Skip to content

How to Conduct a Content Audit

how to conduct a content audit

A content audit is one of the most powerful tools in your arsenal. It’s the key to ensuring your content remains effective, relevant and aligned with your company’s objectives. Without it, you risk outdated content, poor search engine optimisation (SEO) performance and wasted resources.

In essence, a content audit is your quality control. It checks that your carefully crafted copy is hitting the mark, ranking for the right keywords and engaging your audience.

Whether you’re new to content or you’re an experienced strategist, running a content audit can seem daunting without a structured, step-by-step approach. That’s why we’ve created this comprehensive content audit guide, providing a roadmap to help you navigate every part of the process.

Ready to get started? Here are the methodologies, best practices and tools required to conduct a content audit.

Table of Contents

What Is a Content Audit?

A content audit is a systematic approach to evaluating your website’s published content. It’s a methodical way of reviewing every piece, using data to learn more about its performance and spot opportunities for improvement.

There are two main types of content audit: surface-level and comprehensive audits. The first involves assessing your best and worst-performing pieces. This overview can be useful for finding quick wins, highlighting what you are doing well and discovering which areas need attention.

Whether you have a little content or a lot, a comprehensive audit covers every piece and type of content on your website. This includes blog posts, landing pages and product descriptions as well as case studies, infographics and videos.

After compiling your list of content, each piece is then assessed using a range of metrics – more on this in ‘Step One: Define Your Goals & Metrics’.

What Is the Purpose of a Content Audit?

Have you ever wondered if your content is hitting the mark? The purpose of a content audit is to provide clarity. It takes a snapshot of your content performance, compiling the information you need to make data-driven decisions about your current content assets and future content production.

Think of your content audit as a stock take. By checking your inventory, you can discover your customer favourites (the most engaging and high conversion rate content), identify the excess (duplicate or outdated content) and find out what’s missing (content gaps). 

At the end of your content audit, you will be able to answer the following questions:

  • What types of content do we have? – this covers the full scope of your content inventory, from written and interactive to visual and audio content.
  • Is our existing content valuable? – i.e., is your content accurate, relevant and up-to-date?
  • Does it cater to every step of the conversion funnel? – i.e., do you have content that reaches your audience during their awareness, consideration and decision stages?
  • How does our audience source and access our content? – i.e., does your target audience find your content via organic search, paid ads or social media?
  • What kind of engagement is our content receiving? – this covers a range of metrics, including bounce rate, scroll depth and social shares.
  • Does our content align with our brand identity and messaging? – evaluating the consistency of your tone of voice can help to build brand reputation and trust.
  • How is our content performing? – i.e., is your content converting or meeting your goals?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of our content? – i.e., what are we doing well and what can we do better?
  • How can we optimise and improve our content? – e.g., optimising for SEO, updating outdated information or expanding word count.
  • Are there any content gaps? – i.e., which topics or areas are we missing?

Why Do You Need to Conduct a Content Audit?

Unfortunately, not every piece of content hits the mark. Even with the most talented writers, well-researched content can fail to flourish. While some pieces rise through the ranks, others are lost to the great Google algorithm. That’s why you need a content audit, to ensure that every piece pulls its weight.

Whether your content is soaring or underperforming, a content audit delivers the insights to maximise your return on investment. But why is this so important? Because data shows that the average business spends a substantial amount on their content marketing. 

In fact, one third of companies dedicate almost 30% of their marketing budget to content. As a result, it makes sense to keep tabs on your investment and monitor its profitability.

The Benefits of Running a Content Audit

Still unsure whether you need to conduct a content audit? Here are 10 ways your website could benefit from running regular content audits:

  1. Increased content quality: An audit helps to identify and eliminate low-quality or duplicate content. It provides the insights to make improvements, ensuring your content is relevant, up-to-date and genuinely useful.
  2. Enhanced user experience: By evaluating content performance, you can tailor each piece to better meet the needs of your audience at each stage of the funnel.
  3. Better website usability: Digging into your content allows you to find and fix issues that impact usability. This could include replacing broken links or adding internal links to enhance the customer journey.
  4. Identification of content gaps: A content audit reveals gaps in your coverage, enabling you to identify areas and topics where new content is needed.
  5. Brand consistency: Does your content feature consistent images, messaging and tone of voice? An audit can help you strengthen and solidify brand identity. 
  6. Improved SEO performance: By locating and optimising underperforming content, an audit can boost your website’s search engine visibility.
  7. Streamlined content distribution: Do you want to improve your impressions and engagement rates? An audit could assist in sourcing your best performing content channels. 
  8. Cost savings: Improving low-performing content can help to reduce content production costs while boosting your marketing efforts.
  9. Better ROI: From keyword research and content strategy to writing and creating, content can be time consuming and costly. An audit can produce a better return on investment by ensuring it aligns with your goals.
  10. Data-driven decisions: From algorithm updates to outdated content, there are a lot of factors that can impact your content. An audit provides the data you need to make impactful decisions.

