Gearing up to do a content audit and not sure where to begin? Or perhaps you have conducted a few in the past and want to make sure you are optimising your efforts? Either way, this guide on how to perform a content audit is for you.
A content audit is a critical process for enhancing your website’s performance, improving search engine visibility and ensuring that your digital content aligns with your overall marketing goals. In fact, a 2023 survey by SEMRush revealed that over half (53%) of respondents saw improvements in engagement rate, and 49% increases in ranking and traffic after performing a content audit.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore every aspect of conducting a content audit, from understanding its purpose to utilising the right tools and techniques. By the end, you’ll have a clear roadmap for executing a successful content audit that drives results.
This is a pretty long read, though well worth the time (and we’ve made it easy to locate the sections you need if you just need to brush up on a few bits and bobs). So, grab a coffee or a refreshing beverage and let’s discover how to do a content audit the right way.
What is a content audit?
A content audit is a thorough spring clean of your website and other content marketing and SEO activities — a systematic examination and evaluation of all the content assets on your website. It involves analysing the quality, relevance and performance of each piece of content to identify strengths and weaknesses and where there might be gaps in the information you need to give your audience.
Content audits are essential because they provide insights into your content’s health. By understanding what works and what doesn’t, you can make informed decisions about content optimisation, updates and future creation requirements.
Content audits are also incredibly valuable for identifying opportunities to make a deeper connection with your ideal customers and making sure your tone of voice, style and messaging remain consistent.
What are the benefits of a content audit?
As you can probably tell, we are huge fans of content audits. Here’s why.
It informs your content marketing strategy
Content audits help you discover the topics, formats and approaches that resonate with your audience. These insights inform your future content creation and marketing strategies.
Understanding what content performs well and what doesn’t is essential for shaping your content marketing strategy. By analysing which topics, formats and styles of content attract the most engagement and conversions, you can tailor your future content to meet your audience’s preferences and needs.
For example, if your content audit reveals that how-to guides and video tutorials generate the most engagement, you can focus on creating more of these types of content to better serve your audience.
It enables efficient resource allocation
The insights from your content audits help you assign your resources (time, money and effort) more effectively by concentrating on content that aligns with your audience’s interests.
It improves ROI
It helps with content calendar planning
You can use your content audit findings to plan your content calendar more strategically, ensuring that you cover important topics and maintain a consistent publishing schedule.
Need help setting up your content calendar? No problem. Have a look at this free content calendar template!
It builds your brand and reputation
A recent report from Adobe revealed that 62% of consumers say well-timed, personalised content significantly builds trust. This is your opportunity to create the high-quality, informative content that helps you gain authority in your industry.
Your brand’s reputation is closely tied to the quality of the content you produce. Content that is accurate, well-researched and valuable attracts and retains your audience and establishes your brand as a credible source of information.
A content audit allows you to identify and rectify any content that might damage your brand’s reputation, such as outdated or inaccurate information, poorly written articles, or content that doesn’t align with your brand’s values.
It enhances credibility
This carries on from the point we raise above — delivering high-quality content consistently reinforces your brand’s credibility and trustworthiness.
It helps you deliver a positive user experience
Users are more likely to engage with and return to your website when they know they can rely on your content for accurate and helpful information.
It gives you a competitive advantage
All the above points kind of lead to this — a strong brand reputation and being known for providing your audience with the information they need can set you apart from competitors in your industry.
It improves organisational output
By optimising content creation and management processes, content audits should lead to increased efficiency and productivity within your organisation. Content audits not only evaluate the quality and performance of existing content but also shed light on how well your content creation and management processes are working.
By identifying bottlenecks, inefficiencies, or areas where resources are being underutilised, you can streamline your content production pipeline and improve your team’s output.
For example, if your audit reveals that content updates take too long to implement due to an overly complex approval process, you can work on simplifying and expediting that process.
It helps you scale and grow your content output
Content audits help to prepare your organisation for growth by ensuring that content production and management processes can handle increased demand. They also help you identify the assets that you can personalise, adapt, develop, or completely refresh to meet the changing needs of your audience.
As you can see, conducting a content audit provides invaluable insights that extend beyond content optimisation. It informs your content marketing strategy, safeguards your brand’s reputation and enhances organisational efficiency.
By recognising the importance of these benefits and acting on them, you can achieve a more successful and impactful content strategy.
