How to Perform a Content Audit for Your Website

Effective content is a major deciding factor between an exceptional brand and an average one. The problem is, creating and maintaining mind-blowing content can be very challenging. That’s where a content audit comes in. By systematically evaluating your existing content, you can easily point out what’s thriving and what’s just surviving in your content strategy. A content audit is a strategic process that goes beyond mere metrics, digging into the qualitative aspects of your content that aren’t so easily measured. From picking underperforming content out of a line to finding the hidden gems, a content audit will give you insights to make your content strategy better, get more people reading and engaging, and ultimately make your brand more interesting and profitable online. Keep scrolling for step-by-step instructions on how to perform a content audit that doesn’t miss a thing. 

Understanding Content Audits

“Content audit” is a pretty recognizable term, but not everyone knows exactly what it is and how it works. A content audit is basically like sorting through your bookshelf and inspecting the quality of the books. Good ones are noted—you’ll want more like those. Others may be slightly damaged and need fixing up, or too old to be relevant anymore. Bringing it back to marketing, a content audit reviews, analyzes, and assesses all of the stuff on your website and gives you a better understanding of what people actually want to be seeing.

Beyond the general improvement of your content strategy, there are more specific benefits that content audits can bring to your digital marketing efforts. One major benefit is the ability to enhance SEO. Much of content marketing is tied to search engine visibility and organic search results, so taking the time to figure out which pieces are well-optimized and which are not can really boost your search rankings. Another specific benefit of a content audit is how it can streamline your content management. When you lay out and organize all of your content, you’ll be able to spot patterns faster, which makes it so much easier to plan future content that aligns with and strengthens your content strategy. 

How to Conduct a Content Audit

Before you get started on your content audit, have these tools handy:

  • Google Analytics (for content-related data)
  • Spreadsheet software (Google Sheets, Excel, etc)

The actual steps to conduct a content audit are deceptively simple. Here they are:

Step 1: Why Do You Need This Audit?

Set your goals right at the beginning. Are you doing this content audit for SEO? If that’s the case, your analysis will focus more on the quantitative data, like traffic, rankings, etc. If you’re doing the audit to connect with your audience better, the analysis shifts away from the quantitative and more toward the qualitative, taking into account on-page characteristics, user experience, and more. 

Step 2: Organize

Spreadsheets are going to be your best frenemy throughout this entire process. Put all of your content into a spreadsheet and arrange it by type. Content is more than blogs, but the majority of your content will either be blogs or web pages. There are even more types of content within web pages—landing pages, service pages, product pages, splash pages, and more. If your website is small enough (5-20 pages), you can do this manually. If your website is medium-size (100-500 pages) or huge (1K+ pages), there are thankfully tools that can export all your website’s content. A few that come to mind immediately are Semrush, Screaming Frog, and the WordPress export tool. 

Step 3: Separate Data

After your content is organized, it’s time to go through the data attached to each content piece. Add columns to the spreadsheet for backlinks, backlink quality, publication date, date of most recent update (if applicable), URL slug, and click rate. 

This is where things branch off depending on your goals for the audit.

(if your goal is to boost SEO):

Your data columns should help you analyze the performance of your content piece. Those metrics would include web traffic, impressions, search ranking, backlinks, and technical errors such as missing metadata. 

*Note: A technical audit is not the same thing as a content audit. However, a content audit might include a technical audit (especially for SEO purposes). You can also fully automate a technical audit, while a content audit is going to require some manual action. There are many tools on sites like Semrush that can create a report with all the technical assessment details, which falls under 3 main categories: errors, warnings, and notices.

(if your goal is to engage audiences):

Your data columns should help you analyze the on-page characteristics of your content piece. One of the most important things you need to look at is the user experience. What are people doing on your content piece? Or what are they NOT doing that they should be? How is the page laid out? If there are links, find out how many people are clicking. Next, examine the depth of your content. Does it just cover the basics, or does it get into more advanced, valuable details? Look at your keyword placement; do they seem natural or forced to fit in? How unique is your piece? Have other people already written it? Do you think your article includes something that only you can bring to the table?

Also, instead of looking at metrics like traffic and impressions, consider things like the title tag, meta description, URL slug, header tags (H1s, H2s, etc.)—the visible parts of metadata. When your goal is connecting more with your audience, your focus should primarily be on the parts of the page/piece that they will actually see and interact with. 

Doing a content audit for increased audience engagement is going to be more time-intensive than an SEO content audit. You’re advancing far beyond metrics and tapping into the human element of each piece/page. Some things can be summarized with a simple number or percentage, but many things can’t be. Keep that in mind as you plan your audit timeline. 

*Note: A technical audit won’t be strictly necessary for this purpose. The focus is on the page, not the website infrastructure.

Step 4 (optional, but helpful): Calculate Results

While there’s no standardized score or grade you can assign yourself, what you can do is give yourself a pass/fail. After your analysis, go through and ask: did you check all the boxes? It’ll be up to you to determine what counts as pass and what counts as fail, but it should be pretty clear. 

Implementing Changes After the Audit

So, you have all your content organized, data columns set and filled, and you’ve analyzed the results. Now what? 

Your action plan from here will mirror the results in your data columns. For the audience engagement goal, let’s say you’ve noticed that the design of your landing pages isn’t very user friendly and has a low conversion rate. Your next step should be to rectify that by changing up the design. Find out what elements are missing from your page, and add them. If your CTA doesn’t appear until the middle of the page, move it to the top. If you have too much text in one section, cut it down. Clear away the distractions for the user until all that’s left is what’s essential for them to know and do. 

For the SEO goal, you have some options for what to do next. If the content piece is doing well, just leave it alone. No need to break what isn’t broken. 

For pieces that aren’t ranking well, you can update them. Maybe the information in the piece is outdated, or the writing is unclear. Clean it up and polish, and you should start to see improvement. 

If you find duplicate content or pieces of content that are a little too similar, you can combine them. Choose the one with the higher ranking, and consolidate on that piece. For example, if you have two pieces, “How to Use TikTok for Brand Awareness” and “How to Use Instagram for Brand Awareness,” it could be a good move to combine them and change it to “How to Use Social Media for Brand Awareness.” 

The last thing you might have to do is completely delete a content piece. If the piece gets no traffic, has little relevance to your brand, and has no important links, you can delete it without harming your website. You can go to Google Analytics to double check the metrics before deleting the page. 

And that’s the end of the process! Until you do it all over again, of course. Content audits aren’t meant to be a one-time deal. To keep your site at its healthiest, you should plan for a content audit at least 1-2 times per year. If that sounds like a lot of work, don’t worry. There are plenty of experts available to help! Use this article as a starting point, as well as our 5-Step Content Audit Playbook, and if you feel like you need more assistance, reach out to us directly for help. If you’re interested in something beyond a content audit, visit our page now to schedule a strategy session.

Want to learn more about advanced marketing techniques? See what the experts at Make Your Mark have to say here in our blog.

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