Creating valuable content that delivers true solutions to the public is essential, but Content Marketing goes far beyond that.
Sites need to keep up with changes on the internet, the market, and, especially, consumers to stay relevant.
In this sense, you need to develop an intelligent way to organize, analyze, and optimize the materials published so that your brand continues to generate, and even improve, its results on the internet. This is the main purpose of a content audit.
This process proposes a real “cleanup” of the site, in which everything disposable or harmful is repaired or eliminated, and what has value is improved to generate even better results.
How Does a Content Audit Work?
However, all these actions must be guided by reliable analysis and be manually evaluated by a professional ― such care is essential in this effort.
To illustrate the process, we can understand auditing as a check-up to verify a website’s “health”.
For this, we need to define diagnostic methodologies and tools and provide the most appropriate “treatment”, through adjustments, cleaning, and configuration.
The auditor or the team responsible for the audit depends on specialized spreadsheets, software, and tools to collect, organize, and analyze data from the website and its distribution channels.
However, there are several ways to perform this work, so the process must consider the particular needs and objectives of each company.
The most important is that it is developed systematically. That is, the information needs to be arranged clearly and categorically so it will be possible to analyze, with the appropriate accuracy, the characteristics, and performances of each content.
Why Are Regular Content Audits Important?
Your content is the voice of your brand on the internet, and you certainly don’t want outdated information or low-value materials to keep echoing in search engines, right?
However, the importance of removing, updating, or reallocating posts that give little result goes far beyond that.
Check out below some elements that you should also consider!
The crawl budget represents the time that Googlebot takes to crawl the pages of your site.
The scanning of this mechanism follows a series of criteria and is also influenced by your site’s structure and content.
The impact of these factors, however, is only significant in sites with thousands of publications.
However, even if the blog or digital store is recent, keeping organized from the start can save a huge amount of time in the future.
Cannibalism of keywords
This is another problem that tends to appear in big blogs and e-commerces, but that can be prevented with pioneering and continuous auditing work.
We call cannibalism the act of a site publishing two or more contents focused on the same keyword, causing its own pages to compete among themselves in the search results.
When this happens, Google tends to give priority to one of the contents and hide the others.
This way, the performance of pages not displayed in the SERPs is severely impaired, and all the resources employed in their creation are wasted.
As a website grows and relies on many more published materials, the risk of producing very similar content increases.
That is why it is important to develop an editorial calendar and keep a detailed record of the postings to hold regular strategic meetings.
If your site’s planning has not included this kind of concern since the beginning, it is essential to provide an audit to identify cannibalistic postings.
Among other points, it foresees a more careful analysis of speed, security, and responsiveness.
This means that if your site’s pages do not comply with this new criterion, it will be necessary to provide a mass review so that the contents are not harmed.
In 2019, the Mobile-First Index initiative caused the search engine to prioritize mobile versions of pages in indexing. The new feature generated a real worldwide rush of sites, which endeavored to meet the SEO criteria for mobile as soon as possible.
These are just some examples that prove a fact that should not be forgotten: SEO does not stop!
Changes in rules and ranking factors are announced every year, and, of course, the content published on your site tends to become outdated and lose performance.
Identifying these contents and providing the necessary updates is another important aspect of an audit.
The changes are not restricted to SEO.
Every year new marketing trends emerge, and novelties are announced on social media.
Besides, many markets, especially niches, undergo rapid development that makes previously valuable content obsolete in a short period of time.
In this sense, content auditing is an important aid in maintaining the quality of your site. It also allows you to discover the exact moment when certain publications start to lose their “breath”.
Thus, you can provide adjustments or add the necessary information so that they continue to deliver good results.
How to Perform a Content Audit?
The content’s performance on the Internet depends on several different factors, from the site’s technical infrastructure to the occasional SEO optimizations.
Thus, the audit’s general purpose is to identify all these demands and indicate the necessary actions.
Let’s see, in detail, the steps of this process.
