If you don’t know how to perform a content audit, then this guide is your savior.
Content audit template to follow is a must for any successful digital marketing plan. So, we’re providing a MASTER 4-minute template that will save you days of work.
Today, you’re going to learn:
- What is a content audit?
- 4 actions to manually perform a content audit.
- 7 questions to ask before performing a content audit.
- 7 reasons to do a content audit.
- An effective content audit template.
All this with some resources and links.
Let’s get into it…
What Is Content Audit?
Simply, a content audit is a way to get rid of underperforming, low-quality pages with the goal to improve the overall “health” of a website.
This process is fairly easy. It provides many answers and helps you improve your website traffic. You may reach your goals with a combination of other processes, but a content audit will be surely beneficial.
Stuffing the website with low-quality pages does more harm than good. When you find the low-quality pages, you can …
- Remove the pages completely or
- Make them more useful, therefore increasing their quality.
So, when you perform a content audit, you’re going to have to make a lot of decisions. You don’t want to randomly choose pages and then delete them or redirect them.
4 Actions to Manually Perform A Content Audit:
There are basically 4 different actions for pages to manually review the content …
- Delete (404/410) page.
- Redirect/consolidate (301).
- Update the page.
- Leave it as it is.
Before you choose any of the actions, ask yourself all of these questions to clarify the needs and get better results:
7 Questions To Ask Before Performing A Content Audit
1- Is the page older than 6 months?
If you haven’t given the page a chance to rank, then you shouldn’t rush into making decisions. Give the page some time to get results, see how it’s performing and decide what’s best.
The thing is, the format of the page might be functional. So, although the content audit stage is free, it’s not necessary to do every time. Let search engines assess your page by conducting their regular research on your website.
2- Is that page about a core topic related to your business?
If you have a blog about social media marketing and there’s a page about “traveling”, then this is not a core page topic
3- Is the page targeting a keyword with meaningful search volume?
“Meaningful” search traffic is super subjective. For example; top of the funnel keywords will likely have higher search volumes while the bottom of the funnel phrases will have low search traffic.
Also, search volumes will vary depending on the niche. So, try to use the best judgment when answering this question.
4- Does the page have thin content?
In other words, check if the content on the page is irrelevant and low-quality. We all know how low-quality content can really harm the website. So, you can either delete it or create high-quality content instead.
5- Does it generate a meaningful level of “organic” traffic?
Simply, it means traffic from search engines! Check how much traffic the page generates and decide whether it’s sufficient or not. This will enable you to effectively decide what to do with that page.
6- Does it generate a meaningful level of “non-organic” traffic?
That includes traffic from sources like social media, referrals, backlinks and direct sources.
7- Does it have any external backlinks pointing to it?
Backlinks are very hard to build. So, it’s extremely important to check the backlinks pointing to the page. Don’t forget to check the quality of these backlinks because low-quality backlinks will harm the site.
Now if that’s out of the way, what should you do? Delete? Redirect? Update? Or just leave it?
When Should to Delete A Page?
If the page has little to no traffic, zero backlinks, and isn’t a core topic related to your business, then, it’s probably best to delete it.
When to Consolidate a Page?
Basically, if a page is more than 6 months old, has good backlinks, but doesn’t have meaningful traffic, then you should consolidate it with another relevant page.
But, always keep in mind if it’s targeting a keyword with meaningful search volume or not.
When Should Update a Page?
Well, if a page is more than 6 months old, targets a good keyword with a nice search volume, gets external backlinks pointing to it, but doesn’t get enough traffic, then you need to update that page with high-quality content.
Note: if the page is not targeting a keyword you can make it stronger or use as a hub page for internal linking.
When To Leave The Page As It Is?
If the page is about a core topic in a niche and gets good organic traffic, then you can leave it as it is or update it to continue to get traffic from it.
What if you find a page that gets a lot of traffic but isn’t related to your topic?!
Well, it depends! You can choose to leave it as it is, other times you’ll discover that it is better to consolidate it with another post.
