As the amount of content you produce grows, keeping track of it, how it performs, and the value it provides to your users is crucial. Conducting a content audit can help you navigate your strategy to create content more effectively and efficiently.
A content audit is vital to any content marketing strategy that aims to measure results and evaluate previous marketing efforts. It takes into account your primary objectives, and content performance metrics to help you prepare a future content plan.
A complete content audit should result in identifying your main priorities and your existing assets, as well as forecasts for content performance. A content audit has proven to be a valued marketing practice with 61% of marketers conducting it at least twice a year.
Read on to learn how to run a content audit.
What is a content audit?
A content audit is the process of assessing all your content on your website in a strategic way. It includes an evaluation of everything from blog posts to content on your landing and web pages.
The purpose of a content audit is to identify content that is outdated or not performing well, update and optimize all published web pages, and determine whether pages that have a negative effect on SEO performance should be merged or deleted.
With a content audit, you can ensure an easy assessment of your content marketing strategy.
A content audit can also ensure improved user experience. That’s because during a content audit, you review your layout and design as well. You look at your content’s readability and accessibility. Ultimately, you gain insights into how you can provide a more seamless experience to visitors.
With a thorough audit, you can also determine what content to create. You can develop a comprehensive content plan based on the current performance of your written pieces.
As a result of all this, your website consists only of the most relevant content that you can slightly improve or update. This way, you can improve your SEO performance, increase organic traffic and create a loyal readership.
To do an audit, you need the right content audit tools and resources. Tools like Google Analytics, a content audit template, and content inventory tools aid in the process, making it easier to gather data points and assess content quality.
7 key steps for conducting an effective content audit
While it may seem challenging, conducting a content audit doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Below, you will find the steps of a content audit checklist:
1. Define your goals and objectives
To know how to measure your content performance, you need to define the goals and objectives of your strategy. Sure, improving SEO can be your main goal for your content audit, like for most marketers that actively invest in SEO. But you might also have secondary objectives on the side. These objectives could be any of the following:
- Augment branded keywords
- Determine pages requiring optimization for search engines
- Recognize the most effective website content to feature on the homepage or in email newsletters.
These goals and objectives act as a guiding light for you throughout the audit process.
Once you know the goals and objectives for your website content audit, you can determine your relevant metrics. Metrics such as traffic, user behavior, engagement, number of backlinks, and search engine rankings can help you measure the success of your content audit. Choose one or several metrics you want to see improved depending on your objectives and goals.
While defining your goals and objectives, you should also decide on the areas you want to prioritize. For example, your priorities include assessing which pages should be SEO-optimized or what content should be updated for relevance. Defining the most pressing issues can help you organize the entire content audit process.
2. Identify all content assets
After you’ve set your goals, it’s time to move on to the next step – identifying all content assets. By content assets I mean your blog posts, videos, podcasts, and images. When you identify all these, you can get a clear picture of what your overall content looks like and specify areas that need to improve.
At this stage, though, you shouldn’t just specify the number of pieces you have of each content type. You’ll also want to take note of these other elements per content piece:
- Meta descriptions
- Page titles
- Word count
To ensure better organization, you can use Google Sheets to create your own content audit spreadsheet. If you don’t have the time to create your own, though, take advantage of ready-to-use content inventory templates. Check out this one by Content Marketing Institute:
Add as many columns as you want based on the data you want to include. Just remember that the more thorough you are at this stage, the more comprehensive your content audit will be!
3. Collect data on the performance of your content
But don’t just list down the types of content you have. You’ll also have to evaluate how each content piece performs. After all, your findings will help inform your subsequent content strategy. So, if, let’s say, your blog post on email marketing generates a lot of clicks, you’ll want to create something similar to increase the likelihood of engagement as well.
How do you determine the performance of each of your content pieces? Simple. Use analytics tools.
For your website content, you can use Google Search Console and Google Analytics. Google Search Console is particularly useful if you want to assess clicks, impressions, clickthrough rate, and average SEO position.
Google Analytics, on the other hand, offers multiple reports that can help you.
The current version, Google Analytics 4, in particular, is great since it gives you detailed insights into your audience’s demographics and behavior, your acquisition of new users, and even your conversions. Check out how the reports look like in the app in the screenshot above.
Further Reading: 7 KPIs To Measure Your Content Marketing Performance
4. Evaluate content relevance and quality
At this point, you’ll want to check your content for relevance and quality as well.
