How to run a full-fledged content audit in 2024 (with free template)

Are you wondering, “What is a content audit?”

As per a Hubspot report, 82% of marketing professionals utilize content marketing consistently.

But if you want to make the most of your content, you will require a proper content plan.

You should monitor your content and gain valuable data on how well it’s performing. And make sure that you are using your content to engage your target market and develop connections with them.

For that, doing a content audit is a good starting point.

Below, I will cover everything you should learn about a content audit. This guide covers what it is, what goes into it, and the ways to utilize content audit to level up your content marketing endeavors.

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    What is a content audit?

    A content audit is a process that provides you with vital content insights by collecting, classifying, and examining your content pieces.

    Well, it is likely that this definition won’t make sense to you on its own. So, let’s attempt to make it easier.

    You engage your current and future buyers with the help of your content. Each piece of content is a way to establish your online presence, communicate your ideas, and promote your business.

    Some examples of such content assets are articles, social media content, emails, etc.

    And you can arrange and enhance your content assets by doing a content marketing audit. In a content audit, you assess your content’s performance to identify potential areas for further optimization.

    Step-by-step process to conduct a content audit.

    Image source: DashClicks

    Many content audits just pay attention to SEO, although a thorough audit considers the usefulness and the ROI of content too.

    What are the benefits of a content marketing audit?

    With the help of a content audit, you can increase the number of visitors coming to your site, analyze your content for gaps, enhance your content assets, and improve your content strategy for later.

    According to a Semrush survey, 65% of brands with effective content marketing perform a content audit more than two times annually.

    65% of successful brands run content audits more than twice a year.

    Image source: Semrush

    The majority of content marketers concentrate so much on creating fresh content that they overlook their existing content. This is a huge oversight, as every piece of content that you write won’t be successful.

    There will be times when your content won’t perform well on SERP, get conversions, or play a significant role in your company objectives.

    If this situation occurs, you must not just abandon the content and let it lose its worth. Instead, you should review the content to determine why it is not performing anymore and act accordingly.

    But first, you will have to locate the content that is not performing well. Here enters the content audit. A content audit helps you determine the actions you should take to boost your website’s traffic and conversions.

    It lets you find under performing web pages, the reasons behind their failure, and the solutions. With the help of auditing content pieces, you can:

    • Increase the number of visitors coming to your site
    • Analyze your content for understanding
    • Enhance your content assets
    • Create a content strategy for later
    • Discover fresh SEO gaps you can fill
    • Make your user experience better

    Plus, it ensures that the appropriate audience receives the relevant content.

    How to conduct a content audit?

    To do a content audit, start by setting your goals. And then gather, organize, and analyze your content. At last, put your insights into action.

    A content audit can help you improve your content marketing. So, how do you begin? Here are the steps to run a content audit. And here’s a free content audit template you can copy and use as you follow the below steps.

    Establish audit objectives

    Set goals for content audit depending on your brand’s goals. These could be removing unwanted content, finding content for repurposing, understanding your target market’s preferences, improving your SEO, and getting data-driven insights.

    According to eMarketer, the main objectives for developing content are increasing revenue, fostering bonds with buyers, and boosting brand recognition.

    The top goals of creating content for b2b content marketers.

    Image source: eMarketer

    Establishing objectives is a crucial step for planning activities. And this is true for a content marketing audit too.

    It will make your content audit far more focused and successful. Plus, it enables you to stay attentive and discover the information you are looking for.

    For instance, you might be having trouble growing your email database and aren’t aware of the reason behind this.

    It could be that your buyers dislike your signup experience or your copy is not that enticing. A content audit that has a clear purpose assists you in getting the reason.

    That’s just one example. Conducting a content audit naturally uncovers so much about your company, your target market, and how you interact with each other.

    As a result, you might end up with completely different objectives after running a content audit depending on the things you picked up.

    Let’s say when you started doing a content audit, your aim was to know your target market. But you may find out that branding is the major problem with your content.

    So then, you will focus on upgrading your brand elements, putting them on all your content, creating a personalized visiting card with a QR code, and so on.

    But it doesn’t imply that you don’t need to set goals in the first place. Although the objectives you set for content audit evolve, it is important to establish them in the beginning. It allows you to be in sync with others in your crew and plan your content audit.

    The specific results you expect from a content audit will rely on your unique goals. But here are some of the general content audit objectives.