When should you do a content audit?
Content audits should be done on a fairly regular basis to make sure you continue to meet the needs of your audience.
The report from SEMRush we mentioned above revealed that 61% of marketers carry out content audits two or more times a year. Whatever you decide is right — and doable — for you, timing is crucial for the success of your content audit. Here’s guidance on when to conduct an audit to maximise its impact:
Website updates: Perform a content audit after significant website changes or redesigns. This ensures that your content aligns with the new website structure and goals.
Content strategy review: Include content audits as part of regular content strategy evaluations. Consistent auditing helps you maintain content quality and relevance over time.
If your traffic declines: If you notice a drop in website traffic, consider conducting a content audit. It can uncover issues in your content that may be contributing to the decline.
If you are reviewing your SEO activities: Integrate content audits into your SEO strategy. Regular assessments can help you identify opportunities to improve rankings and visibility in search engines.
By including these elements and following the suggested advice, your content audits will be more comprehensive and yield actionable insights for enhancing your content strategy effectively.
Now, let’s take a look at the practicalities of carrying out a content audit.
How to conduct a content audit successfully
A content audit is only as effective as the process used to execute it. To ensure your content audit drives tangible improvements, follow these comprehensive steps. We’ve also included some practical advice, recommended tools and real-life examples to help you get it right the first time.
Step 1: Define your metrics
Traffic metrics: Identify content with the highest and lowest traffic
Why it’s important: Understanding which content receives the most and least traffic can help you identify top-performing pieces and areas that need improvement.
Tools to use: Google Analytics, your content management system (CMS) analytics.
- Look for patterns in high-traffic content to understand what resonates with your audience.
Identify low-traffic content that might benefit from optimisation or promotion.
- New to Google Analytics? The search giant runs a variety of great online courses with recognised accreditations. If you want to learn more check out their Google Analytics Academy hub.
Engagement metrics: Analyse user behaviour
Why it’s important: Analysing engagement metrics provides insights into how users interact with your content and their overall experience.
Tools to use: Google Analytics, heatmaps, user behaviour analysis tools.
- Focus on bounce rates: High bounce rates might indicate that users aren’t finding what they need.
- Evaluate time on page: Longer time on page can indicate deeper engagement.
Conversion metrics: Assess contribution to goals
Why it’s important: Understanding which content contributes to lead generation or sales is crucial for ROI analysis.
Tools to use: Conversion tracking in Google Analytics, CRM data.
- Set up conversion tracking to measure specific actions like form submissions or purchases.
- Evaluate how different content types or topics impact conversion rates.
Step 2: Set clear goals
Why it’s important: Defining your goals ensures that your content audit aligns with your overarching objectives.
Real-life example: Suppose your goal is to increase email sign-ups. In that case, you might prioritise content that drives the most sign-ups or identify gaps where you need content focused on this goal.
- Make goals specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound (SMART).
- Align your content audit goals with your marketing strategy.
Step 3: Gather, categorise and organise your content
Create a comprehensive list of all your content assets, segmented by type and any other relevant groupings that make sense to you.
Why it’s important: A thorough content inventory ensures you don’t miss any pieces during your audit.
Tools to use: Content inventory tools like Screaming Frog, Ahrefs, or manual content listing.
- Include all types of content: blog posts, articles, landing pages, videos, infographics, etc.
- Ensure your list captures metadata like publication dates and URLs..
Categorise content based on topics, formats, or buyer journey stages
Why it’s important: Organising content allows for focused analysis and targeted improvements. This can significantly improve the buyer journey and, as there may be as many as 6-10 people involved in any business purchasing decision, this is very important!
Real-life example: If you’re an e-commerce company, you might categorise content into product-related, informational and transactional content.
- Align categories with your audit goals and objectives.
- Use consistent criteria for categorisation.
Organise content into a structured format for evaluation
Why it’s important: Structuring content for evaluation significantly simplifies the analysis process.
Tools to use: Spreadsheets (e.g., Excel, Google Sheets).
- Create a content audit template with columns for relevant metrics and observations.
- Ensure your template is easily shareable among team members.
Step 4: Analyse your content
Why it’s important: Content analysis provides insights into what’s working and what needs improvement.
Real-life example: Analysing blog post performance might reveal that “how-to” articles outperform listicles in terms of engagement. You can then consider devoting more time and space to this blog type.