Tools That Can Help You Conduct a Content Audit

Now that you know the whats and whys of a content audit, it’s time to take a look at the tools required to carry one out effectively. There are many tools that can streamline the process, reducing manual tasks and automating data collection. Each can be used to track useful metrics, from bounce rate and page views to click-through and conversion rates.

Note: many of these tools require a sitemap. This is a file that contains information about all of the files on your website. Depending on the size and age of your website, you may not have a sitemap. However, there are a variety of tools to help you build your sitemap.

Here are our top five tools for running content audits:

Google Analytics

Google Analytics (GA) is an excellent tool for harnessing data on website traffic and user behaviour. Here you will find detailed insights into your audience demographics as well as engagement, traffic sources and goal tracking.

On top of this, GA is packed with features that can be utilised when updating and creating content. This includes funnel exploration, a tool that allows you to follow your user’s journey from browsing through to buying.

Google Search Console

Google Search Console is a free tool that can be connected to your Google Analytics account. It provides useful data for content audits, as it can help you uncover insights about search queries, monitor performance in rich results (such as featured snippets) and find information about external and internal links. 

Additionally, Google Search Console offers a range of features. Use index coverage to identify any indexing issues, select mobile usability to inspect performance on mobile devices or head to performance tracking for data on impressions, click-through rates and average position.

Screaming Frog

A popular choice for content audits, Screaming Frog is a powerful website crawling tool. It starts by collecting URLs from your sitemap and then crawls them to find content-related issues. This includes duplicate content, broken links and missing metadata.

With its user-friendly interface and extensive features, Screaming Frog simplifies the process of analysing and improving website content. You can also crawl your first 500 URLs for free, which makes it ideal for smaller websites in particular.

Ahrefs

Ahrefs is a comprehensive SEO and audit tool, providing the data you need to analyse your website’s content and backlinks. This includes insights into content performance, keyword rankings and competitor analysis.

Utilise their rank tracking tool to monitor keyword performance, site explorer to discover your top-performing pages or content explorer to identify content gaps and ideas.

Semrush

Available from $120 per month, Semrush is an all-in-one digital marketing tool. In terms of content, it can be used to improve optimisation, drive higher levels of engagement and boost conversions. 

Like Ahrefs, Semrush offers an extensive suite of features and reports. This includes their content audit tool, which evaluates the quality and effectiveness of your content. It does this by analysing factors such as word count, readability, keyword usage and engagement metrics. 

How to Conduct Your Content Audit

Running a content audit can feel like an overwhelming task, which is why we have split the process into five easy-to-follow steps. In the first step, you will define your goals and metrics; in the fifth, you will design your auditing schedule.

Whether you are following this guide in real time or simply trying to learn more about the process, here are the five stages of conducting a content audit:

Step One: Define Your Goals & Metrics

The first stage of running a content audit involves defining your metrics and setting your goals. A content audit can be a long and resource-intensive process, so having clearly defined objectives and parameters will help you stay on track, prioritise your content and measure your success.

When setting your goals, we recommend reflecting on your wider business objectives. For example, are you aiming to grow a new product line? Build brand loyalty? Or increase sales? Your content and audit-related goals should blend seamlessly with your overarching objectives, supporting and driving business growth.

After outlining your goals, you need to select corresponding metrics. These are the data sets that you will use to measure the success of your current content and track the progress of any changes you implement.

Generally speaking, metrics can be separated into five categories:

  • SEO metrics: organic traffic, keyword rankings, backlinks, domain authority, etc.
  • User behaviour metrics: users, pageviews, bounce rate, average time on site, pages per session, etc.
  • Brand awareness metrics: referral traffic, impressions, branded search volume, etc.
  • Engagement metrics: likes, comments, shares, mentions, etc.
  • Lead generation/sales metrics: click-through rates, conversion rates, etc.

To help you get started, here are some examples of measurable content audit goals and their relevant metrics.

Example One: Improving SEO Rankings & Results

A content audit can be a cost-effective way of improving your SEO performance. It’s a particularly good means of spotting quick wins. After all, it’s easier to boost ranking for a page that is already showing in the search engine results pages (SERPs).