    • Remove unwanted content
    • Locate content for repurposing
    • Know your target market’s preferences
    • Improve your SEO
    • Get data-based analytics
    • Identify the merits and flaws of your content
    • Create and improve your content plan

    Take inventory of your content

    To know what needs to be included in your content audit, create a spreadsheet manually containing content and its URLs or use a tool like Screaming Frog to create it for you.

    After establishing your content audit goals, it is time to begin. Uncover your content and organize it. In this phase, you should figure out what needs to be part of your content audit.

    Either you can collect every piece of content you own, or just concentrate on some specific sets.

    For instance, you may choose to do the audit of internal content like articles, updates, item descriptions, sales copies, and so on.

    Or you can broaden your horizons and include social media content, online quizzes, surveys, and presentations for raising capital.

    To get started with your content marketing audit, create a spreadsheet with your target content pieces and their web links. You may add the following columns in that worksheet:

    • URLs and headline
    • Publishing or last updated date
    • Primary keyword
    • Kinds of content (blog articles, squeeze page, ebooks, and podcast)
    • Content structure (plain text, with pictures, video clips, call-to-actions (CTAs), or affiliate links)
    • Content length
    • Meta tags
    • Writer (name of the author)
    • Stage of the funnel (top, middle, and bottom)

    There is also the option to use software such as Screaming Frog. You can extract data from up to 500 URLs for free with this tool. Its job is to instantly determine every page of a website and gather different SEO-related elements.

    To get started, type in a URL in the search box and click “Analyze”. And then wait for some time.

    An analysis report of a website made with Screaming Frog.

    Then, apply the HTML filter and hit the export option next to the dropdown list to save the data as a CSV file. This is because we want to evaluate pages instead of the remaining content which creates chaos.

    Export button to download the results in CSV from Screaming Frog.

    Image source: CoSchedule

    Evaluate your content

    To analyze the performance of your content, check Google Analytics reports like traffic reports, conversions, and traffic from organic search reports. You can also use an SEO tool like Semrush or Ahrefs for additional data like position tracking.

    Based on your objectives, the process of content evaluation will likely include both an analysis of the objective data and a qualitative evaluation.

    For instance, you may check the number of shares every article receives, the SEO performance of every post, and the sites your content is being distributed on. This could reveal crucial information like the type of content your visitors like and the channels they use.

    Afterward, you can use this understanding to generate the content that your customers like and share it on their favored channels.

    Plus, you may go through some critical content and focus on factors such as its effectiveness, writing style, brand personality, key messages, and concepts.

    Although these factors are tough to establish by evaluating data, they are crucial for the user experience.

    If you are uncertain about how to begin your content evaluation, refer to your objectives. This is because the majority of them can be linked to crucial KPIs.

    Let’s say your objective is to boost user interaction. Then examine metrics such as shares, views, backlinks, and forwards.

    And if your aim is to enhance brand recognition, check the number of website visitors, impressions, and bounce rate.

    But where do you get all this data? There are various methods to utilize the performance metrics provided by Google Analytics. But there are three key reports essential for measuring the success of your content marketing.

    Here is a short description of these reports and where you can get them.

    Traffic report: This report shows which pages draw the most visitors to your website. You also get other helpful data like session duration and the rate at which they leave after viewing one page.

    To get your hands on the traffic report, head to Behavior > Site Content > All Pages.

    All pages report from Google Analytics

    Traffic from organic search report: It offers more details about the visitor’s intent and how it brought them to your page.

    Click on Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels to view every medium that brings visitors to your website.

    Then, go to Organic Search, and under Primary Dimension, select Landing Page to see this report.

    Conversion data: While it may take additional work to estimate conversion data through Google Analytics, the benefits outweigh the effort. This is because conversions are the most accurate parameter of content marketing effectiveness.

    Not just that. You can check out Semrush to find more valuable data.

    For instance, Semrush Position Tracker lets you monitor the SERP positions of your pages for specific keywords. You can modify the low-ranking pages to rapidly boost your search engine rankings.

    Semrush also offers a tool called Site Audit, which points out your website’s technical problems. If enhancing SERP rank is among your key audit objectives, it could be useful.

    Examine SEO performance

    To assess your site’s SEO performance, check your page’s age and ranking. For new pages, no content audit is required. If the page is older than six months, see how it compares with the pages ranking above in terms of on-page and off-page SEO.

