How to Do a Content Audit in 5 Easy Steps [Template Included]
A content audit helps make sure all your published content is up-to-date, provides fresh insights and examples, and continuously performs well in the SERPs. As a result, it helps maximize your content’s ROI.
In fact, taking the time to study your content inventory also helps you better understand what content topics and formats resonate with your audience. This, in turn, informs your future content strategy.
But here’s the thing: conducting a content audit can feel overwhelming considering there’s a lot of work that goes into it.
In this guide though, we explain how you can do a content audit in five easy steps. We lay out the tools to use too and have packed in a content audit template to help you hit the ground running.
Grab a copy of our Content Audit Template to make auditing content easier.
What is a content audit?
A content audit is a systematic review of your website content to evaluate its performance and identify areas for improvement.
By the end of it, you have a list of action steps to take to improve your content’s quality and SEO. For example, you’ll know which web pages to refresh and which ones to merge or delete altogether.
But here’s the thing: when it comes to content auditing, most of us assume it helps with improving SEO performance only.
In reality though, you can take one of these two approaches:
One, direct your efforts solely on improving SEO performance. In this case, focus on reviewing and improving SEO performance metrics such as bounce rates and organic traffic.
Two, conduct a wholesome website content audit that reviews your content’s quality and the conversions it drives on top of its SEO performance. Focus on improving your readers’ content experience alongside search rankings with this type of a full-scale audit. For example, make your content easy to read.
Where both an SEO content audit and a complete website content audit are beneficial, the latter comes with a major advantage. That is: it helps you maximize the value your content offers its readers. Naturally, the more your readers find value in your content, the more time they’ll spend on your website. This, in turn, boosts your performance in the search engines.
Why should you conduct a content audit
From helping grow organic traffic to identifying ways to polish your content marketing strategy, there’s a lot that a website content audit helps with.
Let’s dig into each individual benefit below:
1. Eliminates guesswork
Businesses typically make numerous assumptions about their content. “They make assumptions about what topics work, who is reading, how much traffic they actually have, and the impact content has on revenue,” notes Hannah Cameron, the Head of Content at Affinity.
A content audit helps eliminate all this guesswork. It shows you which content is high-performing and vice versa. It also shows you patterns in content that fall flat.
As a result, you can:
Understand how well you’re hitting your content goals (example, driving traffic or leads)
Identify which types of content, topics, and angles resonate with your audience
Steer clear from producing content that doesn’t drive any significant results
Make data-informed decisions to optimize your content marketing
What’s more, use the data gathered from a content audit as your source of truth to inform short-term and long-term content plans and other OKRs.
2. Improve your SEO
Poor performing content pieces can bring down your site’s overall performance. As Georgios Chasiotis, the Managing Director at Minuttia puts it,
“Depending on the scale of the problem, the pages that underperform on your website don’t let your website breathe and can possibly affect your overall site performance.”
Auditing existing content helps you identify which pieces are the black sheep negatively impacting your SEO. This way, you can fix the problem pieces before they cause damage.
3. Determine your content strategy’s focus
A conduct audit helps you dedicate your content strategy’s focus to areas that drive the most ROI. Without it, you’re likely going to end up putting work in areas that either don’t drive meaningful results or deliver subpar results.
The team at Affinity, for instance, realized the same, thanks to content auditing. Hannah shares,
“I noticed that we were growing by 25,000 pageviews a year, which is okay, not great, but not bad. But then I noticed that we actually weren’t on track to surpass or even match the pageviews from the year before. So the audit made it easy for me to understand I need to focus our efforts on traffic growth on the blog.”
The best part? The audit also gave Hannah the data she needed to make her case for focusing on traffic to the leadership. This is yet another benefit of content auditing. It gives you reporting data that you can package into a slide deck to present your findings to stakeholders.
