Today, if you want to attract traffic to a website, you need to publish quality content. Texts on your site should be up-to-date, reliable, valuable for users and at the same time search engine-friendly. How to check whether your platform, blog or website articles are structured properly? The answer is simple – conduct a content audit!
A content audit – what is it?
A content audit is a basic element of every content marketing strategy. Thanks to it, you can analyze whether the content you publish is attractive for users and also for you. Internet users enter a given site hoping that they’ll find there the necessary information they’re looking for. Remember that published texts need to be truthful and comprehensive so that readers can consider your website as a reliable source of information.
By saying that a content audit can tell you whether the content is attractive for you, we meant checking the traffic and visibility of your page. Website developers aim at reaching as many recipients as possible. Analyzing traffic on individual subpages (which is one of the most basic content audit elements) allows you to determine which of them are the most popular and which don’t fully exploit their potential.
When and why should you conduct a content audit?
Many companies aren’t truly aware of the content they offer and possible methods of managing it. A content audit can clearly indicate a path that’s worth following to maximize the effects which, obviously, may vary from site to site. Blog authors probably want to attract to their platforms as many visitors as possible, while online shop owners aim at encouraging users to make a purchase. Creating a list of texts published on your website allows you to easily draw some helpful conclusions.
By looking at the number of the entries, you’ll see how often you publish new content and what’s the average length of your articles. The quality of your audited texts will help you determine their subject matter, form and target group. The data obtained thanks to a content audit will certainly allow you to spot gaps that can be filled to increase traffic to your website.
Moreover, such an analysis helps to detect duplicate content which is a common problem of expanded websites or online stores. This aspect is particularly important as internal duplicate content has a negative impact on the SEO process.
At the very beginning of this article, we’ve also mentioned that quality texts are up-to-date. Verifying existing entries will allow you to determine which of them are out-of-date and need to be edited and updated. A content audit involves activities that should be performed regularly by both small and big websites. Keep in mind that all you need to conduct a content audit is time and this simple activity can bring numerous benefits to your website.
Steps of a content audit
Below you can see a few components of content audit. This short guide will work for every website, regardless of its type and subject matter.
1. Creating an inventory of the content
The first stage of a content audit involves finding and listing all subpages with content. For this purpose, you can use a spreadsheet which should be properly prepared beforehand. It needs to include all the necessary data adjusted to the character of your website as later it may come in handy and provide you with valuable tips. So, for example, in your file, you can place elements such as the subpage URL, type and publication date.
If we’re talking about a small blog with new articles published from time to time, then, listing all URLs with texts shouldn’t be time-consuming or challenging. The problem arises in the case of bigger online stores or websites as finding all subpages with content may take ages.
You can use the Screaming Frog tool whose free version allows you to scan up to 500 subpages. It’s a desktop program and using it shouldn’t pose any difficulties. After pasting the home page address, it analyzes the subpages and provides you with URLs with duplicate content, missing metadata, duplicate H1 headers or other elements.
Screaming Frog is a useful tool which significantly facilitates conducting a content audit and SEO process. It’s also worth mentioning that it enables filtering URLs according to different parameters which allows you to quickly identify all subpages that should be analyzed first. If you want to thoroughly check your whole website content and you know that it has many more than 500 subpages, you can go for a premium version. After listing all the URLs with content in a spreadsheet, take further steps that will make it easier for you to select and prioritize subpages which need to be updated first.
2. Analyzing traffic, impressions, bounce rate and average duration of web sessions
As next part of a content audit, you should analyze traffic to your site, the number of impressions, the bounce rate and the average duration of a single web session. To do this, you can take advantage of Google Analytics. Using this tool to scrutinize subpages will allow you to draw many intriguing conclusions and determine which website elements need to be updated first.
Analyzing page impressions, the bounce rate and average length of a web session can indicate that users were attracted to your subpage by an interesting article title, however, the fact that they didn’t spend much time on it may suggest that the content turned out to be rather mundane. In such a situation, you may try to fine-tune your posts with new pieces of information or multimedia elements.
3. Analyzing metadata
When conducting a content audit, it’s also advisable to analyze metadata of subpages which contain content.
As you probably know, the information in the title tag is particularly important for search engine robots. It informs them about the content of a given subpage, that’s why it’s essential to ensure that it corresponds to the actual elements that can be found there. On the other hand, a meta description is a text intended to attract the attention of search engine users. Remember that including false information in the meta description may lead to the situation when visitors enter your site and leave it quickly because it doesn’t provide them with the desired content. This, in turn, translates into a higher bounce rate.
