Content Audit: How to Perform One that Works

Content Audit
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Aah, content audit.

The mere mention of the word sends even the most experienced content marketers and bloggers running for the hills.

It can seem big, messy, and scary–almost like a monster lurking in the dead of night.

But a content audit doesn’t have to make you feel that way.

Done right and on a frequent basis, a content audit can deliver valuable insights into your content marketing strategy that far surpasses its ho-hum reputation.

In other words, it can give your content marketing ROI a serious lift.

And now here’s the good news: we’re going to show you how to perform a content audit that truly cuts it.

Here’s what we’re going to cover:

  • What a content audit entails
  • A step-by-step guide to performing a content audit that drives organic traffic and meets your digital marketing goals
  • How Welcome’s marketing orchestration platform makes every type of website content easier to audit

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What Does a Content Audit Entail?

First, let’s define a content audit.

A content audit is a process of systematically reviewing all of the content assets that reside on your website.

It’s simply a way of figuring out what should stay, what should be redirected to more traffic-worthy pages, and what could use some tweaking.

Auditing shouldn’t be confused with a content inventory, which is just an outline of all your existing content assets. In short, it’s a quantitative process.

In comparison, a content audit is a qualitative action. It involves making an in-depth assessment of the different content assets based on the metrics you choose beforehand.

While a content inventory exists as part of a content audit, the audit process itself goes way deeper. It tells you exactly where to focus your future efforts both from a lead generation and SEO perspective.

A powerful, all-in-one content marketing platform like Welcome takes the hassle out of your content audit needs.

Beyond just tracking conversion rates, use Welcome to organize your marketing assets in one central hub, plan (and monitor) your content marketing budget, and optimize content performance.

Think of it as the holy grail of content marketing—literally!

How to Perform a Content Audit That Works (A Proven, Actionable Template!)

If you try to execute a content audit without a proven template to act as your road map, you’ll likely fall at the first hurdle.

Luckily, we’ve got you covered.

Below is a proven template to help perform a content audit that checks all the right boxes. It works for a variety of page types—blog posts, landing page, the home page, and so on. Let’s get on with it, shall we?

First, here’s the breakdown of the steps:

  • Understand Your Objectives
  • Pull Your Content Together
  • Categorize Your Content
  • Drill Down On Your Content to Separate Chaff from Grains

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Step 1: Understand Your Objectives

Knowing what metrics you want to track before you start can help you navigate your audit effortlessly.

A detailed content brief will go a long way in guiding you toward content success.

Two metrics that are particularly important to comprehending your content’s quality include:

  • Time spent on the page
  • Bounce rate

These two will tell you a whole lot about portions of your content strategy that are lagging behind—or those that are doing extremely well.

For instance, if your bounce rate is high and visitors are spending a lot of time on the page, it obviously means that your content is strong and up to the mark.

However, it could also mean that you’re not giving your audience enough reason to browse around on the rest of your website.

If your bounce rate is high and visitors aren’t spending a lot of time on the page, it’s an outright indication that your content is weak and needs to be stronger or retargeted for your target audience.

If your bounce rate is low and the average time spent on the page is high, congratulations! Your content is GOLD (engaging, relevant, up-to-date), and you should replicate the spirit of that content throughout the rest of your content assets.

Other possible objectives include:

  • Do away with ROT (redundant, outdated, or trivial content)
  • Assess content for consistent and value-packed messaging
  • Figure out how to better organize content for visibility
  • Determine SEO effectiveness
  • Evaluate whether metadata, such as categories and tags, has been utilized as intended
  • Understand the scope of different types of your content

Step 2: Pull Your Content Together

Which content assets do you want to audit?

The types of audits are usually those for blogs, landing pages, product descriptions, publications, and multimedia. Once you’ve made up your mind, gather the backlog of all of that content.

To achieve this, gather the URLs of all the web pages you’ve decided to audit.

If your website is small, you can do this manually by copying all the URLs to an audit spreadsheet. You can use Excel spreadsheets for this task.

On the other hand, if you have a big website (especially WordPress ones), let an online tool do the legwork for you. After all, manual collection of data is time-consuming, boring, and often one of those tasks that you’d rather count stars than get your hands on.

Let’s go over a few of these tools:

  • Screaming Frog

A powerful website crawler, Screaming Frog (free for up to 500 URLs), helps improve your on-page SEO by extracting data and auditing for common SEO bottlenecks.

This tool will pull your sitemap information, including page URLs, title tags, page title, duplicate content, word count, meta description, major headings, broken links, and so on.

More importantly, it allows you to compress data into a CSV file and download it.

  • SEMrush

If you were to get a $100 bill every time you heard the word SEMrush, you’d probably be a millionaire by now.

This tool is a force to be reckoned with in the on-page SEO world—and rightly so.

In terms of content auditing, SEMrush will take a look at your sitemap and list key metrics such as URLs, word count, bounce rate, average session duration, social media shares, backlinks, and lots more.

The best part? You can connect SEMrush with your Google Search Console account to get a bird’s eye view of your data so that you can see which pieces of content are most engaging.

Once you’ve compiled your data, export it into an audit spreadsheet. Most online tools allow you to download these key metrics as a CSV file, so this shouldn’t take up a lot of your time. Now you’re ready to move to the next step!

Other notable analytic tools include Google Analytics (free), DYNO Mapper, and Woo Rank.

You also might want to ensure that your content is mapped properly so that the right user is getting the right content at the right time.

