Do the words “tax audit” and “content audit” strike the same emotional cord for you? You’re not alone. In fact, 37% of content marketers never do a content audit.
Why is this? Well, it’s a daunting and onerous task. And sometimes it reminds us of our failures, as we sort through the content that missed the mark over the last year.
I may sound like an obnoxious motivational poster with a picture of a mountain when I say this, but hear me out: Content audits are about opportunity, not failure.
What if I told you that a “failed” blog was a headline change away from being your biggest performer of the next quarter? That’s not an extreme example. This is the attainable insight you can get from performing a proper content audit.
Not everyone is best SEO expert and some content marketers have tunnel vision and can only see what they’re publishing in the future. They focus on hammering out tons of content, thinking that just publishing will move things forward.
But never mistake activity with accomplishment.
Take a break from production and focus on reflection. Trust me when I say, taking the time to look back at the year’s content is more valuable than any blog or ebook you’re working on right now.
You need to answer big questions. And those answers should shape your next 12 months of content. Questions such as:
• Which page generated the most traffic? And the most leads? Is there a disconnect?
• What content got the most traction? How do we capitalize on/ duplicate this?
• Which pages/posts missed the mark? Why? Can we revitalize them with A-B tests?
• Which posts/pages earned us the biggest keyword wins? Or the most linkbacks?
• What have we learned about what our audience wants to engage with?
Only when you have these answers can you truly create a strategic plan for 12 months. Without these insights, I dare say, any success you experience will be based on luck not strategy.
You need a full understanding of where your content lives, how much of it you have, how it’s organized, how it’s written, and how your audience engages with it. A content audit provides a systematic means to a valuable end and is a vital component to the health of your website, and your business. Period.
We want to help you succeed in executing the perfect content audit which will help you in developing effective content marketing strategies.
So, let’s begin.
Step 1: The Content Inventory
Before you can begin your actual content audit, you need a content inventory report.
What’s a content inventory? It’s a QUANTITATIVE assessment of all the content that’s on your website.
It provides a bird’s eye view of all the data on your site, with information including, but not limited to your:
• File sizes
• Type (HTML page, image, video)
• Analytics data
• Site data
• Word count
• Publication date
• H1 text
• Alt text
Your content inventory can be created manually on a spreadsheet, or with a combination of other tools.
Some of these tools include:
• Dyno Mapper
• SITE ANALYZER
• Google Search Console
• Google Analytics
• WEB Gnomes
• Alexa Site Audit
• MOZ Crawl Test
• Raven Tools Audit Reporting
• XML Sitemap Generator
However you do it, this data starts to uncover key insights about your website’s structure, content stats, and any potential issues that could be obstructing your site’s authority.
Now, let’s break down what data you need to include in your content inventory spreadsheet and why:
Good URLs improve your site’s rankings and ensure that Google will successfully crawl your page. So audit your URLs. Are they long? Are they short? Are they clear?
Make sure that your URLs are short and clear. This makes them better for both human and search engine readability. Also make sure to use hyphens between words, not underscores or random numbers.
For more information on how to create worthy URLs, click here for Google’s Webmaster Tools.
Examine stats like bounce rate, page views, click through rates, and time on the page, you can then begin to weed out your content garden.
Tip: You always want to ensure that search engines are readily indexing your content.
File size affects load time and performance on your website.
Title and description metadata are very important.
Your title-tags are going to appear in Google’s SERP so they MUST be unique and descriptive, with your primary KWPs (keyword phrases) included in them.
Are your title-tags defining your content concisely and transparently? Are they optimized for SEO? You should always keep them short with a max 50-60 characters.
Your meta-descriptions are just as important. Metas are the short paragraphs displayed under your title tags on SERP. Make sure your metas are between 150-160 characters.
Tip: You want to ensure that your meta-descriptions represent the content on your page and are engaging enough that readers are clicking on them.
Analytics is a fun part of your content inventory that lets you nerd-out a bit. Well, we nerd out over it anyways.
Looking at the analytics tells you what is doing well and what is not doing so well.
Are people spending time on your page? How long are they spending on your page, or are they bouncing right away?
Tip: Copying and pasting analytics data into your spreadsheet can be a big (not to mention tedious) task. To simplify the process, use Google Analytics to export this data and then copy it into your spreadsheet.
Google’s new algorithms reward long-form content that is 2000 words or more. The days of 300-500 word articles are over!
Long-form content boosts your page up in the SERPs. However, when you write in-depth articles, make sure that your content is broken up into small paragraphs to maintain readability and scannability.
If you’re not a natural editor, the Hemingway Score analyzes all your content for readability score.
