Content Audit Guide: Everything You Need to Audit Your Content in 2018
Are you auditing your content on a regular basis? No? Well, you are not the only one. Many content marketers avoid doing a content audit until the very last moment. That’s understandable. It’s not easy to perform a content audit, especially if you have a lot of content in the first place.
But that’s not an excuse to never audit your content. In this article, I want to introduce you to the concept of content auditing, why you should do it, as well as how you can use certain tools to make this task much easier and quicker.
Why Should You Do a Content Audit?
First, the big question. Why should you do a content audit? The simple answer would be to identify the content you have and the content you don’t have. That way, you can determine whether your content is performing well or if it needs an update, or maybe even deletion. A content audit will also point any content gaps that you might be missing in your messaging and allows you to better engage your target audience.
There are, of course, more reasons to do a content audit. Here are the biggest:
- Analyzing strong-performing and weak-performing content.
You might be focusing too much on releasing content pieces at every possible opportunity. There’s no reason to post content daily if it doesn’t connects with your audience. A content audit will tell you if the readers receive your content favorably or not. From here, you can say “okay, this works, let’s do more of that”, or “this sucks, let’s not do that ever again”.
- Identifying outdated and content with wrong information
Let’s say you wrote a very good article about SEO in 2013. A lot has changed since and most of the information from it is by now pretty stale and outdated. Don’t worry, SEO is still a thing, even in 2018. Maybe all you need is to spruce it up a little with some new info, re-check and update your facts and data to make it accurate today.
- Measuring content performance
What are your content goals? Getting more traffic, more (and better) leads, engagement on social media, ROI, backlinks or something else? A well-performed content audit will tell you if your content is producing the desired results or not by assessing its performance.
In short, a content audit will enable you to see:
- Page performance (traffic, conversions, bounce rate…)
- SEO opportunities you are missing
- Content gaps
- Best and worst ranking pages on SERPs
- Pages you need to update, merge, or delete
Tools for Content Audit
The big reason why a lot of content marketers are not doing content audit is because it can be a tedious task. But that’s only if you try doing it all on your own. There are plenty of online tools that can make your life easier when it comes to content auditing. Here’s a few of them (don’t worry, I’ll cover more content audit tools in some later article):
Seoptimer is a free SEO audit and reporting tool that lets you perform a comprehensive site analysis based on over 100 parameters. It uses a very friendly user interface to visually show you at a glance how your SEO, Usability, Performance, Social and Security are doing individually and combined, giving each a grade between A+ and F- (A+ being the best and F- being the worst).
- Google Analytics
Of course, when it comes to website analytics, we just can’t but not mention Google Analytics in that conversation. Chances are, you are using it already to see how your visitors are behaving when they come to your site, how long are they staying, what pages are they visiting and so on. In short, Google Analytics is a must-have if you want to know anything about your content performance.
Moz has a myriad of tools that can tell you all you need to know about your site’s and content’s performance. Some of them are free (yay!), but you’ll have to pay for the more powerful ones. Don’t worry, it’s worth the money. For instance, Moz Crawl Test can tell you (or your webmaster) if you have any SEO issues that need fixing, duplicate content, server redirections, title tag errors… basically anything of the kind that can downgrade your site’s ability to get crawled.
This interestingly named website crawler is one of the most complete SEO Spiders you can find on the Internet. However, appearances can be deceiving so don’t think of it as just another website crawler. It can do a lot more than that, including:
- Generate XML maps
- Find duplicate content
- Review robot.txt, meta robots and X-Robot-Tag directives
- Analyze meta data and page titles
- Audit redirects
- Identify broken links
- Collect data from HTML with XPath, Path, CSS or regex
- Get user data through Google Analytics API
Now that you have all of these, you can start auditing your content. But first…
Determine Which Metrics You Want to Track
There are plenty of metrics you can choose to track with your content audit. Tracking all of them can take a long time and be confusing. Truth is, you might not even need them all (but the more you know, the better, of course).
