Digital marketers are constantly seeking new ways to increase their website traffic, often looking to third party platforms, new emerging software and other off-site tactics, when the solution is within their existing online assets. In particular, the ability to evaluate and leverage onsite assets such as conversion rate optimisation and website content.
I know this may seem a bit basic for most marketers out there, but you would be surprised how many times I’ve come across businesses that rely heavily on their organic traffic to generate the majority of their sales, yet have never done a content audit.
It’s easily done. I’ve previously worked in an in-house environment, where it’s easy to get bogged down in the usual routine projects and acquisition opportunities. Consequently, some of the more simple tasks are overlooked and not fully leveraged.
Enter the content audit.
The content audit of a website is the evaluation of all or part of your website content.
The content audit is one of the best levers a content marketer can pull, without having to send a huge costing proposal past the board.
Here is a bird’s eye view of the whole process:
Step 1 - Crawl site
Step 2 - Export data
Step 3 - Analyse data
Step 4.1 - Look at your competitors
Step 4.2 - Identify gaps and start content ideation
Step 5 - Set out action list for all pages
We conduct a content audit for many reasons, however some of the main purposes are to:
This in turn facilitates more efficient future content audits
Which pages need optimising for which keywords
What pages are getting a lot of impression but not many clicks, or having many visits but a high bounce rate …
Helps to form a good view of the current URL structure of any website and fuels its improvement. In turn this provides a better experience for the user, which feeds back into the content KPIs such as improved page bounce rate, higher engagement rates and so on.
Listing the links pointing to each page forms a good picture of the link building strategy and helps to set out the future strategy.
As mentioned above by providing better, more up-to-date and relevant content, you will engage with your online audience and improve conversion rates.
You may be surprised to find out which pages or posts have been shared and at what rate. This will enable you redevelop these pages or use the formula to create more shareable content.
You’ll get a chance to evaluate your title tags with a glance, especially those of your key pages. Let’s not forget they’re still one of the most important and powerful on-page SEO elements.
And the list goes on…
There are many instances when you may consider doing a content audit.
Here, at Zazzle Media, it is embedded into our daily processes. I strongly recommend the content audit central database is created as soon as you build a website. Then, all you have to do is keep working from the same template, updating it regularly.
Some other distinct symptoms that one can use to diagnose when a content audit is well and truly overdue, are listed below:
And, again, the list goes on and on . . .
Many industry specialists have written about the best ways to conduct a content audit. But, as someone who has worked in-house and now for an agency, I would like to share with you an agile approach that works, whatever environment you are in.
First of all I use my favourite frog. Screaming Frog of course!
NOTE: If you have the free version of Screaming Frog it has a limit of 500 URLs per crawl and you will have to upgrade to crawl more. A tip to help you work around this limitation is to enter just subfolders of the site, such as http://www.mydomain.com/subfolder/, which means you will still be able crawl the site, but only in smaller portions.
Simply enter your full domain into the address bar in the crawler as shown below and hit ‘Start’.
Depending on how big your website is, this may be time to enjoy a cup of coffee while the frog does its magic.
If you have the full licence and your site is very large you can simply choose the areas you want to crawl.
For a full guide and tips on Screaming Frog check out its page here
Export all the URLs from Screaming Frog.
Filter by HTML only and export into Excel.
This export will give you most of the data you need for the audit spreadsheet:
Under the tab ‘Behaviour’, on the sidebar hit ‘All Pages’ as shown here.
Export these into Excel.
NOTE: Currently, only up to 500 rows of Analytics table data can be exported at a time into CSV format. If you need to export larger data sets you can use the workaround below.
The exported data should contain all the rows you indicated in the URL.
Once you have the entire URL list in Excel, place these into the URL Profiler and get all the data that is important to evaluate your content for you.
Image credit: URL profiler guys
We usually stick with these metrics:
Once logged into GWT, head to ‘Search Queries’ and export both tabs - Search Queries report and the Pages report.
These will help you identify areas of opportunity for certain queries and the pages that are receiving most of the clicks/generating most of the traffic to your website.
Always consider the focus of the content audit, as this will determine the rest of the audit intensity.
I’m all for going after the lower hanging fruit first and then adding as you go along or, if you have time, you can add as much data as you like, but be careful you do not become distracted and side-tracked by the volume.
Now you have all the URLs and all the data from the URL Profiler you can then collate all of these on the one master Excel spreadsheet.
Start ordering the data and include some of these tabs:
You may also want to include some extra tabs including:
This is the tab where you will decide the action to be taken for the page. Usually there are few choices here.
You can either:
Expand on the details in action including the removal strategy (301, canonical etc).
Depending on the current amount of clicks, impressions and overall importance and growth opportunity the page represents, score this from 1-5 to help you prioritise these changes in batches depending on their respective priorities.
Analyse this data by all the metrics now on the spreadsheet and if you were able to append the query data from Webmaster Tools also try to identify the lower hanging fruit and deal with these first.
Look out for things like:
Hopefully by now you will have made some decisions and your action points tab is filled along with the comments.
To get a decent and quick overview on the content gap analysis, do the following:
Use these exports to further expand your keyword research and help with your keyword mapping.
For a full and granular guide to the Competitor Audit please check out this article which includes many tips and tricks in finding keywords and pages that your competitors are ranking for.
After you have identified the gaps, start filling the content strategy sheet by using the new keywords the site is currently not ranking for next to the new page ideas.
Look at this content ideation to create awesome shareable content.
Also, once you have the topics, use Buzzsumo to get winning formulas.
Simply head to Buzzsumo and enter the topic and hit search.
Look at the pages that have the most social shares and try to pick out the framework that has contributed to the share success of these pages.
Another alternative to Buzzsumo is the newly released feature form Ahrefs here https://ahrefs.com/content-explorer/
Check out the most shared content on the web for your targeted topics, and start building something around the formula you have identified to start generating some serious traffic.
Right, if you’ve made it this far well done. You’re seriously committed and this is a testimony of your perseverance.
(Perseverance + Commitment) *Passion = Explosive Success
I cannot emphasise enough the importance of the content audit and how leveraging on-site content can impact/increase organic traffic and ultimately conversion rates by attracting and engaging more users to your website.
Can content audits be overwhelming? Yes, some can, but the rewards far outweigh the negatives.
Let me know your experience of content audits and any useful tips you may like to share.
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