Website Content Audit as Part of a Content Marketing Strategy
Content creation is one of the key actions aimed at increasing traffic on the site and improving search positions. According to CMI research (Content Marketing Institute, 2018), 91% of B2B and 86% of B2C marketers consider content marketing to be one of their main promotion strategies.
Google sets its algorithms to provide high-quality and relevant search results, so for a good ranking, you will need unique and interesting content. This is one of the best ways to gain and retain user attention.
How can you make sure that your content is of high quality? Conduct a content audit of your site and work on the mistakes you find.
According to statistics, 37% of content marketers have never audited content (research by Curata, Boston). If you are not a part of these statistics, you will have tangible advantages over competitors.
In this article, we will talk about how to properly audit your content, what you should pay attention to, and how to use the obtained data when planning your content marketing strategy.
What is content audit and why is it needed?
Content audit describes the process of collecting and analyzing the parameters of the content of the site in order to assess the marketing effectiveness of the content.
The main tasks of content auditing are:
- Determining the reason for falling under the sanctions of search engines;
- Finding pages where content requires editing;
- Finding pages that can be deleted or merged with each other;
- Reviewing existing content and evaluate its marketing effectiveness;
- Planing a further content placement strategy; and
- Analyzing existing keywords.
How to Understand That it’s Time to Audit Content
We recommend that you audit the content as soon as you start working with the project. This process should be repeated three times a month for sites that are constantly updated and every six months to a year if the site is infrequently filled.
What tells you that the time for a content audit has come?
- You have never done this before
- You have content with outdated information
- You have noticed the causeless drawdown of traffic
- You plan to introduce a new content marketing strategy
Common Content Auditing Errors
Many marketers believe that the content audit process is very time-consuming and takes too much time. Thus, they do not pay enough attention to it and perform it superficially. This is a serious misconception since such an audit will not be able to give you the desired results.
What you definitely do not need to do is:
- Conduct a universal content audit without setting specific goals;
- Do not document the auditing process (you will not be able to use the information received if you do not record it– create tables for content audit); and
- Do not use special tools for data collection (there are programs that can simplify your content audit process).
How to Do a Content Audit
When you have determined the need for an audit, the question of how to do this arises. We offer you a ready-made website content audit checklist.
1. Define the main goals and objectives of your content audit:
1.1. Improving the position in the search;
1.2. Increased audience engagement; and
1.3. Conversion rate increase.
2. Conduct an inventory of the content:
2.1. Gather URLs;
2.2. Categorize your content; and
2.3. Create a content audit table.
3. Collect and analyze data:
3.1. Use programs to collect and analyze data; and
3.2. Evaluate existing content and decide what to do next.
4. Prescribe an action plan for the near future:
4.1. Reuse content;
4.2. Rewrite the content;
4.3. Follow the structure;
4.4. Check the CTA buttons;
4.5. Use videos and pictures;
4.6. Optimize metadata and internal links;
4.7. Use a 301 redirect for remote web pages; and
4.8. Notify Google of content updates using the Google Search Console.
5. Approve further content marketing strategy:
5.1. Use what was successful for your site and develop in this direction; and
5.2. Compare your non-performing content with your competitors’ content to understand omissions and work on mistakes.
We offer a detailed analysis of each of the points on our checklist.
Step 1: Identify the Main Goals and Objectives of Your Content Audit
First of all, think about the goals you would like to achieve and why you plan to conduct an audit. What you will do next directly depends on the assigned tasks.
1.1. If you want to improve your search position, you will need to identify web pages with high SEO potential that can fall into the top 5 search queries. Then, update, hide, or delete existing content, and check and optimize internal links.
1.2. To increase your audience engagement, start by identifying the content that is in demand with your audience. To do this, you need to know the portrait of your targeted audience– their age, occupation, income level, gender, place of residence, hobbies, and interests.
1.3. To increase your conversion rate, find out which pages on the site provide the best user experience for your visitors. On this basis, try to find an attractive type and content for potential customers.