Let’s say you are strapped for time, here are the metrics you should pay attention to when performing a content audit:
Especially organic traffic, that is. The more you have it, the better your content is obviously performing. Good. Now congratulate yourself and move on. But let’s say you are not getting the amount of organic traffic you would like. There can be a number of reasons for this, most notably:
- Bad content
- Wrong content strategy
- Poor content distribution
- Content that doesn’t meet your reader’s needs
A good content audit can tell you where the problem lies and help you solve it.
Since you’re there, you can also take a peek at your traffic sources. Where are your visitors coming from the most? Is that Facebook or email newsletters? Then let’s do more of that, please. Are you hardly getting any traffic from a certain source? Perhaps you need to change your tone or message or completely abandon that source.
- New vs. Returning Visitors
This is a bit difficult metric track and anyone telling you what the “magic ratio” of new vs returning visitors you should aim for has very little idea what they’re talking about. It all boils down to this: if your website or blog is new, you want to get as many new visitors, but if it already established, you’ll need to aim to get returning visitors. The bottom line is that you need both new and returning visitors.
- Bounce Rate
Are visitors coming to your content and immediately go “nope”? If you have a high bounce rate (we’re talking over 70%), then you need to change something about your content ASAP. People just don’t like it and are leaving immediately. We can’t have that. You want your visitor to keep clicking on to your next pages.
- Time on page and pages-per-session
If you have a content that is over 3,000 words long and visitors spend only 30 seconds on it in average, then that’s not good. The more time someone spends on your content, the more they are interested in. That means your content is useful to them and they want to read it.
Another thing you should look at here is how many pages a visitors visits during a session (the time the user interacts with your website) and what those pages are. This can tell you a lot about your reader’s search intent.
Backlinks give credibility to your content. But they can also hurt it. Let’s say you have 300 backlinks. That sounds like a good number, but what if half or more of them lead to spam and another 50 or so are now outdated and lead to pages that no longer exist. This is why it’s crucial constantly keep an eye on your backlinks and remove those that can harm your page rankings.
Create a Content Inventory
This is the part of a content audit that can take the most of your time. Your content inventory can be a simple Excel spreadsheet in which you can include your:
- Page titles
- Content type
- Metrics you want to measure and track (you should have at least three, for instance, average time per page, bounce rate and page visits)
- Content score or grade (for example A to F)
- Other information such as author, publish date, social metrics (likes and shares), CTR and so on.
Truth be told, there can be a lot of data that you will need to include in your spreadsheet, making your content inventory too difficult to go through, not to mention time-consuming to create. In that case, you should use a tool like Screaming Frog to create a CSV file of your URLs and use this.
Screaming Frog even offers a free version for websites with up to 500 links, but if you have more than that, you’ll need to use the premium version, which is
Analyze Data You’ve Got and Take Action
This is the most important step of your content audit. There’s really no point in doing it without this. Analyze your content and take action. Determine if the content you are creating and publishing meets your target audience’s needs and are interested in or not. Of course, you want to bridge that content gap as much as possible.
How do you do that?
First, you need to identify your target audience. Who is most likely to be interested in what you have to say and offer? If you have a website selling studio monitors, then your target audience would be people interested in music, probably even creating music themselves.
Now that you know who your target audience is, you can analyze the content they like and are interested in. This will give you a good idea as to which new topics to aim for, keywords to use and which of your content is performing well and which falls short.
Once you know this, it’s time to create a content strategy that will close that content gap.
The easiest way to do this is by adding a new column in your spreadsheet. You can call this “Action”, “To Do” or something along those lines. One you analyzed the content, label it with one of these:
- Leave – the content is performing well, there’s no need to do anything with it.
- Improve – this content is not performing well, but it could be with a little improvement
- Update – content contains outdated information, so update it
- Merge – you have content that overlaps or covers the same topic
- Delete – this content is no longer needed or is beyond saving, so you’ll have to put it out of its misery by deleting it
- Create New – this is what identifying content gaps is for, to tell you which new content you should create.
Content audit is not a one-and-done deal. Rather, it’s something you need to devote your time to over and over again if you want to keep your content fresh and useful. I hope this guide can help you do your own content audit and improve the performance of your content.
Do you have any comments or questions? Let me know in the comments below.