If you have experience performing content audits, you may understand how arduous it can be, the mental energy required, but also, the payoff. You’ve experienced the reward that comes with taking a hard look at the content that exists on your website (and maybe even the content that exists on competitor sites), bettering it, and creating a plan for the future.
But if you’ve never performed an audit/examination on your content before, you’ll soon find out how it should be done.
Performing a content audit on your website may be a time consuming task, but it’s also an incredibly valuable one. It allows you to:
- Identify the content you already have.
- Assess how well it’s optimized for users and search.
- See where content should be updated or removed.
- Understand how you can increase your content efforts for better usability, loyalty, and search visibility.
If your content is king, the content audit ensure all is well in your kingdom. If you’ve never performed an audit on your website, here’s what you need to know to get started.
It Helps to Know What You’re Looking For
Approach your content audit with a good understanding of what it is you’re looking for and for what purpose. This will help you determine what’s worth tracking and will keep you focused on the end goal of your content marketing strategy.
You’ll want to ask yourself:
- Are you concerned with traffic?
- Are you trying to content to conversion?
- Are you identifying the amount or types of content you have on your site?
- Are you looking for content to update?
- Are you looking for content to repurpose/reuse?
By approaching your audit with a plan, you will know what to look for, what matters, and what will be helpful to record. Without this information, you are likely to miss something that may be important later.
If you go through the process and you still aren’t sure whether a certain metric should be tracked — track it anyway. Record it for a series of pages to see how it feels and whether it’s helping you to identify patterns or behaviors. If it is, continue. If not, don’t do it.
Create a Page Rating System
For many, auditing content will be used to identify how well the pages on their website are performing so that they will be able to improve on them. Creating a page rating system can help you to assess this information in a logical, intuitive manner.
You may choose to do this with either a traditional alphabetical system or one that is numerical. It may be more helpful to use a 1 to 5 rating system because it’s descriptive enough to identify a poor performing page, but it’s not too complex that you’ll waste valuable time determining if a page is a 5 or a 7.
While assessing the quality of your pages, remember that it isn’t necessary for every page on your site to earn a perfect score. For example, if a page is written as a 3, but is still pushing users down the correct path, that may be good enough.
But don’t be a hoarder of content. Your website shouldn’t look like “garbage” you’ve been collecting over years.
If you find pages on your site that are redundant, duplicate, or no longer serve a purpose — get rid of them. Don’t bloat your site by assuming these pages aren’t doing you any harm.
Using a Spreadsheet
Get your spreadsheet ready with the information that you’re going to track. This document will serve as your roadmap and your lifeline through the content auditing process. What you track will depend on the size of your site, your goal, and your tolerance for critique.
Here’s what we recommend you start with and expand from here:
- Page URL
- Page Title
- Meta Description
- Heading Usage
- Word Count
- Type of Content — Article, Blog Post, Landing Page, Video, etc.
- Targeted Customer
- Facebook Likes, Shares, Comments
- Twitter Shares
- LinkedIn Shares
- Google +1’s
- Page Rating (1-5)
The data points above should give you the essential information you need to track visitor behavior and effectiveness.
If you’ve never performed a content audit before, don’t attempt to tackle the entirety of your 1,000 page site on your first go at it. Instead, start with a particular folder or your blog section. This will allow you to get a feel for the process, to identify the types of data most valuable to your efforts, and to find the shortcuts you’ll rely on when tackling the larger sections.
A Little SEO Knowledge Goes a Long Way
Although you are auditing your website’s content, don’t forget about SEO (Search Engine Optimization). You will still benefit from a basic understanding of SEO and how it applies to your content.
You don’t have to be the greatest technical SEO in the world, but being able to identify that meta description is too long, how to resolve broken links, or what the status code means is very helpful in unmasking the data.
Study Competitors While You’re in the Zone
Once you’ve gone through your content inventory and produced your internal scorecard, take a deep dive into your competitors’ content assets to do a side-by-side comparison.
- Where are the content pages?
- Are they targeting an audience differently?
- Is their content better optimized?
- Are they focusing on bigger content pieces while you’re focusing on little aspects?
None of this is a signal you’re doing something “wrong” but it’s important to be aware of as you move forward.
It Will Be Worth It
An in-depth audit is a lot of work and it’s quite time-consuming. However, it will offer you great results by helping you see what’s on your site and what are the necessary next steps.