Hey, wait, haven’t we already written something about this?
Why hasn’t this blog post ranked on page 1 of anything yet?
Should we update this content or create new content?
These are common questions when working on a content team. If you find yourself asking these questions, it might be worth taking a step back and doing a content audit.
When dealing with enterprise clients, I always try to do a content audit at the beginning of the engagement and then keep running it every quarter.
The reason I want to do a content audit at the beginning of the partnership is to better understand what content is performing well organically and what is on the website that might need a little more love.
This is also useful for the content team to review the performance of all the content they have written or on their site.
It provides a 30,000-foot view of our site, where sometimes we get so caught up in the weeds that we lose sight of the bigger picture or don’t remember what we’ve done in the past.
As a content team, we may have already grouped or categorized our content into different topics, personalities, and categories.
In this article, we’ll focus on how to store content while auditing in a way that helps you understand what to do with it in the future.
There are several options we may have after performing a content audit, such as:
- Top notch content protection and monitoring.
- Re-optimize poorly performing content.
- Incorporate very similar content.
- Create new content.
Let’s take a deeper dive into what content auditing is, how we can prioritize content on our site, and what resources we might need to achieve this.
What is content auditing?
Content auditing is the process of indexing and analyzing all website content in order to find any and all strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities.
Content audits are a qualitative view of your content, so they can vary from website to website. However, we can perform them in the same format.
Content audits are also a great way to break down barriers within a company because it can require multiple teams for this analysis and implementation, including digital marketers, SEO professionals, content marketers, and web developers.
Content auditing enables us to begin to address any weaknesses within our website such as pages with thin content, traffic metrics, or internal links. When this analysis is done, we can plan what we might need to do to improve our content.
The overall goal of content auditing is to increase organic search performance.
By better analyzing how past content has performed and what our audience likes, we can begin to identify gaps within our content strategy and generate new ideas for future content.
What are the resources needed for a content audit?
Before we start categorizing and grouping our content, we need to collect data on how the content is performing today.
There are a variety of sources we can use to analyze this content and it depends on how many different resources you want to use.
Usually, the first resource we need to use is a crawler to locate all indexable URLs on our site.
After using Screaming Frog, DeepCrawl, or another similar tool, we can fetch organic performance data such as keyword rankings from our enterprise SEO platform or from our smaller tool.
In addition, it is useful to pull Google Analytics or Google Search Console data to better understand how users interact with existing content.
To summarize, the relevant sources that we can use in content auditing are:
- Website crawling technology.
- Search engine optimization software and tools.
- Webmaster tools and analytics.
When we do a lighter version of content auditing, we usually only have to look at a few data points like organic traffic, keyword rankings, clicks, impressions, and maybe internal links.
If we were doing a more in-depth analysis, we might want to include a lot of other metrics such as word count, goal conversions, bounce rate, on-page technical issues, and more.
To summarize, the metrics we consider for this content audit include:
- organic traffic.
- Organic keyword rankings are divided into Page 1, 2, and 3+ rankings.
- click rate.
- Internal and external links.
- The number of words.
- Bounce rate.
- The time spent on the page.
The reason we want to use as many data sources as possible is because there are no set rules for saying whether our content does XYZ, good or bad.
There is no one way to do SEO or analyze this content.
Different data sources allow us to see trends within our content and in specific subfolders to help inform recommendations later on.
Now that we’ve gathered all of our data sources, let’s start breaking down how we can categorize and group our content to prioritize.
(If you need more help with the nuts and bolts of content auditing before you move on, check out Ashley Segura’s content auditing checklist.)
How to store content during content auditing
After we have collected all the data about our content, it is time to divide the content into different groups.
There are many ways we can categorize our content. But in general, we need to find ways to make this data more understandable not only to ourselves but to other teams and stakeholders to whom we will be showing it.
1. Content bucket by subfolder/topic
The first step during any content audit is to categorize the pages on our site either by the subfolder they are in or by topic.
The subfolder path is probably the easiest way to do this because it’s already in the proper URL structure.
We can also start categorizing content by line of business, product, campaign, or consumer intent.