4. Maximize the ROI from content you’ve already produced
Recall that a content audit helps you pinpoint high-performing content. By putting together a list of these pieces, you can:
Highlight which pieces to repurpose
Package top performers into different content formats. For example, bundle blog posts discussing the same parent topic into an ebook — use it to drive leads. Or turn top-performing blog posts into videos. You can also chop them into social media posts or host a live session on the topic.
Understand common patterns in the content pieces that make them winners
Use what you learn to create new content. You can also use the same information to refresh content pieces that previously performed well in the SERPs, but their ranking tanked later on.
5. Maintain your content quality and authority
And finally, a content audit helps you with content maintenance. This, in turn, ensures your audience trusts you as their go-to source for fresh content on the topic you want to be known as an expert in.
Think of it, really. When you build a content library, you can’t leave it to rust over time, can you?
Content auditing helps renovate and maintain your content library so it’s as good as new — always delivering high-quality content, and up-to-date information.
By conducting timely content audits and taking the required steps to update content, you can ensure all your content:
Features only the freshest statistics, which reflects your expertise in your field.
Shares updated product information, so no piece talks about an old, now-dead product feature.
Backs arguments it makes and strategies it shares with the latest research. This makes sure your content is always factually correct and useful to its audience — no matter when you first published it.
To add, regular content auditing also means you can add the most relevant internal and external links to your web pages.
Free Template: Content Audit Template
How to do a content audit in 5 easy steps
Now that you know how beneficial a content audit is, let’s show you how to conduct one.
Plus, we’ve got insights from experts who share how they conduct audits including insights from Minuttia’s Georgios Chasiotis who we hosted a webinar on this topic too:
Let’s dive in.
Step 1: Set your audit’s scope and goals
Defining these helps prioritize your efforts and sharpen your audit’s focus.
So start by determining which content you want to audit. Do you want to audit your blog content? Or do you want to evaluate the performance of your landing pages and content assets as well?
Next, define your goals. To this end, ask yourself: what is something this audit can help us with?
With the benefits we shared above, you’d be having a fair idea of the ways a content audit can help. Keep in mind though, the goals you set here will be unique to your business, what you want to achieve with digital marketing, and the maturity of your content marketing.
For example, a business fresh into content marketing might focus on a goal like using content to drive brand awareness. But a business with a mature digital marketing model could focus on driving conversions with content.
In summary, here are some goals you can choose for your content audit process:
Improve search rankings
Identify pieces to repurpose
Learn what content drives social shares
Understand which content resonates with your audience
Understand how to improve the performance of future content pieces
Determine a plan of action for which piece to update, optimize, and refresh
Remember: you don’t have to chase all these goals. For instance, if social media isn’t a strong traffic generator for you, determining which content drives social shares isn’t a meaningful goal to set.
Step 2: Create a content inventory
On to the meaty part next: create a list of all the URLs you want to audit. You can do this using an XML site map generator like Screaming Frog SEO Spider.
Step 3: Determine performance metrics to monitor
As with your content audit goals, the metrics to track as part of your auditing process are going to be unique to your content and business goals.
For Hannah, for instance, time on page, pageview, exit rate, bounce rates, and content readability are important metrics to track.
On the other hand, for Michael Glover, the Head of Content at ConvertFlow, traffic, rankings, and conversion rate are the top metrics to study in a content audit.
So what are some metrics you should be looking for? Ideally, review these metrics — divided into primary metrics, secondary metrics, and other metrics to study.
You can always cherry-pick from the secondary and other metrics section, but the primary metrics are must-track numbers.
Let’s begin with the primary metrics to track:
This could be newsletter subscribes or freemium product conversions. Use analytics tools to measure this metric to understand how well your content is driving action.
Number of organic sessions coming from organic search in the past 12 months
These tell you how much traffic your content is driving. Again, use an analytics tool like Google Analytics to track each content piece’s traffic overview.
Keywords each content piece ranks for
These tell you how well your content is doing in the SERPs. A keyword research tool such as Ahrefs or SEMrush can help you get your hands on this data.