1. Determine the business objectives
More important than having lots of information is having the right information.
Especially on the internet, we can collect huge amounts of varied data, which even arouses concern among many managers about what to do with them.
Collecting data indiscriminately not only costs a lot of time and resources, but it will probably lead you to dead ends. That’s why your audit needs to be focused on an objective.
The goal will serve as the guide of your strategy, and it is from it that we can define priorities and milestones in all stages of the process.
Companies usually look for:
- Increased organic traffic: to reduce paid media costs, increase brand recognition or improve the effectiveness of strategies such as Inbound Marketing;
- Improve CTR: to benefit campaign performance or increase the number of page views on the site;
- Strengthen lead generation: to analyze content and call to action (CTA) performance and provide optimization actions;
- Reduce the rejection rate: identify problems in content and SEO elements that are harming the user experience and provide solutions;
- Raise conversion rates: invest in site configuration and content production improvements to attract qualified audiences and increase marketing and sales conversions.
Don’t get too hung up on the suggestions we just mentioned since several other goals can be employed in a content audit.
Each business presents a particular reality; therefore, its focus must be defined taking into account the needs, values, and direction of your company specifically.
2. Create a content inventory
Before we go to the data analysis itself, it is necessary to gather all your site content in a viewable and editable file, like a spreadsheet or a specific tool.
This is the most important step of an audit since this analysis aims precisely to perform a complete sweep of a website.
The simplest way to gather your inventory data is to collect it from your sitemap — if your site does not already have one, you should create this file as soon as possible.
We can find this data on most sites by accessing the domain followed by “/sitemap.xml”.
The main plugins for creating sitemaps, such as Yoast SEO, usually group site addresses into categories, making your work easier.
It is important that you not only list all the URLs but also segment them.
New data will be added later, but so far, your spreadsheet must present:
- URLs (organized by category);
- keywords (only the main ones);
- titles (if necessary, according to your objectives);
- type and size of the content (1000-word post, 15-minute video, infographic, etc.).
3. Collect and analyze data
Now it’s time to analyze the performance of the site’s content, and we do this by collecting report data generated by Digital Marketing tools such as Google Analytics.
As we said, the information collected will depend on the objectives previously defined, but some data tends to be useful in all types of analysis, such as:
- traffic: categorized into desktop and mobile, as well as organic and paid;
- page permanence time: average time and rejection rate;
- conversion rate: actions completed from CTAs in posts, as well as clicks on ads or “Buy” buttons, among others;
As you can see, doing this work manually can be an exhausting and often unfeasible task, given the various commitments of a manager or a marketing professional.
Fortunately, there are practical tools that help with the process of auditing content more quickly, without the need to focus for hours — or days — on the task, of filling out spreadsheets.
It is worth mentioning that at a certain moment when a site or e-commerce already presents hundreds or thousands of pages, these tools cease to be an option and become a must — because the chance of making mistakes and omitting information becomes quite large.
Note also that almost all software in this category are paid for but offer free trials.
That said, it’s time to check some interesting suggestions!
The world reference platform in SEO could not fail to offer a content auditing solution.
With SEMrush, you can easily embed data from your sitemap and your Google Search Console account and get a full report on each of your addresses’ performance.
The best of all is that the tool also makes a professional analysis of your content, indicating necessary actions, and highlighting the posts that present the best results.
Screaming Frog is a platform focused on SEO auditing. Basically, what it does is track all the links on your site and categorize them within a series of criteria so you can analyze the performance of your content very easily.
The tool also has a desktop version equipped with additional functions that can further enrich your analysis.
DYNO Mapper is a sitemap generator that identifies the URLs of your site and analyzes them with enormous precision.
Its panel is very intuitive and provides a lot of information that helps identify problematic pages and provide adjustments.
One of the differentials of this platform is that it keeps a progress report based on your audits’ history. That way, you can follow the evolution of your site and optimize your strategies.
