No matter the size of your website, it must engage your intended audience to produce the desired results of your marketing efforts. If not, many content professionals will correct this by adding new content.
However, a better option is to perform a content audit to optimize your existing website for your audience. What does this entail?
This guide will lead you through all the aspects of a content audit, including what it is, how to do one, and how to ensure you get results that help you focus your marketing strategy.
What Is a Content Audit?
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A content audit allows you to review the content on your website with a critical eye to assess its value and worth.
It doesn’t necessarily mean that you will be deleting low-performing pages. Nor does it mean you’ll be keeping all of them. The auditing process will help you and the appropriate team members make these decisions case by case.
How long this process takes depends on the size of your website. It can take months to audit and optimize a site with over 500 pages. You determine how much you review. However, if you believe your website is underperforming, a full analysis helps.
With proper planning, a content audit does not have to be an arduous task. Organize and break down the steps to create a plan of action so you can improve your marketing efforts.
Who Can Benefit From a Content Audit?
By creating and implementing an improvement plan based on the audit, your content will better serve your audience.
But internally, your departments will thank you too:
- Search engine optimization team: A complete review will find gaps in your SEO strategy and help your team to address those issues in existing pages.
- Marketing department: This process will help them sharpen and fine-tune their marketing strategy for more effective engagement, eliminating tactics that are not working well.
- Content contributors: An in-depth audit shows them which content is the most successful so they can focus their craft.
- Social media team: This audit will help them discover the most engaging web pages and allow them to repurpose that content.
As mentioned, an underperforming website can benefit from an audit. But even if your site is doing well, this process can help you refine and retarget your audience, focus your marketing strategies, and help you improve content for even more success.
Why You Should Do One
Still not convinced? Here are more reasons from digital marketing guru Neil Patel on why you should do a content audit:
- An audit is a great way to inventory all your site content to better plan future content.
- In addition to improving SEO, an audit can help you improve accessibility, readability, and inclusivity, allowing your business to serve a broader audience.
- Find opportunities to create new content that your audience is seeking but that your current site lacks.
- You have an older site but have never done a content audit.
- Your company does not yet have a clear digital marketing strategy.
- It can also be helpful if you are redesigning or have run out of content ideas.
A content audit provides an excellent opportunity to optimize your website, improve your digital marketing strategies, and better serve your audience. In short, there are a few downsides beyond the time you are willing to commit.
Setting Goals for Your Content Audit
Larger websites and those in need of a first-time audit present a challenge. Numerous pages present the challenge of analysis paralysis that comes with large amounts of data. To avoid this issue, take charge of the information rather than letting it overwhelm you.
You can accomplish this by setting goals for your content audit. If you miss this critical first step, the data leads to confusion. Setting clear objectives allows you to select and prioritize the data, providing clear direction for this process.
The goals you choose will impact what data you collect. Here are a few examples:
Search Engine Optimization
Review your current site analytics and set a goal of where you want to be in one month and one year. You will need to review your keywords and how they are integrated on each page. It requires a more technical look at your content, including header tags, featured snippets, keyword phrases, canonical URLs, no-follow implementation, indexing, internal linking, and more.
Social Media Strategy
Here, you will be seeking content to repurpose. Review the body of your page to pull keywords, critical points, and other engaging content for social media. Content is the key to creating a strategy that leverages trends, establishes your company’s voice, and builds authority in the marketplace.
Next, optimize the layout for readability and best practices for image options, sizing, and variety.
Content Quality and Accessibility
This goal also requires a deep look at the content. Focus on topics that cover your niche, the pages that have the most traffic, and which pages have fewer visitors and engagement. Are there topics people are asking you about or are trending that you’ve missed?
You also want to ensure that pages are readable and accessible.
Site Performance and Optimization
Site performance requires a technical review. Relevant data includes site speed, load times, and overall performance. Make sure that images are optimally sized and formatted.
Backlinks and Shares
Overcome search engine competition and social media challenges such as low engagement by ensuring that content is visible. You can achieve this by improving backlinks and shares, also known as an amplification strategy. It involves looking at both individual pieces of content and the quality of your backlinks. Content should strive to be authoritative, original, accurate, and trending, while backlinks must only come from quality sites.
These are just a few of the reasons to perform a content audit. Take the time to plan a goal for the audit and then research the data required to attain that goal. Once that is completed, it is time to start your audit.
