies or create new, effective strategies to improve your future content’s performance.

There isn’t a sole group of professionals that perform content audits. However, marketers, content strategists, SEO experts are likely to conduct a content audit.

Content Marketing

When to Conduct a Content Audit?

A content audit is neither a one-size-fits-all process nor does there is a specific time to conduct the process. However, it’s apt to conduct a content audit process when you have published enough content in the blog section of your website. Also, if you have applied at least one content marketing strategy, a content audit can help you identify its results. The results could suggest a few more ideas for effective content marketing strategies to be implemented in the future posts.

You must spot the content that needs updated information, a rework for better quality, or trending keyword phrases to be used in the blogs. To make this an easier task for all of your previous uploads, conducting an audit is the answer. You could also look for blog posts that need more curation with a new title that is more suitable to current scenarios and global news buzz. By conducting a content audit, you could even analyze what kind of content blogs are receiving the least or no views and take them down if necessary. Eventually, you will have blogs on your website that have the keyword tags that are trendy, popularly searched, and eventually attract leads.

Tools for Content Audit

Are there Tools for Content Audit?

Sorting hundreds of pages of content could be a daunting task for a single person to handle. To have consistent content audits might get a little overwhelming, considering the amount of time it takes. To ease this process for content marketers, there are many tools that can break your content down into many categories and smaller sections. Some tools even get rid of duplicate content in your blog and identify broken links so that the content audit process is easier to start. With the help of these tools, you can even delegate the work to other employees and get some of the audit process done quicker than analyzing it manually.

Screaming Frog

Screaming Frog is a website crawler that scans your website pages, page titles, URLs, word count, and status code for any duplicates or weak links. Content marketers find this tool’s crawl report to be comprehensive. The tool also sorts your blogs in ascending order from lowest to highest word count, making it easier to look for low word count pages that could be rewritten with better quality of information for your viewers. Finally, you can look for 404 error and discard these pages for viewer convenience. This tool can crawl up to 500 URLs with the free subscription version.

Screaming Frog

Google Analytics

There is a lot you can do with Google Analytics when it comes to generating content reports. You can identify which blogs or posts of content are bringing the most traffic to your website. This will help you recognize where you want all your content to be and what kind of content you must most likely post. You can also identify what kind of content that needs to be worked upon and what went wrong in that particular post. Google Analytics also makes exporting data to spreadsheets quite easy and convenient. It automatically narrows down and categorizes content according to word count.

Google Marketing Platform

Link Explorer

Link Explorer is a tool by Moz that lists the number of backlinks that each piece of content has received. This is a great way to notice which page receives the most attention on the web and which keyword has the highest search popularity. It is an easy tool to use for link building and to create list of links. This tool can crawl up to 10,000 URLs and you also have the ability to segregate internal and external links that your content contains.

Link Explorer

SEMRush

SEMRush is an SEO audit tool that ranks content according to the search authority of the keywords used. This tool creates content reports that display the collection result of brand mentions. It discovers the best performing blog posts on social media. You can also identify how social audience and engagement levels change over time. This is displayed with graphs and metrics for keywords grouping and management. The tool also discovers trending topics as suggestions and chooses the most effective promotional channels to post them.

SEMRush

How Does a Content Audit Help You?

I have already discussed why a content audit must be conducted. But what exactly do the results of the content audit help you with? Before you begin a content audit process, ensure that you anticipate what the audit might convey to you. The content audit gives you insights on what must be your next action to improve your content marketing strategies, about how to improve the quality of your text, what are the trendy topics to blog about, and so on. You need to set some potential content audit goals. These are some examples of content audit goals:

To identify how to improve organic search performance

To find which past content marketing strategies have good SEO ranks

To determine which of your content topics your audience has preferred

To highlight the pages with high impressions but have low conversions

To identify which pages to be grouped together or combined due to overlapping content

To receive suggestions for future pieces of content

To eliminate content that is no longer relevant to your brand or niche of business

To identify if your website has any 404 errors and to eliminate them

Perform a Content Audit

How To Perform a Content Audit?