WooRank boasts one of the most complete panels for content analysis and auditing, in addition to very interesting functions such as Site Crawler, which helps understand how search engine robots “see” pages.
WooRank also informs when the site is down and what the consequences are in terms of traffic and SEO, in addition to reporting broken internal links.
The best thing is that all this information is analyzed, gathered, and illustrated with a score from 0 to 100 assigned to your site.
When detected, the shortfalls are listed right below.
4. Manually verify the indicated actions
The tools help enormously in data analysis and problem detection, but we cannot rely solely on their results. This software’s algorithms are quite accurate, but many aspects of content go beyond technical criteria.
In other words, it is important that your auditing does not make your content too “robotic”.
Note that not even the world’s most powerful domains can score 100 in auditing and SEO tools.
An element present in your pages, for example, may not be beneficial in terms of search engine optimization but is essential to the experience or qualification of your buyer persona.
Therefore, the idea is that the tools are understood as filters whose function indicates the addresses and elements that deserve our attention.
Once discovered, any pending issues should be checked manually by a professional who will tell whether the indicated action is really relevant or should be ignored.
To simplify this process, the Ahrefs team has developed a very useful flowchart to facilitate decision-making. See below:
To better understand the scheme, we must clarify some points:
- in this model, we consider that pages less than six months old do not present sufficient data for analysis, except in special situations — such as product pages or event landing pages;
- The Ahrefs team understands that the page that has had at least one visitor per day in the last 12 months is content with a minimum acceptable level of traffic, but these values can be modified according to the parameters of your business;
- The same goes for the proportion of organic traffic since these numbers tend to vary according to your strategy;
- Backlinks are the links that point to the page in question, which implies the need to configure redirection (redirect 301) when we delete it to avoid empty destinations (error 404).
5. Present the necessary actions
After the manual analysis of the “problematic” contents, we can start to take the necessary actions, which most of the time translates into the redirection of posts and pages.
In general, it is never advisable to exclude content from a site, especially when it has been on the Internet for some time and might be receiving some traffic from external addresses.
Besides, we cannot forget that all content is an investment: either of time and energy (when you are the author) or of financial resources (when you hire professionals to produce them).
Surely, you would not like to throw that away.
So the best way to deal with URLs that give little return is to improve them (update them) or gather similar material in a new high-quality post (better output when there is a case of cannibalism of keywords).
On the other hand, if any situation requires removing the page, it is essential to provide the proper redirections so that the navigation on the site is not impaired.
Following-Up and Analysing Results
In many cases, the audit results are noticed quickly. An increase in the number of visits, longer time spent on pages, and growth in CTR and conversion rates are some of the signs that your site is on the right track.
Naturally, you should use indicators related to your strategy objectives and monitor the data collected in your analysis tools. Unlike the auditing process, which is developed at intervals, the monitoring of results must be constant.
Additional adjustments may be necessary, and you can provide them normally as new information comes to light.
By identifying errors and providing repairs in advance, your site will certainly grow with a strong and qualified audience, sparing your company from taking critical actions in the future.
How Often Should You Audit Your Website’s Content?
Content audits are very common when a professional or company continues the Content Marketing work initiated by another person or organization.
In fact, it is very important to analyze the site in these situations, but it is a mistake to limit it to them.
As we explained, the internet does not stop and new trends arise all the time. So, for content to remain relevant, as well as your brand, it’s necessary to keep an eye on what’s new in the market and provide constant improvements.
Audits cannot be understood as mere maintenance of the content strategy; they must be part of the business routine.
Therefore, the idea is that they are performed regularly, a few times a year, and preferably within a schedule. That way, you can follow the evolution of your site and its strategies.
As you might notice, a content audit depends on a technical approach combined with a human perspective, just like other marketing and business activities.
Finally, it’s worth highlighting that by improving your content, you not only benefit your business but also contribute to society by sharing increasingly valuable information and materials.
To maintain the consistency of your Content Strategy, you need to publish frequently and from a strategic perspective.