How To Perform a Content Audit
After determining all the categories of data you need to mine for your blog, you will need to scrape your website and get the information into a spreadsheet. Of course, you can do this manually, which will take more time and effort. Manual scraping works well if you have a few pages. But if your website has 100s or thousands of pages, a web scraping tool will save you hours of labor.
On the other hand, using tools and getting your data into a CSV format to import into a spreadsheet has drawbacks too. The code can malfunction, making it difficult or impossible to read or format the fields you need.
Note that you should only perform web scraping on company websites. Scraping someone on another site involves legal and ethical considerations. However, you can perform this action to understand your competition if you abide by certain limitations. Talk to your SEO team to learn more.
Here are some best practices for these two options.
Manual scraping involves copying and pasting your data into a spreadsheet by hand. If you have an XML sheet or another tool that lists all the pages of your site, allowing you to easily access this information in your content management system.
Manual scraping provides you complete control of the process. However, this is time-consuming and could lead to man-made errors. This technique is not practical if you have more than 20 pages.
In that case, a tool is going to be your best bet!
Tools For Web Scraping
Several tools can help with this process. Each one depends on your company’s budget, in-house capabilities, and how much of the audit you prefer to outsource.
SEO Spider Tool by Screaming Frog: This UK-based company offers a tool that downloads and formats all your data. There are both free and paid options, making it useful for small businesses as well as larger websites.
SEO Spider formats your data directly into a spreadsheet for easy analysis. As you can see by the title, this is primarily useful for SEO content audits and has a range of other options to help optimize your website.
DYNOMapper is a visual sitemap generator. In addition to content audit and inventory capabilities, it can track URLs, files, links, word count, keywords, and more. You will need to invest beyond the basic plan to access this tool. However, DYNOMapper also offers keyword tracking and website accessibility testing.
WooRank is another SEO tool that uses a site crawler to help you optimize performance and eliminate technical errors. It also allows you to perform keyword tracking and analyze your competition. WooRank is a for-pay service, however, it does have a free trial.
ContentWRX was created with content auditing in mind, making it a tool you should consider. This tool provides analysis and reporting based on the goals you set for your audit. Custom services are offered for the needs of your organization.
Be warned: there is no pricing on their website. They require you to give your information to download a sample pricing packet and to meet you to assess your needs.
More Tools for the Rest of Your Audit
Once you have organized a list of your pages and data with a specific goal, you may need additional tools to complete your tasks. Some options to consider include:
- Google Tools: Google Analytics, Search Console, and Keyword Planner are free tools that help you determine the health of your website’s SEO and traffic. Every company should use these tools.
Analytics and Search Console tells you what visitors are doing on your site and provides data on page performance. Keyword Planner helps you adjust your SEO keyword strategy to discover whether or not it is working. Taken together, these are necessary to show the complete performance picture of your website over time.
- SEMrush provides similar tools as Google tools but goes into more depth. You can also run website audits, track competitors, and create and schedule content, depending on the package you purchase. This tool is one of the most popular to help improve website rankings.
- ContentKing provides real-time SEO auditing. One advantage of this tool is that it can track changes while they are entered. This live tracking gives an instant alert to errors, such as broken links, so they can be fixed before the search engines record these issues. That can save a great deal of trouble for your SEO campaign.
- Hot Jar is a free and paid tool that tracks what users click on the page using heat maps. It can help you target whether content is helpful for visitors or ignored.
There are many more options, both paid and free, but these are the top tools to help you run your audit and analyze the data.
Once all or a number of pages are complete, create an action plan to optimize your site with your primary goal in mind. You should do this even if the results were better than expected. Use the data to improve your digital marketing business efforts, including building customers’ trust, creating brand recognition, and following the user journey to improve customer experience.
Sit down with all your relevant team members to discuss the results. First, have the SEO team fix errors that are dragging your site down as quickly as possible, including poor backlinks, broken links, or bloated images. Consult with their opinion on what to address next.
The social media and content departments should optimize top-performing pages by repurposing existing content and developing more relevant content. Make a plan to address low-quality pages. Mass deleting too many pages can harm your SEO so proceed with caution.
Performing a content audit from time to time is necessary for the health of your website but is even more critical to successfully reaching your audience. While this task takes time and effort, this evaluation is valuable to improve your marketing efforts. The actions you take to optimize your content based on the data can attract new visitors and turn your current followers into raving fans.