Most content creators are so focused on creating new content that they forget to audit their existing content.
Doing a content audit will help you identify the goals of your content in terms of ROI as well as identify what’s stale, wrong or simply not working.
If these seem like good enough reasons to you, then you should go ahead and read on this step-by-step breakdown of doing a content audit.
Download: Week 4 Content Audit Spreadsheet
Add the details to the spreadsheet
The first part of a content audit is dissecting the basics on the content piece and is a one-time entry on your audit.
Looks at how the content was created, how many people it took to create the content, and the basic publishing information.
You’ll want to track the following for each piece of content in the spreadsheet above
- Team Produced (content team, social team, SEO team, etc.)
- Total Time (how long did it take to produce the content in it’s entirety)
- Content Type (is it a blog post, infographic, case study, etc.)
- Content Goal (what was the point of producing the content: backlinks, traffic, conversions, etc.)
- Word count
- Shares (break this down by social network and total)
Audit your existing content
Knowing how the content you’ve already published performed will help you gauge what kind of content you need to create in the future, and what kind to not create.
To being, you’ll need to decide how far back you want to begin your content audit and then gather all of the content URLs for that time period.
I recommend going back at least 1 year and gathering data for how your content performed the year before.
Collecting all of your past content URLs doesn’t have to be a manual process, though.
Luckily, there’s plenty of website analytics tool like Google Analytics or SEMrush’s Content Audit tool that can quickly audit your content based on your sitemap data and provide you with the list of content pages.
Once you’ve caught up and added all of last year’s content into your Excel doc, you’ll want to repeat this audit activity for new content on a weekly basis.
It will be much easier to keep track of your content and audit it regularly when you’re only having to go back one week to input data.
Over time, if you see any drastic changes take note. Sometimes content, especially evergreen content, can take months before it really takes off.
What To Track
Here are the metrics you’ll want to track for your content data audit:
Ideally, our content would be receiving a lot of organic traffic.
If you aren’t getting a lot of organic traffic to your content that could be a potential red flag.
Perhaps there is something wrong with:
- Your content strategy.
- How you’re distributing the content.
- The content type.
- The content itself.
By evaluating the organic traffic metrics regularly in your audit, you’ll know when you can pat yourself on the back or when you need to start over.
Are users bouncing right off your content page without viewing any other pages on your website?
If so, that’s a sign of bad content.
Ideally, your content is just a gateway that leads a user from a search to your website, entertains or informs them, and then guides them to tour the rest of your site for their needs.
You need to track the backlinks that your content produces on a regular basis for two big reasons:
- Your backlinks will change over time. The first day you publish a new piece of content you may gain 2-3 backlinks. Let a week go by and now 10-12 backlinks have appeared. A year down the road and now you have 589 backlinks to one piece of content.
- Not all backlinks are good. Sure, 589 backlinks might sound like a good thing, but not if 500 of those backlinks are potentially dangerous to your website and lead to spam. Those 500 links need to be removed ASAP or your website and rankings could take a hit. If you don’t monitor all of your backlinks by auditing your content regularly, you’ll miss out on the opportunity to remove dangerous backlinks before they begin to affect your rankings.
Time on Page
If your content is a long-form blog post of 2,500 words and the average time on page is 18 seconds, something is wrong.
This metric will inform you if your content just isn’t right for your audience, or if it is and you need to create more content focusing on topics just like it.
We want lots of unique visitors viewing our content and increasing the amount of views the piece of content gets.
The more views, the more chances of ROI from content like conversions, engagement, shares, and backlinks.
Pages Per Session
How many pages is the user looking at after they have viewed your content?
What pages are they going to?
Learn where your traffic is coming from by defining your main traffic sources.
If a majority of your content’s traffic is coming from Facebook, post more of your content on your Facebook page.
If hardly any is coming from your email newsletters, it may be time to restructure your emails.
If your goal for a new piece of content is to generate 100 conversions in the first quarter, let’s say email opt-ins for your email newsletter, you need to add a column and track the amount of conversions coming in from that piece of content.
The first week you’re conversions could be as little as 2 and you start to doubt the content entirely. Let two months go by, and continue to audit each week, and notice that now the content has produced 140 total conversion, not only hitting your goal but surpassing it.
Based on what your original content goals are, you need to decide whether your content is working for you.
Each piece of content you audit will have several data metrics attached to it. These metrics will tell you if you’re hitting the mark or missing it drastically.
For the content that does well, take note of the content details audit. Analyze what type of content it was, the topic, who produced it, and when it published.
Repeating your successes can help you create similarly high-performing content.
For the content pieces that don’t hit your goals, take extra note of their metrics. Sometimes it’s the channels the content was published on. Other times it’s a mixture of things such as the author, timeframe of publication, and/or the content type.
Don’t be afraid to try new content types as long as you’re willing to measure it’s effectiveness through regular auditing.