So your boss is grilling you on the performance of your website’s content.
You’re hearing questions like, ‘Are people actually viewing our content?’, ‘Have we already written about this?’, ‘Which content on our website is performing well?’, ‘Which content on your website isn’t performing well at the moment, but might with a few tweaks?’, and ‘Is our content actually converting any visitors into leads?’.
Lots of questions, all completely valid, but what’s the best way of addressing and answering them? Don’t panic - this is where a website content audit comes in!
What is a website content audit?
A website content audit is a way of understanding how your content is performing across your website. This is done by collecting data and analysing the content on your website, like your landing pages and blog posts. It can also be used as a way of identifying gaps in your content.
What is a content gap?
You’ve written about a specific service a lot more than the others.
You’ve not written any content for one of your marketing personas.
You don’t have any ‘bottom of funnel’ content on a certain topic.
Ask yourself what it is that you want to achieve from your website content audit. Trudging through a large body of content is a big undertaking and without a goal you’ll find yourself buried in a big pile of data wondering what the point of it all was. Avoid this by being clear about what you’re looking to achieve from your content audit.
Say you’re looking for opportunities to improve existing content. If you’ve been writing content but never going back and looking at whether it achieves what it set out to do, it might have a bunch of the right characteristics to improve your traffic, but need a bit of tweaking. So it’s the perfect bite of low hanging fruit.
Don’t waste your time by working line by line through a very long list of blogs. Take the time to audit the content site wide first. With the help of a few key metrics, you can make sure that you're jumping straight to the pages that have potential. You might find that it's as simple as optimising H1 or H2 tags to target a particular search query.
On the other hand, maybe you’re looking to create new content. By assessing the stuff you already have, you can understand which topics you are neglecting and know which areas should be better represented in your upcoming content calendar.
2. Identify the content you want to audit
Once you have an idea of what you’re looking to achieve, you’ll need to identify the content that you want to audit. For example, if you’re looking to increase the performance of a specific blog, you won’t need to collect the URLs from your whole website - it just wouldn’t be relevant.
Start by collecting the URLs of the pages you’re auditing. You can do this with tools like Screaming Frog, HubSpot or SEMRush, which will crawl your website and provide you with information about all of your websites pages in bulk, such as URL, page title, H1 tag, and a lot more. It’s helpful to put these into alphabetical order, as your chosen tool will naturally group pages on your site according to any folder structure.
3. Filter and categorise your content
Once you’ve populated your spreadsheet with the URLs, it’s time to filter and categorise your content. You need to consider what’s important for you to know about your content. Keep in mind the goal that you’ve set yourself and decide what information is relevant.
Here are some category ideas to get you started:
Date of publication
What stage of the Buyer’s Journey is the page relevant to?
Content format (uses images/videos, with/without CTA)
Performance metrics (again, consider what goal you’ve set - if it’s to improve SEO, consider collecting things like organic traffic for specific months, backlinks, keyword rankings, impressions, etc.)
Once you have your list of categories, add these as columns and populate them in your spreadsheet. You can use tools like Google Analytics and Search Console to gather your performance metrics.
An absolutely key aspect of efficient content auditing is being clever about how you approach time consuming tasks. The less time you spend messing around gathering and organising the data, the better. Look to use spreadsheet formulas such as VLOOKUP, COUNTIFS, and SUMIFS to pull metric data from other tools and display it next to your URL list without having to gather this manually.
In this example we’ve categorised our URLs using organic sessions, then added some columns to consider our relevant metrics including the content type, time on page, the topic and buyer journey stage. Our end goal here is to determine which posts are underperforming and identify where there may be gaps and therefore opportunity for optimisation.
4. Analyse your data
It’s time to dissect what your data actually means. This information will help you to understand how your content is positioned in accordance with your pre-defined goals.
Here are some examples of areas to consider:
Missing content Are there any personas that you’ve not written content for? Have you written for a specific service more than others?
Underperforming content Are there pieces of content that address topics which have a lot of search volume and interesting SERP features such as Featured Snippets and People Also asked, but aren’t receiving much traffic or impressions?
Old content Do you have old blog posts on key topics that probably need to be refreshed and re-published?
Pages with potential Pages that have loads of impressions but few clicks, or pages that rank badly for keywords that trigger answer boxes or 'people also asked' snippets.
Content that’s performing well Do you have any standout pages that are performing particularly well? Do they have CTAs? Are they appropriate to the topic, persona and their stage in the buyer’s journey?
Fundamentals Does the page get the basics right? Does it use best practice image alt-text for images, the correct h1, h2 and h3 attributes (and not simple bolding) for headings and subheadings? Are there real HTML bulleted lists or is it simply made to look that way using dashes and spaces?
You can even organise your spreadsheet by colour if you’d like, assigning a shade for each of these areas and to your URLs. To check for all of the above would be a very thorough content audit indeed.
5. Set your actions
Auditing is all well and good, but it won’t make any difference to your site performance without a resulting POA. It’s crucial that you are able to boil your insights down to a concrete, well defined, itemised list of actions. Perhaps you have several blog posts that all target the same topic. Your action here might be to nominate one to become the main post, refresh and update it as a piece of pillar content and then redirect the other pages to this page.
Do you have blog posts that previously performed well but are now out of date? Refresh and republish them to keep them relevant and up to date.
Is your page falling short in the rankings for a search query or general topic that you’d really like to dominate? Look at what kind of content is being rewarded. Is the top ranking content a service page, or an article, a pdf, or even a job posting? Are companies being rewarded, or more agnostic third parties? Does the SERP prefer image or video content, or long-form, information dense articles full of tables and statistics? Is that what yours does?
Create a column in your spreadsheet for suggested actions and assign your suggestion to each URL. This is a clean way of defining your plan of action for each URL. Once you’ve got this sorted, it's crucial to think ahead and determine how you’re going to factor these changes into your content strategy. Who will be responsible for making these changes and how is this going to affect your future plans? Will the time for making these changes detract from the time used for writing new content? Adjust your strategy accordingly and assess the results at least annually.
There you have it. Go forth with these tools to analyse your website’s content, and make sure to always keep in mind the goals you’ve set before completing your audit. Serve your audience the content they want to see, not what you think they should see.