Number of referring domains for each page
These indicate how authoritative or trustworthy your site is, making referring domains an important metric to track.
As for the secondary metrics, track these:
Number of internal links per page
These connect your content, giving Google an idea of your site’s structure. From a reader’s lens, internal links help them dig deeper into related topics, which increases dwell time, the time visitors spend on your site. Track this data from Google Search Console.
Data the page was last modified or updated
Find this from your CMS or XML sitemap. It’ll help you understand how past updates have contributed to your content’s success.
Organic traffic performance
It’ll help you understand whether the traffic your content generates is growing, has plateaued, or has decreased over time. You can easily find this data in Ahrefs or SEMrush.
Organic keyword performance
Again, like above, the goal here is to find out whether keyword performance is improving, declining, or has plateaued. Ahrefs or SEMrush will give you this data.
Referring domain performance
Here again, study whether the referring domains your content attracts are improving, declining, or have plateaued. Ahrefs or SEMrush will give you this data.
Assisted conversions in a 30-day-frame
Tracking which pages are driving assisted conversions is uber-important according to Georgios. Not all pages on your site may convert well, but these pages may be helping other pages generate conversions, making them essential to your buyer’s journey.
Georgios also notes, “Assisted conversions help on a page level as well, assisting in building logical paths that lead site visitors to pages that generate conversions. In turn, this helps move people forward in their buyer’s journey.”
Time on page
This metric signals whether visitors have found what they came looking for on a page. It also indicates how engaging your content is. Pieces with a low time on page or high bounce rate and high pageviews are probably working as clickbait articles rather than lead-generating content.
Other data to gather:
Page meta description and meta title
These will help you optimize content for SEO. Use Screaming Frog to extract URLs’ metadata.
Word count (for blog content)
It’ll help you determine the average word count of high-ranking pieces. Look at your CMS for this detail. If you’re auditing with Screaming Frog, it can automatically extract this information for you.
Visuals per piece (including alt text and captions)
Manually track the number of visuals in each piece alongside the types of visuals included. Studying them will help you understand which types of visuals contribute to content success.
This is an important metric for improving your content’s accessibility and making it easy to read. In turn, good readability keeps people on your site. Use Clearscope to see your content’s readability grade along with the SERP’s average grade. Use another tool, Hemingway Editor, to get suggestions for improving readability.
Finally, if you prefer, you can also track the content author for an understanding of which writers’ content typically performs well.
Step 4: Get into the trenches now and audit
Once you’ve decided on the metrics to review, start putting them in an Excel sheet – a central place to monitor content performance.
Here’s the Google sheets content audit template we created for you — add or remove columns from it based on the metrics you’re measuring:
Step 5: Set thresholds and assign action steps to each piece
With your data collated in one place, run through it for each piece to determine what action to take.
Before you proceed though, set thresholds or baseline benchmarks as Hannah calls them. Thresholds are the average performance numbers you see on your content helping you decide the action to take.
Let’s say you drive an average of 106 organic sessions per piece. Use this threshold to guide your decision. So, for example, blog post A that you’re auditing drives 200 organic sessions. But blog post B in your audit drives only 56 organic sessions. In this case, you’ll want to consider refreshing blog post B to drive more traffic.
Of course, determining action steps in a content audit doesn’t depend on one metric (as this example shows). So make sure you set threshold values for each metric that you’re tracking.
Once done, choose from the following main action steps:
1. Delete pages
2. Leave as is
3. Redirect or merge
4. Refresh, rewrite, or optimize
Broadly, look at four metrics: referring domains, conversions, organic sessions, and keyword ranking.
Delete pages that aren’t bringing in any conversions, have zero referring domains, attract zero organic traffic, and don’t rank for any keywords.
Leave pages as they are if they’re converting more than the average, driving more organic traffic than the average, attracting more-than-average referring domains, and are ranking for more keywords than the average content.
