A content audit is a complex process during which you take all the content on your website or in the marketing funnel and perform a quantitative and a qualitative content assessment in order to develop a content strategy for that website, and to prioritize the content marketing activities in the most effective way.
The content audit is different from content inventory, which involves only the listing of all content on a website, but without going further in-depth.
Done correctly, the content audit will show you which of the articles on your website are performing the best, and which of them need to be optimized, rewritten or removed in order to improve the visitors’ experience and provide them with more valuable information. The content audit will tell you what your audience is most interested in and will help you improve your on-page SEO, while giving you insights for a more efficient content marketing plan.
The website content audit isn’t something you do on a weekly or monthly basis; in most cases, a content strategist performs the content audit as part of the content strategy development, in the initial stages of this process.
When doing the audit, the content strategist inventories the existing content, then analyzes the data, draws conclusions and develops a content strategy based on those conclusions. The website content strategy can then be used by the content marketer for promoting the website better, driving more organic traffic, generating more leads, improving the conversion rates and boosting the online sales.
When and why to do a content audit
The content audit can be performed at any point in the content marketing journey, but there must be enough content on the website when doing this analysis. If you have an old website with a lot of content but the traffic, conversions or sales aren’t satisfactory, it may be wise to stop the content development for a few days and do a website content audit.
This process takes time but it’s the best way to find out whether:
- The content on your website is relevant or outdated
- The information is useful to your readers
- The links in your articles are broken or functional
- The pages and images are well optimized
- The content is published in the most relevant category of your website and is easy to find by visitors
- The content can be repurposed for more social media exposure
As you can deduct from this list, when one performs a content audit, they want to know why their website isn’t performing at its full potential, what are the pain points and weaknesses and how to solve them. So these are some of the reasons to do a content inventory or audit for your website.
Now, regarding the main goals of the content audit, they can include:
- Improvement of on-page SEO
Even if you don’t conduct the content audit for SEO purposes, this time-consuming but rewarding analysis will help you identify the weak spots in your articles.
The content audit will show you what tags are used on your website, whether the images are optimized, whether you’re using the right keywords for your niche, how long are the articles that perform the best, how are they structured and so on. These details will help you determine the best approach and changes that need to be made for improving your website’s on-page optimization.
- Improvement of the content marketing strategy
The content audit will help you evaluate your current content marketing efforts, and will show you where to focus more and which of your current strategies isn’t generating the expected results. A complete website content audit will show you not only how optimized are your articles but also how your audience responds to the various types of content posted on your website.
It will show you which posts perform better in social media, which drive more traffic, which are more shared and generate more referrals, but also which articles don’t satisfy your audience’s expectations.
At the end of the process you’ll be able to identify gaps in your website content and in your content marketing efforts, and you’ll be able to adjust your marketing strategy for better conversion rates. Also, the content audit will give you new ideas for future articles.
What does the content audit include?
Although there is no standard content audit template, most spreadsheets you’ll see online have some elements in common, and may include some or all of the fields below:
- Page title = the displayed page title
- Navigation title = the link title in the main menu (navigation)
- URL = the page’s URL
- Content hierarchy = the relationship between content items [optional]
- Content type = blog article, news story, FAQ page, video post, infographic, etc.
- Short content description = what the page is about
- Target keyword
- Meta title
- Meta description
- Title length
- Meta description length
- Attached files = how many files and what type of files are attached to that article
- Image ALT tags
- Inbound links
- Data last updated
- Page visits
- Page entries / exits
- Page bounce rate
- Average time on page
- Broken links
- Word count
- Number of comments
- Number of social media shares
- Call to action = whether the article does include a CTA, and what the CTA is
- Associated Sales Funnel page / stage
- Conversion rate
- Page authority
- Comments, optionally = can include keywords to add, suggestion for social media shares, link building opportunities etc.
- Action to be taken = leave it as it is, improve on-page SEO, rewrite to improve content value, remove
Now that you know what the document should include, it’s time to build your own content audit spreadsheet. You can simply download my content audit template here, to save some time, then start the inventory process, as described below.
How to do a content audit (step-by-step process)
1. Find all your content
You can do this in different ways:
- with a content audit tool like Screaming Frog, which allows you to identify all URLs on your website
- with Google Analytics – go to Google Analytics -> Behavior -> Site Content -> All Pages. You will get a list of pages with titles / URLs. Copy those titles and URLs in the corresponding columns of the content audit spreadsheet
- by browsing through your website from its very first page and adding all pages manually into the spreadsheet
2. Start filling the SEO-related columns
- Screaming Frog can give you the information regarding URL, title, title length, meta description and its length, H1, H2 and word count.
- If you prefer not to use this tool, you can gather all these data from your website’s backend. If using WordPress, you can use the WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin to gather the SEO data faster.
- In the backend of your website you’ll also find the keywords, tags and categories for every piece of content.
3. Fill the image-related columns
For this step you’ll need to either open each article, identify the images and click them to gather information related to image titles and ALT tags, or you can visit the image/media library, which contains all the images uploaded on your website. Copy and paste all the text in the content audit spreadsheet.
4. Fill the social media/sharing columns
To do this faster, you can use a tool like SharedCount, which shows you the number of Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn and StumbleUpon shares.
5. Fill the columns related to links
6. Fill the traffic data using Google Analytics
In Google Analytics you can find all the information for filling the following columns:
- Page visits, entries and exits
- Bounce rate and average time on page
- Conversion rate
Finally, you will have to visit each page again for CTAs and comments, then you’re done and can start the analysis. Remember that you are doing this content audit in order to improve your website’s performance, not just to get an idea of the amount or type of content that’s on your website, so once you finish with the inventory you still have some steps to take.
7. Analyze data and draw conclusions
Try to identify the posts that perform the best and see what is their length, what keywords you used, how the headings are written, what CTAs you used, what images you used and whether they were optimized, and so on. See which types of content perform better, and whether your visitors find you when browsing for relevant keywords.
Identify new internal link building opportunities, and think of ways to repurpose your best-performing pieces of content. If an article is valuable, and has a reasonable number of comments or shares, perhaps you can improve it even more by turning it into a presentation (this way you can build inbound links) or adding an infographic.
Identify those topics that resonate with your audience and those that don’t and focus your content strategy on the former. Identify those elements of a page that contribute to good conversion rates despite a low number of shares or comments. See where your content gaps are and think of ways to fill them. Use these data for developing or improving your content strategy plan, or for exploring new content marketing options.
I hope you’ll find this article useful and I’d love to know how your content audit process looks like. Did you perform a content inventory for your website at any point? Would you consider doing a website content audit for improving traffic and conversions?
If you need help in performing a website content audit, don’t hesitate to get in touch via the Contact page!