Content Audit: Surefire Way to Improve Your Results
2018 is coming to an end and before you know it 2019 will soon be here, and with the arrival of a new year also appears the excitement regarding new promotional campaigns for your brand. But before you get to that, how about a quick content audit for 2018 to check the results of your content efforts from this year?
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There’s no better way to start a new campaign than based on the results of an SEO content audit because from all the experiments you ran throughout the year, you’ll be able to replicate the strategies that worked and eliminate the ones that didn’t.
There’s no single score that can tell you whether your efforts were fruitful or not, this is why a search engine optimization audit uses various content audit tools to analyze the whole campaign and help you eventually improve the quality of your content that will lead to improved traffic.
So, this article will simplify it for you and leave you with a better understanding of the whole purpose of a content audit and why it’s important especially now.
What is exactly Content Audit?
In very simple terms, it’s the process of tracking down all content produced by your campaign or company or brand and organizing it to find out what worked and what failed. A much deeper content audit definition would be the process of obtaining a detailed overview of all content, following a comprehensive analysis using performance metrics from a variety of sources to determine which one is going to be improved, removed or retained as is.
Why execute a Content Audit?
Generally, it’s the only way to discover the options that will improve the overall quality of your site and in turn improve rankings and conversion rates. It also gives a boost to your SEO and content marketing efforts.
Here are 4 main reasons as to why you need an SEO content audit:
1. Identify What’s Working and What’s Not
As you already know, not all your content gets the same response, some will be a huge hit and others will just fill the space. So, how will you know which content thrived and which one missed? By going through each of them, if you don’t do this, you might end up wasting so much time, effort and money on dysfunctional content and campaign strategies.
2. Goals and Objectives
How good is your content from the point of view of achieving its objectives? Are you raking up any ROI? A content audit is the only way to track your content’s performance in terms of lead generation and conversions.
3. Update! Update! Update!
As time goes, many changes impact the tech and marketing world. So, yesterday’s data and insights might not be useful today. And that’s valid for content as well: facts and data need accuracy and these changes very often lately. Running an audit ensures your content is updated and as relevant as possible to your audience.
4. Website Performance
Another key thing is to measure how friendly your website is to search engines and gauge how smooth it is for your users to navigate through it. The content audit UX has to be done to check the robustness of your website’s technical framework and infrastructure. A good starting point is to test your site with a tool like HubSpot’s site grader to have a clear overview of all aspects that impact on your site’s performance.
Who should do a content audit?
Generally, the age and size of your site determines whether you need an audit and how detailed it should be. A fairly new site may not require an audit yet. However, if your site has been around for some time and has some old or outdated content, you may want to re-evaluate it to see whether it still align with the current status of your business.
Having established all the above information, the next question appears:
How then do you go about conducting a content audit?
Check the image below to find some Content Audit Strategies valid for most common cases:
Here is how:
This process starts by with registering all your content available for indexation in search engines. It is then analyzed through a variety of metrics. The actions taken after this analysis differ depending on your strategy or site.
The process can be divided into the following phases;
Inventory and Audit
Analysis and recommendations
Summary and reporting
A. Inventory and Audit
This phase starts by crawling your site and listing in a file all its content and all related metrics. Here are the metrics you’ll want to track for your audit.
Metrics You’ll Want to Track
The whole idea of any content is to organically gain traffic, but this isn’t always the case. And therefore, it is of outmost importance to check your content strategy, your distribution channels and the content itself. Evaluating the organic traffic for each piece of content will offer you valuable information on your audience preference and which topics are of interest for her. And also, you will have the chance to identify which pieces of content do not perform and find out the proper explanation for this.
Backlinks are great to reinforce your domain authority, but some of them can be hazardous. Through auditing your content regularly, you will manage to identify and get rid of the dangerous ones that can affect your rankings. You can check on your backlinks with a free tool like Ahref’s Backlink checker.
Ideally your content should lead a user from a search engine to your site where they will get more information as they navigate to the rest of your website, but if this isn’t the case, then it’s an indicator that there’s something wrong with your content.
Time Spent on Page
Depending on the type of your content, whether long or short form, by looking at the average time spent you will know if your content is right for your audience or not. For instance, if you have a long blog post of about 2500 words but the average time spent is 30 seconds, then this shows something is not right.
Pages Viewed Per Session
It’s also important to find what pages the users visited while they were on your website. This can offer you ideas and insights on how to improve your content in future.
New and Returning Users
A returning user probably means you did something right, if they’re not a customer yet, they’re near to become one. But a new user is also a great thing! Therefore, your primarily purpose should be to retain as many as possible of the existing customers and gain more and more new ones.
Your Main Sources of Traffic
Pinpoint your main sources of traffic. If for instance your largest flow of traffic is from Pinterest, then it will require you to post there more.
