How to Perform a Content Audit (5-Step Guide + Template)

Molly McGuane Digital Content Specialist
Key Points
  • A content audit gives brands a high-level overview of all their content assets.
  • Content audits help align your content strategy with your digital marketing strategy. 
  • A thorough content audit can deliver more traffic, engagement, and conversions.

If you manage a content calendar, you probably prioritize publishing fresh, new content for your brand. We get it — creating new content is vital to your strategy. But when was the last time you took a hard look at the content you already have?

Good content management should always include a complete and meticulous content audit. Without it, your content strategy won’t drive meaningful results. 

An audit helps you identify content strengths, weaknesses, and new opportunities. Creating a content inventory allows you to spot gaps in the competitive landscape and strengthen your website’s content structure.

What is a content audit?

Content Audit

Definition

A content audit is a complete inventory and assessment of all the indexable content on your website, including lead gen landing pages, blog posts, articles, white papers, ebooks, checklists, FAQs, videos, presentations, infographics, tools and more.

Your content audit should also contain an assessment covering content quality, search engine optimization (SEO), conversion optimization, and strategy alignment.

The content audit process includes taking inventory of a website’s content and allows you to analyze the breadth of content you have on your site. An audit provides insight into actions that should be taken to address existing content. That is, what content should be updated and strengthened, merged, deleted altogether, or left “as is.”

A thorough content audit will provide you with a full understanding of your content assets, and a fresh awareness of how they fit into your digital marketing strategy. Your analysis will then help you understand which types of new content you should focus on going forward.

Benefits of a content audit

There are many benefits to conducting a content audit. For example, you can identify:

  • Content that performs best and aligns with your business and marketing goals
  • Under-performing content
  • Content that is off-brand
  • Content requiring SEO enhancements
  • Superfluous content
  • Content gaps
  • Outdated content
  • Overlapping and duplicate content
  • Content that doesn’t meet accessibility requirements
  • Opportunities for new content creation

These insights arm you with the information needed to optimize your content strategy. Capitalizing on the data, you can strengthen your content portfolio, enhance quality, and improve performance.

Improve content performance

A content audit helps you organize, categorize, and streamline content production to deliver 10 times the results. Each piece of content should be created to improve search engine rankings, increase conversion rates, and forge a seamless user experience while aligning with your business goals.

So, how do you create site content that produces these results? When auditing your content, ask yourself these questions:

  • Does this answer the question our target audience is asking?
  • Is the content ranking high in Google?
  • Is this content relevant to our company’s offerings?
  • Does this content establish our authority on the subject?
  • Are we building trust with reliable, consistent content?
  • Does the content effectively guide the individual to the next step in their journey?

Ensure accuracy and quality

Although it should go without saying, all your content should be thoroughly researched for accuracy and should be held to a high-quality standard. During a content audit, this means ensuring your existing content is still accurate and aligned with search intent.

As Google evolves and places more emphasis on high-quality content, older content will feel thin by today’s standards. Five years ago, an 800-word article may have been sufficient to rank. Now, more comprehensive, expertly-written content is critical for success.

Search intent also changes, so your old content may be out of sync with what users want today. Taking the time to SEO your content for current standards could boost organic traffic to older posts.

A content audit guides you to strategically target more valuable keywords, better match search intent, and inspire higher engagement. All of that will ultimately boost your performance in the SERPs.

Identify competitive gaps

A content audit does more than spotlight holes in the buying journey. It also reveals crucial competitive gaps in your content marketing strategy where your online rivals hold more organic search market share. 

To identify your competitive gaps, here are some questions you should consider during the audit process:

  • Are there key topics your competitors cover that you don’t?
  • Do you have content for each target audience segment?
  • Is there a content gap at key points within the customer journey for any persona?
  • Are your competitors ranking in Google for topics that you aren’t ranking for??
  • Can you capitalize where your competitors are missing the mark?

For example, if your competitor is an insurance company, they may include a glossary of insurance terminology at the end of every blog post. If that competitor is consistently outranking you for target keywords, you might also want to include a glossary within your blog posts. This delivers a better user experience that further meets the needs of your audience. It also makes it more likely that other websites will link to your content.

How to do a content audit of your website

The format you choose, and the data you collect and analyze, will vary depending on your content goals and overall strategy. However, it can be helpful to start with a content audit template to ensure you’re checking important boxes in your analysis.

Feel free to download this SEO content audit template to get started. It contains columns for the most important metrics you’ll need to assess your site.

How to do a website content audit

  1. Determine Goals

  2. Identify KPIs

  3. Organize your content audit template

  4. Gather data

  5. Assess content and make recommendations

Step 1: Determine content audit goals

Your content goals can include any of the broad benefits we mentioned above, like improving organic search traffic, engagement, and conversions. Be sure to establish specific marketing KPIs and SEO metrics to measure performance and determine success.

