Real-time analytics provide a detailed view of content performance at a very granular level. A content audit takes a step back and lets publishers evaluate websites in their entirety, identifying opportunities to improve content published against commercial goals.
According to SEO consultant Sarah Taher, regular content audits help ensure published content is not outdated or unhelpful and aligns with business goals. For her, an effective audit will answer three questions:
- What content do we have?
- How is it performing against objectives?
- What content are we missing?
The content audit process Taher outlines can be broken out into five steps.
Crawl your website
The first step in Taher’s content audit process is to crawl your site using a website crawler like Screaming Frog and export site URLs. Sorting these alphabetically will allow you to identify groups of pages within your site (news, products, features etc.).
Create a content map
The next step is to create a content map or diagram using the groups of pages identified by their URLs. The example used by Taher shows a diagram created around a customer journey, showing the stages from awareness through consideration to purchase decision.
Different publishers will have different content maps reflecting their audience development goals (register, subscribe, engage with content, share). However, every content map should outline the journey that you want your audience to take and allow you to judge how many pages are dedicated to each stage.
Are we dedicating enough efforts to the type of content that would help us achieve our business goals?
Create a topical map
A topical map is a diagram that shows the topics and associated content for subject areas where you want to achieve topical authority to support a strong performance in search. Review the page titles from the list created by the web crawler to get a high-level understanding of how your content is structured and the relative volumes against the topics you are targeting.
Create a content strategy
Reviewing the content map will help you identify what kind of content you need. For a marketing focussed site this could be split into:
- Top of funnel (awareness)
- Middle of funnel (consideration)
- Bottom of funnel (decision)
For a publisher’s site there is an additional value or engagement layer that represents the content that site visitors return to you for. These are the pages that will feature heavily in your topical map.
What may become apparent from the content audit is that you need to dedicate more resources to certain topic areas, or to certain content formats (lists, reviews, interviews). You may also identify the need to create more service pages to help the audience through their buyer journey.
Consider performance data
Taher reminds publishers to consider performance data from Google Search Console and Google Analytics as part of their content audit.
Look for pages with high conversion rates that can be optimized as well as pages with high impressions but low CTRs. Performance data will also help identify pages that can be deleted. Taher says any pages with zero sessions/impressions in the last 12 months are ‘deadweight pages’ that should be removed and redirected. She said:
Your strategy should be simply: which pages we need to create, which pages we need to update, and which pages we need to say farewell to.