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January 21, 2019

How to Perform an Effective Content Audit to Improve SEO

Nothing stays the same in the wonderful world of content and SEO, and you need to perform a content audit every now and then.

The problem some digital marketers have is that a content audit sounds complex and time consuming, and therefore they put it off.

Because a content audit is so important to the long-term health of your website, boosting rankings and overall performance, it’s a necessary task for any digital marketer who is serious about their small business.

Let’s take a look at what you need to do to perform an effective content audit to improve SEO, including the key tools to use.

But first …

What is a content audit and why do I need one?

The goals of content auditing are simple:

  • To better optimize your site
  • To rank better
  • To avoid penalties

All the indexable content on your domain needs to be audited so that you know what content is performing best, what content your customers are engaging with the most and what content has seen its best days.

We perform content audits so that we’re always improving, and so that Google continues to trust our website.

When should we perform a content audit? There’s no defined time for performing an audit, but if you have content that you haven’t audited for a while – or never audited at all – now is a good a time as any to perform one.

Here’s how to do it:

Gather your data

First, create a spreadsheet for your audit so that you know where everything is.

Then, put together your internal databases and sitemaps – keep them separate, though.

Now you’re in a position to crawl your indexable URLs. Tools-wise, you can use Screaming Frog for this (as many do), but it’s a good idea to use Google Analytics too because SF is just a crawler.

Take a look at new metrics

Many of us rely on the same old metrics, but it’s now time to look beyond the usual suspects. Take a look and use different information and metrics as you assess your content inventory.

For example, if you normally track meta tags, word count, descriptions and titles, start assessing the likes of mobile readiness, page speed, pages-per-visit, time-on-site, publish date, conversions, content uniqueness, internal and external links, and organic search traffic.

Some of these metrics can be a tad problematic when analyzing them, so you need to be careful. For example, time-on-site requires you to take a look at the broader context. If a user bails out after 15 seconds, is it because they didn’t like your content, or is it because they got all that they needed already?

Organize your information into a dashboard

To keep all the data you’ve gathered nice and tidy (and so that you don’t have a meltdown), organize it all into a dashboard.

This can be done manually with some coffee if you have a small website, but it’s a good idea to use Screaming Frog if you have a bigger site. It will certainly save you a lot of hassle.

Carry out the content audit

Now that your data is on a dashboard, it’s time to execute the audit.

Take a look especially at any content that might be penalized, as this is what will really harm your rankings. When we say “penalties” we don’t necessarily mean it in the harshest of terms. Duplicate content, for example, can draw an official Google penalty and this can seriously harm your position in the SERPs. But you also need to check for quality and relevance, because if a piece of content is old and no longer relevant, your ranking will drop.

For example, let’s say that I have an article all about car tax. It’s an amazing article – but it was written in 2016. Therefore, it’s no longer relevant because the car tax has changed since then.

Fortunately, my content audit will pick up on this and I can make the necessary changes.

As you perform your audit, you’ll be taking a look at lots of content marketing and SEO data. In a position to spot patterns for metrics such as 404 links, bounce rate, target keywords, inbound links, page visits, page entries and exits and so on, you can start to make better sense of the patterns and use the data to improve your SEO.

There is other key data you need to look out for, such as your CTA, page length, shares and word count.

What to do next

Once you’ve completed your content audit, you need to draw conclusions and decide on course of actions that will improve your performance.

If content is under-performing or lacks quality, either rewrite or remove it.

Double down on high performing pages. For example, create similar content to those pieces that are converting best for you.

It’s a good idea to create a to-do list, as well as set objectives and goals so that you stay on track. Perhaps set yourself deadlines, too, so that you actually take action. Performing a content audit is redundant unless you take action. Don’t forget to use an all-in-one SEO tool to help you make progress so that your refined content and SEO marketing strategies take off.

All in all, a content audit shows what’s working and what isn’t. Crucially, it shows what Google and your customers want from you. As a result, once you’ve performed your audit, you’re in a better position to put together a stronger content marketing campaign.


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Aljaz Fajmut is a digital marketer, internet entrepreneur, and the founder of Nightwatch — a search visibility tool of the next generation. Check out Nightwatch blog and follow him on Twitter: @aljazfajmut

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