When was the last time you took a good look at your content marketing channels and strategy? A content audit is a great place to start.
As marketers, it’s easy for us to get swamped with work and caught up in the same old routine. But looking at our content and re-evaluating regularly can help us stay relevant for readers and performing well in search rankings.
Content audits can be a lot to take on, but we hope this overview can help get you started and on a path toward content success.
What is a content audit?
Content audits analyze the performance of existing content on your site to help inform future content strategy and your content calendar. These audits look at search engine optimization (SEO) performance and reader engagement. Ultimately, it will help you determine whether you need to fix existing content, create new content or archive old content.
Keep in mind that an audit isn’t going to be done in an afternoon — it’s a time-consuming process to analyze all the content on your website. Whether you’re doing the audit in-house or hiring an outside expert, plan on a few days or weeks before getting complete results.
However, the extent of your audit will likely depend on your business priorities and resources available.
A successful SEO audit should help more people discover your content. SEO audits involve looking at your website’s existing content and finding ways to improve it so it performs better in search results. These analyses look at keywords and content quality as well as technical aspects of your site.
To complete an SEO audit, you can use a tool like Screaming Frog to crawl your website and analyze your pages for errors or missing SEO elements. You may also want to gather URLs using your sitemap and Google Analytics.
Google Search Console can also show you the pages on your website that are indexed by Google and how your content is performing in search. You can see which pages have shown up in search over the last few months (impressions), the keywords they’re ranking for and the clicks through to your site. This data may be able to help you pinpoint pages that should be updated to be more relevant or robust.
A few essential items to look for in an SEO content audit
There’s a lot you can look at when performing an audit. However, you’ll want to make sure you find and diagnose any errors, missing content and duplicate content.
Here are some essential items you should look for:
- Indexed content pages – A page that isn’t indexed may have low-quality content or isn’t crawlable, so you may need to adjust the content on the page. Check out these Google guidelines.
- Missing metadata – Make sure every page includes metadata including title tags, meta descriptions (page descriptions) and header tags (H1s, H2s etc.)
- Duplicate metadata – While you don’t want missing metadata, you also don’t want duplicate metadata. Make sure all of your page descriptions and title tags are unique and ensure your title tags are not the same as your H1s.
- Response code or HTTP status codes– Do you have pages that are coming back as 404s (page not found) or another error code? Ideally, you’ll want your pages to come back as 200 (successful HTTP request). Too many errors or redirects will throw up red flags for Google.
- Internal links – Do all of your pages link to another part of your website? Try to avoid orphan pages.
- External links or backlinks – Are other sites linking to your content? The more reputable backlinks you have, the better your content will perform in search. Tools like SEMRush or Moz can help you find these and pinpoint new opportunities.
- Low-quality content – Some of your pages or blog posts may not rank well in Google search because they are low quality compared to similar content on the web. Quality can be defined by factors like keyword use, content length and content relevance, to name a few. You can look around to see what other sites are doing, or you can use a tool like SEMRush to make recommendations on how you can improve a piece of content.
Engagement and KPI audit
Analyzing SEO is an integral part of a content audit. Still, you also need to determine which content performed well against your organization’s goals and KPIs (key performance indicators). These can include metrics that track reader engagement or conversions for your organization.
The metrics you choose to evaluate will vary depending on your organization’s goals and the channels you manage. However, your objective will always be the same: Find which content is engaging readers and helping you meet your goals.
Some data points you can track include:
- Unique page views – How many unique viewers does the page get over a period?
- Average time on page – How long are users staying on a particular page? Are they staying for just a second or two, or several minutes? If the time seems low, you may need to improve the content on the page so it keeps readers engaged. Think video.
- Bounce rate – Are users clicking around your site after visiting a page or immediately leaving? Ensuring you have plenty of relevant content and internal links can keep users engaged.
- Conversions – What do you want a user to do when she visits your site? Do you want her to fill out an appointment request? Make a donation? Take a health risk assessment? You can set up conversions (goals) in Google Analytics and track which content is converting for you.
General content audit tips
Here are a few general recommendations:
Think big, then small
While you’ll likely start a larger audit of your whole website, make sure you also drill down into individual channels, like your blog. And don’t forget about channels off your website — analyzing your social media content performance is also essential.
Put together an excel spreadsheet or a dashboard for your audits where you can break up the metrics into different columns and easily sort or rank the data. Some tools, like Google Analytics and Screaming Frog, will let you export website data to a .CSV file, which you can easily add to your audit spreadsheet. A .CSV file (comma-separated values) is a plain text file where the data is separated by commas and can be exported into a simple spreadsheet.
Find your headlines
To report the results of your audit, find three to five headlines — or succinct takeaways — that will guide your strategy moving forward. You can share these with your team and other stakeholders without overwhelming them with too many data points.
Don’t make content audits a once-a-year endeavor. Make sure you are frequently evaluating your content against your KPIs. The Content Marketing Institute has a great article on how to do quick, condensed content audits throughout the year. You can leave the more comprehensive audits for January or the start of your fiscal year. CMI has a helpful article on those, too.
You don’t need to tackle content alone
The writers and content strategists at WriterGirl can help you craft relevant, search-friendly healthcare content that speaks to your specific audience. Drop us a line anytime to learn how we can help you find content success.
Note: This blog post was updated on December 26, 2019. It was originally published January 16, 2019.