What is a content audit?

What is a content audit?

How is the content on your website performing? What about that blog content you published two months ago? Two years ago?

Is it all helping you meet your goals? Do you know – or do you have no idea?

Then it’s time for a content audit.

A content audit is a systematic review of the content across your site, including:

This review helps you understand whether your content is working to meet your goals, including reaching your desired audience.

But that isn’t all it does.

Besides showing you whether your content is working in general, a content audit also gives you concrete direction on areas you need to improve. 

For example, you might find broken links you weren’t previously aware of, keyword opportunities you’re missing, absent metadata, and other issues you can easily address to improve your content’s usability and search visibility.

If you have a lot of content on your website, an audit can be a mammoth undertaking. However, completing a content audit is the only way to dig through your entire trove of content and get a true understanding of whether it’s serving your business… or falling flat.

Even if you have a very small business and not a lot of content, a content audit is still useful. It will help you optimize the content you do have so it performs at its peak.

And content that performs is powerful. 

Since a content audit helps you understand what works and what doesn’t (because you’ll see evidence of both across your site!), you can apply this to your future content creation for better results.

Now that you know what a content audit is and why you should do one, the next question is when.

When is the best time to do a content audit?

How does a content audit work? The basic steps include setting goals, gathering your content and data points, and critically analyzing what you discover.

Don’t go into a content audit without a clear objective, otherwise, you won’t know which types of content or data points to focus on. Figure out what you hope to get out of your content audit.

You need a way to compare and contrast your content pieces, have a bird’s eye view of the data and categorize each piece based on the action you’ll take. 

Look at the data and determine which pieces you’ll update, rewrite, keep, or delete.

Make a priority list for which content pieces need immediate attention, and make a plan for how you’ll carry out updates and rewrites.

What did you learn from your content audit? Carry that forward into your future content strategy.

When you're ready to do your content audit, there are a few options for how you can collect URLs, data, and metrics and put it all together for optimal analysis.

Here are a few of the tools you might need.

For a no-frills content audit – or one for a relatively small site – a plain spreadsheet is a good option. 

A spreadsheet will help you lay out your content information and data in an organized way that will make it easier to analyze. 

This is the lowest-cost way to do a content audit since you don't need any special tools besides Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets.

Cons: It may be time-consuming to collect all your data manually, especially if you have more than a few dozen content pieces to audit.

Analytic data is important to your content audit. This includes metrics like page views, number of internal links and backlinks, bounce rate, time on page, conversion rate, average position on Google, and many more.

You need concrete data about each piece of content so you can decide what action to take moving forward (update, rewrite, delete, or keep as-is).

If you aren't already tracking your content performance in a tool like Google Analytics, you can pull your various metrics from SEO tools like Semrush, Ahrefs, or SEO Site Checkup.

To help you quantify content quality, you may want to use some of these tools to check your content for readability, grammar and word usage, and reading level.

If you have a large site, you may need to invest in a content inventory tool to help make your life easier. These tools use your sitemap to grab your content URLs and associated metrics automatically.

A few good options are Screaming Frog SEO Spider and Semrush's Content Audit Tool.

While you certainly can audit every single piece of content on your site, it's a better idea to narrow your focus and complete an audit based on content type and goals.

For example, audit all of your blog content, all of your landing pages, all of your product/service pages, or all of your core content pages. 

After you choose a content type, decide which goal you're aiming for with your content audit. Here are a few common ones:

When you approach a content audit with the goal of improving your SEO, you’ll be concerned with how your content pieces are performing in Google. You'll need to ask yourself if your content pieces are properly optimized for searchers and search engines. Look at:

With a goal of improving engagement and usability, your content audit should focus on how your readers interact with your content – and how to increase that engagement. Look at:

Specifically, look at which pieces are earning the most/least engagement, and analyze what's contributing to that success/failure.

Another goal you might shoot for with a content audit is looking at how well your content is converting, and figuring out what needs improvement. You might look at:

A content audit is, quite simply, the only way to understand your content at a few different levels: down in the weeds, and up from a bird's eye view.

Whether your site is massive or tiny, a content audit can help you understand what you have, what you need, what you don't need, and what actions you can take in the future to make sure your ecosystem of content is contributing to your goals.

Remember: There isn't one perfect or set way to do a content audit. Your audit can shift depending on the type of content you're analyzing and the goals you hope to reach by the audit's completion. With that in mind, tweak your content audit to suit what your site and content strategy demand.

Finally, don't shrug aside doing regular content audits. One-and-done will only help your site/business for a limited time. As your content keeps growing, you need to keep taking snapshots of how it's working, continually tweaking and course correcting.

Content audits are integral to a well-oiled content strategy – don't neglect this task, and you'll see results.

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