The reason it’s helpful to do this, in the beginning, is so we can start to see trends within some of the subfolders or service lines on our website.
Also, there are many times that different teams control their own business font and pages, so this can be useful when we need to post information afterwards.
This can allow us to start doing small content audits on our site if one team is more willing to make changes than another.
By analyzing the content on our site, we can see if there are certain areas that work better than others. We can start replicating our SEO wins and lessons learned on the other parts of our site.
We now need to start assigning different scores to our content based on the data we’ve collected.
2. Group content by performance (good, average, poor performance)
One of the main ways we must prioritize and dispose of content is through performance.
We have a lot of data to take in. But we need to start assigning grades to our content to understand what we should do with that content.
Typically, once all data sources have been compiled into a basic document, the next step is to find averages from performance data (traffic, keyword rankings, internal links, conversions, etc.).
By finding the averages, it allows us to see what content is already doing well and which might need more love and attention.
Once we have the averages, we can put all URLs that are well above average as good performers. URLs that are well below average are poor performers. Everything else in between is average.
This is where there are no hard and fast rules to follow. Every content audit is different and we can use different metrics depending on what part of the site we’re looking at.
For example, if we’re auditing content about our blog and we know there aren’t a lot of conversions in that subfolder, it might not make sense to use this as the main data point. This is because we know averages will be low across the board.
However, if we know that the blog lacks internal links and this is one of the main reasons for doing this analysis, then it is definitely worth using this data point.
Now that we’ve categorized our content into different domains based on their performance, we can group them further based on what we want to do with the content.
3. Collection content based on executable next steps (do nothing, re-optimize, merge)
The data we’ve collected so far should be used and there should be an actionable next step related to the content within the review.
We’ve already divided the content into different score ranges based on performance, so now we have to set what we should do with it.
We need to announce our SEO to our content teams and let them know what specific action we want them to take based on the SEO data.
Content that we feel is doing “good” and we’re happy that it ranks for many keywords or converts well, we shouldn’t do anything with it.
If we start to see a lot of content in the “moderate” performance group that has a lot of Page 2 keywords or still converts fairly well compared to other pages in this group, we should consider re-optimizing the page.
By refreshing the page and trying to rank for more keywords, we can naturally make that page more visible and increase the amount of traffic or conversion to that page.
When we look at the content in the “underperforming” container, there are a few things we can do here.
We can re-optimize this page and hopefully it will end up ranking better. Or we could consider merging this content.
Over many different content audits with clients, we’ve started to see how there are a lot of pages with similar themes and that they are in fact competing with each other.
If this is the case, it might make sense to combine or repurpose the content to make one piece a winner.
There should now be actionable next steps for all of the content on our site, and we can start working on creating a schedule for making improvements.
Content auditing is one of the most useful things you can do as a content or SEO team to take a step back from a website and analyze what’s going on.
There are always insightful discoveries that come up while auditing content, whether it’s a piece of content that converts well that we didn’t know about or a lot of content that we didn’t realize was very similar.
The data we’ve collected needs to be analyzed so we know what to do, so here are the groups we recommend for rating content during review:
- Trait: Subfolder, Business Line, Consumer Intent.
- performance: Good, moderate, poor performance.
- Actionable next steps: Do nothing, re-optimize, and merge.
Every team needs to set priorities, from the developers to the content team. With this data, we can make a large dataset more understandable to non-SEO professionals and other internal teams.
Content auditing only really works if we take action on the recommendation we find through data analysis. If we don’t make any changes, we won’t see improvement.
As you begin to make changes, it is important to monitor the content using an enterprise platform or other SEO tool.
Keep track of what happens after you make changes, and also monitor content that you know is already working well.
The best part about content auditing is that you can always run it again later to see what happened to content that was once marked as fair or poorly performing.
Pro tip: Keep track of your previous content audits so you can keep reporting on previously assigned scores.
- A simple guide to a comprehensive content audit
- How to do a Content Gap Analysis for SEO
- Content Marketing: The Ultimate Guide for Beginners
Featured image: Shutterstock/TarikVision