Sometimes you might choose to update the content in a way so it’ll be related to your topic.
7 Reasons to audit your Content:
Content marketing people will already have a clear idea about where auditing fits in. This list will convince you why content audits matter and how they will positively affect your site performance overall.
Improve Navigation And Findability
You can easily ask visitors how they’d like you to improve the website. One of the most common requests you’ll get will be: ‘make things easier to find’.
It always is.
It’s hard to organize articles and information into a sensible, logical manner that works for all readers. Also, it’s practically impossible if you don’t have a map of the things you’re trying to restructure. Now, the content audit is the map.
Improve Content Quality:
The content is a reflection of the brand. And most organizations have lots of it.
So, what’s it saying about the website? Does it have a tone of voice and uniform style? Is it always right, on point and up to date?
The audit can show which pages need urgent attention. Moreover, it can uncover other bits of content that could be benchmarks for the rest of the website.
Reuse and Repurpose What You’ve Got
If you’re starting a new online project then there’s a high possibility you’ve got some new material prepared for the niche.
If it’s an expired domain with existing material, then there’s no need to trash them all. Go over them and see if you can reuse any of them as we mentioned above. Existing content will probably save some time.
First, you’ll need to gather all the old stuff and find what shape it’s in. The audit can define this.
Manage Time and Resources Better
Websites require a lot of time, money and effort. Presumably more than most people think. It’s not just about technical things like construction and hosting.
Anyone involved in writing, commissioning, or editing content is spending valuable time to create things worth publishing. In a year’s worth of time, this effort could be a result of several thousands of hours of work time and hundreds of thousands of dollars.
A content audit template will help you learn the shape and size of the thing everyone’s working on, to use resources more productively.
Improve Content Performance
Ideally, each piece of content is there for a reason and you should be able to know it. If you can’t, it shouldn’t be there. And if you can, then measure how successful it is in achieving its purpose.
It’s best to find someone who knows a bit about data analysis to get the right metrics for the content. Once all this is done, it’s time to have a baseline of how well the site is doing now. That’s the first audit.
Following audits track progress based on this baseline.
With a single move, you’ve moved the publishing model from ‘upload and neglect’ to ‘measure and progress’.
Make Better, Informed Publishing Decisions
How many publishing decisions in the project are made without a strategy, purpose or need?
It’s doubtful that ill-informed decision-making will deliver the content quality that meets business and user needs.
Good publishing decisions are made with a precise understanding of a company’s digital needs, what it’s trying to accomplish, and how progress is measured. The audit is the start of making better and more informed choices about your publishing needs.
The journey of your success will only begin when each section of each article available on your website is structured to perform well.
Plug the Content Gaps
Every piece of content must meet a business or reader need – preferably both at the same time.
But are you achieving this?
Possibly, you might be spending an excessive amount of publishing effort on low priority needs. Also, there are high priority needs that you’re not paying attention to.
The latter is the content and publishing gap. You must achieve high priority needs. Either way, you won’t know until the audit is done.
An Effective Content Audit Template:
Here’s an easy content audit template taking into consideration all that we’ve mentioned so far. This way you can successfully perform a content audit for your websites.
Audit templates are plenty on the web. But what you need is something simple yet effective: something that will answer how to get more traffic. Sure, not everyone likes a ton of details, but you must jump through the content audit phase if you want to take on the daunting task of perfecting your website.
First, here are some tools you’ll need:
- Google analytics
- Google sheets
- Ahrefs site explorer
- Ahrefs site audit
If you don’t have all of these tools, don’t worry. I’ll give some alternatives as we go through the steps.
1. Import the sitemap URLs.
You can do this quite easily by using the “Scraper” extension. Just install the extension for Chrome, go to the sitemap and right-click on one of the URLs.
Then, click “Scrape similar”. You clean this up by having the URLs as one column. Now click “Scrape” to refresh the results.
Finally, copy them to the clipboard and paste them into the Sitemap Sheet. It’s best to have the first cell as a “header” and it doesn’t matter what you’re going to name it.
