Content audits are an essential part of any SEO and digital marketing strategy. Content audits play an essential part of analyzing your website content to ensure your content is up-to-date with the ever-changing landscape of search engines, audience requirements and behaviors, and the competitive landscape of your industry.
A good content audit can truly transform a digital marketing (and SEO) strategy to make sure your website’s content is aligned with user needs and market trends.
What is a Content Audit?
A content audit is an evaluation of your website’s content. Its primary purpose is to ensure your content is relevant, useful, engaging, and purposeful to your audience.
Content audits are related to broader concepts like content strategy and content marketing – but they’re only a component of these concepts. A content audit is focused on content evaluation and improvement, whereas content strategy and content marketing are your “guiding light” to content creation.
Think of it this way: your content strategy should be your website’s architect and their blueprints. Your architect and blueprints will dictate how your website gets built. Your content audit is your building inspector: is the building meeting standards and expectations?
Why Content Audits Matter
A content audit – like a building inspection – is important to ensure that the individual pieces of your content strategy are high-quality. You wouldn’t build a house with cheap and unreliable materials, and the same rings true for the pages on your website.
A content audit helps you identify problem areas such as:
- Low-visibility pages
- Underperforming content
- Thin content
- Low engagement pages
- Old, outdated content
- And so much more
A good content audit will uncover all of these things – and help you create a roadmap to fix them.
The Most Common Types of Content Audits
While there are several types of content audits, some content audits are done more frequently than others. Here’s a list of some of the more common content audits – and what exactly each type entails.
Qualitative content audits focus on subjective measurements of your website content. A qualitative content audit primarily focuses on:
- Content quality. Is the content reliable, well-researched, and accurate?
- Content structure. Is the content well-structured with clear headings and logical flow?
- Audience alignment. Does this content effectively speak to my intended audience?
- Tone of voice. Is the tone appropriate for the subject and my audience?
- Brand voice. Is the tone consistent with the representation of the brand?
- User experience. Is the content easy to read and navigate, and do my users know intended next steps?
A qualitative content audit is largely subjective and relies on an individuals’ perspective on how well these factors are addressed within each page of the website. But we can also use others’ opinions and perspectives as well. This may come in the form of user feedback surveys, a live “QA” with website users, and other forms of direct user communication.
Quantitative content audits focus on objective measurements of your website content. A quantitative content audit uses data to evaluate content, including:
- Website traffic
- SEO visibility
- Bounce rate
- Website conversions
- Page authority
- And more
Quantitative content audits provide page-level data insights and provide information on the general performance of your content (in an effort to evaluate and measure content quality).
SEO should be an important part of any content audit – either qualitative or quantitative.
A qualitative content audit and SEO go hand-in-hand. Any good SEO strategy should have these factors in mind when executing a website’s content strategy. And any good SEO strategy should also be using data (and plenty of it) to make recommendations and strategic decisions.
So in addition to making qualitative judgments on your website content during a content audit, don’t forget about quantitative SEO considerations such as keyword performance, on-page behavioral metrics, and backlink profiles when evaluating the quality of your content.
Competitive content audits evaluate your content using your industry competitors as a benchmark.
The inclusion of competitor information helps you better contextualize your assessments by comparing your content and metrics to competitor and industry standards. This adds a whole new layer that you can’t get with internal site audit alone, and allows you to take a more holistic view of your content’s performance.
Competitor content audits also help you identify your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses along the way, providing valuable insights that give your content strategy a competitive edge.
Conducting a Content Audit: A Step-by-Step Guide
How exactly does one conduct a content audit? Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you through the process.
Step 1: Define Your Scope + Objectives
Before diving headfirst into your website content audit, it’s important to ask yourself a few key questions:
- What result do you want to see when you complete your content audit?
- Do you want to focus on the full website, or a specific set of pages?
- Will you be taking a qualitative or quantitative approach? Or both?
Asking yourself these questions will allow you to come up with a foolproof execution plan when conducting your content audit.
Step 2 : Analyze Content Performance
The next step of the content audit process is to analyze content performance. You should be analyzing your content at a page level regardless of whether you’re conducting a qualitative content audit or quantitative content audit (or a hybrid of the two).
For a qualitative content audit, you should analyze performance with questions like the ones we’ve already discussed. To reiterate:
Is the content reliable, well-researched, and accurate? Is the content well-structured with clear headings and logical flow? Does this content speak to my intended audience? Is the tone appropriate for the subject and my audience? Is the tone consistent with the representation of the brand?
