It’s that time of year again: spring cleaning. Time to get rid of the clutter from a closet at home or a desk drawer, but what about your website? Have you thought about cleaning it? Of course, you can’t actually dust it off or shake it out on the balcony. But you can also do content auditing.
Especially if you’re considering revising your content marketing strategy.
Content audits give you insight into what content is performing best with your audience, helps improve your SEO scores, and verifies that your content is following your content marketing strategy. They’re an excellent planning resource for your marketing team and a roadmap for future content creation. Plus, they’re a great way to centralize your content analytics so you can refer back to it when needed.
Not only will a little website spring cleaning help your marketing, but it’s also good for you. That’s right, psychologists and scientists have found that living in a clean and tidy environment leaves you less stressed, more well-rested, and generally healthier than messy people. Surely the same applies to a clean website, right?
Here are a few steps to performing a content audit on your website and give it the spring cleaning it probably needs.
What Is a Content Audit?
Before we dive into it, here’s a quick definition. A content audit is the process of finding your content and analyzing its overall performance. It looks at all the factors of the content, such as the publication channel, individual metrics, date, topic, and more, to determine two vital elements: is it working or not?
That’s basically it. How you go about your content audit, however, is entirely up to you. Follow these steps, and you’ll get some answers for your next content audit.
Ready? Here we go.
1. Establish Clear Goals
Think of what you want to accomplish with your content audit. Setting goals for the audit helps you keep the bigger picture for your content in mind. It’ll be easier to decide what content is working, what needs to be improved, what should be retired, and what new content you need to publish.
Ultimately, a content audit helps identify the best performing content for your audience, which should inform your work as a marketer. You always want to be publishing quality content your audience finds useful, valuable, and engaging, but you won’t know what’s working until you audit it.
One goal might be to identify which pages have low SEO scores and need to be refreshed. Another goal could be to track conversions on your landing pages, while another could be to reduce bounce rates on product description pages. You may decide to assign entirely different goals to your blog since 43% of readers skim your posts rather than read them in-depth.
Depending on the goals you choose, you can consider different success criteria for your content, which helps you categorize it more effectively in later steps. Once you’ve outlined your goals, it’s time to gather your content.
2. Inventory Your Content
Which content are you going to audit for this spring cleaning session? Content audits typically cover posts, pages, and downloadable content like lead magnets, but you can dive deeper to track product descriptions, landing pages, and signup forms.
Create a list of all your content URLs and put them in a spreadsheet. If your site is small, you can do this manually using Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel.
Here’s an example of what your spreadsheet might look like:
But if you have a ton of content, doing this manually will probably be too time-consuming. So, most site owners will need to use a software tool to help. Online tools like SEMrush and Screaming Frog can help you index your site quickly by using your sitemap. Add any other content not readily available through your sitemap, such as a sign-up form. Don’t forget to include any content you include on your site that’s hosted on a third-party site, such as landing pages hosted with LeadPages.
That done, it’s time to organize your content list to uncover what’s working and what’s not.
3. Organize Your Content
In your spreadsheet, add columns for other details about the content, which you’ll use later:
- Content type
- Date of publication
- Author (if you have more than one)
- Page visits
- Time spent on page
- Buyer journey stage
- Metadata (meta title, description)
- Conversion rate
- Any other metric you want to track
Use your site analytics tool to find all the other data you want to measure or categorize and enter it into the spreadsheet as appropriate. Tools like Google Analytics and MonsterInsights track this data automatically, but your website content management system like WordPress or SquareSpace might do this for you too.
Make sure you’ve gathered and labeled all the data you want to use in the audit before you proceed. Share the spreadsheet now with any team members who will be assisting with any future steps. This helps avoid any delays when it comes time to tackle the To-Do list.
Now, it’s time to assess your content based on the goals you identified in Step 1.
4. Analyze Your Content Data
Look at your list and assign a score (out of 10) to each item. If it’s performing well, give it an 8, 9, or 10. If it could use a minor update or refresh, give it a middle score of 5, 6, or 7. If it needs a complete rewrite or update, give it a 4. Anything else that should be retired gets a 1.
Remember, you’re assigning the score based on the goals you identified in Step 1.
Let’s see this in action.
Scenario 1: Your Goal Is to Increase Conversions
For this goal, you’ll want to see:
- A lot of content for middle- and end- of funnel buyers
- A minimum score of 7 on this content
But if you see only a couple of pieces of content and they’ve got scores of 6 or less, you’ll need to plan more content for the other stages of your buyers’ journey and refresh or update the pieces you have.
Scenario 2: Your Goal Is to Reduce Bounce Rates on Product Pages
For this goal, you’ll want to sort the list and look at your product pages for a minimum score of 8.
If you see that most of your existing product pages all have 8s and 9s, then your content is performing well, and you can leave it alone.
You get the idea.
Consider collaborating with your marketing team on the analysis work to help get through faster. Add a column to the spreadsheet for each goal so the team can track them. Then, assign each team member a goal and ask them to assign a score for each piece of content in the appropriate column.
Now, you’ll need to take action and decide what to do with your content.
5. Create a To-Do List
Congratulations! You’ve made it to the last step in your content audit. You know what to focus on based on your analysis, so it’s time to create a Content To-Do list.
To do that, decide on whether the content will be updated, re-written, or retired. If you’re updating or re-writing your content, you could update any stats, break up text blocks, revise sections that may have changed since it was last published, or add new images.
When retiring your content, consider if the content needs to be replaced by something else or if it can just be retired by itself. Likewise, if your audit identifies any gaps in your content, brainstorm some ways you can fill them.
To keep track of your content To-Do tasks, add a column to your content audit spreadsheet, preferably somewhere obvious, like the front of the spreadsheet. That way, it’s easy to track and see whenever you or your team look at it.
You can also prioritize your To-Do list so that everyone works on the content more efficiently. Some teams create a separate content calendar and assign the work accordingly. Others assign a task to individual team members, so they only ever look at their specific group (update, rewrite, or retire.) Collaborate with your team to decide on what’s best for you, the content, and your goals, and go from there.
Bonus Step: Add to the Content List Throughout the Year
Creating the content spreadsheet is usually the longest part of the audit process, especially if you’ve got a ton of content to sort through.
But now that you’ve done it once, you can keep adding to it throughout the year and make your future audits more efficient. Adding to it as you go keeps you focused on the content, which is where it should be. Since 63% of marketers say their biggest content challenge is driving traffic and generating leads, your audit spreadsheet will give you a headstart. You’ll be able to produce content faster and more efficiently than your competitors, giving you an edge in the marketplace.
There you have it, a five-step process for spring cleaning website content auditing. Use it to spruce up your blog and increase traffic, improve your SEO, boost engagement, skyrocket conversions, and more.
Learn more about content auditing, in this great infographic from Sembyotic.