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The Content Audit: Why You Need It & How to Perform One

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You’ve done it—you’ve written an incredible piece of content for your website, edited it to perfection and clicked “publish.” 

“My job here is done,” you say to yourself as you push your keyboard away with gusto and crack your knuckles. But is it really?

While you can take a moment to celebrate the awesome content you’ve just created, your job isn’t over. Now, you must take care of that piece of content to ensure it’s kept fresh and accessible. Plus, it should follow industry standards as they shift and change.

If you’re sweating, we get it—the thought of consistently tracking and updating a website full of content assets can seem overwhelming. Luckily, there’s a tool that can help: the content audit.

Wanna cut to the chase? Reach out to our team now to learn more about the content audit.

What Is a Content Audit?

A content audit is a deep dive analysis of all the content on your website. The audit covers everything from the front-end quality of your website content to the back-end details such as meta descriptions and title tags.

While content audits aren’t new, their importance is gaining traction in the marketing space. HubSpot’s State of Media & Content Planning in 2022 found that content audits are the third most effective tactic for reaching business goals. And 81% of media planners surveyed said that content audits have been effective.

During an audit, you’ll assess your content for elements such as outdated content, broken links, brand voice misuse, missing call-to-actions and so much more.

There are several goals a content audit can help you conquer. For example, a content audit can:

  • Pinpoint website content that needs updating
  • Help you determine if the content you’re creating is aligned with your goals
  • Uncover opportunities for new content
  • Identify growth areas for greater search engine optimization
  • Highlight areas of your website that are hurting the visitor experience
  • Show content mishaps such as a lack of formatting or grammar issues
  • Pinpoint website content that isn’t optimized for search
  • Ensure your brand messages are loud and clear
  • Uncover thin content that’s much too short
  • Show content that fails to speak to your ideal audience
  • Highlight content that could be repurposed into something new
  • Help you further develop your content strategy

We could go on and on.

How to Perform a Simple Content Audit

HubSpot’s survey also found that the use of content audits will grow significantly in 2022 as 37% of those surveyed plan to use them for the first time. If you’re ready to conduct an audit for the first time too, let’s dive right in.

Fully detailed content audits can be complex. In this guide, we’re giving you the steps necessary to complete a simple content audit that can help you pinpoint strengths and weaknesses fast.

To complete a simple content audit, here are the key steps you should take:

  1. Determine your content audit goals
  2. Create a content inventory
  3. Gather content data
  4. Review content data
  5. Develop an action plan

1. Determine Your Content Audit Goals

The best way to ensure your content audit is successful is to start with your goals. What do you hope to achieve after completing your audit? Goals should be specific and clear.

For example, maybe you’re looking for gaps in your current content that must be filled for the best visitor experience. Or, maybe you simply wish to see what content probably needs a refresh.

Determining your goals will help you throughout the audit process. Your goals will ensure you choose the right data to analyze and help you build a concrete action plan (more on this later).

2. Create a Content Inventory

You can’t audit your content when you don’t know what content you have, right? That’s why you must first create a content inventory.

Content inventory: A comprehensive list of all of the content on your website, including website pages, blog posts and more.

There are many ways you can do this. The process we use here at CCS involves a fantastic tool called Screaming Frog, a website crawler that makes a list of all of the URLs on your website and compiles it into a simplified report. Simply download the tool, share your website’s URL and wait for the crawl to complete.

Once you receive your report, upload it into a spreadsheet tool such as Google Sheets or Excel. This spreadsheet will be your acting content inventory and the place where you’ll input all of your audit data. Be sure to name your spreadsheet and leave room at the top for column headers.

Image shows a Google Sheet of content from the CCS website

Pro Tip

Don’t want to use a tool? That’s okay too. If you have a smaller website, you can manually input your URLs into your spreadsheet. Your website’s sitemap will come in super handy for this.

3. Gather Content Data

With all of your URLs gathered, it’s time to select which data you’ll want to focus on for your audit. This data will make up the columns on your spreadsheet and will go into further detail about each URL.

This is where your goals come back into play. For example, if you want to see which content on your website needs to be updated, you’ll want a column titled “Last Updated” or something similar. You can then input the date the content was updated last.

There are an endless number of data points you can use in your audit, depending on your goals. Keeping with our content update example above, we’d want to ensure other key elements such as meta descriptions and title tags are included on each page and that all images have alt text.

So, our content audit spreadsheet may now look something like this:

Image shows a content inventory audit inside Google Sheets

Once you determine all of the data points you wish to collect, you must then start the collection process. Luckily, tools like Screaming Frog populate some data points for you. Other tools such as Google Analytics can be helpful in finding additional data about your content.

In our own content audits, we make sure to include a column for “Page Score” or “Content Score.” As we collect our data, we grade each page based on its strengths and weaknesses. This helps us to prioritize updates later on.

You should expect this part of the content audit process to take quite some time. After all, data gathering is tedious work. However, it’s best to be as thorough as possible, so don’t rush.

4. Review Content Data

After you gather your data, it’s time to review it to determine action items. The goal here is to look at your data and see if you can spot any glaring issues or trends.

Consider our content update example. We might go through and highlight each page that hasn’t been updated in over a year. An action item would be to review these pages to ensure content is accurate and that all website pages follow current best practices.

Or, we might highlight pages that scored low inside the “Page Score” column. Our action item would be to go through and make the necessary changes to these pages to improve their score. Or, if they no longer fit our needs, remove them.

If your audit is focused on performance, you might highlight pages that have had more traffic than other pages. An action item may be to create additional content that’s similar to the most popular pages on your website.

Just like the data gathering step, this process takes time. Just remember: each change you make will directly impact your content marketing efforts in a positive way. It’s worth it!

5. Develop an Action Plan

With action items defined, it’s time to prioritize and set some goals. Trust us when we say that you won’t be able to tackle every action item you uncover at once. You must choose the ones that matter the most to you and your business now, and leave the rest for later.

We recommend starting with quick wins so you can gain some momentum. For example, if you’re updating content, ensure every page has a meta description. If performance is key for you, set a goal to brainstorm ideas for new content similar to high-performing assets. Just be sure to keep your original goals in mind as you prioritize your action items.

When we complete content audits, we like to prioritize to-dos into three buckets: To do as soon as possible, to do once immediate steps are completed, and to do as time allows.

Ready to perform your own content audit? Grab our free 7-Point Website Content Audit Checklist now.

How Often Should You Complete a Content Audit?

Great question! We recommend completing a full content audit at least once a year. However, it might be beneficial to complete one every six months or even quarterly, especially if you have a robust content strategy.

Need Help With Your Website Content Audit?

Website content audits can be complex. This is especially true for busy business owners and agencies. Our team has completed many content audits on behalf of growing businesses and we can do the same for you. Reach out to us today to learn more.

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