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What is a content audit?

Why is it important for your website?

Your website’s content is an essential part of your online presence. Ideally, it drives in your target audience, informing them about your products and services and promoting your brand.

You may have spent hours crafting taglines, titles, and helpful articles that you are sure your customers will enjoy. But have you made sure that the time you spent is driving the traffic you need? Even if your content did well when you first published, search engine algorithms change constantly. What performed well two updates ago might be nearly invisible now, even if you never made changes.

By performing a content audit, you ensure that the hours you’ve spent working on your content are giving the desired results, while helping you target and improve content that is not performing well.

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What is a content audit?

A content audit is where you review all the content you have on your site. It begins with a content inventory, where you go through your sitemap and note all the content you have on your site. Once you have completed the inventory, you can start to review and analyse the performance of each piece.

In this article, we will dive deeper into why you should conduct a content audit, the steps to a content audit, and provide suggestions of further steps you can work on to continue improving your content.

Why should you conduct a content audit?

No matter your business, content audits have many benefits. Let’s look at some of the benefits it can provide.

Identify high-performing and underperforming content

A content audit enables you to distinguish those shining stars on your site from those underperformers that could use some work. This insight is invaluable as it lets you make data-driven decisions about your broader content strategy. By understanding what works and what doesn’t, you can allocate resources effectively and prioritise improvements where they matter most.

Better understand audience preferences

Content audits help you get a glimpse into your audience’s preferences and behaviour. By analysing the pieces of content that have gotten the most attention and engagement, you get insights into what topics, formats, and styles most resonate with your audience. This knowledge helps you make better decisions about future content and marketing campaigns that can be tailored to align more closely with your audience’s interests and needs.

Optimise the customer journey

Your website serves as a critical touchpoint in the customer journey, and a content audit can find areas for improvement in your user experience. For instance, if users often click on a ‘help’ article on one of your pages, it could show that they are not finding the information they need to make informed decisions. Addressing gaps like this in the customer journey can lead to higher user satisfaction and improved conversion rates.

Establish a baseline for progress

With algorithms, search engine ranking factors, and user preferences constantly in flux, it’s more essential than ever to figure out a baseline for your content’s performance. A content audit can help you establish this baseline to keep track of your impact going forward. By conducting regular content audits, you create a historical record of what has worked in the past, providing a benchmark against which you can measure future success. This allows you to adapt and refine your content strategy as needed.

Enhance website performance – for yourself, your customers, and the environment

A well-organised and optimised content strategy can significantly improve the overall performance of your website. Content that aligns with user intent and meets their needs boosts user satisfaction and contributes to better search engine rankings. When your content resonates with your target audience, it enhances your online visibility and drives organic traffic to your site.

Moreover, enhancing your performance is also a key part of a sustainable website, as the lighter the site, the less drain it is on the environment.

Hopefully, the reasons for conducting a content audit are crystal clear now. It’s a process that empowers you to fine-tune your content strategy, connect with your audience, and maximise the impact of your online presence.

Now that the “why” is firmly established, let’s focus on the ‘how’ of performing a content audit.

How to do a content audit

Conducting a content audit can feel overwhelming at the start, but once you’ve set up a basic template and gotten hold of a couple of tools, you’ll be off running. You can follow five major steps to conduct the content audit you need to improve your website. Let’s dive into each step carefully.

Content audit step by step

Step 1: Start with the scope and the goals of your audit

The first crucial step in a content audit is determining the scope and goals of your review. The scope defines the extent of your audit, and it’s where you ask yourself the question: “What portion of our content are we going to evaluate?”

Generally, conducting a full review of all your content is suggested. This approach provides the most holistic overview of the material on your site. It allows you to assess the entire spectrum of your content landscape, from blog posts to product descriptions, ensuring no valuable insights are overlooked.

However, it’s also possible to run a partial audit. Sometimes, you may want to zoom in on specific sections of your site. This could be, for example, a blog or a specific set of articles centred around one theme. A partial audit is beneficial when you have a focused objective or limited resources. It allows you to deep-dive into a particular content segment, uncovering detailed insights.

Once you’ve established the scope of your audit, the next critical step is defining clear goals. Your goals should align with the purpose of conducting this audit and guide your efforts throughout the process. For instance, do you aim to improve your website’s SEO by identifying and improving content that is underperforming? Are you looking to pinpoint your best-performing content to use in a targeted marketing campaign? By setting concrete goals, you provide your audit with direction and enable measuring success through relevant metrics.

