Marketing

The Step-by-Step Guide to Content Audits

What Should a Content Audit Checklist Include?

An average website could have dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of pages that could impact business growth. Each of those pages, the marketing team took time and resources to strategize, create, publish and share. Businesses look forward to reaping the fruits of their content marketing efforts but they often don’t know what to optimize and how to improve the results.

That’s where a content audit comes in. A content audit is a look at what content you currently have published, how it’s performing and any issues that could be affecting its efficacy and how it impacts the user experience (UX). While a content audit could broadly cover all the content you’ve produced, including external publications and guest blogs on behalf of your company, it’s helpful to first apply a content audit template to your website so you can see how your own content affects your SEO efforts and business strategy.

With a website content audit checklist, you can understand how your web pages are performing, which links might be broken or outdated, and how you can achieve your digital marketing goals for your content strategy going forward. In this post, we break down the various elements of a content audit and provide a step-by-step process for carrying one out for your business.

What is the purpose of a content audit?

What is the purpose of a content audit?

Once you’ve started publishing content, it’s a good idea to conduct a regular content audit to check its performance. It’s like a doctor’s checkup for your health or taking your car into the shop every year for a test. Maintaining your website content helps it perform at its best.

A content audit analyzes your content efforts so you can evaluate your strategy to understand what’s working and what’s not. By comparing content metrics across web pages, you can make more informed content marketing decisions in the future. You can also fix any issues that could be impacting performance right now.

How often should you do a content audit? We recommend doing one every 6 months. That’s a good timeframe to give your content a chance to perform, so you can gain clearer insights.

Learn how to do a successful #content audit using this content audit checklist, via @nickialanoche #contentstrategy #blogging #marketing #SEO Click To Tweet

What do you learn from a content audit?

What you learn from a content audit will depend on what your goals are. Like any good digital marketing strategy, it helps to strategize before you strategize. That means creating goals you want to achieve from your content audit strategy.

These could include:

  • Improve SEO rankings: If this is your goal, you’d want to use your content audit to identify pages with high SEO potential that you can enhance and push to higher results. You’ll also look at your internal linking and pages that could be negatively impacting your SEO results, so you can edit them or delete them.
  • Boost conversions: If this is your goal, you’d want to identify content that’s likely to generate leads. You’d also analyze content to ensure it’s delivering relevant information depending on where visitors are in the buyer’s journey.
  • Increase audience engagement: This goal involves looking at content that’s most likely to be shared online and finding content types that your target audience most resonates with. It also involves looking at content that visitors spend the most time reading and content that motivates users to check out other content on your site.

Once you pick your goal you need to track content marketing metrics. These might include:

  • Average time on page
  • Duplicate content
  • Organic traffic
  • Backlinks
  • Keyword rankings
  • Bounce rate
  • Pageviews
  • Average session duration
  • Likes, shares, and mentions
  • Internal links
  • Leads and conversions

By comparing metrics like these against various forms of content on your website, you’ll gain a clearer view of your content performance.

What steps should you take to do a content audit?

What steps should you take to do a content audit?

We recommend the following steps when you’re conducting a content audit. Check out our content audit checklist below for a cheat sheet of steps to follow.

1. Gather your website URLs

When you’re taking content inventory, you’ll want to first gather all your website URLs. You may have broken links from 5 years ago on your site that are damaging the UX or your SEO results. Create a comprehensive view of all your content so you can effectively compare pages against each other based on your goals.

What if you indeed have thousands of web pages to analyze? Relax and take a deep breath. There are several website content audit tools that will pull in every single page from your site. Some might even offer a free audit, depending on how many pages you have to examine.

Check out the following tools to see which might work for you:

Once you’ve gathered your URLs, export them into a content audit spreadsheet that you can then fill with the metrics you want to track.

2. Collect metrics

Next up in your content audit UX journey, you’ll want to gather the metrics you want to track for your URLs. These metrics should be based on your content audit goals. There are different analytics tools for different metrics, such as:

  • Google AnalyticsFind website behavior like bounce rate, time spent on page, page views, referrals, and social media traffic.
  • AhrefsSee which sites are linking back to your pages.
  • URL Profiler: Audit your content for issues like readability, duplicate content, social shares, and more.

Make sure you have a column in your content audit spreadsheet for http status code, so you can see broken links that are designated by 404 errors (more on that soon). You can use a tool like Semrush Site Audit to scan your website for dozens of SEO and technical mistakes.

After you’ve collected data on all of your pages, you can start to organize it.

3. Organize content

This step is technically optional, but it can help you notice trends and insights more easily. You can create new tabs in your spreadsheet that categorize your content and compare the results.

For example, you might have tabs that organize content by format, like blog or infographic. You might segment your content into topic tabs. It might be worth looking at the length of your content pieces and grouping content with similar lengths together to compare them.

