A content audit is an important part of your SEO efforts, especially if you manage websites with a lot of content pages such as blogs or news sections.
Content audits are also a crucial part of any new client onboarding process. It’s important for us to understand the current strengths of a new client and also identify potential opportunities to drive organic traffic to the website.
Whether we are working with an existing client or onboarding a new client, our process for auditing content on a website is very similar and includes the analysis of the same set of metrics.
One of the challenges of auditing content is knowing which are the best metrics to analyse that will provide you with the most relevant insights. With so much data available, it can be easy to get buried in the analysis stage without reaching any conclusions about what you need to do with your existing content or where the content gaps exist.
Why do we perform a content audit?
A content audit is an opportunity to assess all the pages across a website and determine how effective they are in achieving the specific goals they have been set up to achieve.
They can help you decide which pages should be removed, improved, or sometimes archived to maximise the impact of all the content across your site.
For us, it is important to understand which are the top performing pages on a site and what type of content resonates with the audience.
A content audit doesn’t necessarily focus on every page across a site. Sometimes we will look at specific content templates if there are a lot of similar pages. A content audit tends to focus more on content-heavy pages such as blog posts or news articles.
We also have to determine the best time period to look at. Whilst content that is older (2+ years) might still be relevant and drive traffic to the site, it is important to look at how that content performs over a more recent time period rather than historically. Most of our content audits will look at a 12 month period from the time we are conducting the audit.
It is also important to understand when content was published when you perform your analysis. A blog post that has only been live for one month is unlikely to drive as many visits as one that has been live for 12 months for example. That’s when looking at certain data could be misleading and why it is important to look at the big picture and take into account metrics like total traffic and visits per month.
Key metrics to include in a content audit
When we perform a content audit, there are some key metrics that we like to include. Try adding these to your next content audit:
One of the things we like to do is check what keywords a page is currently ranking for. This can tell us a lot about the potential for driving organic traffic. If you have an established page that is not ranking for any keywords, or is ranking for keywords with low search volume, it may be worth rewriting the post to target a different set of more relevant keywords.
We use SEMrush to analyse each URL and then make a note of the most relevant keywords and the total search volume of all the keywords the page ranks for.
Organic Clicks – Keywords
An alternative way to analyse the keywords that are driving actual clicks to a website is to export that information from Google Search Console.
In the Performance report, you will discover the keywords that sent actual traffic to your website. Using a nifty API trick, you can also pull all this data into a Google Sheet and use this to analyse where your best opportunities sit. We use this all the time, both to analyse existing content but also to identify gaps in our content plan. You can learn how to use the Search Console API to mine and tune your content in this great blog from Kevin-Indig.com
One of the key indicators of quality of your content is page speed. As a ranking factor, it is highly relevant when it comes to user experience. We’ve all been frustrated by slow loading pages and this is one of the biggest factors in people bouncing of your page.
You can use Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool to help you to analyse the performance of each of the individual URLs on your site. This is a time consuming process to analyse the pages individually so you can also use Google Analytics to review the page timings at scale.
We also use the PageSpeed Insights API with Screaming Frog to pull in page speed metrics. This is a great way to identify pages with slow load speeds that could be caused by things like large image or video files which can be easily fixed.
Page speed fixes can often require development work, however, the investment is typically worth it, both from an SEO perspective but also from a UX perspective.
As an SEO agency, we are tasked with driving more organic traffic to our clients’ websites. To do this, it is important for us to understand where the existing traffic is coming from and what type of content is driving that content.
When looked at in isolation, organic traffic doesn’t necessarily tell you the full story. Observed alongside other metrics like ranking keywords and page speed, then we start to get a better idea of why certain pages perform better than others from an organic perspective.
In analysing organic traffic, it is again important to know when content was originally posted as well as any updates that have been made to the content. Fresh content is a key ranking factor today, so it is important to keep your content up to date and relevant.
An important user experience factor is readability. Making your content easy to read is important for readers and search engines.
When writing is too complex, this can be off-putting for readers. Google’s web crawlers might also struggle to understand the meaning of the copy if you use language that is too complicated and use different vocabulary to other pages that are targeting the same keywords.
Since the introduction of Google’s natural language processing (NLP), simple language has become even more important as Google continues its move towards semantic search.
If you use WordPress, the Yoast plugin is an essential plugin for SEO also provides you with a readability score for all the pages on your website. It uses the Flesch reading ease score – a scale of 0-100 – which considers a wide range of factors including sentence length, word complexity, the use of passive voice, paragraph length and subheading distribution.
You can also use the Hemmingway Editor tool to assess your content before you hit the publish button which will provide you with some useful pointers and insights to improve the readability of your content.
Another key metric we look at is the number of backlinks each page has. Backlinks can help to build up not just the authority of a particular piece of content, but can also contribute to building the overall authority of your domain so it’s important that you don’t delete content that has quality backlinks pointing to it.
Backlinks are an important consideration because they present a different angle from the other metrics discussed above. Sometimes, you may have a page that is deemed as a poor performer based on the organic traffic or the keywords it ranks for. It might be an older piece of content that is no longer as relevant because it was time sensitive and specific at the time it was published.
This might be a piece of content you consider removing or archiving, removing it from the index for example. Without looking at backlinks, this might be a wise decision. However, when you look at backlinks, you might discover that the page has 50 backlinks from authoritative sites which were earned at the time it was published and still exist today. This makes it an extremely valuable piece of content and one that should be retained.
Hopefully, this post has helped to show the importance of including a wide range of metrics in your content audit and the value of taking a holistic approach to your audit. Looking at any of the metrics above in isolation could lead to you removing or editing a piece of content that is actually adding lots of value, either to your visitors, or from an SEO perspective, so try and make sure your content audits are as thorough as possible.
If you don’t know where to start with your content audit, talk to the team at Digital Hothouse today and we can help to get your content back on track.