Those may include:

  • Google organic rankings
  • Organic traffic
  • Brand perception
  • Engagement (time on page, scroll depth, click-throughs as part of a funnel, interaction with the post, etc.)
  • Conversions
  • Backlinks and social shares
  • Leads
  • Sales
  • Brand love
  • Improvements within a certain audience segment, persona, or part of the funnel

Step 2: Identify KPIs and insights for your content audit

There are four groups of metrics that you should be using to tailor the messaging and targeting of your content. These data types are scientific, measurable, and qualitative. All are equally important.

SEO metrics

Target keyword: What is your target audience searching for? What specific phrases are they using? Are they seeking a solution or more information? What target keywords are your competitors optimizing for, and which ones are they not?

Target keyword monthly search volume: This metric allows you to research keywords with sufficient search volume. Additionally, you can target long-tail keywords with lower search volume to help your content gain greater audience coverage.

Target keyword rank: Keyword rankings are an obvious yet critical SEO metric to track. They help you benchmark your progress, and they offer an early signal that your SEO strategy is working.

Backlinks: Backlinks and referring domains are one of the most important Google ranking factors. In most cases, relevant backlinks from high-quality domains will boost your domain authority. However, links from high-quality domains that have not linked to you previously tend to be more potent than additional links from websites that have already linked to you in the past.

Behavioral metrics

Behavioral metrics are just what they sound like. These metrics track how a visitor behaves on or engages with your website.

Page views: Tracking which web pages are viewed, how many times they are viewed, how long they are viewed, and by how many unique visitors provides direct evidence of what information your users are interested in.

Scroll rate: Tracking how far down the page your site visitor scrolls help you understand if they are seeing the most important information on the page. It also helps you understand if they like your content piece or if they feel it’s not answering their questions. You may collect many page views, but if they are abandoning your content without scrolling, your content may not be serving its purpose.

Bounce rate: Google Analytics automatically calculates the bounce rate of your entire domain as well as individual pages. Then, you can use this information to identify poor-performing pages (where the bounce rate should be low) and figure out how to lower your bounce rate with the strategies below. 

Be aware that certain pages may have a high bounce rate AND deliver a great user experience — think of someone searching for a company address and finding it quickly on the site’s contact page. Informational websites tend to have higher bounce rates than ecommerce sites because users seeking answers tend to leave after they find what they want.

Conversions: Conversion rates are an important measure because they help you know whether you’re getting the right traffic to your site. If your traffic numbers are high, but your conversions (sign-ups, leads, sales, etc.) are low, it may be a sign that you’re not getting the right people to your site.

Audience data

Target persona: Use buyer personas to understand the customer experience from your audience’s perspective. Remember, each marketing persona represents a segment of real people that requires tailored messaging for their specific needs.

Pain point: While researching and creating your customer personas, you’ll inevitably not only learn about their wants and needs but also about their challenges and frustrations.
Understanding the unique pain points of each persona is essential for creating messaging that resonates.

Journey stage

Journey maps: Customer journey maps include three main experience stages:

  • Awareness: During the awareness stage, a prospect first realizes they have a problem or an opportunity. However, they don’t fully understand the issue and may not be able to name it or identify the cause.
    Search engines, like Google, are often the first place people turn to when they become aware of a new problem or opportunity. Individuals tend to perform broad, general searches to understand their situation.
  • Consideration: The consideration stage is when prospects understand their problem and are actively researching brands and solutions. This is when webinars, white papers, social media, and videos can help move them through their journey.
  • Decision: They dig deeper into your brand and compare you against competitors on elements like pricing, features, benefits, case studies, reviews, and ROI. Competitor comparisons and online tools (ROI or TCO calculators) can be highly effective. Or if retail: coupons, and incentives.
    It’s critical to structure your content and message accordingly to push them over the finish line to make a final decision.
  • Retention: Given that it costs far more to acquire new customers than to retain existing ones, retention stage experiences are critically important. If you have problems with these types of experiences, your churn rate will increase, and your marketing ROI will fall. Essentially, you’ll be running in circles.

You can often improve digital customer experience if you update old information. For example, you can educate your audience about the benefits and use cases for your product or service and solve common problems. Refreshing aging content also builds trust and credibility around your brand’s expertise.

Although it may be time consuming, it’s important to customize content to audience personas in each stage of their journey, whether creating something new or repurposing old site content.

Quality metrics

These metrics are important for helping search engines (specifically Google) understand the quality of your content and rank it accordingly.

Word count: The overall comprehensiveness of your content helps Google determine what the piece of content is about. The longer the piece, the easier it is for the search engine to interpret the information and rank it appropriately in the SERP. The content should be as thorough as possible to answer the searcher’s query.