To take a quick look at elements of your title and meta description tags, use the Open SEO Stats plug-in or the Screaming Frog tool mentioned earlier. You can also see the content of these two meta tags by typing the “site:link to your subpage” command directly in Google.
4. Examining the number of external links and backlinks
When analyzing subpages with content, it’s worth verifying whether they contain any external links and whether their content is up-to-date and doesn’t generate any 404 or other errors. If you check an archival entry and it turns out that the text isn’t relevant anymore, make sure that apart from updating the content you provide a few links to reliable high authority pages. You can also assign nofollow attributes to such links to ensure that your website power isn’t transferred outside.
Consider examining all backlinks to your website. This will allow you to determine how many other pages use your content as a reference. If the number of backlinks isn’t satisfying, then you may assume that the texts you offer aren’t perceived as interesting by other users. Use Ahrefs to thoroughly scrutinize the profile of your backlinks and external links.
5. Determining the text length
Determining the length of the texts is the next step that may be helpful while conducting a content audit. Remember that there aren’t any exact guidelines stating how long quality content should be. In some cases, a short and concise article may turn out to be more informative than a few-page long text which would quickly bore readers and lead them to leaving the subpage. However, in some situations users may expect that the data they’re searching for will be described in-depth.
The length of an article should be adjusted to its subject matter and the character of the website. When analyzing the length of texts on given subpages, think whether you, as a user, would be satisfied with the form of delivering the message. If you consider the text to be too short, add a few paragraphs. On the other end of the spectrum, you may rewrite articles if they’re too long. Use WORD Counter to quickly count characters and words for free.
6. Checking content topicality
The online world is full of diverse types of content. Some texts discuss universal topics or guidelines while others focus on issues that change very swiftly. Make sure that you keep the latter texts up-to-date as it directly affects their usefulness. If your website contains entries whose subject matter has significantly changed since their publication, think about re-editing them and check out our entry discussing what to do with old content on your website.
7. Analyzing header structure
Headers make every text more transparent and allow users to easily find out what’s discussed in given sections. Moreover, a correctly implemented H1-H6 header structure is useful for search engine robots as it indicates keywords and subject matter of the content. If some of your subpages don’t have headers, implement them and if existing headers are duplicate or structured improperly, improve them. Screaming Frog is a tool that will provide you with valuable feedback concerning incorrect or missing headers on your website.
To find out more about headers and their correct structure, go to one of our previous articles: what is a website header?
8. Assessing content uniqueness
Remember that the content of your website needs to be unique. Google algorithms appreciate sites which offer original and valuable texts. Duplicate content is one of the factors that have a negative impact on your website’s position in the search results. That’s why, if you know that your site contains entries or product descriptions copied from other sources, you necessarily have to rephrase them. The same applies to internal duplicate content. Even if you’re an author of a given text, you still need to rephrase the versions published on several subpages of your website to make them unique and to ensure that the same descriptions don’t appear in a few places on the site.
See our blog post to learn how to deal with duplicate content.
9. Analyzing image alt texts
Probably everyone has noticed that pictures and other multimedia elements make it easier to go through the text which immediately seems to be more captivating. Remember to ensure that all images on your website have alternative descriptions thanks to which Google robots know what’s in the graphics. With the use of Screaming Frog, the tool we’ve already mentioned a few times, you can easily check which of your subpages contain images without alt texts.
On our blog, you can also find an entry that describes in detail how to get down to doing SEO for your images.
Tools helpful in conducting a content audit
Especially for our readers, we’ve gathered all tools that were listed in this entry or may be helpful in conducting a content audit. Some of them are free, while others require a one-time fee that will allow you to benefit from premium functionalities. The list also includes tools with a monthly subscription fee.
- Google Spreadsheet
- MS Office products
- Screaming Frog
- WORD Counter
- Open SEO Stats
- Google Analytics
- Google Search Console
A content audit is a process that consists of a few stages. A thorough selection and analysis of your subpages that contain content will allow you to draw valuable conclusions about elements that should be altered or implemented. It doesn’t really matter whether you decide to perform a more comprehensive or general examination of your site, conducting a content audit is a very important step that will help you determine further content activities. Remember that the process is not a one-time operation and should be carried out regularly.