- Prioritise high-impact content: Start with pieces that drive significant traffic or conversions.
- Consider both quantitative data (e.g., traffic, engagement) and qualitative data (e.g., content quality, relevance).
Step 5: Make a plan based on your findings
As our old friend Hannibal of A-Team fame once said, we love it when a plan comes together. At this point you can take stock and make a roadmap towards boosting your content marketing strategy and output, prioritising more urgent content updates and improvements.
Why it’s important: Prioritisation ensures efficient use of resources to enhance your content marketing output and an overarching plan helps you stay on the right track.
Real-life example: If you discover that old blog posts generate substantial traffic but have outdated information, updating them could be a priority.
- Use a scoring system to rank content based on factors like traffic, engagement and relevance.
- Consider quick wins and long-term content strategies.
Create an action plan for optimising or repurposing content
Why it’s important: An action plan outlines specific steps to improve content and achieve your audit goals.
Real-life example: If you find that a video tutorial performs well, consider repurposing it into written guides, infographics, or social media posts.
- Assign responsibilities to team members for content updates or repurposing.
- Establish a timeline to track progress.
Step 6: Adjust your content strategy accordingly
Incorporate insights from your content audit.
Why it’s important: This is where you start to see the benefits of all your hard work. Applying audit insights ensures that future content aligns with your goals and audience preferences.
- Create an editorial calendar based on your audit findings.
- Continuously monitor content performance and adjust your strategy accordingly.
By following these comprehensive steps and leveraging the recommended tools and tips, you can conduct a content audit that not only identifies areas for improvement but also informs your content strategy for ongoing success.
Remember that a content audit is not a one-time task; it’s an iterative process that helps you refine your digital content over time. Try to make time at least once a year for a thorough audit then after website redesigns or before a brand refresh.
What should be included in a content audit?
Content audits can be complex beasts, so a checklist can be really handy to keep them in order. Here’s a breakdown of the key components you should include in your content audit process:
Content audit checklists
Informational content audit checklist
This checklist focuses on understanding the nature and relevance of your content.
Identify content types: Begin by categorising your content into types like blog posts, articles, guides, or other relevant formats. This categorisation will help you assess each type’s performance individually.
Evaluate content quality: Assess the quality and relevance of each piece of content. Is it up-to-date? Does it align with your current goals and audience needs?
Assess for SEO best practices: Examine content from an SEO perspective. Is it optimised for relevant keywords and does it follow on-page SEO best practices?
Determine your target audience: Clearly define the target audience for each content piece. Does it address their pain points and interests? Does it answer their most pressing questions?
Qualitative content audit checklist
This checklist delves into the qualitative aspects of your content.
Review readability and grammar: Ensure that your content is readable and free of grammatical errors. Use tools like Grammarly to assist in this assessment.
Check the content structure: Examine the structure of your content, including headings and subheadings. Is it scannable and well-organised?
Assess visuals and multimedia: Evaluate the use of visuals, such as images, infographics, or videos, to enhance the content’s engagement.
Ensure brand consistency: Confirm that your content maintains consistent branding and messaging across all pieces.
Quantitative content audit data points
This part of the audit focuses on gathering those all-important data-driven insights.
Gather traffic and engagement metrics: Collect quantitative data, including website traffic and engagement metrics, such as page views, time on page and bounce rates.
Analyse social shares and user interactions: Assess the impact of your content on social media. How many shares, likes and comments has it received?
Evaluate conversion rates: For content with calls to action (CTAs), measure conversion rates to determine which content pieces contribute most effectively to your goals.
What are the best tools for content audits?
When conducting a content audit, utilising the right tools can significantly enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the process. Here are some of the best content tools to consider, along with explanations of how they are used and the benefits they offer.
Our old friend the spreadsheet is one of the key tools for carrying out a content audit. Spreadsheet software, such as Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets provides a structured environment to list, analyse and manage your content assets.
How it’s used: You can create a content audit template in a spreadsheet, with columns for content titles, URLs, publication dates, metrics and notes. This facilitates systematic data entry and analysis.
Benefits: Spreadsheets offer several advantages, including data organisation, customisation (you can tailor your template to suit your audit goals) and collaboration (multiple team members can work on the same document simultaneously). They also enable sorting and filtering, making it easier to prioritise content updates.
Analytics platforms like Google Analytics provide valuable insights into user behaviour and content engagement. They track metrics related to website traffic, user interactions and conversions.
