Quality content is one of the most important ranking signals on the web. It is very commonly the anchor of online marketing strategies, which is why 57% of B2B marketing professionals say on-page content optimization is the most-effective SEO initiative.
Marketers need to engage with customers, and enhance the customer experience while also maintaining authority on search engines — it can be a daunting task if you don’t know where to start.
A surefire way of achieving this is by performing a comprehensive SEO content audit to analyze the performance of existing website content and making strategic improvements as required.
Through audits, you can augment and enhance your content marketing strategy, laying a foundation for improved search rankings, organic traffic, conversions, and more. Let’s dive into the process of conducting an SEO content audit in seven easy steps.
Identify Your Content Marketing Goals
Like with other SEO strategies, start by painting a clear picture of the things you want to accomplish. The problems you want to address will serve as the goal of your content audit. Some possible reasons for auditing website content include:
- Eliminating outdated and redundant content
- Evaluating content to maintain consistent messaging, tone, and brand image
- Assessing the content to migrate when shifting to a new management platform
- Supporting a more balanced content editorial plan
- Organizing all content assets for better accessibility and findability
- Evaluating whether content metadata such as categories and tags are used appropriately
- Understanding the scope and SEO effectiveness of your content.
Knowing the goals you want to focus on when auditing your content determines the way you perform your audit, the metrics you measure, the criteria for analyzing findings, and the steps you take to ensure success.
Create an Inventory or Spreadsheet of Your Content Assets
After identifying your goals, the very first thing you should do is take stock of all your content. In this step, you collect URLs of the content you’re set to audit.
Depending on your goals, the inventory could be a list of URLs in the entire website or a single website directory, like the blog section. If your website is small, you can compile the list manually. Otherwise, use a crawling tool like SEMrush or Screaming Frog to generate an XML sitemap of the website.
A sitemap is a file or directory that contains the structure of all pages and files on your website. Here’s an example XML sitemap preview showing URLs of the V3B website.
Generating a sitemap gives you a complete picture of the content on your website, including webpages and blog posts. You will now need to export the content in your XML sitemap to a content audit spreadsheet.
Categorize the Content
Next, you will need to categorize the content on your spreadsheet. While there is no single best way of organizing content, you can consider using some of the categories below:
- Content-type- landing page, blog post, webinar, product description
- Content format-text, video or image present, with or without call-to-action
- Content authors- for websites with multiple contributors
- Date of publication or latest update
- Content metadata – title, meta description, H1
- Number of words
- Page metrics (which will be covered in the next step)
Organizing your content into different categories ensures you have useful information at hand for your audit needs. At this point, you should already have a good idea of what content a website contains alongside its characteristics.
Track Key Performance Indicators
An important step of the audit process is understanding how each piece of web content is performing. So, after putting together an inventory, you must track all inbound signals and data points associated with every URL. You will need to capture site metrics such as page visits, bounce rate, average time-on-page, conversion data, social shares, and more.
You can use a tool like Google analytics to pull a wide range of data and import it into the content audit spreadsheet.
With this data, you can gain insights into how landing pages and other website content are performing in terms of visitors, engagement, and conversion.
Analyze the Performance of Different Content Assets
At this stage, you’ve already gathered all the information you need for auditing. So, it’s time to analyze the data and draw informed decisions about every content asset. Using the collected metrics, evaluate how every piece of content contributes to your content marketing goals. You can add another column to the audit spreadsheet where you will add an action to take for every piece of content.
To ensure your audit efforts yield substantive results, you can use any of these three statuses as the recommended action.
- Keep: healthy content assets that perform well and are relevant to your content marketing goals.
- Update: content assets that are decent, but require some updates or revisions to perform better. These would include posts with outdated statistics, articles with broken links, or content that bring low-traffic and conversions.
- Delete: content assets that are no longer needed or cannot be improved. For instance, old content related to past events and information about products that are out-of-stock.
Perform a Content Gap Analysis
After analyzing your current content, it’s time to check what content your website is missing. This involves checking whether you have all content that your target audience is interested in. To do this, start by putting together a list of keyword and content ideas that your readers might be looking for.
Once done, check through the current catalog to determine whether there’s content that addresses the target search queries. You will realize that for some of your content ideas, there’s no matching content. These are the gaps you need to fill when creating future content.
Draw an Action Plan and Update Your Content Strategy
The final step of the audit process is putting everything together by creating an editorial plan that addresses all gaps and weaknesses in your content strategy.
Based on the analysis conducted in previous steps, you need to plan on how to delete, re-write, re-structure, and update the posts. When developing a content calendar, commit to creating at least three blog posts addressing the gaps identified every week.
As you create better blog posts and landing pages, aim to create a new video post every week. The goal is to enrich your pages with evergreen content that will boost search engine rankings and increase conversions.
Conducting an SEO content audit may seem like a lot of work, especially when you factor in the actions you should take. However, if performed effectively, you can derive actionable insights that will improve your marketing strategies.
It helps you know what’s content is working well and driving you towards your goals. Similarly, you also learn what content is dragging your website downhill and what should be done to improve its rankings. By following the 7-step process outlined above, you can execute an SEO content audit that will consistently enhance your content quality and search rankings.
The original version of this article was first published on V3Broadsuite.
- How to Conduct an SEO Content Audit to Boost Search Engine Rankings - September 24, 2020