How to Conduct a Content Audit in 4 Steps
Creating amazing content is just half the job when considering your website’s performance. Trying to keep pace with an editorial calendar, many marketers often set the wrong content marketing goals.
Relying on vanity metrics that say nothing about a website’s performance, most marketers won’t be able to identify any real issues. The result is that the underperforming content will remain and no one will ever understand the reasons that have led to it.
Therefore, an important aspect of your digital marketing and business SEO strategy is auditing your content constantly. When this is done correctly, you will identify major irregularities (and fix them as they come up)!
Here are 4 steps to follow when auditing content:
STEP 1: Make a List of all Pages on your Website
For starters, you need to find all pages on a website and enter them into a spreadsheet. You can do that manually, (especially if you have a small website). You can also create a template to be used regularly.
KEEP IN MIND: this is a complex process that requires lots of time, attention and organization.
FREE TEMPLATE: Here’s a very simple content audit template you can use. You might want to copy and customize the template to our own needs but it’s a very basic one to use in the meantime.
This is where site crawlers like Screaming Frog will help. With the free plan, you can crawl up to 500 URLs on your website. Therefore, for smaller websites, that would be enough. However, for professionals with larger sites, buying a premium plan would be a wise investment.
Screaming Frog works in a pretty simple way – you enter your URL into the search bar and hit the Start button.
The free version of the tool doesn’t allow you to change options, but the defaults will work for you just fine. When the crawling process is over, you can export the results in HTML.
STEP 2: Classify Your Content
Now that you’ve collected your pages, it’s time to see how they’re performing. Your goal is to identify the underperforming content and understand what causes it. To do so, you first need to know your metrics.
Here are some of them:
- The page title and its length– This data can be pulled directly from Screaming Frog. The idea is to find the titles that are not SEO-friendly (lengthy ones, with more than 60 characters, for example).
- Meta description – Apart from your page title, a meta description is the first thing searchers see in the SERPs. You want to identify poorly optimized meta descriptions that are harming your clicks and give them a boost. Similarly to your page titles, you can make a list of your meta descriptions directly from Screaming Frog.
- Content category – the topic of each page.
- Ranking for your main keyword and its search volume
- Average organic traffic – to track your monthly traffic, go to Google Analytics > Behaviour and then choose your page.
- Average traffic per month – another metric that can be observed from Google Analytics > Behaviour. Observe how your traffic has behaved over the past 3-4 months and then measure the average traffic.
- Average time on page – Sometimes, traffic can be a vanity metric. For example, tracking it is purposeless if you don’t observe it from the prism of customer engagement. And, that’s where measuring the average time on page can help. Again, you can track it from the Behaviour tab in GA.
- The number of backlinks – Backlinks remain one of Google’s most important ranking factors. There are many SEO tools that let you monitor your backlink portfolio, including Ahrefs or Majestic.
- Social engagement can be easily tracked using different social media management tools. Your goal is to see your total social shares and, in this way, understand whether your audiences engage with your content and find it valuable enough to share it with their network.
STEP 3: Build Buyer Personas
To understand the why and how behind your content performance, you first need to know who your audiences are. Conduct surveys, ask for customer feedback, and observe your customers’ discussions on social networks.
There are numerous types of customer data to collect. Start with their demographics (their age, gender, location, family status, occupation, income etc.). Then, pay attention to their psychographics – their interests, values, goals, fears, beliefs, etc.
Now that you’ve collected your data, create buyer personas. Create believable avatars that will guide you while revamping your content strategy. For example, their hobbies, interests, and purchasing habits will let you identify the keywords they use. There are many basic keyword research tools, such as Google Keyword Planner, KWFinder, SEMrush, etc.
If you what to identify more natural and conversational keywords, you will need to understand your searchers intent. Answer the Public, Google’s People Also Ask, or Google’s Searches Related To can help you here.
Put keyword ideas into another tab on your spreadsheet, along with their search volume data.
STEP 4: Compare Data and Act on It
Now that you have two spreadsheets – one with your content data and one with your content ideas, it’s time to see what to do next.
For starters, see what content your site is missing. This is certainly a part of your audit that needs to be done manually. Simply put, you need to compare your new content ideas with your existing website content.
Next, look for the content that is underperforming. Use the above mentioned metrics to see how your content ranks, what traffic it attracts, whether it engages audiences, and whether it converts this traffic into leads and sales.
Once you’ve identified the weakest pages on your site, it’s time to take action.
- Create a column where you will explain how you will modify each piece of content on your site. For example, you could write “Leave” for those pieces of content that are performing well, “Refresh” if your content data is outdated and needs to be revamped, or “Create” for new content ideas that should be included on your blog.
- Create a special column for those pieces of content that need to be improved immediately. For example, if you notice any major gaps between your existing topics and new keyword ideas, you should prioritize these pages to give your content a boost.
There will always be gaps in your content strategy. However, you can minimize them by auditing your content regularly in order to identify its biggest weaknesses and improving them. Even though this is not an easy task, it’s a significant investment in your website’s performance. And, I hope these tips will help.