How to Perform a Content Audit
If you’re ready to get started with inbound marketing, you need great content. But you don’t have to start from scratch. You probably have more existing content than you realize.
A content audit will help you locate and eliminate the areas where your site is dragging you down. Best of all, it will show you what you’re doing right, how to do more of it, and uncover hidden gold on your site.
Know What You Want
Are you trying to improve your site's SEO? Maybe you want to see which keywords or blog posts bring in the most traffic?
No matter what your intent, it's good to clearly state it in the beginning to guide your process. This way you’ll know how to evaluate your existing content and easily identify gaps where you need to create more content.
Take a Content Inventory
Once you’ve defined your goals in your audit is to perform a content inventory. The easiest way for most people to stay organized is to format a spreadsheet with the following columns:
- Page (Meta) Title
- Title of the article or blog post (if different from above)
- URL (the full URL instead of just a link; this is important for SEO reasons)
- Meta Description
- Keywords (all targeted long and short-tail keywords)
- Traffic statistics (when available)
That will give you a basic inventory. Other options you may wish to add include:
- Optional but highly suggested:
- Optional but highly suggested: Images on each page, including their file names and alternate text and/or tags.
- Optional but highly suggested: Video content, including file names and tags.
- Any other content (PDF downloads, etc.)
- Optional but highly suggested: Author or Owner of each page (this can help you track trends with an author's work).
- Links going out from each page.
- Links going in to each page.
- Optional but highly suggested: Traffic statistics
- Social media shares (if available)
- SERP rankings
You may be able to think of other factors that are important to your goals.
Wait…How Can I Find All of My Pages?
If you're using a content management system, this will be a fairly simple (though perhaps time-consuming) affair. If your site is built on WordPress, for example, you'll just need to go through your dashboard.
If for some reason you can't access all of your pages from the back end, Google Webmaster tools is a good option. HubSpot can also show you a complete list of pages, their current status and how well they are converting. Most analytics programs will also show you a full listing of your site's URLs.
Evaluating Your Inventory
The process of evaluating your inventory will depend on your ultimate goals – but there are a few factors that are important for every audit.
- The Bad. Duplicate content. Duplicate meta tags. Broken images. Broken links. Bad content. Keywords placed too often. Keywords barely mentioned at all. Messy code (if you're checking for it). Keywords or content that don't fit with your site's overall objectives.
You'll be surprised how much you can improve your site (and its search engine rankings) simply by fixing errors on your site.
- The Good. Pages with high traffic—what do your highest-traffic pages have in common? Do you have any keywords or topics that work particularly well? Are you getting the most hits to a certain section of your site—for example, your blog or a tutorials section?
- The Interesting. A content audit will almost always show you something you didn't expect. Are you getting traffic from unexpected sources or keywords you thought were only minor? Do you have enough content on a certain topic to make a spin-off site? Could you reformat some of your pages into sideshows or video lessons?
You're just about guaranteed to find out at least one new and unexpected (good) thing about your site during a content audit. And it often ends up being a form of “buried treasure” that can do good things for your business!
Once you’ve completed the audit, it’s time to take action. Fix the sections that aren’t performing well, take note of your successful content and plan to create more of that success in the future.
Performing a content audit is an essential part of a web redesign process, and can be a crucial tool when you start a content marketing campaign. Be sure you don’t skip this essential step.