Last updated: When all else is equal, Google tends to place higher importance on content that is the most current. Therefore, updating your old content can be crucial to your SERP placement.

Spelling and grammar: If your site contains multiple spelling and/or grammatical errors, people will be less likely to trust your company. Your content audit should be thorough enough to catch these instances.

Readability: Your content should be easy to read. If your content is not easily digestible, your customers will take one look, then move on. This leads to a higher bounce rate, which then negatively affects your SEO ranking.

Citations: Brand mentions from trustworthy websites are critical to your SEO efforts. In fact, backlinks are one of the top ranking factors search engines use because they establish credibility and trustworthiness.

Google Expertise – Authoritativeness – Trustworthiness (E-A-T): Google uses the concept of E-A-T to ensure its search results are accurate, truthful, and useful to searchers. If you integrate Google’s E-A-T standards into your content, then you’ll have better ranking success in the SERPs.

What is E-A-T & Why it's Important (Google, E-A-T and SEO)

Read the Article

Step 3: Organize your content audit template

Think about which content you’d like to audit. Specify the type of content on each page you’re auditing. Consider the parts of the content you’d like to focus on. You can create an audit spreadsheet in Google Sheets or Excel. Include columns for basic content information, SEO data, analytics, and finally, content strategy.

Step 4: Gather data for your content audit

There is a great deal of data that needs to be examined. Luckily, there are comprehensive website content audit tools as well as analytics tools at your disposal to make the process more efficient:

Screaming Frog (word count, segmentation):

Screaming Frog allows you to customize the data you pull so you only analyze exactly what you need. The tool can crawl important assets like word count, meta descriptions, page title tags, and headings. It can also pull SEO audit data like average time on page, backlinks authority scores and internal links

Google Analytics (traffic and conversions):

Understand your site and app users to check the performance of your marketing, content, products, and more.

Google Search Console (impressions):

See which queries bring users to your site. Analyze your site’s impressions, clicks, and position in Google Search.

Find opportunities to strengthen your backlink profile and boost your site rankings.

Step 5: Assess content and make recommendations

Now it’s time to analyze your content based on your goals you outlined and the metrics you collected. Make an “Action” column to determine the next steps for each piece of content on your site.

Remove and redirect

Do you have thin content on your site? If you discover low-quality pages that don’t target keywords or provide value to your audience, then remove them.

That said, be careful when removing too many pages that are part of an important topic cluster. Even though individual pages don’t get organic traffic, they may provide valuable context to Google through internal links. If you think it’s possible to improve page quality and optimize old content for unique search terms, then take that route instead.

On the other hand, if improving content might cannibalize traffic from other pages, then you should remove the low-quality fluff pages and redirect them to the most relevant page or implement a 410 code.

Update

Use this label to identify content that performs well or is well executed but needs improvement. Add these URLs to a new blog content audit worksheet and note the type of improvement you recommend.

Do you have overlapping content? Consolidating those pieces can give your existing content a boost while reducing redundancies.

Does it need copy additions, updates, quality, or voice improvements? The copy is solid, but does it need better SEO optimization, calls to action, or internal linking? Is the format ideal? 

Plan your attack. Knock out the more uncomplicated updates first and prioritize the remaining updates based on strategic value.

Leave it alone

Is the content performing well? Does the information appear complete and up to date? Is engagement high? And is it properly optimized for both SEO and conversions? If yes, no further action is needed! Leave it as is and move on.

Content audit next steps

Your site content audit is done. Now what?

Do a content gap analysis

Competitive gap analysis allows you to see where your content falls short compared to your competitors. This kind of insight helps you develop a content strategy that nurtures your leads throughout the buyer’s journey. It also ensures they go to your site for their needs at different stages — not your competitors’ sites.

Alternatively, a gap analysis can help determine where your competitors are not ranking and leverage that gap in your content.

For example, imagine you work for an insurance company, and you discover your biggest online competitor doesn’t talk about liability insurance in their content. Although it’s one of their offerings, they don’t have any educational content about the topic. They discuss every other type of insurance on their blog, except liability anywhere.

When you identify a gap in your competitor’s content, you open the door to new opportunities for you to seize a new share of voice in the SERPs.

Update your content calendar

  1. Revise the types of content you plan to publish.
  2. Select the topics and categories your content will cover over a given time period.
  3. Map your content to the buying stages of your audience. Different types of content are more effective depending on where they are used in the customer journey.
  4. Set deadlines for tasks involved in creating content
  5. Select the proper content distribution channels.

After you complete your web content audit, you can begin to build out a more intentional content strategy. Build a plan that replicates your high-performance content, fills content gaps, expands into new territory, and delights your audience.