When you started your company website, you likely spent time developing a strategy for how often you’d post, what topics you’d cover and how your new content would help your visitors. But after a while, even the most well thought out content creation strategies tend to fall apart.
Maybe you get so swamped with other projects that you haven’t updated your site in months. Or maybe you’ve fallen into the trap of posting blog articles on the topics that interest you -- not those that best connect with your readers. Whatever the case may be, it’s probably time for you to audit the content on your site.
A web content audit involves compiling a list of all the different content pieces on your site, analyzing their respective worth and using your analysis to identify any gaps in your existing pages. For example, as the result of a web content audit of your site, you might notice that you’ve been focusing too heavily on industry news to the exclusion of the detailed product information your customers need to make buying decisions. Realigning your content focus as the result of this audit can make both your website and your online buying process stronger.
Here’s how to get started with a web content audit:
Step 1: Compile a spreadsheet of all the pages on your website.
If your site is small, you can manually copy and paste all of your URLs into a spreadsheet. If it’s larger (if, for instance, you have hundreds of blog posts or product pages), use a free crawling tool like Screaming Frog to create your list.
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Step 2: Gather information on each page.
Depending on how in-depth you’d like your content audit to be, gather some or all of the following types of information:
- Average daily page visits. High traffic volume pages can indicate content topics that are resonating with your viewers, but be careful not to overlook seasonal pages that may have more variable page visit rates.
- Bounce rates. The bounce rate refers to the percentage of visitors to your site who leave the site after viewing only one page. High bounce rates may demonstrate that visitors aren’t finding the information they need on your pages or that they aren’t being effectively enticed to remain on your site longer.
- Content subject. Based on your industry, give each content page a general subject classification as in, “industry news,” “product updates,” “case studies,” or "product specs." This can help you identify subject areas you’ve overlooked recently.
- Buying process stage. The online buying process includes several different stages, such as awareness of need, searching for solutions, consideration of alternatives, final decision making and customer retention. Determine which of these stages each of your content pieces supports in order to identify any missing information.
- Conversions. If you track conversions on a page-by-page basis, make note of the number of conversions each of your pages is responsible for.
- Page authority. Page Authority (PA) is a metric generated by Seattle-based online marketing and SEO firm Moz that assigns a value to a page’s number of inbound links and the relative strength of those links. These scores can be found using the Open Site Explorer or the free MozBar tool.
- Social shares. Especially in the case of your individual blog posts, make note of the number of social shares each of your URLs have received on Facebook, Twitter or any other social network your company is active on.
- Quality flags. As you’re going through your content, make special note of any pages that have fewer than 200 words or that have duplicate content as other pages on your site. Both of these issues represent potential quality issues that could be flagged by the search engines and should be immediately addressed following your audit.
Step 3. Develop an action plan based on your data.
Compiling all the information above can be time-consuming, especially if your site is large. However, the more data you’re able to capture with your audit, the better off you’ll be when it comes to analyzing your content in order to develop an action plan.
Suppose you’ve completed your audit and, upon review, noticed that the “behind the scenes” blog posts you’ve shared to your website have the most social shares and the lowest bounce rates. This could be an indication that your audience engages best with these types of posts and that you should publish more in the future.
Or maybe you notice that all of the pages you’ve set up to convert browsers into buyers have high bounce rates and low conversion rates. This might mean that your website needs more supporting content to guide through would-be customers through the decision-making process or that the content shared on these landing pages needs to be adjusted.
There’s no hard and fast rule for interpreting your content audit results, but if you’ve been diligent in your information gathering then you should be able to identify a patterns that help you to identify weaknesses in your website’s pages. By testing and tracking the results of any changes you implement post-audit, you’ll be able to use this valuable tool to make a major difference in your company’s online performance.