For the sake of a good and successful site, you must take the necessary steps to make sure your content is rock solid by making improvements where they’re needed. But, how can you know which part needs changing? That’s where a content audit comes into play. In this article, we will look into the definition of a content audit, what it’s for, and how to perform one.
What Is A Content Audit?
Think of it as an assessment for your site – you’re going through every piece of content on the website and turning it into a big list of data (usually in the form of worksheet).
Then, depending on the goal you have in mind, you use the data to evaluate the relevant performance metrics of your site. The purpose is to gain a better insight into how your content is doing, and to later maker changes that will improve your content marketing strategy. That’s how you decide if there’s a part of your content that is obsolete or needs improvement.
Depending on your needs, you actually don’t have to gather all the data – you can also do partial content auditing (where you only collect sections of the content) or take a few samples that can represent the whole data.
It’s also worth knowing that content auditing is different than content inventory. During a content audit, you are more focused on assessing the qualitative traits of your content rather than keeping track the amount of it you have published through a certain period of time.
Now that we have covered its definition let’s go into details on what purpose a content audit serves.
What’s the Purpose of A Content Audit?
Earlier, we briefly mentioned how you’re able to get a better understanding of your content – but it’s actually more than meets the eye.
There are many more benefits from conducting a content audit, such as:
- Getting a data reference. Imagine you’re about to remodel your site’s structure – you need data as a reference so you won’t lose track of which part you want to change and which one to keep the same. For example, you have a news site and there are a few other categories that you think of adding – you need to make sure that those won’t overlap with the categories you have. This is where a list of existing categories will come in handy.
- Source of inspiration. Ideas can be hard to come by – especially for creating fresh pieces of content that have a high SEO value. By doing a content audit, you will figure out which posts you have published in the past that perform exceptionally well in terms of organic traffic. Then, all you have to do is just find the similarities between them, learn why they succeeded and apply that lesson when creating more content.
- Looking for gaps in content. Sometimes, mistakes happen more often than you may have anticipated – that includes content creation. If your aim is to get sales from your content, you should make content for each sales funnel (awareness, opinion, consideration, etc). A content audit will help you detect if there’s a gap of content in your sale process.
- Getting rid of irrelevant content. It’s true that niches should remain the same in the long-term – but it’s still okay to change direction if you feel it’s for the best. You may want to get rid of content from your old niche so that your site only has content that’s in-line with your new niche – and a content audit can help you figure out which to remove.
- Reaching higher conversion. Already have tons of traffic? Good for you! But how many of your visitors decide to buy your product or use your service? If your site suffers from low conversions, you may want to audit your content to see where the problem lies – the copywriting, element placement, etc.
The benefits of a content audit will help you make necessary changes to help your site perform better in all or certain aspects.
By auditing your content, you can analyze the ongoing problems with your site to help make an informed decision when planning your content marketing strategy in the future.
Considering the many perks you get from it, many webmasters think that a content audit is a must – no matter whether you want to do it or not.
Preparing for A Content Audit
Now that you know why you should perform a content audit, it’s time to make the necessary preparations.
Before you begin, you should know first that the process is actually not that hard, but it’s time-consuming though. You have to make sure to have a strong commitment to see things through from the beginning to the end.
Also, it’s important to have a clear goal in mind before you get down to it. It will help you decide which data to gather so you don’t need to make the process even longer by unnecessarily collecting irrelevant info.
Let’s say you wish to improve your SEO performance – one way to go about this is by collecting every internal link on all the pages present on your site. So, no need to collect any other type of data that doesn’t concern SEO.
If the amount of work seems unbearable to you, you can also choose to delegate some of the tasks to a few colleagues. Just make sure that everything is appropriately communicated (including your goal) to guarantee an efficient process.
Conducting A Content Audit
After you finish the preparations, let’s conduct the content audit for your site!
There are three main steps that you will have to go through: creating a worksheet, gathering your data, and data analysis.
We’ll go over the steps one-by-one to help you do the process properly.
1. Create A Spreadsheet for Your Content
You can use any software you prefer to make a worksheet but we recommend Google Spreadsheet for its functionality and convenience. You don’t have to install anything – just go to their page and start working immediately for free.
Plus, Google Spreadsheet allows you to work in live collaboration with your colleagues. If you decide to delegate some of the work, this feature may come in handy.
Also, if your site is on WordPress, there is a convenient plugin you can use called WordPress Content Audit that will allow you to select the type of content to audit, export data to a CSV file, automated marking, setting email notifications for outdated content, and much more.
The format of your worksheet may vary depending on the goal you have set in mind. However, here are the most common types of information you can gather in a content audit.
- Page Title. It’s what shows up in your title bar.
- URL. Gathering the URL will help you navigate to each content piece from the worksheet.
- Action. Whether the content needs to be removed, updated, or improved, it’s an important piece of information to write down.
