Content Audits: What They Are and How To Run One In 2022

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Are you writing content but it just doesn’t seem to rank?

If you’ve done a website audit and fixed technical issues, the next step is to run a content audit.

A content audit is a process of evaluating your website’s content against a set of criteria to determine what works and what doesn’t work.

This valuable information can then be used to improve your website’s content strategy.

Today, we’re pulling back the curtain on what content audits are, how to run them, and the benefits they offer.

By the end of this post, you’ll understand why content audits are an essential part of any successful website and how to run one yourself.

What is a Content Audit?

A content audit analyzes the inventory of every piece of content on your website or blog.

Imagine an Excel or Google sheet with a record of every piece of content you have ever shared on your website or blog.

Next, add analytics data about how each page has performed over time.

Use your spreadsheet to understand what your existing content is doing and make good decisions about future content on your website.

What is the Purpose of a Content Audit?

A content audit aims to better understand your existing content and how to make new content most effectively.

In essence, content audits help you identify holes in your content strategy, and give you valuable takeaways to fix.

For example:

  • Are there relevant topics you have left out or not covered in enough detail?
  • Are some subjects covered far less than others?

Your content audit will help clarify which topics you have covered extensively or identify duplicate subjects across content.

Knowing which topics you have already covered in detail can help you widen your scope for new content.

Content audits are also an effective way to see which content categories or topics perform best with your audience.

  • Perhaps your audience is consistently interested in one subject or topic.
  • Maybe your “list” style content has better performance than other formats.

The purpose of a content audit is to provide you with all this information so you can incorporate it into your overall content strategy.

Why is a Content Audit Important?

Content audits are essential because they teach you important information about your website content that you might not learn otherwise.

This information will help you improve your content strategy and create new content that performs well and helps you meet your goals.

What Does a Content Audit Include?

A content audit should include at least the following information about each page on your website:

  • Hierarchy expressed in numerical form (Ex: top page = 1. Subpage = 1.1)
  • Page Title
  • URL
  • Page purpose
  • Desired audience action and how you will measure success
  • Who is responsible for which aspects of the page (writer, editor, etc.)

In addition to this information, consider adding whichever of the following will be most helpful for your content strategy and goals:

  • Date last updated
  • Revision recommendations
  • Accessibility (does it meet basic standards?)
  • Target keywords for SEO
  • Performance metrics (page bounces, inbound links, social shares, etc.)
  • Other analytics data from Google Analytics or similar SERP checker tools
  • Social media appearances or metrics
  • Content categories (by topic, style, etc.)

Once your content audit data collection is complete, create a page of recommendations based on the data in the spreadsheet.

These recommendations could be subjects to cover in new content, topics to leave out of new site content, pages to update, or reorganization suggestions.

  • Did you know? You can use a task management system like Asana or Monday.com to make tracking tasks within a content simple and problem-free.

Types of Content Auditing

Many types of content auditing are helpful to consider when developing your content strategy.

Here are a few of the most popular types of content audits:

  • Website content audits
  • SEO content audits
  • Blog content audits
  • Landing page content audits
  • Guide content audits
  • Overall content audits

These content audit classifications can also be broken down further into date ranges, content format, or other sub0categories that apply to your website.

What is an SEO Content Audit?

An SEO content audit is an audit that focuses extensively on the organic SEO performance of each page.

These audits include SEO-specific data to help you understand your SEO performance and recommend action items to improve your overall SEO performance.

This audit process helps you or your content marketer learn more about which of your pages are boosting your SEO and which may need to be re-optimized.

Include the following information for each page in an SEO content audit:

  • URL
  • Title
  • Meta title
  • Meta title character count
  • Meta description
  • Organic pageviews
  • Target keywords with their volume and difficulty
  • Click-through rates
  • Bounce rates
  • Time spent on page
  • Average position in search results pages
  • Word count
  • Internal links
  • Backlinks
  • Page load time
  • Number of graphics or video

Content Inventory vs. Content Auditing

Your content inventory is a catalog of all existing content on your website.