    As per BrightEdge research, 68% of online activities start with a search engine. If your aim is to enhance the website’s ranking on natural search, then adhere to this easy procedure for SEO content analysis.

    But before you start, it’s important to consider the points mentioned below:

    • You must solely utilize this process for the pages meant to rank naturally on search. To put it simply, don’t apply it to pages like the “about page” and similar ones. It’s not important if these pages appear on Google as that is not their goal.
    • You should treat the suggestions with a little bit of skepticism and implement them only after thoroughly evaluating them. Everything is not clear-cut at all times. So, you may have to examine a few factors by yourself and then proceed accordingly.

    In the next part, I will discuss some classic situations. Continue scrolling as I dig into the ways to resolve the queries in the content marketing audit as well as the appropriate course of action for every case. Let’s begin from the start.

    Has the page been live for at least six months?

    If your response to this is negative, it’s best to avoid auditing the post. The reason behind this is that a page requires a while to appear in search. So making adjustments to new content before it has been given time to rank on Google is not advisable.

    Having said that, the six-month timeframe is not a fixed rule. If you believe that a quarter is sufficient for ranking, or if you would like to wait for a year before assessing a piece of content, you can change this period as you see fit.

    Is the page ranking in the first three positions?

    Once it has been determined that the post is older than six months, the next step is to check if it holds one of the first three positions in the search for its main keyword.

    If your content is among the first three results in the search and you are satisfied with that placement, you don’t have to do anything.

    On the other hand, if you aim to secure the first rank, you should examine the SERP more closely to determine if that’s doable. Plus, if it is, what actions are required to attain it?

    Is the page in the first 20 search results?

    If your content is not in the first three results, check if it falls within 20 search results. If the latter is the case, determine if the content is focusing on a certain keyword.

    The simplest method to do this is to conduct a site search for your site and primary keyword. After this, observe the results for more pages that are allegedly focusing on a similar keyword.

    Let’s say, you perform a site search that looks like this:

    site:moz.com + keyword cannibalization.

    Moz seems to have various posts optimized for this keyword (see the image below).

    An example of running a site search to check out if you are targeting a unique keyword.

    So, it might be a good idea to combine these pages to create one piece of content and utilize 301 redirects to unify the link juice.

    But when a page focuses on a specific keyword, it’s better to optimize the page further.

    Considering that the post is among the first 20 in the search, it obviously has potential.

    You might get a place in the first 10 search results with a few updates that make sure:

    Also, note that poor rankings are not necessarily the result of content issues. It’s possible that you lack the necessary number of backlinks required to contest in the search engine result page (SERP).

    Categorize your content

    To arrange your content for content marketing audit, categorize it into three groups: retain, reuse, and delete. When to retain and delete your content is obvious. When content has potential but isn’t performing well, then repurpose it.

    Now perhaps you have gained a better understanding of your content pieces, their effectiveness, and the types of content that your customers like the most.

    The next step is to enhance and fix your content. Let’s say, your primary focus is on SEO or Search engine optimization, then you should consider these questions:

    Is it crucial to you that you rank for this keyword?

    If your post is not in the first 20 search results for its primary keyword, it might need a considerable number of hours and work to get into the top 10. It’s generally more challenging to improve a post’s ranking by more than 20 places compared to only a couple of positions.

    That’s why you must determine if this will justify the work you put in. In simpler words, think about how crucial it is for you to rank for this specific keyword.

    If the keyword holds little significance

    To check if the post is getting some natural visitors, enter it in Google Search Console.

    Page performance report in Google Search Console

    If the page is receiving organic traffic and you prefer to retain it, preserve the page in its current form and don’t include it in upcoming content assessments.

    If the case is vice versa, evaluate the content’s worth and then think about getting rid of it or updating it (shown below).

    Flowchart showing different situations to organize content during a content marketing audit

    Image source: Publift

    Also, keep in mind that if you plan to divert the post, it’s advisable to divert it to a related one. For example, from /content-marketing-tactics/ to /content-marketing/.

    If you delete a page during a content audit, make sure to update internal links in other pages that pointed to the deleted post.

    If the keyword is essential

    You have to determine the reason behind your page’s poor rank and respond accordingly. This usually boils down to a significant disparity between search intent and the page’s content, partially.

    But if this is the issue, you need to start over and change the whole article.