How they’re used: Analytics software helps content auditors identify high-performing content by providing data on metrics like page views, bounce rates, session duration and conversion rates. It also allows you to segment data to understand how different types of content contribute to your objectives.
Benefits: By leveraging analytics data, you can make informed decisions about which content to prioritise for updates, improvements, or promotion. It helps you understand what resonates with your audience and what needs enhancement.
Top tip: Don’t forget that high bounce rates aren’t always a bad sign. Your contact page, for example, is not a concern as people are probably visiting there to get your details to reach out.
Content quality tools
Overview: Tools like Grammarly or Hemingway Editor are invaluable for evaluating content readability, correctness and style consistency.
How they’re used: These tools can be integrated into your content audit process to assess the quality of written content. They highlight grammatical errors, and readability issues and suggest improvements in sentence structure and style.
Benefits: Ensuring content quality is essential for maintaining a professional and authoritative online presence. Content quality tools help you enhance the overall readability and effectiveness of your content, making it more engaging for your audience.
Content inventory tool
Content inventory tools, such as Screaming Frog or Sitebulb, automate the process of data collection and content analysis. They are particularly useful for large websites with extensive content.
How they’re used: These tools crawl your website, collecting data on each piece of content, including URLs, metadata and technical information. They generate comprehensive reports that can be used for content auditing.
Benefits: Content inventory tools streamline the auditing process, saving time and effort compared to manual data collection. They help you efficiently compile metadata, identify technical issues (like broken links or missing metadata) and provide an organised overview of your content.
Recommended tools for analysing and monitoring content performance
We’ve mentioned some of the following tools in previous sections but they are worth mentioning again for the monitoring part of the content management lifecycle process.
Google Analytics: A versatile and powerful tool for tracking website traffic, user behaviour and content performance. It provides data on page views, bounce rates, conversions and much more.
Google Search Console: Focuses on search-related performance, offering insights into search rankings, click-through rates and keyword data. It’s essential for optimising your content for search engines.
Social media analytics tools: Platforms like Facebook Insights, Twitter Analytics and LinkedIn Analytics provide detailed data on your content’s performance on respective social media channels.
Content marketing platforms: Tools like HubSpot, SEMrush and Moz offer comprehensive content performance analytics, including keyword tracking, backlink analysis and competitor comparisons.
Heatmap and user behaviour tools: Services like Hotjar and Crazy Egg help you visualise user interactions on your website. You can see where users click, how far they scroll and which elements capture their attention.
Email marketing analytics: Email marketing platforms like Mailchimp and Constant Contact provide data on open rates, click-through rates and conversion metrics for email campaigns.
Content management systems (CMS): CMS platforms like WordPress often come with built-in analytics features, allowing you to track page views, user engagement and more directly from your website’s dashboard.
Incorporating these tools into your content analysis and monitoring process will empower you to make informed decisions, refine your content strategy and achieve better results in your digital marketing efforts.
Starting your journey to better content marketing
And so we reach the end of this guide. We hope you now feel confident about carrying out a content audit for your website and wider content marketing activities.
As you have seen, a content audit is far more than a routine checkup; it’s the compass guiding you through the uncharted waters of content creation and marketing. It empowers you to gain, and act on, invaluable insights into your content’s performance, user engagement and SEO impact.
Through diligent content audits, you’ll uncover the golden nuggets in your content arsenal and the topics that resonate with your audience and the formats that drive engagement. Armed with this knowledge, you can craft content that remains not only relevant but indispensable.
The trust and reputation you build through high-quality, informative content are the pillars that support the long-term success of your brand.
Content audits ensure you maintain these foundations, so your brand stands tall and shines in your industry.
Efficiency in content management is the name of the game and content audits can be your secret weapon. By streamlining processes and optimising underperforming content, you can maximise productivity within your organisation and allocate resources where they matter most.
Don’t underestimate the power of data. Every piece of content tells a story and through content audits, you become the storyteller.
You learn to decipher the narratives of user behaviour, SEO rankings and engagement metrics giving you the insights to make informed decisions and course corrections in your content marketing journey.
Content audits require a fair bit of time and energy investment, but trust us, they are worth it in the long run. Remember that you don’t have to do it all alone.
If you would like support with content creation, strategy, planning or SEO get in touch with our friendly team today. We would love to help.