Believe it or not, audits can be a good, in fact, a great thing.
I know most of us see the words IRS audit flashing in front of our eyes on the mere mention of the word, but this is not that kind of an audit.
Website audits – including backlink audits, on-page SEO audits, and content audits – are a great way to gauge where your website is and how to get it where you want it to be.
But you knew all of that already.
And you also know that content audits can take up quite a bit of time, and require a lot of mundane work.
Let’s see how you can do one with the least amount of hassle, and the most productively:
Step 1: Have a spreadsheet ready
The first thing you will need is a spreadsheet where you’ll be dumping all of your piles of data and where you can conduct all the brainy work later on.
I know – it’s nearly 2020, and we’re still using spreadsheets for this. But unless you can point out a tool that does the same thing, but better, I’d still recommend sticking to the sheet.
I’d also recommend customizing the sheet as much as you can. There are some great templates out there made by some great people:
- This one by Digital Marketing Institute
- This one by MaadMob
- And you can, of course, find dozens more with a simple search
…but I would always recommend taking the template and modifying it for your own needs.
Step 2: Compile a list of metrics you want to track
This is where customization comes into play. While we’ll certainly agree that we all want certain metrics in our content audits, there are metrics not all of us will need.
The core metrics you should absolutely include are:
- Page title
- Target keyword per page
- Meta description
- Date of upload
- Date of last update
- Page visits
- Bounce rate
- Time on page
- Word count
This alone will provide plenty of actionable data:
- Do you have pages that are competing for the same keywords?
- Do you have pages that are ranking for a term no one is searching for anymore?
- Do you have outdated pages?
- Do you have pages with very low word counts?
- Do you have pages people open and close in under 10 seconds?
Knowing all of that can help you run a very basic update of all your pages, which should lead to some significant ranking and traffic boosts on its own.
However, there are other metrics you’ll potentially want to track. It depends on how deep you want the audit to go, how much time you have for an overhaul, and what you want to achieve with your website. Here are some ideas:
- Number of inbound links per page + linking websites
- DA/DR/TF of linking websites
- Number of images per page + their ALT tags
- Internal links per page
- Broken links on page
- Comments per post
- Social shares per post
- CTA and how you could improve it
- Conversions per page + their value
- Keywords page is ranking for
- Keywords page could rank for
- Search volume per keyword
- Competition per keyword
- Links needed to rank higher per keyword
You don’t need to have all of this in a spreadsheet – that is, unless you’re going all out, have a lot of content on your website, and want this audit to inform your content marketing, link building, social media, and other digital marketing campaigns for the next six months to a year.
If you’re looking to give your social media marketing campaign a new edge, you should focus on the social metrics alone and find pages that could be improved to gain better social traction.
If you’re looking to rank better for a certain keyword, focus on keyword- and search-related metrics. Look for pages where you could easily update content or pages you can easily build links to. Also check out your internal linking structure and make sure your blog posts link back to your service or product pages in a natural way.
If you’re looking to boost engagement, look at the pages that have a lot of traffic, but not a lot of comments. Try to rework them so they demand more audience involvement.
Once you have all these tabs set up in your sheet, I’d also suggest adding the following:
- Page score or action to take (keep as is, update, delete)
- Date to review at a later time
This will help you stay on top of the actions you need to perform after the audit is completed.
Step 3: Gather your assets
To see the entire picture, you’ll need to know exactly what kind of content you have on the site, and the best tool to achieve this is still Screaming Frog. Its free version will let you crawl 500 pages, so if you’re under that, you can even do an audit with relatively little spend.
On the other hand, you might want to sign up for the premium version if your website has more pages – it will be worth it.
Of course, you can do this from Google Analytics as well.
You will also need a tool or a set of tools to gather all the metrics you’ve chosen to add to your spreadsheet. Whichever tool(s) you choose, make sure you settle for one metric and one source of data sets.
For example, if you choose to look at DA as opposed to DR, use Moz for the rest of your data as well. That will prevent any potential discrepancies between data sources.
Step 4: Analyze
Now for the fun part.
Once you’re done with all the mundane tasks of gathering data and copy/pasting everything into a single sheet, you can move onto analyzing.
The scale and process you choose to apply will completely depend on how much time you want to spend on the audit, the knowledge and experience you have with online content and how it performs, and the goals you wish to achieve.
Here are the key pointers:
1. Focus on the simplest things first. The actions that can bring in the most ROI should be at the top of your list. This includes things like:
- Looking for pages with no images and images with no ALT tags
- Highlighting pages with very low word counts
- Highlighting pages with the most inbound links and analyzing what makes them linkable
- Highlighting pages with no internal links
- Highlighting keywords with high search volumes and low competition
2. Focus on your goal and ignore all other pages for the time being. If you’re looking to promote a specific holiday sale, ignore all the pages that don’t relate to these products, and come back to them later.
3. Focus on your target audience. If you’re looking to sell to a specific segment of your audience, identify the pages that would most appeal to them and skip the rest for now.
Ideally, you would have the time and resources to go through all of your pages and label all of them as keep, update, or delete. Remember that even the simplest tweaks can have great results, so don’t skip something easy just because you feel it won’t deliver.
If you choose to leave a part of the audit for later, make sure you update your data before you begin the next phase. A lot can change in as little as a week, especially if you begin working on sections of the website.
Step 5: Execute
While this is technically no longer part of the content audit, the execution stage is, without a doubt, the most important one. The audit’s only purpose is to tell you what you need to do and how you need to do it.
If you execute a very in-depth content audit but fail to make a single change to your content, all that effort will be a waste of time. Content audits are all about execution – deleting, upgrading, reposting and revamping the pages you already have, and working on the content ideas you want to implement in the future.
- Remember not to delete pages that have significant and useful pages pointing back at them – not without a 301 redirect, at least.
- Try republishing a page with minor tweaks at a newer date, as this can often boost its rankings significantly.
- Rework your keywords based on what you’re already ranking for (let’s say on page 2), but that doesn’t appear on your page enough.
- Write new content with a purpose. Make sure it fits in with what you have on the website and what you want to achieve with it.
Running a content audit once a year is a great way to inform your future online endeavors. They’re also a great way to learn what your audience wants and what you can do to deliver better.
Make sure you only ever focus on your own website and your own content. Different experts will suggest different steps and different actions, but base your decisions on your unique knowledge of your brand, your products and services, your audience and market.
What works for me may not work for you – but as long as you take the best practices and morph them to your own needs, your content audits will help you get very far in the world of digital.