The H1 tag is considered the most important tag for search engine optimization. It tells both search engines and human visitors what the content of your page will be about.
Make sure you are including H1s in your spreadsheet for review.
Tip: You want to check for keywords and clarity.
Links (Internal & External)
Make sure you include the links going in and out of your page(s). Quality links provide relevancy metrics for Google. It tells Google that your website consists of trustworthy material, therefore, boosting your site authority.
If search engines CAN’T SEE the images on your website, Google won’t be able to crawl them for keywords.
By not adding alt attributes to every image on your site, you lose a tremendous opportunity to be noticeable online.
This data includes a general overview of your:
• Site traffic
• Site speed
• Top pages
• Page views
• and more
These metrics tell you how to increase your traffic and user retention.
That’s it for your content inventory folks! These are the fundamental parts of a content inventory. But you may decide you want to add to this list, depending on your specific goals.
For now, let’s move on to Step 2.
Step 2: The Content Audit
Unlike the quantitative assessment in Step 1, the content audit is a QUALITATIVE assessment of your content.
Unifying both datasets creates a powerful engine that digs even deeper into your content’s strengths and weaknesses.
How do you make your website better than your competitors? High-quality content, of course.
We don’t mean producing content to simply rank well in search engines. We mean content that fulfils business goals and your audience’s needs.
High-quality content inspires ongoing audience engagement and above all, loyalty.
Whenever a user lands on your page, you’re given the opportunity to engage them. The way your content speaks to them drives your success.
If your content is riddled with grammatical errors, inconsistent, outdated, all over the place, and hard to navigate through, then guess what… That user is bouncing off as quickly as they came.
Ask yourself these questions:
Is this Relevant?
How do I know if my content is relevant?
You may be the world’s greatest writer, but good content is not about you.
It’s about the audience you’re writing for and you have to understand who your audience is. Get to know them. Put yourself in their shoes.
You also need to know that not all your customers are the same. Hopefully, you have segmented your buyers into different buckets or buyer personas. Well, the same data can be used to create reader personas.
Don’t just send all your would-be customers the link to the same blog or whitepaper. Someone who is new to your product or service is too fresh for a detail-driven case study. Or, an existing customer doesn’t care about a top-of-the-funnel or entry-level blog.
According to Invesp, developing an effective buyer persona can result in a 238% increase in conversions.
How to create and reach each persona is a blog unto itself. In fact, it’s a whole series of blogs. But knowing that your audience wants different things and bucketing your content accordingly puts you ahead of 80% of marketers out there who just “shotgun blast” the same content to everyone and hope it hits something.
The key takeaway: Good content is something that is relevant to someone in your audience. If a piece of content misses the mark, don’t throw it out right away. You may be able to repackage it to resonate somewhere else.
Is This Current?
Does this piece of content have an expiry date? Were you writing this to respond to the day’s headlines or capitalize on a trend? If so, it’s dated.
Or is this content more “evergreen” and just as relevant as when you published it X weeks ago?
If it’s too dated, you may want to scrap it or archive it.
If you’re seeing that you’re not taking advantage of current trends or commenting enough on timely subjects, you can use the following tools to look for trending topics:
Is This Still Accurate?
Is this blog or download as accurate today as it was when you published it?
Maybe new data and new statistics are available. If so, this doesn’t mean you throw out the blog. It means you now have an opportunity to update and re-release this blog with the new data.
Content can have a second life. And older content can often be your biggest source of traffic and leads.
Is This Readable & Scannable?
Check to see if your content is scannable and that your website is easy to navigate.
The majority of people online are actually skimming. According to research performed by the Nielsen Norman Group, only 16% of people online read word-by-word.
Blogs with big blocks of unbroken text are intimidating. Your visitors will most likely click away if your content looks hard and painful to read.
Make sure your content is easily digestible with high-quality visuals, as well as headings, bullet points and numbered lists to break up the big sections of text.
Is This Consistent With Our Brand Voice?
Content consistency can be measured by looking at:
• Tone/ voice
Does the content on your website all sound like it’s coming from one company/brand? You want to make sure that your articles, sections, terms and descriptions all have the same tone.
This also goes for all your social media channels/platforms!
Tip: Refer back to your brand guidelines and editorial styles guide to see how well your content is representing the intent of your brand personality.
And if you don’t have a guide, create one!
Does This Have a Clear or Enticing Call-to-Action?
Does a certain piece of content have good traffic, but no engagement. Are people reading it and just leaving without clicking elsewhere, subscribing, or making a buy?
CTA’s are more than just BUY NOW or CLICK HERE.
