Content audits are a valuable process to help you identify weaknesses and opportunities in your existing library of content assets and your overall content strategy.
For example, a content audit can help you identify content assets that can be improved or repurposed. Conducting content audits also allows you to keep track of your content and relevant content analytics over time and plan and organize your content strategy more effectively.
Following key steps and best practices streamlines the content audit process, making it more efficient while also providing you with clear, actionable insights to inform your content strategy.
What is a content audit?
A content audit is a process for identifying, organizing, and analyzing your website content. Content audits are used to determine if your content is meeting your business objectives and discover opportunities to leverage content to meet your goals.
A content audit isn’t the same as a content inventory, although a content inventory is a crucial step in the content audit process. While a content inventory documents all your existing content assets, a content audit takes it further to uncover content gaps and opportunities for improvement. A content audit helps you plan your content strategy.
A content audit is a strategic process for identifying and evaluating your website content. It involves analyzing your content to identify gaps and opportunities to drive your content and SEO strategy.
Why are you conducting a content audit?
There are several reasons to conduct a content audit. You might want to determine if your content is aligned with your audience’s needs, for instance. You can also conduct a content audit to eliminate wasteful spending and fine-tune your content marketing or SEO strategy. A content audit also is a good way to identify content assets that you can improve or repurpose to get more traction from your previous efforts.
Through a content audit, you can create an organized view of your content and related content and SEO analytics to monitor your results and track your overall effectiveness or the effectiveness of distinct content assets. A content audit helps you establish a baseline so that you can make continuous improvements to your content marketing or SEO content strategy over time and measure the impact.
Types of content audits
Content audits are generally categorized in one of two ways: by the extensiveness of the audit or based on your goals.
Full content audit
A full content audit is the process of taking a complete content asset inventory, organizing your content assets, and analyzing all types of content on your website.
Partial content audit
A partial content audit typically focuses on organizing and analyzing a specific type of content, such as blog content, social media content, or content related to a specific niche or topic. A partial content audit may also focus on content created or published during a specific time period, such as in the last six months or in a calendar year.
A content sample organizes and analyzes a selection of example content rather than your full content asset library. This type of content audit can include example assets across all categories and types or, similar to a partial content audit, can focus on a subset of content. The key difference between a partial content audit and a content sample is that even if it’s focused on a subset of content, only a selection of example assets is evaluated.
It’s meant as a less-intensive content audit that can provide some insights into the performance of your content strategy as a whole. If a content sample audit identifies shortcomings, you might progress to a full content audit for more detailed insights.
Content audits can also be described based on your goals. In this case, there are two primary types of content audits: content marketing audits and SEO content audits.
Content marketing audit
A content marketing audit involves cataloging all existing content assets and related data such as content type, location, word count, page visits, the time visitors spend on-page reading each asset, and social media engagement metrics. This type of audit helps you identify the topics that resonate with your audience so you can dedicate more resources to creating additional assets targeting these preferences.
Screenshot via Alexa
For instance, if your content marketing audit reveals that your audience spends more time reading long-form blog posts than other types of content, you can identify topics that you haven’t covered in this format and create new assets in the format your audience engages with most.
If your niche is marketing and your audit reveals that content focused on Instagram marketing gets more engagement than other topics, you can allocate resources to creating additional assets focused on Instagram.
You can also allocate resources to improving your existing content assets based on the results of your content marketing audit. For example, if you find that your audience spends more time reading long-form blog posts, you can identify related short-form blog posts that can be combined to create long-form assets or expand your short-form content to create long-form content that provides more value to your audience.
In short, a content marketing audit helps you determine what content topics, types, and lengths your audience engage with most to inform future content efforts. These insights can be combined to fine-tune your content marketing strategy.
Building on the Instagram example above, you might discover that your audience engages with Instagram marketing-related content more than other topics, but they also prefer long-form blog content over short-form posts and more technical content such as white papers. In this case, you can focus on creating more long-form content on Instagram marketing to cater precisely to your audience’s preferences.
SEO content audit
An SEO content audit involves cataloging not only your content assets but their associated keywords, where each post ranks in the search engine results pages (SERPs) for target keywords, backlinks, bounce rate, time spent on page, traffic sources, conversions, and other SEO metrics.
There are dozens of metrics you could gather and monitor for an SEO content audit, so the set of metrics you focus on may vary depending on your specific goals. For instance, if you’re aiming to build backlinks, you might primarily focus on metrics like traffic sources and existing backlinks.
An SEO content audit helps you determine where to make changes to improve rankings for target keywords. Your audit may reveal that you’re not ranking in the first five pages of the SERPs for one of your brand’s primary target keywords, allowing you to identify content gaps and allocate resources to creating new assets (or improving existing assets) to better target those target keywords.