Step 2: Catalogue your content through a simple inventory

Once you’ve set the scope and goals of your content audit, the next pivotal step is building the foundation for your audit by cataloguing your content. This process involves gathering and organising information about each piece of content on your website in a systematic way.

While content audit templates are available online, the simplest and most widely used method for creating this inventory is simply setting up a content audit spreadsheet in your preferred application, such as Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets. Start by creating a new spreadsheet and adding columns for all the essential information you’ll need to document your content effectively. Here’s a breakdown of the standard information you should include:

  • Title: The title of the content piece
  • Subtitles: Any subtitles or headings within the content.
  • URL: The web address or link to the content.
  • Publication date: The date when the content was originally published, and if applicable, any modification dates.
  • Type of content: Categorise the content by type, such as blog post, help article, product page, etc., as determined by your website’s sitemap.
  • Word count: The total word count of the content.
  • Meta description: A summary or description of the content for reference.

To enhance the usability of your inventory, consider these suggestions:

  • Colour-coding: Use colour-coding to differentiate between various types of content, making it easier to spot trends and patterns.
  • Dropdown categories: Implement dropdown menus or categories in your spreadsheet to further classify content based on specific criteria.

Adopting a structured approach to your content inventory will create a valuable resource that will be the basis for in-depth analysis and informed decision-making in the later stages of your content audit. In addition, using a well-organised spreadsheet ensures that you can efficiently update your content inventory as your website evolves.

Step 3: Gather vital data about your content using your goals as your guide

Once you’ve completed the inventory, the next vital step involves gathering data about each piece of content. This is arguably the most important part, as it requires you to analyse your URLs and dissect what to do with each of them. This data-gathering phase of a content audit is where you dive deep into the performance and quality of your content to be able to analyse it afterwards.

Depending on your specific goals for your content audit, you can expand your spreadsheet to incorporate additional metrics and data points. The data you collect should align with your initial audit goals. For example, if your aim is to improve user engagement, tracking metrics like time on page and CTA (call to action) clicks can provide valuable insights. If you aim to conduct an SEO content audit, tracking keywords and backlinks can be especially important. By tailoring your content audit to your objectives, you ensure that the insights gained directly contribute to achieving your desired outcomes.

Let’s look at some metrics you can consider tracking depending on your goals:  

  • Time on page: Include this metric to track how long viewers spend on a specific page. It can help you decide if the content aligns with user expectations. For instance, if a page receives high traffic but has a low average time on page, it may show that the content doesn’t meet user needs.
  • Page traffic and views: Record the number of views or visits each content piece receives. It’s an essential data point for gauging the overall popularity of your content.
  • Clicks on CTA or other clickable points: If your website includes calls to action or clickable elements within content, track how many users engage with them.
  • Conversion rate: The conversion rate is a critical metric for content with conversion goals, such as signing up for a newsletter or making a purchase. It tells you how successful your content is in driving the desired actions.
  • Bounce rate: Bounce rate indicates the percentage of visitors who navigate away from your site after viewing a single page. A high bounce rate might suggest the content is not engaging or retaining visitors effectively.
  • Engagement and interaction: Review engagement metrics such as comments, shares, and social media interactions. High engagement indicates content that resonates with your audience.

You can also dig deeper into individual content using qualitative metrics to help you measure your content’s quality. This step involves scrutinising your content’s relevance, accuracy, and overall effectiveness in meeting its intended purpose. This is also useful for a SEO content audit. Key elements to consider include:

  • Relevance and accuracy: Does the content align with your target audience’s interests and needs? Ensure that it provides valuable and up-to-date information. Additionally, is your content accurate? Outdated or incorrect information can damage your credibility.
  • Key messaging and tone of voice: What do you want your readers to take away with them after reading your content? Make sure it’s saying what you want, in the tone of voice that reflects your business and your preferences.
  • Readability and accessibility:  Consider the overall quality of your content in terms of writing style, grammar, and readability. High-quality content is more likely to engage and retain readers, contributing to better user experiences. Accessibility is also good to keep in mind. Ensure your visuals have alt text and links have descriptions to help visually impaired readers. You can also check that your text is properly structured into headings and subheadings. 

Sticking to a few key metrics is best to avoid getting overwhelmed by the amount of data you are gathering. Once you’ve gathered these key pieces of information about your content, it’s time to start analysing.