In general, the above metrics will give you insights on user behavior, engagement, SEO and sales.
Steps of the content audit process:
Collect the URLs
So first you need to collect all the URL’s of the pages of your site you want to audit. To make it easier for you, you can use a content audit tool from a plethora of tools available such as Ahrefs, Google Analytics, SEMRush and many more.
These tools will easily audit your content based on your site map data and also list for you the web pages that are important for you. In case you don’t have a sitemap, you can use a sitemap generator tool like XML Sitemaps generator to create one for your website. Having a sitemap goes beyond facilitating a content audit, it enables search engines understand the organization of your website and brings up all the important pages.
2. Categorize Your Content
After you’ve collected your URLs, you now need to categorize them in the following categories.
Author (if the case – when you have more authors or more teams creating content)
Content type e.g. landing page, blog post, ebook etc.
Date of publication or last editing (helps identify stale data)
Content format (text, images, videos)
Customers Journey Stage (awareness, consideration)
And number of words
After categorizing all your content, organize all the information in a dashboard that can automatically generate a list of URLs using a tool like Screaming Frog, or create columns (using spreadsheets) with your metrics to gather data for each web page. And before the very next stage of analysis, save yourself some headaches by removing any unwanted data, these may include:
Single value columns
B. Analysis and Recommendations
This is the second phase and here is the place you start to make sense of all the hard work you have been putting in. The goal of this entire procedure is to identify gaps and weak points, as well as the strengths of your content in order to build on them and improve on the weaknesses.
The content issues to evaluate in this phase can be put in these categories:
Relevance - Very old content that’s no longer valid.
Quality - Awfully written articles e.g. keyword bloated articles or simply inaccurate data.
Duplication - Internally repeated on other pages or externally e.g. through Review comparisons.
Remember the metrics discussed earlier? Well this is where they come into play. Here they will help you evaluate the data and define a clear course of action in respect to what your audit says.
The easiest way to start your analysis is by creating two columns next to each URL. One column is for labeling the actions and the next column is to list notes.
Here are some guidelines:
Leave this out because it needs some time to gain traction and make some sense.
If you get a high rate of impressions from GSC, perhaps the metadata (title tag & meta description) and content should be improved. Label it “improve”
Use your most valuable metric to filter your data, for instance: traffic or time on page. You could start focusing on pages with fewer than 70 views.
Let the URLs that you’re looking through have a status code of at least 200.
Exclude URLs with a large number of social shares.
Consider the number of objectives that are completed by each page and leave out any pages that are converting.
Redirect any backlinks or referring domains to similar pages and label that action as “Redirect” then note that under the notes list on your column.
If you have articles with a big number of keywords from the analysis, label this as “improve”
You may have several pages with very thin or similar content; you can merge these together then label “consolidate”. You can also consolidate pages with similar topics or duplicate content.
Rewrite important pages such as the home page or the page with top products, or pages with good links and social metrics and pages with good traffic. Label “Rewrite/Update”
Now if there’s anything else left after this, label it as “remove”.
C. Summary/Action Plan and Reporting
With your analysis completed, your next steps of action should be to carry out your action plans based on your objectives or goals. It should include how you intend to recreate your best performing content as well as improve all underperforming content to be able to meet up expectations and your targets.
Here are a few action tips that you can follow:
Update your Calls to Action; Replace your old campaign content with something fresh and relevant to reignite your content marketing funnel that will eventually improve your conversion.
Re-use your content; recreate your pieces of content and try publishing them in different formats for a change.
Add images and videos; Videos can drive up to 200% organic traffic to your site. Therefore, make your content more captivating by integrating videos and images and you will see the traffic soaring.
Optimize your internal linking; reduce bounce rates by adding links to new and relevant content.
Generally, align your website by avoiding common SEO mistakes and thus give your users a smooth experience. You can also take advantage of Google Search Console to update Google about your newest content.
Having gotten to this point, you’re now able to see whether your content is hitting the target or absolutely missing it.
For the high performing content, make note of the content details audit, consider what the topic was, who produced it and the time it was published.
Replicating your success strategy can definitely help you create similar high performing content. But for the ones that don’t make a hit, consider also noting the channels used, at times it’s not the content that is the problem, but rather a blend of issues such as the producer of the content, time of publishing or the content type.
Going forward, content audit doesn’t just stop here, a deliberate effort of keeping low quality content away from Google’s index must be a continuous process.
There’s also no one-fits-all strategy or content audit template that you must follow always or that works for everyone; rather, audits can vary in type, size, scope or approach. The key thing is how relevant is it to your goals and how it helps you improve your results
It is recommended to stay creative and logical while conducting your audit and come up with the most appropriate solutions that will improve your overall content strategy.