Hey, wait didn’t we already write something about this?
Why isn’t this blog post ranking on Page 1 for anything yet?
Should we update this content or create a new one?
These are common questions when working on a content team. If you find yourself asking these questions, it might be worthwhile to take a step back and conduct a content audit.
In dealing with enterprise clients, I always try to do a content audit at the beginning of the engagement and then continue to run these every quarter.
The reason I want to do a content audit at the beginning of the partnership is to better understand what content is performing well organically and what content on their site might need a little bit more love.
This is also helpful for a content team to review the performance of all the content they’ve written or that exists on their site.
It provides a 30,000-foot view of our site as sometimes we get so stuck in the weeds we lose sight of the bigger picture or can’t recall what we’ve done in the past.
As a content team, we might already be bucketing or categorizing our content into different themes, personas, and categories.
In this article, we’ll focus on how to bucket content during an audit in a way that will help you understand what to do with it in the future.
There are several options we might have after doing a content audit, such as:
- Protect and monitor top-tier content.
- Re-optimize underperforming content.
- Consolidate content that is too similar.
- Create new content.
Let’s dive deeper into what a content audit is, how we can prioritize the content on our site, and what resources we might need to accomplish this.
What Is A Content Audit?
A content audit is the process of cataloging and analyzing all site content in order to find any and all strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities.
Content audits are a qualitative view of your content, so they can differ from website to website. However, we can conduct them in the same format.
Content audits are also a great way to break down silos within a company as it might require multiple teams for this analysis and implementation, including digital marketers, SEO professionals, content marketers, and web developers.
A content audit enables us to begin addressing any weak spots within our website such as pages with thin content, visit metrics, or internal links. In doing this analysis, we can plan out what we might need to do to improve our content.
The overall goal of a content audit is to increase our organic search performance.
By analyzing how our past content has performed and which content our audience likes best, we can begin to locate gaps within our own content strategy and generate new ideas for future content.
What Resources Are Needed For A Content Audit?
Before we start categorizing and bucketing our content, we need to compile data around how the content is performing today.
There are a variety of sources we can use to analyze this content and it depends on how many different resources you want to use.
Typically, the first resource we need to use is a crawling tool to identify all the indexable URLs on our site.
After using Screaming Frog, DeepCrawl, or another similar tool, we can bring in organic performance data such as keyword rankings from an enterprise SEO platform or from a smaller tool we have.
Additionally, it’s helpful to pull in your Google Analytics or Google Search Console data to better understand how users are engaging with our current content.
To summarize, the relevant sources we can use in a content audit are:
- Site crawling technology.
- SEO software and tools.
- Analytics and webmaster tools.
When we are doing a lighter version of the content audit, we should typically only look at a few data points such as organic traffic, keyword rankings, clicks, impressions, and maybe internal links.
If we’re doing a more in-depth analysis, we might want to include a lot of other metrics such as word count, goal conversions, bounce rate, technical issues existing on the page, and many more.
To summarize, the metrics we would consider for this content audit include:
- Organic traffic.
- Organic keyword rankings broken out into Page 1, 2, 3+ rankings.
- Click-through rate.
- Links, both internal and external.
- Word count.
- Bounce rate.
- Time on page.
The reason we like to use as many data sources as possible is that there are no specific rules to say if our content is doing XYZ, then it’s good or bad.
There’s no single way to do SEO or analyze this content.
The different data sources allow us to see trends within our content and on specific subfolders to help inform the recommendations later on.
Now that we’ve compiled all the data sources, let’s start to break down how we can categorize and bucket our content for prioritization.
(If you need more help on the nuts and bolts of the content audit before moving on, see Ashley Segura’s Content Audit Checklist.)
How To Bucket Content During A Content Audit
After we compile all the data around our content, it’s time to break up the content into different buckets.
There are a lot of ways we can categorize our content. But overall, we need to find ways to make this data more digestible not only for ourselves but for the other teams and stakeholders we will present it to.
1. Bucket Content By Subfolder/Theme
The first step during any content audit is to categorize the pages on our site by either the subfolder they exist in or by a theme.
The subfolder route might be the easiest way to do this since they are already in the proper URL structure.
We could also start to categorize the content by business line, product, campaign, or consumer intent.