Merge or redirect pages that have referring domains linking to them but bring in zero traffic and rank lower in the search engines than your threshold. Since these pages have referring domains, they’ve link equity but poor organic search visibility. This sets the base for merging or redirecting them instead of deleting them.
Update or refresh pieces that show above-average referring domains, but their organic traffic and keyword rankings have dropped.
For the last step, go deeper in your manual review to determine the cause behind the decline in the metrics and what needs work.
The benchmark averages that you set above will guide your decisions here — helping you understand whether to optimize for SEO, get more backlinks, and so on.
Either way, “action steps tend to be quite subjective, depending on the article and the specific problems it has,” Michael notes. And as recommended, an in-depth manual review helps here. Take it from Michael who shares his process:
“I’ll manually look through the individual pieces of content that have fallen away to determine what has caused the drop-off in the above metrics. Broadly speaking, the action steps usually revolve around making the content more up-to-date, finding better examples, answering search intent quicker/easier or aligning with searcher intent better, going more in-depth with the content, or experimenting with the primary offer for the call-to-action.”
Here's a full list of the 25 action steps you can take per piece:
Leave as is
Update URL slug
Add internal links
Add new examples
Add schema markup
Full content rewrite
Add table of contents
Improve readability grade
Add sections to the piece
Update blog header image
Change call to action (CTAs)
Remove from XML sitemap
Add alt text and image captions
Add/update product information
Add page title and meta description
Add frequently asked questions (FAQs)
As you decide on the work that needs to be done, add the action step(s) to each URL in your audit spreadsheet template:
At the end, you’ll have a full list of action steps to take for each piece. Use them to guide your content strategy in the coming months. And you’re done 🎉.
Free Template: Content Audit Template
Content audit tools
We’ve already touched upon which tools to use for a content audit above, let’s now list them here so you have a complete list ready with you:
1. Google Analytics
Google Analytics helps you track organic sessions and conversions.
Simply Click Reports from the left sidebar and select Engagement. Next click the Pages and screens report tab.
Click the “+” icon to add a secondary dimension to the Page title and screen class table. Select Acquisition then First user medium on the right.
Use the search field to filter the report by “organic” sessions and you’ll get the data you’re looking for.
Pro tip: If you’re focused on tracking and driving more conversions with your content, use ConvertFlow as Michael does. He says, “ConvertFlow allows us to see more detailed data on conversions as well as experiment with different offers (via popups, slide-ins, embedded CTAs, etc.) quickly and easily.”
If you’re using ConvertFlow to create interactive, conversions-driving content, here’s how to track the performance data in Google Analytics.
2. Google Search Console
Google Search Console is another free tool. It’s helpful for tracking site links. Simply sign in and select Links from the left menu on your dashboard.
This will show you both external and internal links. Click on any piece of content in the right box under internal links to find out which other pages are internally linking to it.
3. Screaming Frog
Screaming Frog is a sitemap generator. It helps you create a content inventory for free for a small site with about 500 URLs. If you’ve 500+ pages on your site, you’ll need to get the premium version to create your content inventory.
Simply download and open it, enter your site URL and click Start.
Once the crawl finishes, export the data using the Export button.
You can also use this SEO audit tool to extract other data such as page titles, headings, meta descriptions, info on when a piece was last modified, and word count.
Ahrefs is useful for gathering data on which keywords you’re ranking for and the number of referring domains linking to your content. It also helps your track your organic, keyword, and referring domain performance over a defined period.
You’ll find this information under Ahref’s Rank Tracker tool under Overview.
Clearscope helps optimize content pieces, so they rank better in the SERPs. Use the information to update — refresh or rewrite — content pages.
Once you’ve identified the pages to update, simply create a Clearscope report for each and add them to your content auditing template.
For this, head to Reports present on the top bar on your dashboard. Click Create Report and type in the target keyword in the query bar. Next, select the top-level domain you want to analyze from the drop-down menu on the right side.