Once the pre-audit work is complete, i.e. if you have answers to the above questions, it’s time to actually know how to perform a content audit. If it’s your website’s first content audit, try following this step-by-step guide to make the process easier as a beginner. If your website has both desktop and mobile versions, it is more productive to conduct two separate content audits. Even though the two website versions will share the same URL, the code-base differs for both versions. Therefore, you will have two separate SEO audits for desktop and mobile versions of your website.

Step 1: Create a Spreadsheet of All Your Content Pieces

The first thing you need to do is to collect and record a compiled list of URLs of each content piece that your website contains. If you have a small website, you can do this manually. Generally, for larger websites the tool called Screaming Frog mentioned above can help you generate the spreadsheets faster. The free subscription version of this tool as mentioned can crawl 500 URLs. If you think you have much more than 500 URLs to record, you can always subscribe to the premium version as it has other perks that you can enjoy as a marketer. Once you compile all sitemaps and internal database, you can start crawling each URL with the crawling tool and download the resulted data as a CSV file by clicking the export button.

Another way of collecting the URLs of your posts is using your WordPress dashboard itself (if your website is created with WordPress). Login into your WordPress dashboard, navigate to ‘Posts,’ you could click the ‘All Posts’ subsection. And then just click each post title to get its URL

Spreadsheet of All Your Content Pieces

Step 2: Gather Content Data

The data points you want to gather depends on the goals you set for the content audit. Although the lists provided below may look daunting and comprehensive, it isn’t necessary to collect data for each of these variables. Infact, you may get expected results for your goals with only a handful of these data categories.

Potential SEO data to gather (most of these are generated on online audit tools like Screaming Frog)

Page Title

Target Keywords

Meta Description

Used Page Headings

Inbound links

Images

Images ALT text

Date Last Updated

Page Visits (measure for at least three months)

Page Entries and Exits

Page Bounce Rates

Average On-Page Time

Broken Links

Potential content marketing data to gather

Word Count

Type of Content (e.g. blog, article, infographic, landing page, informational page, etc.)

Content Condition (outdated, trendy, fresh, or stagnant)

Assigned Tags of Categories

Number of Comments

Number of Social Shares

Author

General Topics

Accessibility on Desktop and Mobile Devices

Call-to-Action

Associated Sales Funnel Stage

Conversion Rates Data

Other things to track

Dates of the content inventory and when was it last updated.

Content ‘Score’ as in to determine which content is effective and accordingly assess the action if it should be kept, deleted, consolidated, or updated.

Page status whether you would want to keep a page, modify its content, or discard the page.

Date to re-review certain content pieces to update its information to the latest standards or statistics.

Step 3: Analyze The Collected Data

To identify the current state of your content quality, you need to analyze the above data metrics. Each data category can be linked to many other metrics and eventually, the analysis may suggest the possible action that needs to be taken. For instance, let’s assume your webpage can attract a lot of traffic but has a high bounce rate. It means that viewers are interested in the topics you post about, but the content in your blog post wasn’t relevant to them. In such a case, you have to examine different elements of your content in your blogs to identify why the readers are leaving your website. The solution to this problem could be with relevance to blog titles, call to actions, the length of the blog, or even the loading time of the webpage. You should also consider the different stages of the reader or client’s journey. The content you created for brand awareness may attract a lot of traffic but have a lower conversion rate.

You can also assess the overall content of each post to achieve accurate results from the content audit process. And then according to the assessment, you can assign one of these following statuses:

Keep

If the content on your website performs well and is relevant to your viewers, you might probably not update it and leave it the way it is. This content could include the FAQ section where the answers to these questions may be crisp and to the point. It could also include the basic information in the ‘about’ page of your website. The other subdomain information in each service page could be kept as is and might not need any updates as it already give readers relevant information.

Update

During your content audit process, the tools might identify certain webpages that aren’t performing as expected. Such content needs a review and need more inputs to make the content effective. You may also find content that might have older statistics and facts that might not be relevant in the present times. In such situations, content needs to be revisited and updated to its latest version. Mostly articles about the constantly changing trends in fashion, music, travel, design, art, technology, etc. are the ones that need regular updates.

