The content on your website affects its performance no matter how old it is. An article sitting on your website can be 5-10 years old, but search engines like Google will still index it. Think about all the content present on your website. Some of it performed well, and some not so much.
Going through all this content manually and categorizing it is no easy feat. Nor should you try to do it unless your website is just a few months old. Of course, old content is just as vital as the new one, but how do you keep track of all this content?
The best way to do this is through a timely content audit.
What is a content audit?
A content audit enables us to review all the content present on our website thoroughly. A content audit will provide you with the results of your efforts. It will evaluate how far you have come in terms of your goals.
There are many ways to perform a content audit, and if you do it correctly, you’ll be able to improve your content to better fit your audience’s needs.
The data collected via a content audit will help you in identifying the gaps in your content. Using this data, you’ll be able to make informed decisions about the content present on your website.
Purpose of a content audit
There is no doubt that creating and uploading new content is important. But what about all that content that is already present on your website? Are you regularly reviewing and improving it?
Reasons why a content audit is vital for a website’s success
Is your content achieving its intended goals? Are you getting any return on your investment or not?
Unless you evaluate the performance of your content, you’ll never know the answers to these questions. Tracking the performance with a timely content audit will help you in evaluating and improving your content.
Identifying outdated content
The content you wrote years ago will be considered outdated unless you keep updating it. Outdated content is not your fault. Like all other things, content becomes outdated over time. Ignoring this content can adversely affect your website’s rankings.
A content audit will help you identify outdated content so you can tweak it a little to keep it up-to-date.
Identifying what worked and what didn’t?
You can’t monitor all the content present on your website, so how will you know what performs well over time and what doesn’t? Auditing your content is the sole way of knowing what worked well and what didn’t. Maybe all this new content you are focusing on is just tiring you out and not actually generating any positive results. You’ll never get to the bottom of this unless you carry out a content audit.
Facts keep changing as the world evolves. In 2005 there were 2157 million mobile users, and in 2021, 7.1 billion people are using mobile phones. Any blog or article written in 2015 mentioning the current number of mobile users will be considered outdated because this number has evolved over the years.
To protect your brand from losing visitor’s trust, you must update this kind of information. A content audit will help you in identifying misinformation so you can correct it accordingly.
How to properly conduct a content audit?
You will base your decisions on the data provided by the content audit, and if the content audit is not done properly, the decisions based on this data can be disastrous. For example, if you remove URLs with external links just because link metrics weren’t a part of your audit, it will be a big mistake.
Another mistake that is made rather commonly is mixing up removal from search engine index with removal from your website.
The first step in a content audit is collecting data from your website. All the content that is indexed by search engines will be analyzed during this process. Any non-index pages will not be a part of your content audit.
This content is analyzed against various metrics. After the completion of this process, you’ll receive an audit report.
Three phases of a content audit
- Data collection phase
All the indexable content on your website will be crawled, and data will be collected. All indexable URLs will be considered as well. You can use a crawler for this purpose, but you shouldn’t solely rely on it for all indexable URLs on your website.
You should collect URLs via XML sitemap and Google analytics. If your website doesn’t have a sitemap, use a sitemap generator. You can also use your internal base for collecting a detailed list of all indexable URLs.
A mobile version of a website will be crawled separately from the desktop one. This type of website has a single URL but content can vary depending upon the device used. In cases like these, two separate content audits will be performed. The regular method will work for the desktop version, but for the mobile version, this process can be a bit different.
You’ll also have to gather additional metrics. Of course, crawlers will gather the most important metrics, but for a better content audit, you’ll have to collect some additional metrics.
These metrics will include external links, internal links, content uniqueness, and website traffic.
We recommend using Screaming Frog for the initial scan. For collecting additional metrics, you can use URL profiler because it can work really well with Screaming Frog.
After using Screaming Frog combined with the URL profiler, you won’t need to collect any further metrics.
If you find that any data is unnecessary, remove it to improve the performance of your machine.
- Data analysis phase
After you have removed all the unnecessary data, use Excel sheets for storing and filtering this data. Google sheets work great with small data samples. However, for better speed optimization, using Excel is recommended.
If your website has a lot of content, you can split up the URLs through a directory. Then, store all your data in the Excel sheet. The action column should not have more than three categories. Fewer categories will help you in sorting data quickly.
After all the data is stored and filtered properly, you can use your own experience to conclude. This data will help you in determining what to do with the content present on your website.
You should start by looking at the content that can cause a Google penalty, thus bringing down your rankings.
What matters the most is what action you’ll take after the content audit is complete.
For big websites, instructions provided by the data analyst or the SEO expert should be very clear if some content on a website needs improvement. The excel sheet should openly suggest that this content must be improved.
Your content audit dashboard will be your key to making informed decisions. You can always use this spreadsheet to gain more insights, as long as the spreadsheet is not outdated.
Your audit report must contain your findings and suggestions. Your report should start with a summary so that anyone who uses this report can understand the context of data.
Divide the content pages into three categories.
- The pages that need improvement.
- The pages needing no change.
- The pages that must be removed.
You can also mention why some pages must be improved or removed.
“This content needs to be improved or removed to prevent a Google penalty.”
“This content contains outdated facts that need to be updated.”
The data generated from a content audit is just as important as making the right decisions based on this data. If any of these processes is not done correctly, the whole content audit will be in vain.
Uploading new content is important, but you must remember that your website is made up of new as well as old content. All the indexable content present on your website is vital for its success.
Keeping track of all this content manually is not possible, especially for big websites. That is why all SEOs suggest that you carry out a content audit after a certain amount of time.
A content audit will help you in analyzing your old as well as new content. The data provided in this audit report will help you make informed decisions for the betterment of your website.
After how much time do you generate a content audit report for your website?