If your audit reveals that you have existing assets targeting those keywords but those assets have few backlinks, you might decide to improve those existing assets and conduct an outreach campaign to build more backlinks to those content assets.
In some cases, you might find that a certain type of content asset ranks better than other content types, so you can repurpose existing content or create new assets in that format to improve your brand’s visibility in the SERPs.
For the purposes of an initial SEO content audit, it’s helpful to gather as much data as you can, as your goals may change over time. While building backlinks might be your main focus today, next year you might be focusing on improving conversions. You’ll thank yourself later for taking the time to document all the essential SEO metrics about your content assets so you can compare your data against this comprehensive baseline in the future.
How to conduct a content audit
There are several steps involved in conducting a content audit. While some of these steps are time-consuming, conducting a content audit isn’t difficult when you’re armed with the right tools.
1. Catalog your content assets
The first step in conducting a content audit is to catalog your existing content assets by locating and documenting every piece of content. Basically, you’re creating an inventory of your content. Gathering this information in a spreadsheet is one of the most commonly used methods, and a spreadsheet can prove useful later in the process as well.
If you don’t want to reinvent the wheel, there are content audit templates you can use or customize to facilitate the cataloging process. There are also a number of tools that can help you find URLs for all your content quickly. These tools, such as Screaming Frog and URL Profiler, are especially useful if you have many assets to catalog.
2. Gather data about each asset
Now that you have a list of content assets and their associated URLs, it’s time to start documenting other important data about each asset. If you’re conducting a content marketing audit, you’ll want to document information such as:
- Word count
- Type of content (format or medium)
- Published date (or date last updated)
- Call-to-action (CTA)
- Conversion goal (download a white paper, newsletter signup, etc.)
- Bounce rate
- Time spent on page
- # of comments
- # of social shares (may be broken down by social network)
- # of conversions
If you’re conducting an SEO content audit, you’ll probably want to include all the details outlined above as well as additional metrics such as:
- Total unique visitors
- Target keyword saturation (# of keyword mentions)
- # of inbound links (backlinks)
- # of outbound links
- Current SERP rank
- Meta title
- Meta description
- Keyword use in headings and subheadings
- Keyword use in image ALT tags
- Referral traffic
- Top referring URLs
Given the number of data points you can potentially gather for each content asset, it’s easy to see why this is often the most time-consuming step in the process. While the data points you collect depend on the goals of your audit, as mentioned above, the more data you collect now, the more comprehensive your baseline to monitor your progress over time.
If you’re using a spreadsheet to gather your data, consider adding columns to document your decisions about each asset (such as whether to keep, discard, or update each asset), set dates to revisit an asset, or designate a team member responsible for taking the next action for each asset.
3. Analyze your content assets to determine next actions
You’re armed with loads of data about every one of your content assets, and now comes the fun part: analyzing your content. At this stage, you want to assess the data for each asset and compare your assets to derive some insights you can act on.
Determine whether you want to keep, update, improve, expand, or discard each asset. You can create a column for this status in your spreadsheet with a drop-down menu to select a designation.
Consider discarding content assets focused on topics that aren’t central to your business and aren’t getting much engagement or converting. Data-focused assets that are a few years old or otherwise may contain outdated data should be designated for an update, while assets that focus on topics central to your business but aren’t ranking for your target keywords should be designated for expansion or improvement.
Decide what assets can be repurposed into different formats. For instance, if you have a long-form post that contains many statistics and data points, you can repurpose that content as an infographic.
You can also designate assets to combine, such as multiple shorter assets related to a central topic that you can combine to create a single larger asset. One thing to consider is combining multiple assets that target the same focus keyword into a single, comprehensive asset, which can be more likely to rank for your focus keyword compared to several less-valuable assets that target the same term.
If you have a set of assets focused on various aspects of a broader central topic, you have what’s known as a topic cluster. Designate those assets for improvement and make a note to ensure that those assets all link to each other. If you have many such cases, you might want to consider creating a specific designation for interlinking topic clusters in your spreadsheet. It’s also helpful to have a column to note which topic cluster each asset belongs to if you have multiple clusters.
In this step, you’ll also want to identify information gaps in your content. It may be helpful to conduct a competitive analysis here to discover any content topics that your competitors are covering (and getting results from, based on the available data) that your existing content doesn’t address or doesn’t address thoroughly.
Look for top-performing topics that generate significant engagement for your competitors that you’re not targeting well with your existing content, and identify assets to improve, expand, or repurpose that can help to fill those gaps. Identifying content gaps will also be helpful in the next step.