A content audit analyzes this inventory catalog to make your content perform better.

In other words, the spreadsheet itself is the inventory.

The audit uses the spreadsheet to make recommendations that improve your content’s performance and inform your overall content marketing strategy.

Do I Need Both?

Yes.

You will need to create your content inventory to complete a content audit.

There is no data to use to audit your content without the inventory.

Aside from making content audits possible, a content inventory is also essential to the general management of your website pages.

It is a way to monitor the performance of your website pages and content in one place.

Content Audit Questions

Once you have your inventory spreadsheet, you’ll want to ask questions about the data to inform your content marketing strategy.

The following questions are essential to the content auditing process:

  • Do I have any content gaps in my website or blog content?
  • Which pages boost my SEO?
  • Do I have any pages or old content pieces that need to be updated?
  • What can I learn from my content performance metrics when planning new content?
  • Should I complete a website redesign or reorganization?
vector graphic showing various elements of a content audit

1. Do I Have Any Content Gaps In My Website Or Blog Content?

Review the topics and subjects of your existing content to identify potential gaps to fill with new content.

For example, you might notice there is an essential industry-specific subject you have left out of your blog.

This would be a “gap” that you can fill by creating a new blog post to discuss that subject in detail.

One way to quickly identify these gaps is to include a “topic” or “subject” column in your inventory spreadsheet.

Once you do this, you can sort the sheet by this column to see if any subjects or topics are covered less frequently than others or left out altogether.

2. Which Pages Boost My SEO?

Review your Google Analytics data to draw conclusions about the SEO performance of each page.

If specific pages consistently rank highly in search results or excel in other performance metrics, look closely to determine why they are successful.

Try to identify patterns in your most successful pages.

 Once you find patterns in these pages, you can emulate them to improve the performance of other parts of your website or content.

3. Do I Have Any Pages Or Old Content Pieces That Need To Be Updated?

A content audit examines your existing content and when they were last updated.

It’s essential to keep your website current by updating your content regularly.

Regularly updated content will provide more value to your audience and boost your SEO.

This is even more true for posts that include information that may change over time, such as statistics or other data.

4. What Can I Learn From My Content Performance Metrics To Improve New Content?

Use the same strategies from your top-performing posts when creating new content.

Once you have your performance metrics neatly organized, you can determine which posts were successful and why they performed well.

As we mentioned above, this can look like identifying patterns in your most successful content (format, topics, etc.).

For example, if your top three performing posts are all presented in a “listicle” format, design your new content in the same way.

If most of your high-performing blog posts are under 1000 words, consider keeping new posts in the same word range.

5. Should I Complete A Website Redesign Or Reorganization?

Nobody likes or wants bad web design associated with their brand.

Your content audit might reveal that you need to reorganize your website to help your customers access important pages or information.

One way to determine this is by reviewing your analytics data to ensure that your audience is actually viewing the sub-pages you want them to see.

If views on these sub-pages are low, consider a redesign that better directs viewers to these locations.

How Much Does a Content Audit Cost?

The cost of your content audit can vary significantly based on the size of your company.

Some companies can charge as much as $25,000 for an extensive audit of large amounts of content.

You might pay as low as $1500 for your audit if you have less content to review.

Another option is to employ a content marketer on your marketing team and keep the audit in-house.

Many smaller companies choose this option to save money and keep more control over their content marketing strategy.

How Long Does a Content Audit Take to Run?

The time required to complete your content audit will depend on a few factors:

  • The amount of existing content in the audit
  • Whether or not you already have a content inventory partially or wholly created
  • The amount of information included in the audit
  • Your familiarity with the analytics and other data included in your audit

The Amount Of Existing Content In The Audit

The more existing content in the audit, the longer it will take.

You will need to review the details and performance of each piece of content in the auditing process, so this will take longer if you have more to review.

You can reduce the amount of existing content by limiting your audit to a specific period.

