How to Conduct a Content Audit of Your Own Website
Are you concerned with your traffic? Perhaps it’s not as high as you hoped for. Or you are getting visitors that aren’t interested in what you’re selling.
Or perhaps you’re not getting conversions from your website? In spite of your traffic not many visitors move down the sales funnel.
If any of the above is true, it might be a sign that your content isn’t working.
And the only way to find out is by conducting a thorough content audit.
Simply put, a content audit means looking at your existing content with one goal in mind – to establish if it achieves your goals – drive traffic, generate new leads or other conversions you seek and so on.
Why conduct a content audit
There are number of reasons why you may want to audit your content:
- You may be concerned with your traffic. Perhaps you don’t get as many visitors as you wished. Or even if you do, it doesn’t seem to be the traffic you were looking for.
- You may be concerned with content types you have on your site. You wonder if they are ideal for your target audience.
- The content might be old, perhaps you took over a neglected site and need to establish what pages need to be updated or even removed.
- You may also want to find out what content you can repurpose or reuse in other campaigns.
- Lastly, you may be looking for more content ideas and want to establish what topics attracted the biggest audience.
Regardless of your reasons however, a properly conducted content audit will help you to:
- Identify your content.
- Establish how well it meets the needs of your audience.
- Find out if it’s optimised for search.
- See what content brings desired results, what needs to be updated and what content may be redundant (or even hurting your strategy).
- Understand what content you could improve.
- Spot any trends and topics you could build your strategy on going forward.
Tools you will need
Luckily, there are only two tools you will need to audit your content:
- Google Analytics – this is where all the data you need resides. If you don’t have much experience with GA, ask someone who does to show you around. There are only few reports you need to access but if you are not sure where to get the data, ask for help.
- Spreadsheet in which you will record all data for further analysis. A point of content audit is to gather in one place all the data about pages performance in search so you can draw conclusions from it. A simple spreadsheet, like Google Spreadsheet or Excel will suffice just fine. Create a column for each data piece you will gather through the content.
A simple content audit plan
1. Establish your goal
There can be many reasons for auditing content, low traffic, lack of conversions or engagement. It may be that you took over a site and need to establish if the content works. Or if it fits the new direction you want to take.
Your reason will determine the way you look at data. That’s why you need to know what outcome you expect to achieve before you begin your audit.
2. List all pages on your site in your spreadsheet
The first step is to list all pages you want to audit. You can do it in a number of ways:
- export the data from your CMS system, if possible.
- gather the data from Google Analytics. Go to Behaviour tab, click Site Content and finally open All Pages section. What you will see is a list of most visited pages on your website. To view and copy the URL of the page into your spreadsheet, in the page column, click on the pop out link and copy the url of the page that appears.
- Use Website crawler software like Screaming Frog to get a list of all pages on your site. Note: a crawler will only find pages linked from your home page or included in your sitemap. If you have any content that’s not linked from in those two sources, it might miss it.
3. Collect your data
Once you know all pages you want to audit, you need to assess how successful or not each page has been against your goals. During content audit your task is to gain deep insight into what content is working on your site and improve all the other content to be like it. To do that, you need to gather certain information about each page. To make it easier for myself, I typically break the data into 4 main sections (but you can of course divide it in any different way you want):
- Page setup
In this section, gather all data relating to how your content is set up and optimised. Elements to pay attention here include:
- Page Title and URL
You need to assess if your page title and URL are clear, unique and if they clearly communicate the topic of the page. Also, you need to assess if title is properly optimised for display in search engine results (i.e. if it contains less than 65 characters).
- Meta Description
Next you should audit a pages description to check if it’s of a recommended length (maximum 160 characters) and if it can entice someone to click on the search engine listing.
You also should establish if the page contains the right keywords. When doing your audit, make sure to check that it’s not keyword stuffed and keywords are included naturally in the text (i.e the page reads naturally).
- Image Alt Tags
Check if all images on a page have Alt Tags filled in. Mark the page yes or no, you can go back to it later and fix whatever errors you identified.
- Internal Links
Does the page have any internal links? Ideally you should include at least 2-3 internal links (ideally to other deep pages on your site, not home page or contact page). Just like with previous two metrics, a simple tick box to mark it will be enough.
Now let’s dig into Analytics to see how the page performs. All the metrics in this section relate to information about visitors and their behaviour on the page you audit.
Check the following data for each page:
- How many daily visits does it get on average
- What is its bounce rate
- What’s the average time visitors spend on the page
- How many new vs. returning visitors does the page achieve
These matrices will help you establish how popular is the content and if it delivers on the visitors expectations (i.e. a high bounce rate or low time spent on a page might suggest that visitors don’t get what they thought they will from the content).
Third aspect to assess is the quality of your content. It is fairly obvious that the better the quality, the greater the chance for content to be successful. When assessing quality, check each page against those metrics:
- Date last time content was updated
It’s a rule of thumb that content on a page should be updated at least once every two years. Note down in your spreadsheet when was the last time a page was updated to later establish if you need to do it any time soon.
- Type of Content
Mark what type of page is it: blog post, web page, video post etc. This will help you to sort your content by types to establish if there are any content types that might need your attention.
- Readability and Usefulness
Is the content readable to your average target audience member? Does it provide useful information to them? [Scoring system]
- Grammar and Style
A great content with poor grammar will still be considered poor. Check if there are no grammar mistakes that need to be fixed on a page.
TIP: Don’t fix any mistakes now, the goal for this audit is to establish actions you need to take and then plan how you will work on them.
- Content Length
Note the length of your content. Even though there is no guideline how long a particular content type should be, having the data will help you later assess if that blog post couldn’t be extended or web page improved by adding more information to it.
Lastly, depending on your goals of course you may want to research the impact of your content. You can assess it by:
- Social Shares
How well your content does on social media? List how many FB likes, shares, retweets, +1’s or metrics from other social sites that are relevant to your audience it got.
Not every content type can receive comments. But your blog posts can. List how many comments each blog post got. This might help you spot topics that stirs your audience to take action and would be worth investigating further.
Lastly, list what impact did the content have on whatever conversions you are tracking – email signups, trial accounts, sales etc.
4. Plan Taking Actions to Improve Your Content
Content audit means nothing if you don’t act on your findings. If you found pages which are poorly optimised, fix that. Have a list of pages you think need new content, make a plan for creating one.
A content audit is only a beginning of a lengthy process of improving your content. Plan your actions going forward. Work on one content type at a time perhaps or just go through each page on your spreadsheet until all pages are fixed and then, after some time, audit your content again to see if those changes worked.
Creative commons image by Greg Peverill-Conti / Flickr