Content or SEO audit – Which one and Why do we need it?
When a site starts to hold alot of content (posts, images, videos, pdf guides, checklists, tutorials … etc) and it’s growing further, an audit is required.
But the question that will pop out is: Which one should we do?
Content or SEO Audit?
In my opinion, you can do both if you have a small team.
However, I’d suggest starting with content site audit first.
Here is why.
Anything above 15-30 pages/posts you will need a long-term process to help you control the creation of future content.
Your aim is to get a qualitative analysis of all the content sitting on your website. And with that in mind you must find or know the:
- and Who’s producing/amending the content.
Let’s start with:
How to fix your digital marketing strategy?
In my recent post on how to fix digital strategy I mentioned that a site content audit is mandatory. Yes, it should be at least once or twice a year.
Get into the habit of agile thinking. Meaning focus your attention in finding small easy things to fix. Essentially, you want to train your people to find quick errors and/or what the main issues are.
Scan your GSC and analytics from A-Z and see which pages are working for your business.
Then you need to get into your client’s shoes and ask yourself what’s in it for them.
But let’s find out more.
Steps before starting a website audit:
- Revise your business goals. Ask what are you trying to achieve, who does it, how and when
- Grab your Keyword mapping worksheet, Content Matrix and/or Content Gap Analysis (CGA). To see how to improve every page.
- Align and select keywords per page and what your priorities are.
Then, analyse and brainstorm with your team before creating or amending the content. Find what is relevant, valuable, unique to that topic/page before delivering it to the end users. [Ultra important].
Take your time, if you don’t have this in place you must start now and be consistent throughout. You can put a smile on your face as you’re progressing.
What is the final purpose of a content audit?
The main purpose of a website auditing is:
a) Identify which parts of your content are actually working less
b) Find those pages ranking near top search engine pages.
Here is why a content inventory could help your strategy:
- Content pages that need deep onpage editing to provide end-user with relevant content
- Find which keywords are ranking for each main topics
- Keywords ranking page three and four (so that could be improved)
- Analyse and detect Content gap opportunities (competition…)
- Ecommerce products descriptions and/or copywriting
- Pages that need to improve content and call-to-action
- Content that should be removed/redirected or consolidated (reasons:obselete or overlapping topics)
- Find missing Alt text, metatags
- non canonicals
When to do website audit?
Execute a content audit at least twice a year to assess the company content’s strength. By doing so, you get to see what your best content is all about, but also its top publication channel(s).
The audit may deliver some deep data that you were not aware off (insights on channels that you daily nourish, etc).
Will content audit help your business at all?
Content audit is your best helper when it comes to analysing your website.
The second phase of an audit is the most important one – the analysis itself.
Here, you will get the entire content reviewed against a set of predefined elements of a content strategy plan.
The strategist must assess the overall site’s content, structure and many other factors that will lead him/her to make a set of content recommendations about whether you should leave, improve, merge, remove, or consolidate it.
This will normally inform and/or instructs you to:
- Merge old content due to its duplication
- Delete obsolete content (no longer in use or could dammage content)
- Discover content gap opportunities
- Pages readability/ scannability of (Titles, topic sentences, headers, bullets points..)
- You are about to redesign your website
- You are experiencing low or zero traffic
- You need to find out why pages aren’t converting
- You would like to make your content more relevant to increase conversions.
Tip: Screaming frog spider can help you speed up the process to find the areas of your site where there is a need for improvement. But, it’s up to you to decide, if you’ll rewrite parts of that content, archive or delete it.
A content audit is a qualitative analysis (on steroids) for a particular channel – a website, or a big company blog. Whatever you are going to tackle, it will cover and address the suitability of the content and its SEO strategy.
I knew you’d ask and the answer is: in this industry there is two type of audits:
- SEO audit: identify the strengths and weaknesses of search engine optimisation.
- Content marketing audit: is a must do for any business who wants to know their site’s content strengths. Perform an audit every 3-6 months to assess your content marketing efforts.
Note: It’s a good idea to do both. Here is an example why: you need to figure out how marketing automation campaign or sales pages are performing.
Your question: can we do both? Sure, you can.
Content evaluation will do the inventory and assess the user reading experience. It will also allow you to map the gap between the two so that a content strategy plan can be created.