Delete

If you cannot improve or update a piece of content, it may be reasonable to discard the content and start afresh on the same topic. You may have some articles, blogs or landing pages that might be seasonal or for event marketing campaigns that you might no longer need on your website. You could also delete information and content about ‘out-of-stock’ products or duplicate content.

Update a Piece of Content

Step 4: Determine an Action Plan

After analyzing your data, you need to examine each problem and come up with solutions to improve content quality and develop new content marketing strategies. Your action plans should also be stepping stones to your goals and objectives that you created before conducting a content audit.

The conclusion and solutions to your data analysis could include some of these actionable tips:

Reuse the content

You can combine different pieces of content that can either be of the same category or of different subtopics that are interconnected. This combination of content could create a new content piece that could be published as a new post on your website. It could also be posted in a different content format like an e-book, presentation slides, infographic, image, etc.

Rewrite the content

Rewriting content has already been discussed above but you could also rewrite examples and experiences that you have mentioned in your blog posts that aren’t performing well. This would make the content fresh with updated examples, details, and tips that would be more relevant to your readers.

Refresh the content

In some blog posts, you don’t need to rewrite the article completely. Instead, you can simply update the latest statistics and facts. You could also update the external links that you have provided in your blogs, linking the phrase to a more recently uploaded case study or article.

Structure the content

A logical structure to your blogs or articles can help readers to interpret your content with ease and convenience. Apart from this, a well-structured ‘How-To’ blogs have higher chances of getting featured in snippets of a search result.

Update the CTAs

Your website could have some outdated banners with irrelevant offers to the present day. This needs to be updated to avoid readers from not converting into leads. Replacing CTAs could direct readers to the right landing pages and take the first steps into conversion.

Add videos

According to a study posted on Bright Cove, having videos in your blog posts can generate up to 157% of organic traffic to your website from search engines. Viewers or readers spend more time on webpages that contain a video compared to a page full of text to read.

Optimize metadata

For those content pieces that have an inactive performance, try to rewrite the titles, meta descriptions, and h1 text. Try including new, trendy keywords to make it more attractive to viewers.

Optimize internal linking

In your blogs, add internal links to your newest post within related topic context. It will be easier for search engines to index all your website pages and also reduce your bounce rate.

Check SEO mistakes

The ‘health’ of your website can have an impact on SEO. Check for some commonly made SEO mistakes. Terrible SEO tactics can contribute to poor user experiences and can lower your SERP rankings. Once you are aware of these mistake, ensure that you don’t repeat this in your newer blog posts and maintain the ‘health’ of your website.

My advice to the content seekers is to beware of the ‘analysis paralysis’ trap. During your content audit process, there will be a point when there will be abundant data that will draw so many conclusions and will be a whole array of actions to deploy. This might bring fright or intimidate you especially if it’s your first content audit. The trap is right here! Don’t leave the content audit process unfinished due to the abundance of data. Concentrate on fewer metrics that are currently relevant to you. Create smaller and achievable goals for your content audit. Having a clear methodology for your content audit process is crucial to ensure that the goals are reached faster and efficiently.

Tell us about your content audit issues in the comment section or get in touch with us to help you grow your online presence with a successful, digital marketing strategy.

Ali Salman is an online marketing strategist who have worked with Coca-Cola, Extreme Pita, Mucho Burrito, KIA, Honda and other Fortune 500 companies. Ali Salman now heads Rapid Boost Marketing - Canada's fastest growing search marketing agency. RBM clients include Fortune 500's and medium size businesses across North America. Ali as RBM CMO leads his team in building and managing quality, high-performing and cost-effective interactive campaigns and programs for our company's customers and partners. In his career, he has significantly improved campaign performance for large brands such as Government of Alberta, Liberal Party, Workopolis, Cathay Pacific, as well as medium to large retailers and high-tech B2B-enterprise niches. Ali and his team develop online promotional concepts that spark viral growth through search and social media for RBM clients, devising strategies that use search engines and more to reach key demographic segments in the ways they're most likely to be receptive. Ali Salman also oversees corporate marketing initiatives for Rapid Boost Marketing, including strategic communications counsel, public and analyst relations and client education programming.

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