Content Marketing

5 Simple Steps to Perform a Comprehensive Website Content Audit

Author:  Debra Murphy


Reading Time: 7 minutes
How to Conduct a Website Content Audit

Many small businesses have content on their website that needs a bit of refreshing. In fact, I’ve been spending a lot of time reviewing and updating much of the content on this website. If your website content was written more than a year ago, you may want to conduct a content audit before you plan your content marketing activities. A content audit can get pretty intense depending on the data you want to collect. But for a small business with a lot of content, we’re going to keep it simple.

What is a website content audit?

A content audit is a thorough review of all the content on your website to assess each piece for its accuracy, freshness and relevancy to your target. The decision is whether the content is fine as is, could be improved or consolidated or simply deleted.

Keeping all of your content up-to-date is important to ensuring your business:

  • Becomes visible in search results
  • Projects a consistent brand to your ideal client

Poorly written or outdated content can potentially drive visitors from your website.

Why do you need a website content audit?

There are several reasons to conduct an audit:

  • Many of your blog posts were written more than a year ago. Depending on your industry, things may change enough that you need to review your posts for accuracy. If your posts are about plumbing, landscaping or remodeling or other home services, you probably have more evergreen content than someone in the digital marketing world (like me!) Check out this post on how to refresh your evergreen content for more visibility.
  • Your posts are not ranking in the search results. After running SEO reports, you realize you are not ranking for some important keyword phrases. The content audit should focus on how to update or create content that can improve your site’s natural search performance. 
  • Engagement rate for your posts is short. If your content isn’t getting much engagement, you may want to review those posts to make sure they aren’t suffering from thin, out-of-date or just plain incorrect information.
  • Posts that should get traffic aren’t. Google Search Console page report shows you how much traffic each page gets. It’s eye-opening and discouraging to see how many well-written posts aren’t getting traffic, especially if they are for key topics that you are an expert in.

Now with Google’s useful content guidelines, it is important to ensure all the content on your website is relevant and up-to-date. Companies who conduct an audit and delete out-of-date or low-quality content saw an increase in traffic.

The content audit process

Conducting an audit is not difficult but it is a major effort depending on the amount of content you have. Here are critical steps you must take to ensure their audit will be actually be useful and not a waste of time.

Step 1: Determine the goals

Before you start your content audit, you should determine your goal. If you just audit your content with no specific outcome in mind, you might be collecting the wrong data.  Are you trying to:

  • Improve organic search performance?
  • Create more cornerstone content by consolidating several posts on the same topic?
  • See what’s missing to generate ideas for future content pieces?
  • Understand which topics your audience prefers and what isn’t working?
  • Eliminate or update content that is out-of-date, no longer relevant or poor-performing?

By determining your goal, you can now focus on the data needed that will help you achieve that goal. Do you want to:

  • Improve organic search performance? Gather ranking data for each page.
  • Eliminate content that is no longer relevant or of interest? Collect page views and time on page.
  • Update content that is out of date? Record the last update date.

Be strategic in what data you gather.

Step 2: Create a content inventory

The first thing to do is to create an inventory of all content on your website. This will be the most resource intensive part of the process. To get the data you need, you will need to refer to several tools and consolidate the information into a spreadsheet.

There are several ways to create a content inventory with the data you need to do your audit.

Export post data into an editorial calendar

If you don’t have an editorial calendar detailing the content you’ve written, you can quickly create one using the WP All Export plugin. It can pull data from the WordPress database that you can easily organize into a spreadsheet.

Getting content data using WP All Export Plugin

Run a Google Search Console Page Report

Go to Search Results and check the four categories: Total clicks, Total impressions, Average CTR and Average Position. You can export the results into a spreadsheet. Knowing the search queries and whether your pages are getting clicks is the important data. You can then decide based on that information whether you need to update, consolidate, optimize or delete.

Google Search Console Report

If you are using WordPress, you can also use the WP All Export plugin to create a complete list of all of your content.

For your content audit, pull the following data:

  • Title and SEO Title
  • Meta Description
  • Keyword phrase
  • Publish date / modified date

Your inventory can start with these columns. Then we can add other data to help you achieve your goal.

Install the Ahref SEO Plugin

Ahrefs is an SEO software suite that provides tools for link building, keyword research, competitor analysis, rank tracking and site audits. An adjunct to that suite is their Ahref SEO plugin which enables you to automate content audits and grow organic traffic to your WordPress website. It will provide all the information you need to review and decide on what to do with your content. It will also suggest what you should do – nothing or rewrite. However, if you feel the content no longer is a fit for your audience, you can also delete.

Ahrefs SEO Plugin for Content Audit

Step 3: Add Google Analytics data

Google Analytics provides a lot of data about your content and how it is performing. The following items are good to know to help determine the quality of your content.

Add these to the spreadsheet if you have a small amount of content.

  • Views 
  • Average engagement time

In GA4, you can get this data about by looking at the Pages and Screens report or the Landing page report.

Google Analytics Report - Content Audit

Look at data for 3 to 6 months so you can determine what pages are being visited more frequently.

Use this data to determine what content is performing well and which you need to investigate. Any page that has a small number of visits are good candidates to evaluate.

Step 4: Rate and analyze your content

Now that you’ve collected all the data, you can make decisions on what to do with each piece. Remember this is a process. So you need to prioritize what needs attention. Is there content that is:

  • Well-written and recently updated but isn’t often visited? You may need to look at the on-page SEO or your promotion strategies (do you actually share your content on social media?) 
  • Light on substance or out of date? Determine whether a complete rewrite or an update would help you achieve your goal.
  • Irrelevant for your target audience? Eliminate it from your website.

Review each piece of content for:

  • Importance of keyword phrase to your business
  • Rank for the relevant keyword phrase
  • Number of sessions
  • On-page optimization information included in WP All Export

Step 5: Create an action plan

Now that you have your content audit, create a plan for deleting, updating or consolidating your content. Prioritize the tasks and tackle those that have the most impact. If you have content that:

  • Ranks well but has little traffic, update the content and the on-page SEO. 
  • Is well-written but out-of-date, post an updated version.
  • Was covered in multiple posts, consolidate the topic into one piece. Remember to 301 redirect any URLs of content that you consolidate to the new page.

Then promote the content to your social profiles. If no one knows about your content, you will never increase traffic to your website.

What’s next?

The quality of your content and whether it resonates with the visitor is what determines whether they will consider you when they need your product or service.

A website content audit needs to be done regularly, but is worth it if your content converts visitors into customers. Your content continuously ages and keeping track of what you update and when is useful. And although an audit takes a bit of work, once you’ve done the first audit, it’s a matter of updating the data. Now you have the intelligence to prioritize the tasks and organize them into smaller chunks. This will make the update and rewrite effort a little bit easier to schedule.

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