If you’re performing a qualitative content audit, you’ll likely be relying on your own experience and expertise to answer these questions.
For a quantitative content audit, you’ll likely be taking a more measured approach to assess content performance. Get quantitative metrics to answer questions like:
Does this page contribute to overall website traffic? Does it have search visibility? Does this page have a high bounce rate? Are users spending an appropriate amount of time on page? Does this page have relevant, authoritative backlinks?
If you’re performing a quantitative content audit, you’ll likely be relying on several different data sources and tools, including:
- Google Analytics (or other similar platforms like Adobe Analytics, Matomo, etc.)
- Google Search Console / Bing Webmaster Tools
- Third party tools like Semrush, ahrefs, etc.
Remember: data interpretation is going to be an essential part of analyzing content performance. Always keep your goals (page-level and site-level) in mind when assessing whether a page is contributing to your digital marketing strategy.
Step 3 : Develop an Action Plan
We’ve discussed a lot about how to conduct a content audit – but now what? Any content audit is only as good as the action plan you create. What do you plan on doing next? Here are some helpful tips to jumpstart your action plan.
Tip #1 - Assess each URL individually
It’s important to get page-level insights in your content audit. Viewing your website as a whole won’t give you many actionable insights, since individual pages are the ones actually driving performance (or lack thereof).
Whether you’re conducting a quantitative or qualitative (or hybrid) content audit, you’ll want to assess your content on a page-by-page basis to fully understand how your content is contributing to your digital marketing goals.
Tip #2 - Categorize your recommendations
Set clear expectations on what you recommend for each page or URL you assess.
Do you plan on keeping the content as-is?
Will you be updating content?
Conducting a full rewrite?
Consolidating various pieces of content into one?
Provide recommended actions for each page you evaluate based on your findings.
Tip #3 - Prioritize actions
Set a priority for your recommended actions. Are you looking for quick wins, or are you looking for long-term improvements? Or a blend of both?
Prioritize your recommended actions based on your website goals – and balance your short-term and long-term performance goals and needs. Consider these factors as you create your priority roadmap:
- Potential impact. Will this provide a significant boost to my website goals?
- Potential effort. Will this require all of my time and attention?
- Resource requirements. Do I have content writing, web development, etc. resources to update this page appropriately?
- Urgency to meet page/website goals. Do I have an immediate need to improve performance for this page?
Another helpful tip: remain flexible! Your action plan should remain flexible to ensure that it’s attainable, progressing, and hitting your ever-dynamic goals.
Step 4 : Update Your Content Strategy
Content strategies are not set-it-and-forget-it. Like we just mentioned, your action plan should remain flexible and dynamic not just for your own website goals, but for the ever-changing landscape of your industry.
Questions to ask yourself: is your audience searching for your product or services in new ways? Is there a better to way to convert website users? Are there new content formats your audience is consuming (or expecting) on your website?
This will help you make sure your content aligns with audience needs and ultimately, the goals of your business.
Step 5 : Measure the Success of Your Content
As with any action plan, you need to remember to set (realistic) goals for your content. Without goals in mind, there’s a good chance your audit will fall flat in achieving what you want it to.
Consider setting page-level and site-level goals.
- Page-level goal example: Increase clicks to this page by 20% in 6 months.
- Website-level example: Increase website conversions by 30% in 12 months.
Tools like Google Analytics will help you measure progress by monitoring page-level performance. Always remember to adjust your strategies (and action plan) based on the goals you’ve established for your page – and your website as a whole.
Content Audit FAQs
We typically recommend conducting a content audit at least once every year to assess content performance and relevance.
But every website is different. The recommended frequency should be based on the factors like your website goals, the size of your website, the content posting frequency, and many more.
Fortunately, there are many tools out there to help you with your content audit. Website analytics tools like Google Analytics, Google Search Console, Bing Webmaster Tools, etc. are all helpful to understand your website traffic. Other tools like Semrush, ahrefs, and more are helpful when evaluating metrics like backlinks, page authority, keyword visibility, etc.
Content audits identify (and remediate) issues like irrelevant content, underperforming pages, and low authority, all of which impact SEO performance.
The action plans formed by a content audit help you boost SEO performance by identifying the pages that need attention, whether it be updating content, optimizing on-page SEO elements, rewriting content, etc.
It all depends on your website needs. Ultimately, your website goals should be dictating your action plan.
Start by asking yourself: what do I need out of my website and how do I get there? This should be the driving question behind your action plan.
You can measure success by establishing – and tracking – KPIs for your content. This will ensure your content is contributing your website’s success.