Content assessment [ short Infographic ]
I’d say that when you reached 35-100 pages you need to assess the content published. A complete heuristic approach should be taken to test and assess your content.
This will allow you to:
- Understand your content to guide your marketing strategy
- Collect and re-analyse content
- Decide what to keep before a migration
- Define whether your content shares value
- Identify poor content for removal or improvement
- List types of content that support customer service/engagement.
but also it can:
- Explain, and or educate end-user
- Be up-to-date for better relevancy
- Be factual and accurate
- Engage and redirect the user to relevant topics
- Be grammar and spelling mistakes free.
A content audit should be performed at least two-three times a year.
How can content audit help your business?
Paula Landburg explais in her book
“If you have limited time but want to address issues, look for patterns in your analytics data”. I agree start with:
- Pages with high traffic but low conversions
- Pages with low traffic
- Pages sitting in Google page two
- Pages with high bounce rates.
“A good audit can help plan future content creation, and improve internal processes”.
Reference: from Paula Ladenburg’s book: “Content Audits and Inventories”.
I agree – I’d also add this, create an editorial calendar (asap) to help you keep track of what you produce along the way.
Here’s a good example:
- Find best topics and keyword patterns to help your SEO strategy
- Suggestions for updating your style guides and content creation workflows
- See relevant issues to address, example: a segment that isn’t targeted but should
- Build agile processes and make sure you label who the author is and tag with metadata.
Action plan & audit tools/resources
I’d strongly recommend to look for low-hanging fruit (always). As this will allow you to go quicker, save time and money.
- Identify priorities to improve the effectiveness of your marketing.
- Check the site content that has been optimised but can be improved – I.e: pages ranking in Google page 2-3.
- Stick to your action plan and concentrate your efforts to tackle urgent problems first.
Now, that you are all set and if you are itching to learn more practical work, I will point you to Everett Sizemore’s post, that he wrote (in 2017) at Moz. He describes the entire process, a great post by the way, it shows the structure, parts of an audit.
In the event you are a small business, I recommend you to download my content audit worksheet – it’s plenty.
Small to medium sized businesses employing one or more SEO /Content strategists we recommend using:
- Screaming frog tool. Note: SF can also do the entire inventory by crawling your domain url. Great tool 🙂
- InFlow for ecommerce site
You can also (should) run an audit of your competitor’s content, very much like your own assessment. Yet, you will not be able to get their access to their Analytics.
But apart those few missing metrics, you may be able to pull out lots of keywords, links and other valuable information.
It’s an art when it comes to deliver a coherent audit.
Often, its complexity is due to the size of the site, but also the person who is leading the audit project and/or the way they will perform it. He or she needs to understand content management systems (CMS) but also the overall content structure, content analysis, UX mapping, how you detect content gaps, what needs archiving and so on.
The next obvious step – assess your SEO strategy.
Look for patterns and/or topic trends. For example, notice where people spend the most time on your pages – log the topics.
Steps to take: Log onto your Google (or other) analytics, it allows you to download data:
- Go to Reporting > Behaviour > Site Content > All Pages for a great start.
- Get the data by clicking Export > CSV under the report title, and then import into your spreadsheet. This will give a view (clues) of whom you should be talking to and then figure out what content you need to produce.
- Then get your buyer personas doc out, check if these keywords match their profile > then add those to the customer journey document and include the data you pulled from Buzzsumo report.
Also a good idea to use Ahrefs tool to assess your main competitors in organic search. Do perform an SEO competitor analysis to extract or find out which type of content receives the most search traffic, shares, links but also which converts better. etc.
I hope you get the picture.
Whatever you do, select a professional if you can’t do it yourself, ask questions and follow the guides above before making a decision.
A great content audit will show you: what type of material or part of your site you can improve, repurposing, reuse, delete or archive.
Keep in mind that in order for you to deploy a winning content marketing strategy – yes, I said winning, you need first to identify what’s working and not. This will lead you to audit the entire site as the starting point.
If you hear someone tell you that they don’t see the point or value in content marketing, because they never saw any good results – then they’re probably right.
But do you know why?
As I said above, content marketing works if you do the leg work (via audit), and focus on delivering value to your users.
You can create a long-term plan for success – and this post can help you do that.
Good luck and if you need extra pair of hands give me a shout.
Credit: Thanks Mohamed_hassan (Top image)