You can also reduce the number of details in the audit by focusing only on metrics most aligned to your content marketing goals.

Whether Or Not You Already Have A Partially Or Wholly Created Content Inventory

It will take longer to complete your content audit if you start from scratch.

The more information you already have organized in some type of content inventory, the less work you will need to do to prepare for your audit.

You are well ahead of the game if you already have a wholly created content inventory recorded somewhere.

You will be able to start and finish your audit much faster than if you needed to develop the inventory from scratch.

Generally, your content audits will take far less time if you regularly update a content inventory.

The Amount Of Information Included In The Audit

The amount of information included in the audit will also impact how long it will take to complete.

If your audit has a broad scope, collecting and analyzing the data will take longer.

You can limit the scope of your audit by choosing to focus on one specific goal or aspect of your content marketing strategy.

For example, if your goal is to grow your blog, consider focusing only on your blog content.

Your familiarity with the analytics and other data included in your audit

If you are brand new to content marketing and performance metrics, it will take longer to complete your content audit.

You will need less time to analyze your content inventory if you are already familiar with the data and its implications.

You can reduce the time this takes by partnering with someone on your team who has experience with content marketing or the metrics tools you will need to use.

This will reduce the time you need to learn about each metric to complete your analysis.

How Often Do I Need to Run a Content Audit?

You should run a content audit at least once annually.

If you are a large company that produces a significant amount of content, you should audit your content more frequently.

Content audits are an essential part of your content marketing strategy, so you should complete them regularly if you can.

How to Conduct a Content Audit: 5 Simple Steps

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Follow these simple steps to run a content audit for your company.

1. Define Your Goals and Metrics

Create a list of the goals you want your content to help you achieve and identify the relevant metrics for each one.
For example, if you want your content to boost your site’s SEO, your metrics will be primarily SEO-related data.
Refer to our above section on SEO content audits for more information on this.

2. Take an Inventory of Your Content

Build an inventory of your existing content in an Excel or Google sheet.
Start by listing every piece of content currently active on your site.
Include columns for the page title, topic, URL, and other relevant categorizations for each piece of content on your list.

3. Collect and Analyze Data

Add in columns where you can record each of the metrics you decided to measure in Step 1.

Each metric should have its own column where you will input the relevant data for every piece of content.

Once your columns are set up, enter the metrics and data.

You can find this information using Google Analytics or alternative analytics tools.

4. Draw Up an Action Plan

Review the information in your spreadsheet to develop an action plan for improving your content.

Create a list of action items you can complete to improve your existing content or improve your overall website with new content.

These action items might include updating existing content, reorganizing your website, creating new content to fill gaps, and adjusting the content for digital accessibility.

5. Adjust Your Content Marketing Strategy

Finally, adjust your content marketing strategy to incorporate your action items and other improvements revealed by your content audit.

The purpose of a content audit is to improve your content marketing strategy.

For this reason, take the time to carefully reflect on your audit and use it to adjust accordingly.

Tools:

  • You’ll need an objective, a content audit spreadsheet, and the tools you run to track success metrics for your website.

Making Content Audits Simpler

Many helpful tools and templates can help make your content audit easier.

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Helpful Content Audit Tools

Here are a few of our favorite tools to help you with your content audit.

Start by creating your content audit spreadsheet in Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel.

Google Analytics and Bing Webmasters will help you pull metrics from your website to complete your content audit.

These tools will help you automate some of the content auditing processes:

Content Audit Templates

Here are a few templates to help you get started with your content audit.

The Hubspot SEO Content Audit Template is an excellent option if you complete a content audit to meet SEO goals.

Wordstream offers a variety of Content Auditing Templates on its website.

These templates are tailored to specific business goals, so you can choose whichever one best applies to you.

Wrapping Up

Regular content auditing is essential to developing and maintaining a successful content marketing strategy.

A content audit analyzes your existing content that identifies ways you can adjust your content to help meet your business goals.

Complete an audit of all your content at least once annually, but more often if possible.

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