Let’s say you have a small business and you have a website that you created 50 different blog posts for. Now it’s been a year or two and you are wondering if all the content that you have spent so much time creating for your website has been effective.
You can determine whether your content marketing efforts have made an impact by performing a content audit, which also has the added benefit of improving your SEO tremendously. A content audit will also clean up your site's organizational structure and help you understand which articles are performing well, what can perform better, and what is missing.
What is a Content Audit?
A content audit is the process of taking inventory of all the information that’s on your website, in your emails, and all of your sales scripts and organizing it in a way that makes sense for users and search engines. It’s about looking through your blog post archives and optimizing what’s already written so that it can be current and made better.
A content audit will also help you to plan out a content marketing strategy - a plan on crafting new content that your readers would be interested in and improving on older pieces of content that may have good link value.
When using the data from a content audit to edit your existing content, remember that the blog posts and articles that you write should be written for users in mind, not just search engines. The copy that gets published needs to be interesting to your reader and be of value without sounding robotic. You can create useful and interesting content while still using SEO best practices.
A content audit will help you discover which of your pages need improvement. Google is putting more emphasis on contextual content and content clusters and it serves no purpose to have pages with thin content and of little value.
Content clusters are related pages that link to each other and to a longer form pillar page. You can interlink related pieces of content to help Google understand what your website is about.
Just know this - the most successful lead generation websites have a robust content strategy. A content audit will help you implement a successful content strategy?
The bottom line - you want to leverage the content that you’ve already written and you can do this continuously in order to keep your website up to date and refresh the posts ability to generate search engine traffic.
Where do I start?
An audit of your content begins with taking an honest look at the quality and the quantity of the data on your website. You can start with creating a spreadsheet and making a comprehensive list of every page on your site. Make a column on your spreadsheet for the page’s URL, page title, meta title, meta description, and H1, H2, H3 tags along with a column for your notes.
If you want to be really thorough you can use a free website crawler tool like Screaming Frog, which will scan every URL on your website for you that will allow you to export the data into a spreadsheet.
For businesses that have been around many years, there may be very old legacy pages that have been live since animated gifs were popular and have different design and branding than newer pages. This shows that the website’s CSS files are different than the rest of the site and the page may not even be part of your website’s content management system.
An outdated, yet well ranking page would not catch your eye in a technical SEO audit, however it would be considered low hanging fruit and discoverable through a content audit. Spending time to update outdated, boring content on a good ranking page can help to generate leads for your business. Something as simple as creating an offer with an email opt-in form can be added.
Going through your spreadsheet, you might end up discovering old posts that you want to delete. You may want to consolidate two or more very similar articles. You can also take older, shorter articles and add video, infographics, & shareable Pinterest pins as well as fresh copy. Then update the publish date and you have a newly discoverable article.
As you perform your audit, ask yourself these questions:
- Why do I have a website? (is it just because your competitors have one?)
- What is the website supposed to do?
- Who is your audience?
- What do I want them to do on the website?
- What actions are they going to take?
Using your content audit to improve your website's SEO will be most effective if you make sure to verify your website in Google's Search Console, choosing your preferred domain, and uploading an XML sitemap. In fact, this should be one of the first things you do when trying to improve your search engine presence.
The audit will tell you which pages need improvement and will allow you to determine which of the following elements need to be improved upon:
404 Page Not Found - Updating Your Links
Before deleting a page, you need to create a permanent redirection of that pages’s URL to a new page. The old URL still exists in Google and will create a “page not found”. The easiest way to redirect a URL is to use a redirection plugin.
Meta data is text that is "behind the scenes" in the page's code and not visible on the front end of the website. The meta data should contain keywords and be relevant to the page. It's important to fill out your meta description & title, which can easily be accomplished with an SEO plugin.
A meta page description is text that explains what the page is about. All of your website's meta descriptions should be unique and as intriguing as possible to make the user want to click your site in the search results.
Proper URL Structure
Make your page's URL search engine friendly - the URL needs to tell the user where they are on your site. A bad URL might have a long string of text that makes no sense. A good URL structure should show the navigational structure of the website:
is your website’s navigation consistent throughout the entire site and easy to understand? If your “rules change” for navigation from one page to another it will frustrate your user and they will leave.
Every page should have a purpose and users should be able to look at the content and understand what the purpose is.
Look at your on page copy - writing for the internet is not the same as writing a book report or papers in college. Make sure to look it over with a critical eye at the copy and ask yourself, is it well written? Is the grammar & spelling correct?
What story are they telling? Many times people look at the images before they start reading. It's always best to use images that tell a story or show your personality.
Are increasing important. Youtube is the second largest search engine. People want to watch videos - we are by nature curious people. Some questions to ask yourself are:
- Are your video players working
- Are you hosting videos on your server and if so why? It would be wiser to host them on Youtube for faster load page and to free up your server.
Linking a piece of critical info from one page on your website to another relevant page on your website that you want users to go. This helps to keep the user on your site.
Adding 1 or 2 links within your content that links out to another relevant website has a positive impact on your SEO. Make sure your outgoing links take users to a site that is trustworthy. Outgoing links should open in another browser window. If it opens in a same window, the user will bounce from your site. Bounce rates can work against you and Google keeps track of the bounce rate percentage.
Google searches are now smarter and able and to understand a searcher's intent. Google's database can match concepts to words, understands synonyms, and as a results can deliver more personalized results.
If you want to rank for a general search phrase, build relevant and useful content around that keyword. Google doesn’t pay a lot of attention to meta keywords anymore. They look at the context of the content.
A content audit can be a tedious task, but necessary for increasing your search engine's rankings and increasing the amount of time a user stays on your website and looks around. Once you do the hard work, you can come back to your spreadsheet periodically to perform quarterly audits. You should see your rankings improve over time.