Why Conducting a Content Audit Matters for SEO

Last Edited September 11, 2023 by Garenne Bigby in Content Audit

content audits for SEO

Performing a content audit for SEO on your website does not have to be the hard. Although it has not always been easy, it is vital that it gets done, so that your website and its content can receive the attention that is deserves. Whether or not you agree that content rules when it comes to website success, many others agree that it is one of the most important things to do correctly, so auditing your content is something that must be done. For those that are not familiar with a content audit, this is the process by which you will go through all of the content contained on your website and then determine its relevance and success. You will gather pieces of data about each individual piece of content and then you will analyze the data to conclude which content should be updated, what should be built on, promoted again, or what should even be deleted permanently.

Even with all of this information so prevalent, many websites continue to ignore content audits because they are boring and frankly use to take up a lot of time. When you think about it, there are actually huge benefits to conducting a content audit:

  • You will be looking at the analytics, so the audit will help you to understand your website in more depth, you will see trends that will aid you in success in the future.

  • This will be the perfect time for you to develop a content strategy if you do not already have one.

  • If you have already performed an SEO audit, this will give you a new look at your content.

  • Content Audits are a great way to figure out if you need to alter responsibilities through your staff—particularly regarding the content department.

Please remember that performing a content audit doesn't mean simply going through your website and looking at all of the content from the blog. Though this could be where most of the content is published, the audit means that ALL content from EVERY page is looked at. This would include the home page, contact page, etc.

Variations of a Content Audit

Many times those who perform a content audit do so for their entire website. Thought this is what is most common, it is not the only choice. This would entail listing every piece of content on the website, including all pages and all assets. This is best for those who are conducting a content audit for the first time, you will need to know information about every piece of content on your site. A partial content inventory would only include a subset of content from the website. For example, it may include a few of the top levels from a hierarchical site, or something like only the last 6 months of articles or content. A content sample is much smaller, and only entails a few pieces of content from the website.

Why Perform a Content Audit

Simply put, the main purpose of performing a content audit is to produce a comprehensive list of the content contained on the website, using a spreadsheet or content audit software link DYNO Mapper. There are so many reasons that having this content information it vital. For instance, if you are working to rearrange the information architecture, you will need to refer to it again and again to be reminded of the details of each page. It can also be used when you are communicating with content authors about rewriting or managing their contributed content. And if you are choosing to migrate to different content management system, you will need the content exported so that you have a good starting point for your website redesign. It also keeps a record of what content you started with, and where you'd like ultimately end up.

Besides all of that, having this list available at a glance isn't the only benefit. When you take this inventory, you gain a much better understanding of the content that is on your website. You may discover things that you did not know existed, identify previously unknown relationships between the content, and even become aware of any accidental duplication. It will also serve as a forerunner to building a more comprehensive analysis of content.

What Will You Gain From a Content Audit?

To have a successful content audit, there are some questions that you will need to ask yourself for each piece of content:

  • What is it about?

  • Is this up to date and accurate?

  • Does the content support both the user and the goal of the business?

  • Can people find the content and then use it?

  • Is it clean and professional looking?

  • Is this content organized in a logical way?

  • Is there a consistent voice through the content?

  • Does it have the basic SEO elements implemented?

  • Is there any content that is missing?

Answering these questions will allow you to really assess the quality of the content. Some even find it helpful to answer the questions by ranking them from 1 (awful) to 5 (the best it can be).

Starting the Content Audit

One good thing about taking initiative to perform a content audit is that hopefully, if is your first time and you don't have to go through the ardious task using spreadsheets. When you approach it with a plan in your head, and the knowledge on how to start the content audit, you can bet that it will be much easier to get your head wrapped around. Keep in mind these tips to help you with your content audit.

Who Will Do Your Audit?

Determine who will be completing your content audit. This should be between 2 to 3 (4 maximum) people, depending on the size of your website. Create a plan that includes specific responsibilities for each person. The responsibilities can be broken up in so many different ways, but the most popular are by web page and by task. Breaking up the responsibilities by web page means that each person would have specified pages of the website that they would be performing the audit on. Breaking up the responsibilities by task entails having one person look for something specific like analytics, links, relevancy, and so on. The plan that is set in place needs to have a deadline so that each team member is on the same page. One person should be in charge to help things stay organized.