    Other than that, there can be more causes for the page’s poor positioning, like insufficient backlinks, or a SERP crowded by established rivals.

    Now the question is, how do you organize your content for a content audit?

    For that, you should categorize your content into the following groups:

    • Retain
    • Update/Repurpose
    • Discard

    Retain and discard are fairly obvious. If a content piece is performing its function well, then it doesn’t require any modifications. It’s better to let it remain as it is.

    For the category discard, if a content piece is outdated or no more aligns with your company’s tone and beliefs, and updating it won’t be worthwhile, it’s better to discard it.

    The category update is a little trickier. It is meant for the page that has potential but needs improvement.

    For instance, a post that used to do great earlier but today has fallen into oblivion.

    Update it (with visuals or recent data, for example), and distribute it on the channels that are doing well.

    A ReferralRock study found that 94% of marketing professionals repurpose their content. The rest six percent are planning to do the same later.

    94% of marketers repurpose content.

    Image source: Referral Rock

    In another scenario, the page is not performing great on a particular channel and might thrive in another. Then, update it too and place it in the best-suited platform.

    Act on the insights

    At this point of the content audit, you’ll have a tactical plan that outlines the present and desired state of your content.

    Plus, you would know the necessary steps to get to your desired state. So now is the right time to take action.

    For example, you can employ marketing professionals, content developers, PR agencies, filmmakers, and writers to implement your future plans. Or you may carry them out on your own with a few simple adjustments.

    Your content is a representation of your brand, and you should do whatever it takes to get your content strategy right.

    Common questions about content audit

    Here are the answers to the most frequently asked questions about a content audit.

    What is a content audit used for?

    A content audit helps you assess the quality of every piece of your website content. It lets you determine the benefits and drawbacks of your content plan in order to enhance and increase your return on investment (ROI).

    Which tool is the best fit for doing a content audit?

    Google Analytics is among the widely used software for doing a content audit. It provides an abundance of data that can be utilized to understand user behavior. Plus, it can be used to determine the pages that get the most traffic or the greatest bounce rate.

    How do you create a content inventory?

    A content inventory is a directory of all your content pieces like articles, web pages, and reports. You can create it yourself or take the help of software like Screaming Frog to download it in CSV format.

    How much does a content marketing audit cost?

    Expenses incurred in conducting a content audit could be around $5000 to $25,000. It is based on the factors like the number of existing content pieces and your business objectives.

    What does a content audit do?

    A content marketing audit lets you examine every piece of web content and locate the deficiencies. Plus, it allows you to analyze the content quality and find out if it is reaching set goals or not.

    Basically, it offers useful information that can assist you in improving your content plan and guarantee that your website provides an excellent customer experience.

    What is a content strategy audit?

    The purpose of a content strategy audit is to enhance your whole content plan in order to achieve great returns. Here you basically assess your content plan and how it is doing. Then, depending on that you determine its shortcomings and take appropriate actions to get the desired outcome.

    What should be included in a content audit?

    The content audit examines every piece of your content such as landing pages, captions, articles, metadata, and social media content. Also, it offers a comprehensive evaluation to optimize your content to get more customers.

    How does content audit increase organic traffic?

    A content audit enables you to evaluate your content’s performance. With the help of this information, you can determine what has to be done to increase your content’s search engine rankings or meet other performance goals. As a result of this, you will get lots of natural website visitors.

    How long does a content audit take?

    A content audit can be completed in a couple of days for a simple website and a few months for a big one. It actually relies on the workload.

    When should you do a content audit?

    It is generally recommended to conduct a content audit once in 12 months to ensure that your content is fresh and useful. Auditing your content twice a year is a good option too.

    Final thoughts on content audit

    You should do content audits routinely. They provide you with ways to enhance the performance of your website and SEO. And meet your company goals.

    A content audit can benefit any type of business, whether it’s a modeling firm or a small company that provides multi-line telephone systems (MLTS). It allows you to gain a better insight into your target market, positives, negatives, brand voice, and how your content is compared to your rivals.

    It is essential to keep in mind that even though you can automate the content audit procedure, it is still crucial to exercise rational thinking and review by yourself.

    If you are uncertain, seek the services of an SEO professional or content marketer to conduct your content audit.

    Did we miss anything? Did you try these tips? Do you have any questions or comments? Share your thoughts below in the comments section.

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