How to Do a Content Audit and Extract Actionable Insights

A step-by-step guide, including a free template

Andreea Macoveiciuc

Written on 22nd March, 2020 |

5 min read

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A content audit is a quantitative and qualitative content assessment that covers all your website’s content or only the pages in your marketing funnel.

At the end of this exercise, you should have a clear overview of what’s in your CMS, which pages need to be optimized, rewritten, or removed, and where your content gaps are.

By auditing your content, you can make more informed decisions when developing or adjusting your content strategy, and you can prioritize your marketing activities in the most effective way.

When and why to do a content audit

The content audit can be carried out at any point if your content isn’t performing as well as you expect it to. However, it doesn’t really make sense to go through this process if there isn’t enough content on your website.

On the other hand, if you have an old website with a lot of content but the traffic, conversions or sales aren’t satisfactory, it may be wise to stop the content development for a few days and do an audit.

Please note that the audit is, ideally, performed as part of the content strategy development, in the initial stages of this process. To learn more about the framework that I use when developing a content strategy, check out my article below:

Building a Scalable Content Strategy: A 5-Step Framework

Auditing content properly takes time, but it’s the best way to find out whether:

  • The content of your website is relevant or outdated

  • Your visitors find the information useful

  • The links in your articles are broken or functional

  • Pages and images are well optimized

  • Visitors can easily find the information they need

  • There is content that can be curated and repurposed

  • You’re missing content for certain funnel stages

As you can see from this list, when one performs an audit, they want to know why their content isn’t performing as expected, what the biggest issues are, and how to solve them.

Goals of a content audit

Most commonly, the goals of a content audit are:

  • Identifying pages that require optimization

  • Improving the content marketing strategy

Even if you don’t conduct the content audit for SEO purposes, this analysis will help you identify the weak spots in your content.

The audit will show you what tags you’re using, what keywords/queries you’re targeting, how long your best-performing articles are, what their structure is, and so on.

These details will help you determine the best approach for on-page optimization. At the same time, the audit will help you evaluate your current content marketing efforts by showing which of your current strategies isn’t paying off.

At the end of the process, you should know:

  • which posts perform better in social media,

  • which drive more traffic,

  • which are more shared and generate more referrals,

  • which articles don’t satisfy your audience’s expectations,

  • which pages are found for queries you’re not targeting

This will help you uncover gaps that will serve as a basis for adjusting your content marketing strategy.

What does the content audit include?

Although there is no standard content audit template, most examples you’ll see online have some elements in common, and may include some or all of the fields below:

  • Page title

  • Navigation title

  • URL

  • Content hierarchy

  • Type of content

  • Short content description

  • Topic

  • Category

  • Target keyword

  • Tags

  • Meta title

  • Meta description

  • Title length

  • Meta description length

  • Headings

  • Attached files

  • Image ALT tags

  • Inbound links

  • Data last updated

  • Page visits

  • Page entries/exits

  • Page bounce rate

  • Average time on page

  • Broken links

  • Word count

  • Number of comments

  • Number of social media shares

  • Call to action

  • Associated funnel stage

  • Conversion rate

  • Page authority

  • Comments

  • Action to be taken = leave it as it is, improve on-page SEO, rewrite to improve content value, remove

You can find a template here: Example of a content audit template

Now that you know what the document should include, it’s time to build your own content audit spreadsheet. You can simply download my content audit template to save some time, then start the inventory process — the steps are described below.

How to perform the content audit

Identify all your content pages, including redirected ones

You can do this in different ways:

  • With a tool like Screaming Frog, which allows you to identify all URLs on your website.

  • With Google Analytics. Go to Behavior > Site Content -> All Pages. You will get a list of pages with titles and URLs. Copy those titles and URLs in the corresponding columns of the content audit spreadsheet.

  • By browsing through your website from its very first page and adding all pages manually into the spreadsheet. However, this manual process won’t show you the redirected pages.

Start filling in the SEO-related columns

Screaming Frog can give you the information regarding URL, title, title length, meta description and length, H1, H2, word count. If you prefer not to use this tool, you can gather all these data from your website’s CMS.

Check the image-related data

For this step, you’ll need to either open each article, identify the images, and click them to gather information related to image titles and ALT tags.

A more efficient way is to check your image/media library, which contains all the images uploaded on your website. Copy and paste all the text in the content audit spreadsheet.

Fill in the social media/sharing columns

To do this faster, you can use a tool like SharedCount, which shows you the number of social shares per channel.

Look for internal links and broken ones

To find inbound and broken links, use the data from Screaming Frog, it’s the fastest way to do it. Alternatively, you can use tools such as Ahrefs, SEMrush, or Moz.

Get traffic data from GA

In Google Analytics you can find all the information for filling in the following columns:

  1. Landing page

  2. Page visits, entries / exits

  3. Bounce rate and average time on page

  4. Conversion rate

  5. Page value

  6. Drop-off rate

Remember that you are doing this content audit in order to improve your website’s performance, not just to get an idea of the amount or type of content that’s there. So once you finish with the inventory you still have some steps to take.

Analyze data and draw conclusions

Identify the posts that perform the best and look for patterns and correlations. Check their length and what keywords they target — particularly, what the search intent behind those queries is.

Look at the headings, CTAs, images, and page structure. Analyze which types of content perform better for organic traffic, which are doing better in social and which get the most referrals.

Look also at internal links and potential opportunities for improvement. For the best-performing pages, think of ways to repurpose the content. For the poorly performing ones, you’ll want to make an optimization plan.

I’ve detailed an optimization framework in the article below: The Process I Use When Optimizing New vs. Existing Content

Finally, for deciding what content to keep and what to remove from your website, be critical when analyzing the topics. Are they actually resonating with your audience and matching your brand voice and positioning at the same time?

Are the well-performing articles actually attracting the right users, and pushing them through the funnel, or are they just generating traffic? Are you covering the entire funnel?

I’ve shared an example of mapping content to the user journey here, take a look if you’re not sure how to map content to your funnel stages.

Mapping content to the user journey: a practical example

For the lead generation pages, identify those elements that contribute to good conversion rates and try to replicate them on the pages you want to optimize. A tool like Hotjar can help by showing you a heatmap of any page, with the most clicked areas and elements.

Finally, look at your best-performing articles and analyze the queries they’re found for. Are these showing commercial intent? Can you apply the same pattern to the underperforming pages?

Data regarding the search queries your pages are found for can be extracted from Google’s Search Console, or from tools like Ahrefs or Moz.

If you need help in performing a content audit, get in touch with our team or check our dedicated page for process and prices: Content audit service.

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