- Comments/Notes. Any relevant information can belong to this column.
- Categories/Types of Content. Cataloging can give you an idea if a certain type of content performs differently, needs improvement or requires a different approach.
- Author. The person behind the creation of a certain piece of content.
To give you a clear picture, here’s how your worksheet might look like.
If you want, you can also list SEO performance metrics such as bounce rates of each page, conversion rates, page views, social media shares, etc. We’ll talk about how to gain and input this data in the next section.
2. Gather the Data
After you successfully create your worksheet file, it’s time to start filling it with data. You can manually input each cell or use a crawling tool to do the pretty monotonous work for you.
Take Screaming Frog, for example. It allows you to locate all the URLs in your site and crawl data including the page title length, meta description and its length, major headings, broken links, and word count. Depending on the size of your site, the free version of this tool may not be enough – it only racks up data up to 500 URLs. The full feature-rich version comes at a cost of £149/year.
The tool is easy to use. Just download and install the software, insert the URL of the site you’re auditing, and click Start.
After you get all kinds of information about your site, go to each tab and export it to a CSV file by clicking Export at the top. Then, you can copy the information inside and paste it to the worksheet you created earlier.
Now, if you include SEO metrics as your columns, you can find the relevant data with Google Analytics. The kind of information you can collect is the bounce rate, page visits, average type of data, average time on page, the number of clicks on external links, and many more.
To use Google Analytics in WordPress, you have to set up a property first by following these steps.
- If you haven’t already, create your Google Analytics account by clicking Start for free – or Sign in to Analytics if you already have.
- Add your site to the account by clicking Admin at the bottom left corner. Select your account, then click Create new property from the property column.
- Fill in the form with your site’s identity then click Get Tracking ID.
- Navigate to Appearance -> Editor -> header.php from your WordPress dashboard. Then, find the </head> tag and paste the tracking code above it. Then, click Update File.
Alternatively, you can also use a WordPress plugin such as Header and Footer to add your tracking ID on every page. Install and activate the plugin and navigate to its configuration panel. In the “Code to be added to the HEAD section of every page”, paste your tracking ID there, and save the configuration.
It may take 24 hours until Google Analytics finishes crawling your site’s data.
The interface may take quite some time to get familiar with. Don’t worry, you can always refer to its help page to help you navigate the dashboard.
Your goal is to track information for each specific page. To do this, head to Behavior -> Behavior Flow -> Site Content -> All Pages and select the page you want to gather the data from.
Using these tools will help save on time. Although it doesn’t mean you’re completely free from doing manual work – you still need to fill in some other columns on your own (comments/notes column for example).
3. Analyze the Data
If you’re done gathering all the data you need, the next step is data analysis. This step will also take much of your time because you have to inspect each article or page on your own and compare it to the relevant metrics.
Earlier, we have shown you the worksheet format where you have a column for Action.
Now, the decision of which action to set on a page depends on the data you gathered. If the data shows that a page has a problem turning visitors into buyers, you need to decide what causes it – perhaps you want to try to improve its copy, then you should write Improve in the Action column.
Then, in the Comment/Notes column, you can fill in the details of the action that should be taken like “copywriting feels sloppy.”
To make things easier, you can also set a dropdown list on every cell under the Action column. In your Google worksheet, click Data -> Data Validation. Then, choose List of items and enter your items separated by a comma. For example, “Remove, Modify, Improve.”
Once you set the action for every single page, you’re ready for reporting.
In other words, you need to turn the worksheet into a presentable report, presentation or a document file.
To make it look appealing and easy to understand, make sure to structure it properly, and use a reasonable variety of charts.
You’ll want your content analysis report to be neat and professional – especially if you are doing it for a client.
Once again, a content audit is an activity you wouldn’t want to overlook as a website owner.
It may be a time-consuming process, but it comes with many benefits that can help you see things you otherwise would not have – room for improvement, the sources of issues, and much more.
To summarize what we have discussed so far, here are the steps you need to take to conduct a content audit.
- Prepare for a content audit. Make sure you’re ready to undertake a rather long process and set a clear goal in the very beginning.
- Create a spreadsheet for your content. Use any software you want, but we suggest using Google Spreadsheet for its collaborative workflow. Also, include some information like the page title, URL, actions, comments/notes, author, and the performance metrics you want to track.
- Gather the data. Don’t overwork yourself – get some help from useful crawling tools such as Screaming Frog and Google Analytics. But, don’t forget that you still need to manually fill in some information yourself.
- Analyze the data. You have to inspect each page and compare it to the performance metrics of your choice. Then, decide what action to put in motion for each page. Once everything is up to standard, turn it into a presentable content analysis report.
Now that you’re aware of what it is and how to conduct it, feel free to use our tutorial above to guide you through the whole process.