You want to be able to elicit a strong response from your audience. If your CTA is stimulating, then your audience will be more inclined to click.
A great example of a click-worthy CTA comes from QuickSprout:
‘Are you doing your SEO wrong? Enter your URL to find out.’
The reader ponders, “Well, am I?” Their next thought is: “All I have to do is enter my URL to find out….. seems easy/harmless enough.”
It’s natural language like this that can lure visitors to click through.
How is Our UX & UI Design?
Users don’t just land on your page for no reason at all. They always have a goal.
They’re looking for information, entertainment, and sometimes to even make a purchase.
For example, if your customer is having a difficult time finding the next step to make a purchase… They’re gone. And they’re going to your competitor’s site!
You have a user design issue that needs immediate addressing. You’re gift-wrapping buy-ready traffic to your competition.
You can find this information through your site using site analytics in step 1 of this guide.
How Much Content Do We Have?
Is there enough content on my website? Is there too much?
While more content is better, your focus should be producing content that your audience finds valuable. So it’s better to ensure everything you put out is top-notch and build on it slowly, rather than hammer it all out quickly.
Are There Any Content Gaps?
After examining the volume of content on your site, you may want to consider adding additional content that you think your audience will find useful and that you may have missed.
Questions you should ask yourself to assist you with this are:
• Does my site provide everything the user needs?
• Is there information missing that will cause my user to jump off and look for the information somewhere else?
Tip: Use a gap analysis to create a list of potential new content to create (will get into this later)
How Deep is our Content
Deep content ranks. However, article length alone is not enough for ‘depth’ to occur.
Google’s new algorithm rewards in-depth knowledge. In today’s landscape, keyword-stuffing gets punished and quality pieces get rewarded.
How Diverse is Our Content?
Content can be produced in so many ways! For example, you can produce:
• Blog Posts
• Case Studies
Take a close look at your content types and determine whether it’s the best fit for that particular content subject. If a particular blog post on your site features lots of visuals or statistics, then it may work better as an infographic.
Step 3: Weeding Out Your Content Garden
Now that we’ve asked the big questions, it’s time to weed out your content garden!
In this phase, you’re going to sort the content into 5 categories:
This is content that has passed inspection and is approved to keep (as is) on your site.
2. Optimize (Or Re-optimize)
This content that has high value, but isn’t as optimized as it could be. It will require back-end improvements to boost rankings.
This content is either irrelevant or is one that you no longer think should be associated with your brand.
Tip: You want to keep your eye out for any duplicated content as duplicated content hinders your organization’s SEO efforts.
Certain content can be turned into different forms such as eBooks and videos!
When you repurpose content in a new format there are lots of benefits, such as reaching new audiences.
Tip: Repurposing content is taking something you’ve created and putting a new spin on it, essentially giving it a new life!
This content can have a second life with new stats, quotes, or graphics.
Step 4: Uncovering Content Gaps
As we mentioned earlier, uncovering content gaps reveals new opportunities and identifies what topics you should cover for your audience.
Uncovering gaps also sets a solid foundation for your website, and enables you to create strategic content that is rooted from insights.
By this stage of the content audit, you know what content you have and how it’s performing. You have some awareness of where you want your website to go moving forward.
However, to triple guarantee that you are, in fact, moving in the right direction, it’s time to look at your competition.
Let’s start by finding out exactly where your competitor’s traffic is coming from.
Some tools to help you with this include:
Once you’ve got your tools, begin your SEO competitor keyword research to find out exactly which keywords your competitors are ranking for.
Plug in the domain name and you’ll see a list of keywords, along with stats such as the position they’re ranking in volume of search traffic, and the number of search results.
You may even find keywords your competitors rank for (that you don’t), which will suggest a new content section for your website! Make note of content you could create to better serve those user search queries.
Once you’ve completed your keyword research, you can determine where your content gaps are.
• Compile all the keywords your competitor ranks for
• Now subtract all the keywords your website is already ranking for
• The keywords that are left are where your content gap lies
You can apply this information directly to your content audit spreadsheet in a new tab.
Ahrefs and SEMRush both offer gap analysis tools that help you analyze many competitors all at once. You can do this adjacent to your own domain. This reveals a large list of the keywords you should focus on moving forward.
Now you want to find your competitor’s backlinks!
You’ll want to know where your competitor’s links are coming from, as this will really help you in your search engine optimization efforts. Watch for content that your competitors created that garnered lots of links.
Ahrefs is a great tool for backlinking and gives you a valuable report of which high-quality backlinks your competition links to.
