Take a moment to think about how you feel about your website. Are you confident your customers find it easy to use and is it giving you the results you want? Are you proud of how it looks? Unless you have great content, it’s hard to answer yes to these questions.
Content is the backbone of an effective website and yet it rarely gets the attention it deserves. In order to keep in control of your content, it’s important to occasionally step back and carry out an audit.
A content audit will help you figure out what’s working and what’s not working . It can also help you streamline your content creation and set your priorities based on evidence.
Unfortunately, content audits often get deprioritised because they can be daunting and time consuming. The following tips will help you carry out a content audit to improve your website and make you proud of it.
How Often Should You Carry out a Content Audit?
Carrying out a content audit shouldn’t be a one-off task. It’s a good idea to schedule a regular audit every year or so but exactly how often you do one depends on how big your website is. You certainly shouldn’t wait until your site has become unwieldly before you think about an audit.
One of the most common triggers for carrying out a content audit is creating a new website but even then it is sometimes treated as an afterthought. This can result in content simply being lifted and shifted from the old site to the new one. Creating a new website is the perfect opportunity to revamp your content, so don’t let it pass you by!
It is also worth carrying out an audit when you develop a new content strategy. If your old content is not aligned with your new strategy, it could dilute any effort you make to improve it.
Signs Your Website Needs a Content Audit
There are a several signs which often indicate it’s time to carry out a content audit including:
- Haphazard content. This often happens if you started creating content without a strategy, or someone to oversee the process. You may have had different people adding to your website over time, which can result in your content becoming inconsistent.
- Visitors to your website struggling to find your content. This could be caused by having too much content, or not considering the customer journey when you add new content to your site.
- A website that looks dated. Web design moves on pretty quickly. Even if you revamped your website a few years ago it may already be looking tired.
- Out of date information on your website. You may have information that is no longer relevant, or product lines you no longer stock.
What to Analyse
When you carry out a content audit, there are all manner of things you can analyse which makes it is easy to get lost in the details. So, it’s best to prioritise what’s most important to improving your website.
A few of the fundamental metrics you may want to analyse include:
- Traffic and rankings to help you assess which of your content has the most SEO value.
- Engagement metrics, such as time spent on page.
- Bounce rate to give you an idea of how useful people are finding a particular page.
- New vs returning visitors to work out if your content is good enough to make people come back.
As you go through each page, ask yourself questions such as:
- Does it cater for a particular persona?
- Does it support your business goals?
- Does it fit in with your content marketing strategy?
- Does it reflect your branding and tone of voice?
- Is the URL SEO-friendly? Your URLs should include KWs and help people understand where they are on your site. Avoid random meaningless characters.
Good URL: https://www.example.com/case-studies/DIYcompany/
Bad URL: https://www.example.com/67788/DIY/show4.html
- Is the meta data SEO-optimised?
- Does the heading make sense to your customers and is it SEO friendly?
- Is the copy well written? Your copy shouldn’t just be grammatically correct, it should also be written specifically for an online audience.
- Is the copy either too long, or too short?
- Have you included internal links to other relevant pages on your site?
- Are your external links up to date?
- Are there any broken links?
- Is your content mobile friendly? Mobiles and tablets are now used more than desktops to access the internet.
- Is the content duplicated elsewhere on your site? Duplicate pages dilute your SEO efforts, so you could redirect additional pages to the one getting the most traffic.
- Where should the page sit in your website’s taxonomy?
- Are the images of a good quality? Your images should look professional and reflect your band.
How to Audit Your Content
There is no single correct way to carry out a content audit but if you’ve never done one before the following steps can help guide you:
- Start by setting your standards, so you know what your vision for your content is. This can come from your content strategy. It is a good idea to carry out a competitor analysis to help benchmark your content.
- Get a list of all your pages including any orphaned pages, which aren’t in your site structure, or those on any microsites. If you can’t easily get this from your CMS, find someone with the technical know-how to help you, like an SEO expert or a web developer.
- Put all your page URLs into a spreadsheet with columns for the metrics you want to analyse.
- Include columns for actions such as keep as is, archive, redirect, or repurpose next to each page. Archive pages which are out of date but may still contain information people will find useful. Repurpose content which you still need but could be improved. Redirect duplicate pages, or those with negligible traffic, to a single destination that is relevant to the topic being covered. It is best to ask an SEO expert for advice on the best approach to take.
- Include a column for notes you can refer to later. You can note down details that explain the action you’ve chosen, if it’s not obvious. You could also write brief notes to remind you what needs addressing when the page is repurposed.
- Assign a high, low or medium priority to each page, so you can work on the ones which need the most attention first. Or, you could go for a colour coding system like shown in the example above.
Once you’ve completed your audit, you should be left with a list of pages which support your content marketing strategy and each have a clear goal. Your key pages should also have a home in your site’s structure and support your customer journey.
You can then focus on the actions you assigned to each page and work out if you have any content gaps that need filling.
Who Should Work on Your Content Audit
The actual content audit is best carried out by a writer because they have the knowledge to assess the quality of copy on each page and make sure it fits in with your editorial standards. You’ll also need your writers to help repurpose any pages, or create new ones if you’ve identified content gaps.
If you are carrying out a large content audit, you’ll probably need a team of several writers. Everyone involved in analysing the content should understand your editorial standards and what to look for when they are assessing each page. This is especially important if you are using a temp or intern to help lessen the workload.
The writers will also need the support of subject matter experts like SEOs or web developers. It is a good idea to consult an expert before carrying out actions which could impact your SEO, such as deleting pages. Writers may also need help understanding your content management system and all its capabilities. You may also need to consult stakeholders in your business before deciding whether you need certain pages or not.
Make sure everyone involved in creating your content and uploading it to your site will have the time to carry out the actions. This may include web developers, designers and SEO experts to help with tasks like building new pages, sourcing new images and redirecting pages.
Content audits are very much like that chore you keep putting off but once it’s done it makes your life easier and you wish you’d done it earlier. So, if you’ve been continually relegating your content audit to the bottom of your to-do list now’s the time to tackle it.