Your content is what attracts visitors to your website. Are you gaining weight? Review the content to get the most out of it.
It is a fact that even the best content writers and SEOs sometimes come up with a new piece of content.
For whatever reason, despite your best efforts, not everything you post will be successful.
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, it will get buried, fail to rank in search results, and will not fundamentally contribute to your overall goals.
Don’t erase things you’ve worked hard on or leave them to slowly fade away.
Instead, figure out what mistakes you made, take action to correct them, and use that new knowledge to create new, stronger content.
But before you can do that, you need to know which of your web pages are performing poorly. This requires a content audit.
If you’re not sure how to do this, don’t worry.
In this section, we’ll explain what a content audit is and why it’s important, and then give you step-by-step instructions for conducting your own audit.
What is content auditing?
A content audit is the process of systematically inventorying and evaluating the published content found on your website.
Often times, this is directly related to your SEO efforts, as the goal is to have content that not only loads with important keywords, but also answers specific search queries.
The content you can audit runs a range of formats and can include:
- Internet pages
- Landing pages
- Blog posts
- Product Description
- Slide decks
- White papers
If you’ve never done a content audit before, it may seem like a daunting and boring task.
It’s not as horrible as you think, so don’t worry. But before we jump into this process, let’s talk about why it’s an important process for organizations of all types and sizes.
Why do you need to audit your content?
Your stuff is not impervious to the passage of time.
From geocentrism to who discovered America, things once considered indisputable truths turn out to be wrong all the time. If anything, the Internet age has accelerated this process.
That’s why regular content audits are essential. They will help update your content and improve your search engine rankings by solving the following questions:
- What is your current content?
- Is this content valuable?
- How do people find it?
- How is the performance?
- Is it still valid?
Answering these questions will help you ensure the quality of your content while helping you stay consistent with your content marketing strategy.
How to Conduct A Content Audit
Now that you know why you need to review your content regularly, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of how to do it.
Step 1: Define your goals
The content audit process involves a lot of work, so to make sure you’re not wasting your time and energy, it’s important to have clearly defined goals about what you want to achieve.
You should have at least one objective that is the driving factor behind the audit and then define the metrics by which success will be measured. These can include things like:
- Improve SEO results for specific pages or your entire website.
- Increase engagement and/or conversions.
- Remove obsolete or redundant materials.
- Improve the quality of existing pieces of content.
- Decide on a new organizational structure for your site
Step 2: Collect and categorize content
Once you’ve determined what you hope to achieve, it’s time to work on inventorying what you’ve posted.
First, determine the type of content you’ll be reviewing and collect its URLs.
You can do this manually using an Excel spreadsheet or Google Sheets, or you can use an online tool like HubSpot, Semrush, or Screaming Frog.
(Pro tip: If your site is larger than a few pages, you’ll likely need to use a content audit tool.)
Once you have a spreadsheet with the content your audit is targeting, it’s time to categorize it.
You’ll need to track the following for each piece of content in a separate spreadsheet to audit the content details:
- Who is the team that developed it? Content team, social team, SEO team, etc.
- Time: How long did it take to develop the entire content?
- Content type: Is it a blog post, infographic, case study, etc.?
- Content Purpose: What is the purpose of creating content: backlinks, traffic, conversions, etc.?
- The number of words.
- Posts: Break them down by social network and total.
This will keep you organized while identifying existing pieces that are good and which need to be updated or removed. How you organize this information will be determined by your goals.
You’ll also need to determine what products or services the content supports, the keywords it targets, and the word count.
Step 3: Track metrics and analyze data
Now that we’ve laid the foundations for our review, it’s time to delve deeper into its performance.
You are looking for specific KPIs that allow you to evaluate the health and performance of your site.
The data portion of your audit content should come with its own beautiful Excel document, just like the one you created.
Perform A Past Audit
Before we enter data, you should go back and audit the content you created in the past.
Knowing how the content you’ve published is performing will help you know what kind of content you should create — and what kind you shouldn’t create — in the future.
This part of the content audit will take a long time, at least in the beginning.
You’ll need to decide how long you want to start auditing your content and then collect all the content URLs for that period.
I recommend going back at least a year and collecting data on how your content performed a year ago.
However, collecting all URLs of previous content is not a manual process.
Fortunately, many website analysis tools like Google Analytics or Semrush’s content audit tool can quickly inventory your content based on your sitemap data. These can provide you with a list of content URLs to audit.
Prepare Yourself For Ongoing Audits
Once you have captured and inserted all of the previous year’s content into your Excel document, you can repeat this audit activity for new content weekly.
When you have to come back for a week just to enter data, it becomes much easier to track your content and review it regularly.
Add the data from the following section to your Excel document and upload the latest numbers and statistics each week.
Over time, notice any drastic changes.
Sometimes content, especially evergreen content, can take months to materialize.
Metrics to track
Here are the metrics you’ll want to track to audit your content data:
Your blog posts and articles can benefit from a well-moderated comments area that adds worthwhile user-generated content.
If one of the goals of your content is to build a community on your website, you’ll need to know what types of content and topics generate conversation.
Use the UGC link attribute to ensure you comply with Google’s link markup requirements.
If you don’t allow comments on your blog, check the comments on your social media posts about your content.
Some marketers dismiss social equity as a measure of vanity. However, monitoring the social popularity of your content can help you discover topics that are more likely to resonate with specific social audiences.
For example, businesses that know that most of their conversions come from Facebook will want to create content that is popular with their Facebook audience.
Analyzing which posts have gotten the most social shares on Facebook in the past is a good way to see which topics might do well in the future.
Ideally, your content will get a lot of organic traffic.