Step 4: Analyse results

Now that you’ve gathered all the details about your content, it’s time to start the critical phase of looking through and assessing your data. Once you’ve done this step, you will have a comprehensive view of the state of your content that will help you make informed decisions. When looking into your data, keep these key considerations in mind:

  • Assess and plan for underperforming content: Take a closer look at those content pieces that are underperforming, whether they’re coming up short of the traffic levels you desire or not achieving the expected engagement. Underperforming content calls for special attention, as it’s possible they could be adversely affecting your website’s overall performance and user experience.
  • Highlight top-performing content: Conversely, you can celebrate the content that has shone brightly in your analysis—your top-performing gems. These are the pieces that have resonated most with your audience, driving significant traffic, engagement, and conversions. You could make these a key part of a marketing campaign or display them more prominently on a landing page.
  • Refreshing outdated content: Take a closer look at older content within your inventory. Is there a way you could update or revamp it to bring new relevance into these pieces? Refreshing outdated content is a valuable tactic for content optimisation, as it can improve SEO rankings. Moreover, it ensures you’re providing correct and helpful information to your audience.
  • Find content gaps: You might find that there’s content that is clearly missing from your inventory. Are there topics or themes that your audience is interested in that you haven’t yet addressed? Recognising these gaps can illuminate opportunities to expand your content portfolio and better meet the needs of your target audience.

Furthermore, as you review your data, be vigilant for patterns, trends, and connections that may not be immediately clear in standard reports. Keep an eye out for outliers—posts that surpass performance expectations. Note any emerging topics that have gained prominence in recent months and check shifts in organic backlinks to specific content. These insights can reveal hidden opportunities and guide your content strategy, allowing you to capitalise on successful content and adapt to evolving audience interests.

Step 5: Plan actions and adjust your content strategy

Once you’ve carefully analysed your content inventory, it’s time to turn your findings into concrete actions and refine your content strategy. Here is where you ensure that the insights gained from your content audit lead to tangible results.

  • Prioritise content enhancements: Begin by prioritising the actions required for each category of content found during your analysis. Content that falls into the “missing” or “underperforming” categories may need immediate attention, while top-performing content might benefit from further optimisation to maintain its success.
  • Content updates and optimisation: For content identified as outdated or underperforming, create a plan for updates and optimisation. This may involve rewriting, adding new information, enhancing visuals, or refining keywords for improved SEO. Ensure that the content aligns with current industry trends and user expectations.
  • Content consolidation and expansion: Find opportunities to combine related content or expand on popular topics. Combining related articles can create more comprehensive resources for your customers, and expanding on successful content can reinforce your authority in specific niches.
  • Plan for new content creation: Develop a content creation plan to address topics or themes that your audience is interested in but currently missing from your content library.
  • Refine your SEO strategy: Use the insights from your audit to refine your SEO strategy. Optimise content for relevant keywords and phrases, implement proper heading structures, and ensure that meta tags and alt text are well-optimised.
  • Promotion and distribution: Consider how you can better promote and distribute your content, whether it’s via social media, email marketing, and other channels. Consider expanding your reach and attracting new audiences by repurposing content into different formats, such as videos or infographics.
  • Content calendar: Update your content calendar with the planned actions. Establish a publishing schedule that aligns with your revised content strategy. Consistency in content delivery is key to keeping audience engagement.
  • Regular monitoring: Implement a system for ongoing monitoring and evaluation of your content’s performance. Set up regular reviews to ensure that your actions are achieving the desired results and adjust your strategy as needed.
  • Team collaboration: If you’re working in a team, this is a good time to clearly communicate the roles and responsibilities for executing on your action plan. Collaboration among team members is essential for efficient content improvement and creation.

By planning and executing these actions, you’ll transform the insights gained from your content audit into a proactive strategy for content enhancement. This iterative process ensures that your content stays relevant, engaging, and aligned with your audience’s evolving needs, ultimately driving better results for your online presence.

Optimising your content strategy for the road ahead

Staying on top of your content is like tending to a well-kept garden. A content audit is your pruning shears, helping you trim the excess, nurture the thriving, and plant new seeds of potential. Beyond the numbers, it’s about using a holistic perspective to find new avenues and opportunities for your website and, by extension, your entire business.

As you wrap up your first content audit, remember that you’re on a continuous path towards website excellence. Setting up additional tools like a content calendar or conducting a content gap analysis will be helpful tools going forward. Use the content audit as a springboard for continuous growth and refinement. The insights you’ve gleaned will be your compass, guiding you towards more impactful, relevant, and engaging content.

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