Now you have new insights into your competitor’s strategy to help you in creating your own link-building campaign.
Engage in Community Discussion
You’ve done your competitor homework, so you can now focus on other content gaps tactics.
Engaging in community discussion is a great way to brainstorm topics for publishing content that you need to fill.
Try monitoring and engage in discussions among the various communities, forums, and social media platforms within your niche.
Some forums you can try include:
Just by monitoring these forums and taking part in the discussion, you’ll be able to hone in your buyer personas’ pain points. These are great pointers of where your content gaps exist.
These platforms offer a great opportunity to engage with your audience and ask questions directly.
BuzzSumo is a great way to discover what’s trending in your niche.
This can be extremely useful in identifying content gaps. You can take something widespread and then incorporate it into your own content with your own spin.
BuzzSumo helps you search for content ideas that you may already have in mind to see if they’re already trending.
Identify Good Content & Read The Comments
Identify the top leaders in your niche and examine their content.
The fun part: Reading the comments. This will help you discover the audience’s thoughts, opinions, likes, and dislikes.
Read the comments thoroughly, especially the ones that clearly state pain points. This will give you ideas for potential content that can help resolve those pain points.
Step 4: Bridging The Gap
If you own the website, you can skip over to step 5.
But, if you are conducting the audit on behalf of a company, it’s time to present your findings and a new content strategy.
A content audit report tells the story of what you discovered, written in great detail so that the reader understands the context.
Your findings should spark conversations, answer questions, and identify the issues that need follow-up.
Just as your website needs a clear CTA, so does your audit report. It’s not enough to simply state the issues, recommendations, or benefits. You want to make the desired outcome clear. The client should know what is being asked of them, in terms of both time and resources.
You need to be on the same page for implementing a real action plan for the next steps moving forward.
Tip: Spreadsheets are great for collecting all your sites data and information, but don’t include them in your findings/report. Spreadsheets can overwhelm and confuse your message.
What To Include In Your Content Audit Findings
You want to include:
• Key takeaways
• Current state of website
• Future state of website
• Implementation plan
• Next steps
• Infographics (for a visual punch)
• Slide presentation (if you’re presenting to a team)
Begin the report with an overview of your content audit.
Then include your objectives, what you assessed and why, the current state of your website, the process and criteria used when examining the website, the future state of your website, gaps, any risks, opportunities, your recommendations, and finally your proposed action plan.
You want to make your recommendations:
Back up your findings with numbers. When you discuss improvements that need to be made, include numbers to reinforce your case.
Include data visualizations in your report to make your findings fun and enticing to read. Research has shown that people process visuals 60,000 times faster than text (hence why infographics do so well) and in a hectic work environment, where everyone is scrambling to get things done, this can make a big difference in how well your information will be taken in.
Step 5: Next Steps
You’ve reached the end of your content audit. Give yourself a pat on the back for making it this far.
Now, what do you do with what you’ve learned? Simple, you implement an ongoing, periodic inventory and content audit called the rolling inventory.
But fear not my friends. By conducting your content audit, the tedious work is behind you. You have now put a process in place for audits and inventories for years to come.
A ‘rolling’ inventory and audit allows you to assess your content mix, quality, and effectiveness against the Google algorithms and web audiences.
Conducting regular audits lets you constantly monitor the quantity and quality of content on your site. This is particularly helpful if you want to quickly detect trouble areas such as:
• Metadatas that are lacking
• Poor site structure
• Any other problematic metrics
An ongoing content inventory/ audit also allows you to track key publishing info such as authors, date of publications, and any other reports related to content planning.
Essentially a rolling inventory makes it easier for you to fill in gaps or strengthen weak areas as you go.
Tip: If you don’t have the resources or time to conduct an ongoing audit, that’s okay. Instead, focus on the content areas that are more likely to stray from your quality standards. Whether that’s because they’ve become outdated or that they no longer adhere to your brand guidelines.
That’s a Wrap!
You did it! You proved you give a bigger damn about your content than most of the companies out there. And your content’s quality and engagement over the next year or so will reflect that.
We bet you feel great. We absolutely do.
Yes, conducting a content audit takes time, but anything worthwhile does. Now your content goals are rooted from a foundation of insights and not just merely a whim.
Whether you do your audits monthly, quarterly, or even yearly, you are taking the steps to address performance issues and improve your site’s accessibility.
You are taking the steps to ensure that your site is valuable to new and returning visitors.
And most importantly, you’re ahead of the game in uncovering content gaps and publishing quality content that will boost you right on up in Google’s SERPs.
If you’re looking for more information on completing a content audit for your website get in touch with us for a free consultation today.