Another way to organize your content is to align it with where leads are in the buyer’s journey. You might notice that one of your “awareness” pieces of content is actually driving conversions. Or, a landing page that’s supposed to convert has a high bounce rate. How you organize your insights is all up to you.

4. Fix your links

During this part of your content audit, you’ll evaluate your links to find quick fixes and clean up your site.

First, search your spreadsheet for 404 errors. These pages either need to be fixed or redirected to the correct pages.

Also, if you have pages that are linking to bad content or outdated links, that can also hurt your SEO efforts. You would either want to remove these links or look for a better source to link to within the content.

For links that target keywords that are important to you, determine whether you want to update the content, leave it as is, or delete it. Before you delete old content, consider if an update can breathe new life into it. If the content promotes an old product or service you’re no longer selling, or it contains duplicate content, then it’s probably safe to delete the page altogether.

As you work on fixing old links, maintain a status column that tells you what actions you’ve taken on each link. This goes back to the previous point, helping you stay organized.

5. Analyze your content

Have a data analysis expert on your team? Enlist their help to tease out some trends from your audit.

Using your goals, you can create charts based on the data you’ve gathered. For example:

  • URLs with the most social shares
  • URLs with the most referring domains
  • URLs with the most pageviews
  • URLs with the most comments

If you’ve categorized your content, you can apply this same technique to your content categories. For example, determine which content categories have the most social shares, or which content categories get the most referrals. This will help you understand where to focus your efforts.

6. Update your customer personas

Your content audit should tell you what your current customer looks like, based on the pages that are having the most success on your site.

After you’ve done a content audit, you should apply the insights you’ve learned to your customer personas. This may mean fleshing out your buyer personas in more detail, or creating new ones altogether.

Look at the details that characterize each buyer persona you currently have. Adjust them based on what you’ve learned in your content audit.

7. Create a content schedule

So far in your content audit, you’ve:

  • Determined which links are your best performers
  • Fixed broken links
  • Identified which types of content or content topics help you meet your business goals
  • Updated your buyer personas for a clearer understanding of your target customer

Using the data you’ve collected and insights you’ve drawn, you can now optimize your future content creation. If you don’t have one already, create a content calendar so you can plan future content.

Your content schedule can also include updates and re-releases of old content that’s been made over. You can also add older content that’s high-performing or that could use a boost into your content calendar so that you re-share it with new audiences.

8. Plan your next audit

Remember that you’ll want to do a content audit again in around 6 months so you can check how your new content is performing. For each subsequent content audit, look for broken links and ways to optimize your content for your target keywords.

For high-performing content, you might consider applying the 10x approach, also known as the Skyscraper Technique. As the name implies, when you 10x your contentcontent, you’re making it at least 10 times better than the next best piece of content online that relates to that topic.

The benefit of applying the Skyscraper Technique to your high-performing posts is that those posts will be more likely to land on the front page of the search engine results.

Here are some tips to improve your content:

  • Update the content with new stats
  • Include new quotes and testimonials
  • Illustrate a case study or add examples

Do a Google search for keywords related to the content you want to 10x. As you read competitor posts, think about what you can do better. Apply that strategy to your existing content.

Remember to monitor the progress of any content you update or attempt to 10x so that you can see which strategies worked and apply those to future content.

Share your content audit results with your team

Share your content audit results with your team

One of the greatest things about online marketing is that you can collect data based on every action your user takes. This data can power up your business. You can share your insights with your sales team, customer service representatives, product or service developers, and even your business executives. The more you know about your target customer’s interests and behaviors, the better you can meet their needs with your product or service.

Investing in content audit tools can save your team time and money while making your results much more accurate. Sure, if your website has only five URLs, you might be able to manually organize your data in an Excel spreadsheet. But for bigger-scale websites, content audit automation is absolutely essential.

At ClearVoice, we offer content audit and gap analysis services that will examine your existing on-site content. If you don’t have the proper resources or time to do a full content audit and need some expert help, then maybe this is what you need. Learn more about our content strategy solutions and get started today!

Website content audit checklist

Website content audit checklist

Here’s a quick summary of all the various elements of a content audit that we’ve covered in this article.

  1. Set your content audit goals
  2. Determine which content metrics to track
  3. Gather all your website URLs
  4. Collect metrics based on your goals
  5. Organize your content based on the topic or format
  6. Fix or delete broken links
  7. Analyze your content
  8. Update your customer personas
  9. Create a content schedule
  10. Plan your next audit

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About the author

Nicki Escudero

Nicki Escudero is a journalist, marketing copywriter, editor, and social media strategist with more than 14 years of experience. She is a regular contributor to the ClearVoice blog who writes for hundreds of brands in worldwide markets.