Step 3: Categorize Your Content

After you receive the CSV file, categorize the given data on Excel. This should be your audit spreadsheet.

Most online tools do the heavy lifting for you, but if you want to go through it on your own, that’s also doable.

You might be thinking “Do I even need to categorize my content assets?” Absolutely! The categories will keep everything organized so that you can ensure your content audit is in line with your objectives (like the ones we talked about in Step 1).

Some categories you can include are:

  • Index number (for each content item)
  • URL (if applicable)
  • Headline
  • Content summary
  • Navigation information
  • Supplements (image, PDF, video, audio)
  • Image file (type, dimension, and size)
  • Asset type
  • Content quality
  • Video or audio file (length, type, format, size)
  • Analytics (for number of page views, traffic, etc.)
  • And a lot more!

Ask yourself the kind of categories you’d like to know from different pieces of content. Then add them.

For instance, if you’re auditing a blogpost, important information to pull would be CTA, metadata (such as title tag and meta description), URL, type of content, author(s), date of publication or update, and so on.

There’s no one right list of information to capture in the audit spreadsheet and inventory. Only add those that align with your business goals and the state of your content.

Step 4: Drill Down On Your Content to Separate Chaff from Grains

Yup, this is the most time-consuming part of the whole audit process. But it’s the most important too.

If you don’t take time to really look through your data, then there’s no point in doing an audit in the first place.

How else will you draw conclusions and put all of your categorized data to use?

Look, there are a million nuggets you can note when analyzing your data. But here are some of the most vital aspects:

  • Home run content: Current content whose performance is off the charts.
  • Underperforming content: Which pieces of content are missing the mark? Which pages have low conversion rates, high bounce rates, or low time-on-page stats?
  • Missing content: Which type of content is your target audience yearning for yet you haven’t crafted it?
  • Content that’s outdated: If you have content that has accumulated dust on the shelves of your website, can it be reworked, retargeted, or updated to meet your current marketing objectives? Or do you have to remove some of the content for it to regain relevance?

Based on the results of this analysis, go ahead and organize your content. This could be as simple as adding an extra column to your spreadsheet. Let’s name this new column “Decision.”

Here, you take action on a particular content asset. It goes something like:

  • Consolidate: Assets that are a bit outdated, not meaty enough, or too short could benefit from being combined with another piece of content.
  • Remember, you can use Welcome’s marketing asset management feature to monitor the use of content across all teams, business lines, and markets so that you can get a clear picture of which assets to consolidate. That way, you avoid losing any search engine optimization (SEO) equity they had built up.
  • Keep: This applies to your best-performing content assets, the ones that rank highest on SERPs. Assign these pieces of content with the letter A or B.
  • Update: These are assets that are decent but could use some bit of work. Assign these with the letter C and D.
  • Discard: On the bottom of the pile are your worst-performing pieces of content. The ones whose organic traffic has stagnated for years and that need to be replaced with new content ASAP! Assign these content assets with the letter E or F.

Once you have an idea of what’s what, it’s time to give your content library a good shake-up.

Step 5: Take Massive Action!

In this step, you will wind up your audit. Use the results of your analysis to come up with 5-10 actions you’ll take later on, based on the notable data patterns.

Here are examples of actions you could take once you complete your audit:

  • Rewrite or discard all pieces of content that rank lower than D.
  • Commit to publishing an infographic or video at least once a month
  • Spend more time promoting your highest-converting content assets on social media
  • Restructure and optimize all of your grade C content assets for SEO
  • Leverage a tool like Welcome’s marketing performance platform to gain insight into which content topics, formats, and channels resonate best with your audience
  • And a lot more!

An audit might focus on the content performance, customer experience, or content quality. Your analysis should inform your decision in this regard.

Again, it’s important to set deadlines in order to execute these actions successfully. Add a deadline right into your audit spreadsheet (when it’s Excel columns, there’s no limit to how many you can have).

One more thing. Avoid getting pulled behind by analysis paralysis. Veteran content marketer Pawel Grabowski of Smashing Copy sums up this “disease” brilliantly as “the inability to act or decide due to overthinking available alternatives, data, and possible outcomes.”

In a situation where there are so many things you could do and so many conclusions you could draw, it’s easy to fall behind and end up doing none of them.

Here’s a quick breakdown of what you can do after your content audit to avoid falling into this all-too-familiar trap:

  • Focus on what’s important. Differentiate between actions that require immediate attention and those you can handle later.
  • Put perfection in the backseat. Sometimes, picking a “good-enough” action is always the best thing to do.
  • Break down decisions into bite-sized steps
  • Put healthy pressure on yourself and your content marketing team

Use this tried-and-tested tool to manage workload, uncover waste and inefficiencies across your marketing teams, and establish a mind-blowing single-source-of-truth for your post-audit actions and decisions.

Wrapping Up: Take The Guesswork Out Of Your Content Audit With Welcome!

Performing regular content audits can help you strategize for the future, provide action-packed insights to your content marketing team, and take your content creation strategy to the next level.

The question is: Do you have the right tool for the job? Or will you be going around in circles wondering how best to implement a content audit?

Welcome offers marketing teams a platform where they can centralize all of their content assets, drive collaboration across the entire content creation lifecycle, and produce better content in record time.

Ready to give it a try? Get started with a free Welcome account today!

Done reading and ready to try Welcome?

Welcome’s marketing orchestration software is free for up to 5 users, so grab 4 of your closest marketing buds and see what we’re all about.