And finally, choose one of the five languages. Hit Run Report and you’ll have a Clearscope report ready in the next 60-90 seconds.
A Clearscope report looks like this — this is an example report for the keyword “how to do a content audit,” the keyword that we’re targeting for the guide that you’re reading.
For the pieces that you’re refreshing or updating, copy and paste the published content in its Clearscope report. The optimization software will show you which terms are already present and which ones to add to them.
By reviewing these terms, you can also get ideas for new sections to add to content refreshes.
To add, you can quickly see the readability grade and word count for each piece in a Clearscope report — all without having to leave the page or jump between tools.
The best part? Clearscope gives you a typical word count for ranking pieces on the topic (look at the left side of the example report above. Under Word count, it reads “Typical: 3,800”). Use this word count as your guide for optimizing, even creating new, content pieces.
As you add these key terms to your content, you’ll see the Content grade on the left side improving. An “A” here indicates your draft is ready to win in the SERPs as it covers everything that searchers are looking for.
Pro tip: Add the Clearscope add-on in Google docs so you can optimize content straight from your document.
6. Hemingway Editor
Use the online Hemingway Editor app to optimize readability levels. After you’ve updated a draft, run it through this app. It’ll instantly give you suggestions for how you can make it easy to read.
For example, it’ll show you which sentences are long and need shortening for easy digestion, and which ones are hard to read, therefore, require rewriting.
And, finally, we have Hotjar in this list — a suggestion by Hannah who uses it to optimize calls-to-action (CTAs).
“Hotjar is a heat mapping tool that tells me where on the page our reader got to, anything they highlighted or clicked (hello CTA optimization), and more relevant information,” she explains.
Essentially, heatmaps are color-based visualizations showing elements site visitors interact with on a given page. Use the data you gather from click heatmaps to update, redesign, and run A/B tests on your CTA buttons
Follow these six simple steps to track clicks on your content using Hotjar.
Content audit example
And, finally, before we wrap this up, let’s walk you through an example so you can see the potential of results content auditing can drive.
At ConvertFlow, Michael conducts regular content audits every six months. In one of these audits, he learned their piece on popup examples wasn’t doing well. “It had been live for a while with very thin content resulting in low rankings, trickles of traffic, and zero conversions,” Michael shares.
“In around May 2021, we updated it with better examples, more in-depth content, and more relevant calls-to-action, etc. By the end of the year, it was a complete turnaround.”
Post its update, the piece drives good traffic and conversions — the results speak for themselves 👇 There’s a massive increase in the traffic and conversions it’s driving.
And that’s a wrap
Remember, a content audit is a crucial part of content marketing. It improves your SEO performance, helps you maintain your content quality, and gives you insights that guide future content creation.
And it’s fairly simple to conduct too. Simply:
Set your website content audit’s scope and goals
Create an inventory of your published content
Determine the performance metrics to track
Decide action steps to take based on the data you gather
Grab a copy of our Content Audit Template so you can hit the ground running.
What is included in a content audit?
Content readability score
Number of internal links
Number of organic sessions
Organic traffic performance
Number of referring domains
Organic keyword performance
Referring domain performance
Page meta description and meta title
Assisted conversions in a 30-day-frame
What is the goal of a content audit?
A content audit’s goal is to identify outdated and poor-performing content so you can refresh, update, and optimize all your published content. It also helps you decide whether to merge or delete pages that negatively impact your SEO performance.
What are the benefits of a content audit?
A content audit helps you:
Improve your SEO performance
Drive more conversions from content
Maintain your content’s authority
Understand which content resonates the most with your audience
How long should a content audit take?
The time it takes to conduct a content audit depends on how extensive your content inventory is. The bigger your inventory is, the more time-consuming an audit will be.
Free Template: Content Audit Template
Masooma Memon is a freelance writer for B2B SaaS. She’s also an avid reader and a to-do list enthusiast
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