If you have other pages in different sitemaps, like a category or video sitemap, then you should add those too.
What if you don’t have a sitemap?
There’re some alternatives to get a list of the URLs…
- “Export” it from the “Coverage” report in Google search console.
- If you’re a WordPress user, then install a plugin called “Export all URLs”.
- You can run a “Crawl” using Ahrefs’ Site Audit After it’s done, go to “Data Explorer”, and select these preset filters “Internal”, “HTML”, “OK (2xx)”, “Indexable” to identify indexable internal URLs on the site.
2. Export Google Analytics Data:
The next step is to export all your Google Analytics data over the past year. Now, this kind of task comes down to personal preference, but it’s best to see underperforming content over a year’s time period.
- Go to “All Pages Report” on Google Analytics by typing “all pages” in the search bar and choosing “Behavior > Site Content > All Pages”.
- Next, we need to add a segment. So, click on “Add Segment” and type “organic traffic” in the search bar. Select it and apply changes.
- The amount of data you’re about to export is huge. So, I highly recommend clicking on “Advanced”, then set a filter to exclude all pages that contain certain footprints.
- For example, you can exclude “question marks”. The reason for this is because if the site is getting traffic from ads or from some social platforms, then they’ll often add query parameters, which is not necessary.
- Most of these will only have 1 – 2 page views anyway.
- After setting the filter, set the data to around the past year or so. It doesn’t have to be exactly a year, but you want to get enough data so that you don’t potentially delete things like seasonal posts.
- Finally, scroll to the bottom of the page and set the report to show the maximum number of rows. Then, export the file as a CSV and you’re done with the Google Analytics step.
- Go to Google Spreadsheet and create a new tab for Google Analytics, “GA”. Then, click on “File > Import > Upload” and drag and drop the Analytics export here.
- Once the file is uploaded, click on “Append to current sheet” and click “Import Data”.
3. Import Links Data:
Now, we need to import the links’ data. To do this, enter the domain in Ahrefs Site Explorer tool.
- Go to the Best by links report in the left navigation menu under “Pages”. This report shows the number of links to each of the pages.
- Let’s set up the HTTP code filter to 200. Then, export this report and import the data to Google Spreadsheets in a new tab called “Links”.
What if you don’t have an Ahrefs account?
Use Google Search Console data instead. Open the Google Search Console, select “Links” in the left navigation menu and click “Top Linked Pages”.
Then, export this report to CSV and import it in the “Links” tab in the Google Spreadsheets.
Which is better? Google Search Console or Ahrefs?
Be aware that there’s a major drawback to using Search Console data. Although it’ll show the number of links and referring domains, it won’t tell you whether they’re “follow” links or “nofollow” links.
Ahrefs data, on the other hand, will show independent categories for these types of links. Simply, it’ll give a deeper insight to make smarter marketing decisions.
Now, you’ve spent less than 5 minutes to save hours or even days of hard work! If you go to the MASTER Google spreadsheet, then, see all of the sitemap URLs, the traffic stats, link stats and suggested actions.
Before taking these automated suggestions as an SEO action plan, you should know that these are suggested steps only. You need to determine what to do by yourself.
For instance, if the “Contact” or “About Us” pages aren’t getting much traffic, that doesn’t mean you should delete them!
What if the content is less than 6-12 months old?
Give it a chance to rank and get traffic. See how to improve it to get the best results out of it. So, don’t start taking any actions (deleting or redirecting) right away.
The key point here is to use common sense and manually audit every page before taking actions. You can’t automate all aspects.
So, we’ve probably covered everything you need to know about performing an effective content audit. Using the 4-minute content audit template, you will save time and effort.
Content audit as a process is fairly straightforward and basic in that it deals with what’s not working on your website.
If you want to be a good SEO strategist, then have a checklist made out of this audit. Every marketer needs one. Focus on the issues every time you work on a new project keeping this checklist as your guide.
Conduct this audit and download the results to make the changes. It’s time to clean up the website for better ranking and drive more traffic to it. It’s time for the creation of genuine opportunities and meeting your future clients.