4. Evaluate your content data to inform your strategy
After deciding what to do with each asset next, you can take a deeper look at your data to inform your content strategy. If you conducted a competitive analysis to identify content gaps in the last step, you can leverage those insights to develop a plan for building new content assets that fill those gaps.
You’ll also want to analyze factors such as what types of content get the most engagement, tend to rank best, or convert more than others. For instance, if you find that your video content gets more social shares and you’re looking to enhance your social media visibility, dedicate more resources to producing video content related to your top-performing topics. If your data reveals that long-form assets produce the most conversions, you can combine lower-performing shorter content and repurpose it as a long-form asset.
Want to build more backlinks? Take a look at the types of content that earn the most backlinks. Then identify the topics that tend to resonate most with your audience, and create new content assets on those topics that format. Conduct an outreach campaign to generate more backlinks and amplify your results.
Want to rank higher in the SERPs? Take a look at the content formats that tend to rank better than others. What did you do differently for your top-ranking assets? Research the SERPs for your target keywords and determine what types of content are ranking on the first page. Use these insights to develop a targeted content strategy to improve your SEO.
There are countless ways to evaluate your content audit data to inform your content strategy. Follow the data, research the SERPs, and analyze your competitors to build an effective content strategy that meets your audience’s needs while simultaneously meeting your business objectives.
5. Create a plan of action
Now that you’ve determined the next action for every existing content asset and evaluated your data to inform your content strategy, it’s time to develop a clear plan of action. Prioritize existing content assets or planned topics so that you’re focusing on the highest-priority assets and topics first. To do this, you might add a column to your spreadsheet to designate a priority status for each asset or planned topic.
Once you’ve determined the priority level for each asset and planned topic, create a timeline and assign team members to each task. You can add columns to your spreadsheet designating the team member responsible for handling each task and another column for due dates.
Set goals for your content strategy and develop a schedule. For instance, you might want to create one new content asset and two repurposed assets each week. You’ll also want to task team members with removing your lowest-performing assets and combining or repurposing other content, creating new assets in specific formats that perform best, new assets on higher-performing topics, or new content assets to address information gaps.
Create a plan of action for each asset with defined steps, such as:
- Expanding an asset by a specified number of words
- Updating an asset with more recent and accurate data
- Restructuring content for search engine optimization (such as restructuring an article using relevant keywords in headings and subheadings)
- Optimizing image alt text
- Adding images or videos to existing content assets
- Creating 301 redirects
- Promoting existing or new content assets
Content audit tools
While content audits can be time-consuming, there are a variety of tools at your disposal that can help streamline various steps in the process. Spreadsheets are one of the most commonly used tools to document your content assets and related data.
Screenshot via Screaming Frog
If you have multiple team members gathering data, Google Sheets is particularly useful as multiple people can add data to a shared spreadsheet at the same time. There are many spreadsheet templates for content audits that you can use or customize to meet your needs, whether you’re using Excel or Google Sheets.
An alternative to the spreadsheet method is to use a complete content audit tool, such as the My Site Audit plugin, which is a good option if you have a WordPress website. There are also tools that can automatically gather all your content URLs, such as Screaming Frog and URL Profiler.
You’ll also want to leverage a website or content analytics tool such as Google Analytics or Semrush for on-page and on-site data such as bounce rate, time spent on page. If you have goals configured in your Google Analytics account, you can even use it for conversion data. SEO analytics tools are helpful for gathering data on search rankings and backlink analysis.
Third-party SEO scoring tools, such as the Rank Math WordPress plugin, provide a third-party SEO score to aid your content analysis. These types of scoring tools are useful if you’re focused on the SEO value of your content and want an objective, quantifiable method for assessing and comparing the SEO value of your content assets.
Finally, social media analytics tools provide useful insights such as engagement, social shares, and comments. Many leading social media platforms offer built-in analytics tools for business accounts, and there also are many third-party social media analytics tools that offer analytics across multiple social networks.
Content audit template
There are many free content audit templates available. Often, these are customizable spreadsheet templates that you can modify to suit your needs by adding or removing columns to reflect the data that you need to focus on.
We’ve created an easy-to-use content audit template to help you get started:
If you want to create your own content audit template, here’s a more comprehensive list of columns you might want to include:
For an SEO content audit, you might also want to include the following columns:
Content audits involve collecting and analyzing data about your content assets. It can be a time-consuming process, depending on the tools you leverage at each step in the process, but it’s not difficult when you follow the steps outlined above.
A content audit can help you make continuous improvements to your content, stay ahead of the competition, increase engagement, and rank higher in the SERPs for your target keywords. Content audits are a powerful tool for fine-tuning your content marketing and SEO strategies for better results.
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