Once you have decided what goals you are pursuing in your content audit, you need to compare them with the current state of affairs on the site. To do this, you will need content marketing metrics that can be divided into four categories.
- User behavior metrics: number of page views, average time spent on the site, etc.
- Engagement metrics: likes, shares, comments, mentions, etc.
- SEO metrics: organic traffic, backlinks, keyword ranking, latency, etc.
- Sales metrics: lead profitability, conversion, return on investment, etc.
Simply put, if you want to know which topics are most popular among your audience, you need to analyze user behavior and engagement rates. If you are interested in SEO-efficiency, you need to check the number of backlinks and ranking in search engines. If you are conducting an audit of the content for the first time, we recommend that you analyze all the data in order to get a complete picture of the state of the site. Read more about how to make an SEO report.
Step 2: Content Inventory: Creating an Audit Template
Before you start an audit (creating a list of URLs and collecting data), determine the content that you will analyze (blog posts, news, educational materials, landing pages).
Using auditing, you can evaluate other types of content, such as video, PDF, or interactive content (quizzes, tests, games).
In this article, we will focus on text content published on your site.
2.1. Gather URLs
Gather the URLs of the pages you plan to analyze and enter them in a spreadsheet. If you have a small site, you can assemble them manually, otherwise, you will need to use auxiliary tools. Learn more about the best SEO tools of 2020.
Consider collecting URLs using Screaming Frog software.
When the program finishes, set the filter to HTML and export the files.
From the list in the Excel file that you exported, you need to save all URL links with a status code of 200.
2.2. Categorize Your Content
After you have finished collecting URLs, you need to create a spreadsheet and categorize them for further analysis.
We offer the following separation option:
- Buyer’s path (familiarization, reflection, decision making);
- Content type (blog post, product description, a landing page);
- Content format (only text, text with video/images, presence/absence of a call to action);
- Number of words;
- Date of publication and last revisions; and
- Author (if different people write for your site).
Recommendations: collect metadata (title, meta description of the site, h1) for each element of your content. This will give you the ability to check and update metadata in one place.
2.3. Create a Content Audit Table
Having decided on the categories, we proceed to create the table. Your site’s website content audit template might look like this.
Step 3: Collect and Analyze Data
3.1. Data collection is a rather long and laborious process. Prepare for the fact that you have to recover data from different sources and manually enter it into a spreadsheet. To save time, we recommend using special programs for content audit, which automatically collect data, depending on your goals and existing indicators.
What content audit tools can be used to collect and analyze data?
Despite the fact that Google Analytics can hardly be called a full-fledged tool to facilitate the audit, it provides the information necessary for your analysis (who and when visited your site, as well as the behavior of visitors: the resource from which the user came, his path through the site and opt-out page). Here you can also find data on how much time users spend on pages.
Using this program, you can get a high-quality custom report in just three steps and also learn how to improve your site. You can also link your Google Analytics and Google Search Console accounts if you want to find out which posts are in demand with your target audience. The information obtained can be used in a further promotion strategy.
If you are looking for a sitemap generator, check out the DYNO mapper. This site is ideal for finding and identifying problems in your SEO. It keeps a check progress report so you can see the level of progress.
It is a website scanner. With it, you can collect the necessary URLs from your site and conduct an audit (which we did in the previous step). Checking up to 500 URL links is free. The program can also provide information on how to improve your SEO-optimization based on the data analysis.
This offers two unique features for content auditing: SEO monitoring and Site Crawler. SEO monitoring allows you to find out the level of activity on the landing pages and the presence of interruptions in the site that could affect SEO. Site Crawler shows how Google sees your site and interprets it for search bots.
Additional multifunctional programs that you can use:
- SEO power suite
- SE Ranking
Let’s consider an automatic data collection using the SEMrush. With its help, you can get information about actions on social networks (Twitter, Facebook, Google +, LinkedIn), backlinks, metadata, content authors, its length, and volume.
*You can continue collecting data using Screaming Frog, which we used to collect URL links. The algorithms for most programs are similar.
