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01 May 2014

How to Conduct a Content Audit (and Why It Matters for SEO)

How-to-conduct-a-content-audit

This is a guest post by Amanda DiSilvestro, a content writer and editor.

Getting started with any sort of website audit is always the hardest part, but it’s incredibly important that you give your website, and your content in particular, the close attention it deserves. Whether you believe content is king or not, most agree that it’s one of the most important things to get right, so a content audit is a must. If you’re unfamiliar, a content audit is essentially a process where you go through and look at all of your content for relevancy and success. You gather up data about each piece of content, such as click through rate, and then analyze that data to determine which content needs to be updated, which pages need to be built out or promoted again, and which should be deleted completely.

Content AuditUnfortunately, many websites are still ignoring content audits because they have a boring and monotonous reputation. However, the benefits are hard to ignore:

  • If you’ve already done an SEO audit, a content audit will give you a second look. If you haven’t completed an SEO audit yet, this will be a good place to start. They work together and will help make the overall process easier.
  • It’s a good way to tell if you need to alter responsibilities some of your staff has in the company. In particular, it serves as a good starting point for evaluating your content department.
  • If you don’t have a content strategy yet, this is an excellent way to start developing something that works.
  • Audits will always help you understand your site better because you’re looking at analytics. You could very well discover trends that you had never seen before, which should help you be more successful in the future.

It’s important to keep in mind that a content audit does not mean just going through and looking at the content on your blog. Although this might be where most of your content is published, a content audit means all content on every single page—homepage content, the content on your sign-up page, your thank you page, etc.

How to Start Your Content Audit

The great thing about auditing your website is that the first time should only be the very boring and tedious time. If you have a plan in mind and know how to get started with a content audit, you can make sure that it’s easy the next time around. Below are a few tips for getting started:

  1. Ask yourself who will be completing your audit. This shouldn’t be one person, but it shouldn’t be more than three or four (but of course this number depends upon the size of your site). Try to create a plan so that each person has a responsibility. You can break up the work in many different ways, but the most popular include:
  • By webpage. This would work where each person has certain pages of the website to audit the content and then report back.
  • By task. You can have one person look at the analytics, one person check the links, one person check for relevancy and updating, etc.

Remember to always try and have a deadline and plan set in place so that everyone is on the same page. Having one person in charge helps with this organization.

  1. Create a spreadsheet with all of your data. When I say “data” I don’t necessarily mean the analytics data you’re gathering, but actually recording everything you find. For example, when you update a piece of content, mark that down in your spreadsheet. This will help you when you go to do future content audits. A few good things to add to your spreadsheet include:
  • Date of the audit
  • Title of the content
  • Category
  • Keywords and audience
  • Timely or evergreen
  • Needs changing
  • Traffic
  • Social popularity
  • URL
  • Author

I highly recommend Google docs because they can be shared with a group of people and are updated in real-time for easy editing.

Content marketing audit

  1. Don’t forget about SEO. A content audit and an SEO audit might mean two different things, but there is overlap that you should keep in mind. As discussed above, this will make your life easier year after year. Always be sure to check your anchor text and links (Google isn’t fond of keyword-rich anchor text anymore) and know if a 301 redirect will be necessary.

You should only need to do a content audit once per year; however it’s a good idea to keep that spreadsheet going each time a new piece of content is written. You don’t need to necessarily log any data, but putting the title of the content and URL just so you know it’s there will make things easier for the future. When you go to complete your content audit your next year, you’ll have a spreadsheet ready to go with content to check out.

Do you have any advice about conducting a content audit? What have you found to work best for you and your team? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Photo Credit: content-inventory.com