Two decades ago, Bill Gates declared that ‘Content is KING’ and ever since, SEOs have been religiously living by this expression.
With the advent of Google’s search algorithms, Panda and Hummingbird, content has become and is going to continue to be increasingly important for all online businesses. The internet is saturated with content and so, it is vital that businesses create content that fulfils the readers search intent, is engaging, and provides value.
So, what is a content audit? Simply, a content audit is an inspection of your website’s content to highlight areas of improvement, new opportunities, and ensuring that the content aligns with your content strategy.
Follow our simple 3 step process to completing a content audit and improve your website’s search presence.
Step 1: Create a Spreadsheet and Import Data
The first step to a content audit involves creating a spreadsheet and collecting data for every URL on the site or category that you want to review. Typically, you can find all the data from:
- Screaming Frog (SF)
- Moz (M)
- Google Analytics (GA)
- GetStat (GS)
There are other tools which can help you fetch the same information. These tools have been highlighted simply to show an example of how you can collect the data. Use whichever tools you prefer.
The data you will need to gather is as follows:
- URLs (SF)
- Page Type
- User Intent (Are users searching to learn or wanting to convert)
- HTML Response Code (SF)
- Keywords, Search Volume and Rank (GS)
- Meta Title (SF)
- Meta Description (SF)
- H1 (SF)
- Link Data (Incl. internal links) (SF & M)
- Word Count (SF)
- Organic Sessions (GA)
- Bounce Rate (GA)
- Average Time on Page (GA)
- Conversion Rate (GA)
- Goal Completions (GA)
- Revenue Per URL (GA)
- Page Authority (M)
At first glance, all of this data may look overwhelming but it can be gathered from just a few sources.
I have created a template that you can download to make this process easier.
Step 2: Analyze
Once you have collected all of your data and imported it into the spreadsheet you can begin to analyze it. You will find two columns in the sheet titled ‘Action’ and ‘Strategy’; it is here where you will note down improvements and opportunities.
Firstly, when deciding on the action to take you should use the following criteria:
- No Change
Guidelines to Action Criteria
URLs should be assigned the ‘Improve’ action if there are opportunities to develop and enhance content.
Most of the time, URLs are not just ‘Removed’ but instead ‘Consolidated’ and redirected. URLs should only be deleted if the content provides no value, if the content is duplicated and negatively affecting other pages, or finally, if the page is poor performing and the content would benefit from consolidation.
Pages that are ‘Consolidated’ are those that have been combined together. For example, the content on one page may be better used on another page to create a stronger topic. URLs should only be consolidated if they can be combined into a more effective page.
The ‘No Change’ action should only be given to those pages which need no improvement. These may be new pages which have already been optimised.
How to Choose an Action
Using this set of criteria will make the process of working through your content audit much easier and will enable you to isolate groups of pages which need to be improved, removed and so on.
Deciding which option to choose can be a difficult process. However, ask yourself the following questions and it will become clear which action should be taken:
- Is my content aligned with search intent?
- Is my content engaging?
- Does it fulfil the user’s needs?
- Is there anything in the SERPs that your competition is writing about or doing better than you are?
Once you have decided on the action you can then develop a strategy. The approach taken can vary from one page to another so creating a strategy requires close analysis of URL KPIs (performance metrics including organic sessions, conversions, revenue etc.) and on-page content. To help you, aside from the body content itself, we have listed areas that should be optimised and focused on:
- Images (incl. alt tags)
- CTAs and Conversion Points
- Conversion Copy
- In-Page Jump-to Links
- Internal Linking
- Meta Title and Description
- URL Structure – Does it align with the content
- Word Count
- Canonical Links
Remember there are many content types that you can use to further enhance your content, including:
- Case Studies
- Product and Company Comparisons
- How To’s
- User Generated Content
- Q & A Content
- Schema and Structured Mark-up
- Videos (incl. Transcripts)
- Interactive Content and Tools, e.g. Cost Saving Calculators
- Research and Unique Data
- Trust Factors e.g. Endorsed by
Competitor SERP Analysis
Competitor SERP analysis is essential to formulating your strategy. Take time to examine the other webpages that are ranking for the keywords you are targeting. Have they covered any areas of content that you haven’t? Is their content more accessible? Asking yourself these questions will highlight any areas for improvement and allow you to identify content gaps.
From the SERP analysis you should have a clear idea of what type of content you need to implement to provide a better user experience and as such, create a page that is superior to any others ranking for your targeted keywords.
In particular, you should aim to create content that is unique to you and provides value to the user. This may seem difficult, but it doesn’t need to be. For example, a price comparison site could leverage its relationship with its suppliers to uncover price points which may not be available on the suppliers’ website and so, not available to the competition. This then opens the opportunity for the price comparison site to create a unique piece of content, add value to their pages and, ultimately, improve user experience.
Content Gaps and Keyword Research
Once you have identified areas of content that you want to develop you will then need to conduct keyword research and compile a list of new keywords for each URL you want to improve. In some cases, consolidating content from one page to another can be a solution to fill content gaps, as long as combining both pages is going to provide a better user experience and improve KPIs.
Step 3: Implement
Following on from your analysis and research you should begin to implement your changes.
I highly recommend that you implement the changes to the top performing pages first and work your way down to those less important pages. However, you should consider improving any lower performing pages sooner if you have identified opportunities that you believe will dramatically improve the page’s performance.
Remember to make a note of when you implemented your improvements and track the KPIs of the URLs to determine your successes and failures. I would recommend reporting on KPIs after three months of implementation, depending on the volume of traffic to your site.
For advanced SEOs it may be beneficial to run user engagement and CRO tests to understand how users are interacting with your content and using the results to shape your content strategy going forward.
Similarly, using different layout designs can aid in making content more accessible and easier to interpret for the user. In particular, ensure that the content is responsive and responds well to different devices and browsers. Finally, make sure that your pages load quickly by optimising all content types, as this ultimately plays a big role in the user’s experience.