Connect your Google Analytics and Google Search Console accounts to get more data. Thanks to this, you can see the metric for each URL: all sessions, average duration of each session, number of page views, average time on page, and bounce rate. You can easily switch between session and pageview data.
To summarize, let’s see what data you need to collect:
- number of words;
- meta tags title, description, keywords;
- depth of views;
- depth of indexing;
- text ratio;
- internal links, backlinks;
- response time;
- average time spent on the page;
- duration of sessions;
- recent edits; and
How to Analyze the Received Data
Begin by examining the source metric of your content to get a clear idea of its state.
For example, your web page attracts a lot of traffic, but at the same time, has a high bounce rate and low duration of stay. This means that users are interested in your topic, but the content did not live up to their expectations. In this case, you should study in more detail all the elements of content and find out why users leave the page. The problem may be in the discrepancy between the content and the topic, in the long loading of the page, or in something else entirely.
3.2. Content Evaluation
Having studied all the data obtained, try to correlate it with the goals and objectives that you set for yourself before the audit and decide what to do next with the content.
- You can leave the content if it is good and it is relevant. Think about how you can reuse it in your content marketing strategy. For example, you can leave general information about your business unchanged, as well as frequently asked questions and essential content (step-by-step instructions, practical guides, etc.).
- Inventory of content can help you to detect poorly performing pages, which may require updating. Think about how you can refresh the content and replace irrelevant and outdated data. As an example, you can adjust articles on trends, research with statistics, and content with low traffic and conversion rate.
- Remove or hide content if you don’t know how to update it or if it takes too much time and effort. Perhaps your site is full of pages with seasonal offers. In this case, they should be hidden until the moment when you will need them again. Delete or hide duplicate content, content related to irrelevant special offers, information about products that are not in stock, etc.
Step 4: Write Down a Further Plan of Action
After analyzing and evaluating the content, you need to draw up an action plan to improve it. You should consider your goals and conclusions from the audit.
Below are a few practical tips before you begin to plan.
4.1. Reuse Content
Try combining fragments of existing content into new content or publish it in a different format (e-book, infographic, slides).
4.2. Rewrite the Content
If there are posts on your blog that for some reason do not reach readers, try rewriting them: rephrase them by adding new examples and practical tips.
When there is no urgent need to rewrite content, you can refresh it a bit by adding relevant information (for example, details about a new product).
4.3. Follow the Structure
An ordered and understandable content structure simplifies the perception of material by users and search bots.
4.4. Check the Call to Action Buttons
Replace obsolete banners with current offers. This is how you activate the content marketing funnel and improve conversion.
4.5. Use Videos and Images
The presence of video attracts organic traffic from search engines to the site. Users also spend more time on pages that contain video content.
The benefits of visual perception are also extremely important. Images will help make your content fun and comprehensible. They can also attract additional traffic to the site through Google Images. Learn more about how to improve SEO images.
4.6. Take Care of Optimizing Metadata and Internal Links
Review and, if necessary, rewrite the meta tags: title, description, and the h1 tag. Use other keywords and make them more attractive to users.
Add links pointing to new blog articles on related topics. This will help improve site organization and lower bounce rates.
4.7. Use a 301 Redirect for Remote Web Pages
This will allow users to avoid “page not found” and improve their user experience. Read more about redirects.
4.8. Notify Google of Content Updates Using the Google Search Console
The URL indexing feature allows you to send recently updated pages for re-indexing by Google.
Step 5: Approve Further Content Marketing Strategy
In the process of conducting an audit of the content of your site, start thinking about a long-term content marketing strategy. Now all the data is in your hands– analysis of strengths and weaknesses will help you choose the direction in which you should move on to attract a new audience, increase organic reach, and improve conversion rates.
5.1. Use What Was Successful for Your Site and Develop in this Direction
5.2. Compare Your Non-performing Content with Your Competitors’ Content to Understand Omissions and Work on Mistakes
Accept the fact that content marketing strategy requires constant updating as search and social algorithms often change. You must keep up to date and implement innovative ways to reach your target audience. What worked yesterday may be ineffective today. Therefore, we recommend that you remember to conduct a marketing content audit on a regular basis.