To assess your content assets, you could use the following metrics:

  • Organic traffic
  • Keyword rankings
  • Click-through rate
  • Backlinks
  • Bounce rate
  • Time on page

These metrics can be useful in determining the quality of your content. For example, high-quality content is likely to be engaging and will therefore have a lower bounce rate and longer average time on page.

When setting SEO-related goals, remember you should always work towards measurable benchmarks. For example, ‘improving a specific piece of content from position [x] to position [x] within a time frame of [x]’.

To reach your goal, you may need to update or optimise content. This could involve rewriting the piece to ensure it aligns with search intent, correcting outdated information or improving keyword optimisation.

Example Two: Boosting Engagement

Your content is the key to boosting engagement. With the right format, information and messaging, you can encourage your audience to browse, spend longer on your website and share pages or products.

To analyse your current engagement levels, consider these metrics:

  • Page views
  • Time on page
  • Bounce rate
  • Scroll depth
  • Social shares
  • Comments, mentions and interactions

Like the previous example, it’s important to set a timed and quantifiable goal. E.g., ‘reduce bounce rate by [x]% over a period of [x]’ or ‘increase scroll depth by [x]% over [x] months’.

When assessing levels of engagement, the engagement report in Google Analytics can be a good place to start. This report can help you identify your most popular pieces, see which formats generate the most interactions and spot trends.

For example, you find that the scroll depth has decreased on a popular guide. It might be time to rewrite your introduction or improve above-the-fold copy, enhance the structure and readability with a table of contents, or enhance its visual appeal with images.

Example Three: Driving Conversions

Thirdly, a content audit can reveal how well your content is converting. By tracking the right metrics, you can find out if your content is helping to move readers through the sales funnel and turning leads into buyers.

Here are the metrics that can highlight conversion rates:

  • Conversion rates
  • Goal completions
  • Click-through rate
  • Conversion funnel analysis
  • Attribution analysis

When you have found and compiled this data, it’s time to take a critical look at your content. Analysing content from your audience’s perspective is key. To do this, ask yourself:

  • Does your content offer valuable information, expertise or entertainment?
  • Does it answer your reader’s questions and align with their intent?
  • Does it include a CTA or outline their next steps?

These questions will allow you to find patterns and set goals. For example, boosting internal links in order to ‘increase click-through rate by [x]% over [x] months’ or adding new CTAs to help ‘improve goal completions by [x] date’.

Step Two: Identify Content Assets & Create Categories

With your goals and metrics defined, you are ready to conduct your stocktake. This step involves cataloguing your content inventory. First, you need to select the types of content you want to audit. Next, you need to categorise your URLs.

Select & Identify Your Content Types

The number and type of assets you choose will depend upon the depth of the audit you intend to conduct. For example, are you running a comprehensive audit that covers every piece of content on your website? Are you focusing on written content? Or do you want to track content that has recently been updated, rewritten or repurposed?

Here are the types of content that your audit could include:

  • Blog posts and articles
  • Guides
  • Landing pages
  • Product descriptions
  • Case studies and testimonials
  • Infographics
  • Videos
  • Whitepapers
  • Ebooks
  • Interactive content such as quizzes

Collect & Categorise Your URLs

When you have decided on the scope of your audit, it’s time to compile all of your URLs into a spreadsheet. This will make it easier for you to categorise your content, spot patterns and plan changes to meet your goals.

If you are choosing one format or have a smaller website, you could do this manually by finding and copying your URLs. However, to speed up the process, we recommend using Screaming Frog.

After discovering all of your URLs, use your spreadsheet to categorise your content. We recommend including the following details and criteria:

  • URL
  • Page title
  • Metadata (title, meta description, h1, etc.)
  • Topic/purpose
  • Author
  • Word count
  • Date it was published/last modified
  • Content type/format (e.g., blog post, landing page, video etc.)
  • Funnel stage (e.g., awareness, consideration, decision)
  • Focus keyword(s)
  • Average rank of your target keyword(s)

Depending on the goals you set in step one, you can also create columns for additional metrics. For example, page views, average time on page, backlinks, bounce rate, click-through rate, conversion rate and shares.

Step Three: Track Metrics & Analyse Data

With all of your URLs in your spreadsheet, it’s time to progress to the next stage of the content audit process: tracking your metrics and analysing your data. Here we detail how to locate your chosen metrics and interpret the data.

This step is likely to be the longest and most complex part of your audit. So, open your spreadsheet, grab a cup of tea and get ready to dive in.