If you’re not getting organic traffic, that could be a potential red flag.
Maybe there is something wrong with this:
- Your content strategy.
- How do you distribute content?
- Content type.
- The content itself.
By regularly reviewing the organic traffic metrics in your audit, you’ll know when you can pat yourself on the back or when you need to start over.
Are website visitors arriving and exiting your web pages without interacting with your content?
If Google Analytics cannot detect scrolling, clicks, or other interactions with your content before the user leaves, it will be considered a bounce.
If you have a high bounce rate, it could be a sign of bad content.
Ideally, your content is the gateway that leads the user from search to your website, entertains or informs them, and then leads them to more content, tailored to their needs.
Increased time on page with lower bounce rate indicates “sticky” content that keeps users interested enough to continue reading more of your content.
Not sure what a good bounce rate is?
The average ratio is 26% to 45% for retail and e-commerce sites, while B2B sites will fall to the 25% to 55% range. For blogs, this number can be as high as 90%.
What is acceptable to you depends on your location.
Bring backlinks – but only good backlinks that give us a lot of promotion and credibility, please!
You need to track the backlinks your content generates regularly for two main reasons:
- Your backlinks will change over time. The first day you publish a new piece of content, you might get two to three backlinks. Let a week go by, and maybe 10-12 backlinks have appeared by now. After a year, you can get 589 backlinks to a single piece of content while promoting, discovering, and sharing it.
- Not all backlinks are good. Sure, 589 backlinks may sound good, but not if 500 of those backlinks are potentially dangerous to your website, leading to spam, push-ups, or anyone else. You may consider removing these unnatural backlinks.
Time On Page
If your content is a 2,500-word long blog post and the average time on page is 18 seconds, then something is wrong.
This metric will tell you if your content isn’t relevant to your audience and if so, you need to create more content focused on similar topics.
We want many unique visitors to view our content and increase the number of views a piece of content receives.
The more views you get from content like conversions, engagement, shares, and backlinks, the greater the potential for return on investment (ROI).
Pages per session
How many pages does a user view after viewing your content?
What pages will they go to?
A blog post about the best winter coats can encourage users to click on the links in the blog post and shop on your website for a variety of coats. They can also make a purchase, which is the ultimate goal of any business marketing.
New customers vs. returning customers
Are you attracting a new audience with this content?
Returning customers are great. Better returning customers.
But we must also aim to attract new users with our content. Ideally, you want to see a good mix of both.
Find out where your traffic is coming from by identifying your main traffic sources.
If most of your content traffic is coming from Facebook, post more of your content on your Facebook page.
If no one is coming from your email newsletters, it may be time to revamp them.
If your goal for a new piece of content is to generate 100 conversions in the first quarter (for example, an email sign-up for your email newsletter), you may want to add a column and add that piece of content. You need to track the number of transfers coming from .
Maybe in the first week, there are only two exchanges, and you start to doubt the content completely.
Let a couple of months pass, and keep checking every week. You may now notice that the content has led to a total of 140 conversions, which not only meets your goal, but exceeds it.
Scrutinizing on an ongoing basis helps give the data you see valuable context, helping you make better data-backed decisions.
Additional tracking information
If you want to add more detail to your content, here are some ideas on what to track.
SEO title and meta description
Add columns to your spreadsheet for these SEO fields in each piece of content.
This will help you optimize your content in the future by seeing all the SEO titles and meta descriptions you’ve used in one place.
Track specific promotions for each piece of content by recording any custom UTM parameters you used to track your content.
These can be useful when creating UTM parameters for new content or when looking up data about previous content in Google Analytics.
If you set up conversion events in Google Analytics, you can see which landing pages generate the most revenue.
To see which pages on your website drive conversions, view the Pages and Screens report under Engagement.
This will give you insight into the types of content and content topics that positively impact your ROI.
How well does your content perform when shared with your email list?
If email engagement is a main goal of your content, you’ll need to track opens, clicks, and redirects to see which content performs best.
Did you take a bunch of publications and turn them into an e-book or vice versa? Keep track of the content you have reproduced.
Combine metrics from the main content and additional pieces of related content to see how reuse benefits your content strategy.
High ranking for keywords
Is a specific piece of content ranking at the top of the SERP results for your target keyword phrase?
Note your best keyword rankings and how long they last to determine what types of content have long-term search success and what types have short-term search success.
The accessibility is impressive
Have you worked with an influencer to talk about your content? Note the influencers who generated the most traffic or social shares of content.
You may want to work with them again in the future for similar content.
Step 4: Take actionable steps and develop a new content strategy.
Now, you should have all the information you need to determine what content is working and what isn’t. Now is a good time to use this information to create an improvement plan.
Add another column to your spreadsheet to indicate the action you need to take for each piece of content. This may include deletion, updating, rewriting or reuse.
Determine the priority for each process. Deleting content is usually quick and easy.
Updates may include minor updates to facts or links. On the other hand, a comprehensive overhaul can be a huge undertaking.
You may find it helpful to add a Priority column to your spreadsheet to see what’s important.
Since hot topics and successful posts should be top of mind as you audit your content, this is also a great time to develop a new content strategy.
Explain how and why your marketing materials will be used, as well as how they will help you achieve specific goals.
For more information on creating your own content strategy, click here.
Summary: Proofread content frequently
Content audits aren’t the glamorous part of marketing, but they are absolutely necessary.
Remember that what works today may not work tomorrow, and your high-performing work may quickly become outdated.
To make sure you get the most out of your hard work, you should review content regularly.
This is a great way to monitor the overall health of your website. It will also help you find new opportunities and achieve your goals.