How to Perform Your First Content Audit

content auditEvery ad, product, or service you offer can’t be a winner. You’ll always have some offerings that outperform. Others underperform.

In the same way, every piece of content isn’t always a winner. In fact, many claim the 80/20 rule. 20% of your content brings in 80% of your traffic.

A content audit helps you get the most out of your 20%.

Let’s look at how it’s done.

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What Is a Content Audit?

If you’re like most people, you’ve created a lot of content over the past few years. Your goals were to:

  • Rank higher in search engines
  • Provide potential customers with useful information
  • Increase revenues for your business

In the process, that 80% of just average or underperforming content continued to pile up.

What do you do with this other 80%? Do you just leave it and keep moving? The issue with that strategy is that the more dead-end content you have out there, the harder it is for Google and customers to find your best content.

Your whole site may be watered down with underperformers.

A content audit is your opportunity to fix that.

What’s the Goal of a Content Audit?

A content audit gives you an opportunity to:

  • Get out from under Google penalties
  • Get rid of content that completely missed the mark
  • Improve content that was almost there
  • Identify topic gaps
  • Establish your winners
  • Leverage your winners

Keep these goals in mind as we begin evaluating content.

Step 1: Take Inventory

You may create a spreadsheet or you may use a paid tool to crawl the site. These tools can pull most of the information for you. This latter option is best if you’ve got a large library of content.

Screaming Frog has a great tool. But you’ll also be using Google Analytics and other tools to get the whole picture.

Step 2: Gather Information

You need to be able to evaluate your content at a glance. To-do this effectively, start pulling relevant information like:

  • Type of page (blog/video, sales/service, special offer, etc.)
  • Current PA score (A page’s estimated authority)
  • Publish date
  • H1 Heading (usually the article/video title)
  • Meta title
  • Meta description
  • Traffic over last 90 days
  • Bounce rate
  • # of words on the page
  • # of Inbound links (links from other sites to the page)
  • # of Internal links (links to and from a page within your site)
  • Page load speed
  • Response code (when crawled a page should return 200 or OK)
  • Mobile-friendliness

For landing pages designed for conversion, you want to know the above plus the page’s conversion rate.

Don’t feel like you have to keep all of the information that your tools pull. Since this is your first content audit, you may not be ready to look at all of it now. If you really don’t care about, hide it.

Excess information will only make the report harder to read. Don’t delete it in case you decide you need it later.

Additionally create a column where you’ll add specific notes like:

  • Re-write metas
  • Improve article hook
  • Speed up page
  • Get more backlinks
  • Update stats
  • Delete/Update section X
  • Improve internal links
  • Consider deleting. Salvage A, B, and C.
  • Re-write duplicate paragraph

Keep these short during the content audit. But don’t be ambiguous. Otherwise, you’ll forget what you needed to do by the end of the audit.

You may have several things to add to your to-do list for one URL.

Step 3: Broad Strokes

We’ll start by taking broad strokes. Otherwise, you can get so far down in the weeds that, it’s hard to get a return on your time investment in your first content audit.

Sort your report to look for major oversights and warning signs first like:

  • Errors
  • Missing Metas
  • Slow pages
  • No traffic
  • No mobile traffic
  • No inbound links

The pages often have something majorly wrong with them. Often it’s a quick fix. At this stage though, just mark it for a closer look unless the issue is obvious.

You can further use tools like our similar page checker to see if duplicate content may be the problem.

Sorting your report in different ways allows you to hone in on where you can make the biggest difference in the shortest amount of time.

Step 4: Quick Comparisons

Next, compare some columns. Home in on pages that need attention.

For example, sort by traffic.

See which pages get the most. Compare it to the bounce rates for these pages. If a page gets high traffic but also has a high bounce rate, mark it to take a closer look.

Keep in mind that the bounce rate on blogs is typically higher than other landing pages. Judge accordingly.

Another comparison you can make is PA compared with publish date. If the page has been published a while, yet its page authority is still very low, mark it to take a closer look.

Step 5: Identify Your Winners, Up & Comers and Almost’s

During the content audit, you also need to identify what’s really working for you. Sort by PA and traffic to identify your:

  • Obvious winners – High performing content
  • Up & Comers – High performing, considering its recent publish date
  • Almost’s – Content that is almost high performing

Mark each group accordingly in your notes column.

For obvious winners, you’ll want to figure out what’s so great about it so you can do more of this.

For Up & Comers, you’ll want to watch them to see how they perform.

For Almost’s, take a closer look. What can you do to push this content over the top, making it a high performer?

Step 6: Make the Tough Decisions

Take a look at your content audit. Evaluate what changes are worth your while. If a piece of content is sorely missing the mark, it may be time to salvage what you can and delete it.

Begin working through your notes to improve the remaining content. And use what you’ve learned from your content audit to create better content going forward.

Your First Content Audit

Your first content audit may seem a bit daunting. But the insight you’ll gain will be well worth it.

If you follow these steps you’ll find it easier to evaluate content at a glance and then drill down to identify improvement areas.

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