Types of Metrics & What They Mean

First off, you need to know what metrics you can track, what they mean and what they can tell you. Here’s a quick breakdown of some common metrics that are analysed during content audits:

  • Average time on site: Shows how long, on average, visitors spend on your site. A higher time suggests that visitors find your content valuable and engaging.
  • Backlinks: Measures the quantity and quality of links pointing to your content, indicating its authority and relevance to search.
  • Bounce rate: Displays the percentage of visitors who leave your site after viewing one page, highlighting potential issues with content relevance or quality.
  • Click-through rate: Reflects the percentage of users who click on your content via search engine results or other channels, indicating its appeal to users.
  • Conversion rates: Tracks the percentage of visitors who complete a desired action, such as signing up for your newsletter or making a purchase. This metric shows how effective your content is at driving conversions.
  • Impressions: Reveals how many times your content appears in the search engine results. Resultantly, it provides information about the visibility and the size of your audience.
  • Keyword rankings: Monitors the position of your content in search engine results for target keywords, highlighting its visibility and relevance to search queries.
  • New users: Shows how many visitors are new to your site, providing information on the acquisition of new users and how they interact with your content.
  • Organic traffic: Measures the number of visitors who find your content through organic search, indicating its visibility within the search results.
  • Pages per session: Tracks the number of pages a user views in a single session. Higher numbers suggest strong interlinking and user-friendly navigation.
  • Page views: Counts the total number of times your content has been viewed, reflecting its popularity and reach.
  • Returning users: Shows how many users have previously visited your site, providing information about audience loyalty and engagement.
  • Scroll depth: Gauges how far users scroll down your pages, offering insights on engagement and user intent.
  • Social shares: Tracks how many times your content has been shared on social media platforms, reflecting its popularity among users.
  • Time on page: Tallies the average duration users spend on your content, indicating relevance, value and engagement.
  • Unique visitors: Counts the number of individuals who visit your content, showing its reach and audience size.

Locating & Tracking Your Metrics

The easiest way to locate and track your metrics is to use some of the tools outlined above – you can revisit these in ‘Tools That Can Help You Conduct a Content Audit’. This includes Google Analytics, Google Search Console and Semrush.

Google Analytics Reports

With a world of data at your fingertips, Google Analytics is a must-have tool for content audits. You can find some of the most valuable insights under ‘Reports’ > ‘Engagement’. This includes the ‘landing page report’ and the ‘pages and screens report’.

The landing page report details the first pages a visitor lands on; the pages and screens report displays the pages and screens users visited via your website and your app. Both reports feature metrics such as sessions, new users and average engagement time.

Google Search Console Reports

Google Search Console offers a number of useful reports. This includes the performance report, which shows how your website is performing within Google Search. If your goals include improving SEO performance then the metrics here will be useful. This includes click-through rate, average position and impressions.

Semrush Reports

If Semrush is your tool of choice, then visit the position tracking feature. This allows you to track your website’s visibility and ranking positions for target keywords in organic search results. It monitors changes over time, helping you to spot opportunities to update and improve your content.

Interpreting & Analysing Your Data

After tracking down your metrics and transferring the data to your spreadsheet, the next step is to interpret and analyse the results. This data set contains everything you need to know about the current state and performance of your content. It’s a case of digging through it, connecting the dots and noticing patterns.

Unsure where to begin? Here are some questions to consider:

  • What are the top-performing pages or pieces of content and what characteristics do they share?
    Which pages have the highest bounce rates and what factors might be contributing to this behaviour?
    Are there any trends or patterns in user engagement, such as time on page or scroll depth?
  • How do different traffic sources impact performance and which channels drive the most engagement?
    Are there any pages where engagement or traffic has been declining?
  • Which keywords are driving traffic to our content? And are there any opportunities to further optimise for relevant keywords?
  • What are the key conversion pathways for our content? Are there any issues or barriers preventing users from completing the desired actions?
  • Are there any technical issues identified that may be impacting content performance, such as broken links or crawl errors?

By answering these questions, you may notice that patterns begin to emerge. For example, high traffic pages with a high bounce rate, or low traffic pages with a high conversion rate. For the former, the content may need updating or rewriting to provide more value or match search intent; the latter may lack optimisation or they could be orphan pages.

For each pattern, note the issues that are present and where the content sits within the conversion funnel.

Step Four: Create a Prioritised Action Plan

Step four is where you put all of your findings into a prioritised action plan. You know which pieces of content are soaring and which pages are falling short. Now it’s time to set out how you will improve your content and meet your goals.

To start, add three new columns to your spreadsheet: status, priority and action.

Set the Status

The status column outlines what type of work each piece of content requires. It could be that some content requires no or minimal work, while others need more extensive updates.