The reason it’s helpful to do this, in the beginning, is that we can start to see trends within certain subfolders or service lines on our website.
Also, there are many times when different teams are in control of their own business line and pages so this can be helpful when we need to disseminate the information out after.
This can allow us to start to do mini content audits on our site if one team is more willing to make changes than another.
By analyzing the content on our site, we can see if there are certain areas that do better than others. We can start to replicate the SEO wins and learnings on the other parts of our site.
Now we need to start to assign different scores to our content based on the data we’ve collected.
2. Bucket Content By Performance (Good, Moderate, & Underperforming)
One of the main ways we should be prioritizing and bucketing out content is by performance.
We have a ton of data to absorb. But we need to start assigning scores to our content in order to understand what we should be doing with this content.
Typically, once we aggregate all data sources in a primary document, the next step is to find the averages from the performance data (traffic, keyword rankings, internal links, conversions, etc.).
By finding the averages, it allows us to see what content is already doing well and what content might need a little more love and attention.
Once we have the averages, we can put all the URLs that are well above the average as Good Performance. The URLs that fell well below the average are Underperforming. Everything else in between is Moderate.
This is where there are no hard and fast rules to follow. Every content audit is different and we can use different metrics depending on what part of the site we are looking at.
For example, if we are doing a content audit around our blog and we know there aren’t a ton of conversions on this subfolder, it might not make sense to use this as a major data point. That’s because we know the averages are going to be low across the board.
However, if we know the blog is lacking internal links and that’s one of the main reasons we are doing this analysis, then it’s definitely worthwhile to use this data point.
Now that we have categorized our content into different ranges based on their performance, we can further bucket them based on what we want to do with the content.
3. Bucket Content Based On Actionable Next Steps (Do Nothing, Re-Optimize, Consolidate)
The data we’ve collected so far now has to be put to use and there must be an actionable next step related to the content within the audit.
We’ve already broken the content into different score ranges based on performance so now we have to assign what we should do with it.
We need to evangelize SEO to our content teams and let them know what specific action we want them to take based on the SEO data.
The content that we feel is in “Good” performance and we are happy with because it ranks for a lot of keywords or converts well, we should do nothing with.
If we start to see a lot of content in the “Moderate” performance bucket that has a lot of Page 2 keywords or somehow still converts well vs. the other pages in this bucket, we should consider re-optimizing the page.
By updating the page and trying to rank for more keywords, we can make this page more visible organically and increase the amount of traffic or conversion to this page.
When we look at the content in the “Underperforming” bucket, there are a few things we can do here.
We could re-optimize this page and hope it ends up ranking better. Or, we could consider consolidating this content.
During many different content audits with clients, we start to see how there are a lot of pages with similar topics and they are actually competing with each other.
If this is the case, it might make sense to consolidate the content or repurpose the content to make one piece the winner.
There should now be actionable next steps related to all the content on our site, and we can begin to work on creating a timeline for making improvements.
A content audit is one of the most useful things you can do as a content team or SEO team to take a step back from the website and analyze what is happening.
There are always insightful discoveries surfaced during a content audit, whether it’s a piece of content converting well we didn’t know about or a ton of content we didn’t realize was so similar.
The data we’ve compiled needs to be analyzed so we can figure out what to do, so here are the buckets we recommend for categorizing content during the audit:
- Theme: Subfolder, business line, consumer intent.
- Performance: Good, Moderate, Underperforming.
- Actionable next steps: Do nothing, re-optimize, consolidate.
Every team needs prioritization, from developers to the content team. By using this data, we can make a large dataset more digestible for non-SEOs and other internal teams.
The content audit only really works if we take action on the recommendation we find by analyzing the data. If we don’t make any changes, we won’t see improvement.
When you start to make changes it’s important to monitor the content using an enterprise platform or another SEO tool.
Keep tabs on what is happening after you made the changes, and also monitor the content you know is already doing well.
The best part of a content audit is that you can always run it again later on to see what has happened to the content that was once marked Moderate or Underperforming.
Pro Tip: Keep track of the previous content audits you ran so you can keep reporting on the previous scores assigned.
- A Simple Guide to Perform a Comprehensive Content Audit
- How to Do a Content Gap Analysis for SEO
- Content Marketing: The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide
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