Use a Content Audit Tool or Spreadsheet

Next, you will need to create a spreadsheet to house all of your data. You can do this easily with DYNO Mapper's export feature. This data can be exported with the analytics information that you are gathering, rather everything that you are finding. For instance, when a piece of content is updated, this should be marked down on the spreadsheet—this comes in handy when you are performing future content audits. A few other helpful things that can be added to the spreadsheet are: the title of the content, the date of the audit, category, keyword, audience, traffic, does it need changed, social popularity, URL, and author. The information you need to collected can by done using DYNO Mapper and easily shared and updated in real time.

What to Include in the Content Audit

Many people choose to record their content audit in a spreadsheet. This is because spreadsheets are so flexible and easily manipulated. They are also wonderful for holding a sizable amount of information in a way that is easily managed, and are simple to share. If you are working on a large website, be sure to utilze a content auditor like DYNO Mapper. 

It is recommended to collect the following data for each page:

  • Page name: this is displayed as the page title.
  • Navigation title: this is the name of the main navigational link that leads to the content.
  • URL: you can choose to display the link URL or to link from the page name.
  • Content hierarchy: this is a way to show the basic relationship between the items of content.
  • Comments: anything you need to remember about this particular piece.

Also, make sure to take not of any error or labeling issues on each page.

  • 4xx (Client Error)
  • Duplicate Meta Title
  • Missing Meta Titles
  • Too Long Meta Titles > 70
  • Duplicate Meta Descriptions
  • Missing Meta Descriptions
  • Too Long Meta Descriptions > 160

Other things that are not necessary but are sometimes helpful are the content type, basic content description, author, owner, topic/tags/category, date of last update, related links, and attached files.

Different types of content on your site may require the collection of different types of information, but the most important thing to remember about a content audit is that there is no right or wrong way to do it. It is a tool that you will use throughout your project so that you should create the content audit in the way that will best help you. And it is never too late to edit or adapt it to fit your needs, each project and client is different so that means each audit will be different.

Relation to SEO

Though a content audit and SEO audit are two different things, there is some overlap in the processes that you should always be aware of. When you are aware of the relationship of the two audits, the process becomes easier the next time that you perform them. Never forget to assess the anchor text and links, and determine if a 301 redirect is necessary.

How does a content audit help your SEO? It will help you to identify the weak spots in your website's SEO through cataloging various tags, word counts, and optimized images among many other elements that are related to each piece of content on your website. This data can then be compared to a page's current rankings so that you can determine which changes should be made in order to improve the website's organic search performance.

A few years ago, keyword stuffing was the way to get content discovered through search engines. Now, these search engines have caught on to this and are penalizing the website for such acts. A content audit will allow you to see which pieces of content are not only performing better, but why they are performing better. Recently, higher ranked content is made up of information that is new, striking, informative, and relative—rather than a lot of words that don't mean much but contain a large amount of buzzwords.

The SEO elements that are collected in a content inventory are the page's title, the keywords used, metadata, headings, and the tags for images. To optimize your content, you will need to consider these items and how they are being used with your content. Are you using target keywords and phrases on the page? Is the metadata and descriptions appropriately used? Are the images and multimedia captioned properly? Is the metadata used in a way that is friendly for search engines? Have you optimized the headlines for search engines? Content is the backbone for SEO, so it is vital to evaluate your content and see how it works with the search engines—which is done through a content audit.

Don't Overlook What is Missing

The entire focus of a content audit is based on what is there, it is easy to overlook or forget about what might happen to be missing. One vital step in a content audit is to determine where there are weaknesses, needs, or gaps in the content. A site can comprehensively cover how to place an order, but is the information regarding shipping addressed appropriately? There may also be a great deal of information in the section regarding the press and media, but is it heavy in text with very little pictures? A lot can be said for a brand that provides a more than adequate amount of information in one area but virtually no information in other areas.

A content audit should really only be done once a month, but it is a great idea to update the spreadsheet each time that a new piece of content is written or use the schedule feature in DYNO Mapper. You will not necessarily log any additional data, but even just putting the title of the content and its URL in will make things a lot easier the next time around. When you access the spreadsheet to perform the next content audit, you will already know which content is new since the last audit and will need to be checked in to. Once the initial content audit has been completed, it will then be time to implement the changes and get the ball rolling.

Garenne Bigby
Author: Garenne BigbyWebsite:
Founder of DYNO Mapper and Former Advisory Committee Representative at the W3C.

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