Generally speaking, you can split status into six categories:

  • Keep: Use this action for any content that does not require any updating.
  • Refresh/optimise: Select this category for low-performing pages that contain outdated statistics or have little optimisation – this content is likely to have low traffic or high bounce rates.
  • Rewrite: Have you found content that is failing to convert? It may need rewriting to improve relevance and propel action.
  • Redirect: Has the audit highlighted issues with keyword cannibalisation? If it’s harming your keyword ranking, it might be time to redirect.
  • Delete: This final category should only be chosen when outdated content is harming your performance and cannot be updated. For example, a blog post that relates to products you no longer stock or content that covers an old event.
  • Repurpose/reuse: Reformatting is a cost-effective way to reuse and extend the life of your best performing pages. E.g., turning a blog post into a video.

Decide the Priority

The priority column organises the content in order of importance, i.e. the order in which you will take the actions outlined above. This should be decided in line with the goals you created in step one.

For example, if you are looking for quick SEO wins, you may prioritise the content that needs to be refreshed or optimised. If you want to expand your engagement, you could choose to repurpose your top performing content for use on your social media platforms. For driving conversion rates, you might prioritise the content aimed at the decision stage of the funnel.

When deciding priority, ask yourself: ‘which pieces will give me the best results with the least effort?’ It’s important to assess your resources and budget against the time required and the potential impact.

Assign the Action

Your findings in step three will have revealed issues with your content. This is the column where you can explain these issues alongside the steps that need to be taken. This information will instruct the work, so make sure that each piece of advice is self explanatory and actionable.

For example:

  • Update statistics, facts or research
  • Alter content to make it more evergreen
  • Expand content to answer more questions
  • Change the CTA and add internal links
  • Optimise for the focus keyword(s)
  • Restructure and enhance formatting to enhance readability
  • Add or improve visuals
  • Refresh metadata
  • Add 301 redirects
  • Implement structured data markup

Step Five: Create an Auditing Schedule

A content audit is more than a one-off task, it’s a process that should be performed at regular intervals. Like getting a service on your car, an audit ensures that your content is still performing as it should and reveals any issues that need to be fixed.

Regular content audits are essential for maintaining the quality, relevance and effectiveness of your content strategy. But how often you should run a content audit depends on a variety of factors, from the size of your website to how many pieces you have and how often you publish new content.

It’s a subject that is widely debated amongst marketers, with some believing an annual audit is adequate and others stating that quarterly audits are optimal. However, biannual appears to be the common consensus.

According to a recent report, 60% of marketers conduct biannual content audits. It seems this figure could significantly boost performance, with 50% of marketers reporting that their resulting improvements led to increased traffic and engagement.

To set an effective auditing schedule, you need to determine the frequency and scope of your content audit based on a. the size of your inventory, b. the pace of your content creation and c. your business goals. For smaller websites, an annual audit might be more than adequate; for larger sites, quarterly audits might be more appropriate.

Remember, the Google algorithm regularly changes. So, what is effective today may not be effective tomorrow.

Your Website Content Audit Checklist

To recap, here are the key steps of a content audit:

  1. Set your goals and objectives – define specific, measurable goals and assign relevant metrics.
  2. Catalogue your content inventory – collect your URLs in a spreadsheet and categorise by content type, funnel stage and your other chosen metrics.
  3. Select and locate your metrics – use tools such as Google Analytics, Google Search Console and Semrush to collect data on your content assets.
  4. Analyse your metrics – review metrics to spot patterns and find your content-related issues.
  5. Decide on the status – determine how you will use this data to enhance your content. E.g., keep, refresh or repurpose.
  6. Determine your priorities – prioritise content based on your business goals, factoring in budget, resource and predicted results.
  7. Assign the relevant action – e.g., expanding content, optimising or implementing redirects.
  8. Set your audit schedule – decide on the regularity of your audits, i.e., annually, biannually, quarterly, etc. 

Elevate Your Content With an Effective Audit

A content audit is the ultimate way to make your content stronger, improve your online presence and get your messaging right. Without regular audits, it can be difficult to determine the true value of your content and get the most out of your investment.

By following this step-by-step guide, you will gain a more accurate picture of your current content performance. From understanding audience engagements to pinpointing areas for improvement, this process provides the data you need to refine and improve your content strategy.

However, with so much information packed into this guide, we know you might have questions or need more guidance. That’s where we come in. 

Here at Another Concept, our seasoned content experts are ready to help. From strategy refinement to audit support, contact us today if you want to elevate your content game.

Author

  • Tom Brook

    Tom has more than 10 years of experience working in copywriting, content strategy and PR. Over the years, he’s led one of the largest copywriting teams in the UK and has worked on a freelance basis for some of the country’s biggest brands.

    View all posts