Content relevance refers to whether or not your blog post, for instance, is something your audience is looking for in the first place. Other engagement metrics—blog post comments, online community or social shares if you have social sharing icons on your site, for example—can show whether your content is relevant to your audience. You want a high engagement since that means your content provides value to them. A higher engagement means the topic is worth pursuing and expanding on in the future.
Content quality, on the other hand, involves evaluating factors such as the readability of your content. If the readability of your posts is low based on readability tools like Hemingway, you should improve language, style, or make the posts more captivating. Any number below Grade 9 is considered a good Hemingway readability score. Follow this rule of thumb if you want to write engaging blog posts that are high-quality.
Here’s a visual reference to consider as well:
Further Reading: What is Content Writing? 13 Ways to Write Better Content
5. Categorize and prioritize content
Having assessed your content’s relevance and quality, the next step is to categorize your content. This step will help you determine which types of content you need to prioritize.
How do you categorize your content?
You can organize it by topical categories, for example, topic clusters. Topic clusters consist of topics that are grouped by related keywords. For example, this is how topic clusters look in Surfer SEO Keyword Research:
You can see that there are main keywords that group more descriptive keywords together.
You can also group your content by performance in specific areas. For instance, you can group together the content that sees a lot of engagement in terms of blog comments. You can have another group of content pieces that have high social shares.
Prioritizing your content involves deciding which content to focus on first based on what you find during content categorization. For instance, if you find you have less pieces about content marketing even if these are your most read pieces, you’ll want to prioritize giving your existing underperforming content that angle or writing content revolving around that topic.
In a nutshell, categorizing and prioritizing your content is a crucial step in the content audit process. It lets you focus your efforts where they will have the greatest impact and helps ensure a more efficient and effective audit.
Further Reading: Unlocking The Full Potential of Topic Clusters For Your SEO Strategy
6. Develop an action plan
Let’s assume you’re done with steps 1 to 5 specified above. Great! Now it’s time to create an action plan based on all the information you gathered. Basically, you want to specify the subsequent actions you need to take to ensure that, ultimately, all your content performs well.
So if you find that some of your blog posts are no longer relevant to your audience since they provide outdated information, for instance, then your plan of action should specify that these pieces of content need to be updated. If you find that some blog posts talk about the same thing, you’d have to specify in your plan of action that these posts have to be merged.
Your plan should also say which content should be deleted, which ones require internal links, and which articles have broken links that need to be deleted.
Apart from the specific actions you need to take per content piece, you also want to enumerate the tools you’ll use to improve your copy in the first place. So, you could say you’ll use Grammarly or Hemingway to improve your articles’ readability or generative AI to update them.
Include in your action plan the tools you’ll use for content planning (ContentCal or CoSchedule, for example) and for project management (Asana and Trello are great tools). If your resources are limited, you can opt to use a traditional spreadsheet like the one below:
Make sure you also specify the people in charge of each task, and the deadlines within which each task should have been completed. The more specific your plan of action, the better. Don’t forget to align your content plan with your marketing goals every step of the way.
7. Implement plan of action
The final step in the content audit process is implementation. If your plan of action was very specific and thorough, then you shouldn’t encounter any problems at this stage. All you need to do is follow your plan to the letter.
That’s not to say your job is done after you’ve implemented your action plan. You’ll want to determine afterward whether your content audit goals have been met in the first place. Check each of your content pieces again following implementation. Do more people engage with the content? Does it rank better in search results?
When you make an overall assessment of the effectiveness of your content audit, you can gain valuable insights that can help inform future content audits. These valuable insights can help you create better content as well.
A thorough content audit enables businesses to stay relevant, enhance user experiences, and achieve their goals. With a content audit, you ensure impactful content creation and optimization in the ever-evolving digital landscape.
You learned how to conduct a complete content audit in this article. Define your goals and objectives, identify your content assets, and then gather data on content performance. Don’t forget to assess your content for relevance and quality, too.
Also, categorize your existing content types so you’ll know what to prioritize. Then develop an action plan and implement it.
Follow these tips for the best results. Remember, you can continuously improve and refine your content strategy by regularly repeating the audit process. Good luck!
Further Reading: How to Develop a Killer Content Strategy in 18 Easy Steps
Tomasz Niezgoda is the Head Of Marketing at Surfer, a platform that merges content strategy, creation, and optimization into one smooth process. With almost a decade of experience in the industry, he is responsible for incorporating and executing marketing strategies. Currently, he manages a team of 5 wonderful experts.