Conducting a content audit is serious business. Content strategy still takes up 17% of B2C budget allocations, but that is a 69% increase over 2021. And a strong content strategy starts with an SEO content audit. Dive into this step-by-step guide to boost your rankings!
A standard definition of the SEO content audit is this: the process of reviewing the content on your site in order to define actions necessary to get more and higher quality traffic to each page. On top of that, a comprehensive SEO audit will help you build your overall SEO strategy.
We talked about building a comprehensive SEO strategy in our other post. SEO content audit is an excellent way to get a picture of where you are now, then decide where you want to be.
Since it's a process, you need to take clear steps to get an accurate picture of your content.
Besides giving you a good look at the state of your website, a content audit also helps you come up with a plan of action. Here's why you should audit your website regularly:
All the data in the world won't help you if you don't use it well. So this guide is here to help you extract the data, arrange it and use it to your advantage.
A content audit is a process and if there's a process, there's a guide for it - with steps you need to take, insights you need to look for, etc. Each step described in this guide is necessary, and steps cannot be skipped.
Each point requires a deeper dive. Before that, let's look at the most popular page success metrics used in SEO audit.
Three main groups of KPIs define whether your site is ranking successfully:
Your target keywords should be bringing you organic traffic. Without traffic, chances of conversion are low. But they are just as low if you don't have the right focus keywords and thus don't bring the right audience. So it's not just quantity of traffic (but it's important too!) but quality too.
Example 1: This table is powered by Whatagraph. You can see an outline of landing pages with their focus keyword performance for a set period of time.
Example 2: With Whatagraph, you can view the list of keywords you're tracking and watch their performance change over time. Building this type of report will show you if the changes you made to the content after the audit are generating the desired results.
Example 3: Whatagraph's reports also let you see your page performance and the change over time. This is especially useful to monitor after you make the changes after the content audit. Notice the goal completions too: these goals are the performance thresholds you set for each page.
Your existing content brings about domain authority to your page, thus attracting more traffic and conversions. But the real boosts are the quality backlinks, especially from unique domains. The more your website is listed as a reference, the higher search engines rank it.
So conversions, organic traffic and keywords, referring domains - these are the top-priority metrics for your site's health. Performing a complete SEO audit will require several additional metrics, though.
Now that you know what you're looking for let's see how to retrieve this data and how to evaluate it.
Before diving into data retrieval, you first need to set benchmarks and thresholds. This will help you fulfill the primary purpose of content audits: to identify, understand and fix pages so they can bring valuable traffic.
Benchmarks are a minimum required page performance before action needs to be taken on the said page. For example, you have a blog post that per month brings you 3 conversions, ±500 unique users with slight 1% growth each month, ranks minimum top 10 on SERPS on its focus keyword. If your business model is satisfied with this performance, then this is your benchmark.
These don't have to be limited to the main 3 metrics. You can have benchmarks for the blog post length, page size and load time, even title tag length.
Benchmarks apply to all pages you audit. To utilize them well, define the definition of minimum success (i.e. SEO KPIs like organic traffic, keywords rankings, number of referring domains) and apply them to all pages.
You need to set the actual definition of success for pages that don't meet the benchmark with thresholds. So, for example, our previous page with 3 conversions and ±500 unique users does not satisfy your business needs. You set a threshold of 10 conversions and a minimum of ±1500 users. With that, you will get a clear picture of which pages you need to work on.
Again, as with benchmarks, thresholds are not limited to the top metrics. Word count, SERP rank, number of referring domains - all are fair game.
Now that you have a way to define success, it's time to develop an action plan.
Keep in mind that pages at the different stages of your funnel will have different priorities for benchmarks and thresholds:
Divide pages by these categories and indicate which metrics you're focusing on.
The action plan for a content audit should start with building a content marketing strategy. It means deciding what content to create and which existing content should be deleted, updated, merged, or left. This is precisely what benchmarks and thresholds are for.
The content audit you conducted, and the data you extracted will allow you to easily assign your web pages to one of these four categories:
Make sure that your website ranks on your brand name. If your website appears on the first organic search after all the ads - you're good to go. If not - find out what other page ranks and investigate via Ahrefs what raises it above yours.
Let's move on to the action that's happening directly on your site. For this, you will need the Higher Visibility tool. The purpose of this is to check if your site is suitable for SERPs. Let's start with the homepage title:
Next, let's go over the homepage description:
Finally, see how many H1 headers there are. Preferably, you need only one. If you find more than one, make sure to change them into H2 or other denominations.
You can go through this process on all top pages of your website. Use Ahrefs to see which pages rank highest and make yourself a list to go through. You can find this information on the Top Pages report in Ahrefs.
Alternatively, you can also go to Google Analytics to find pages with the highest traffic. Those are the ones you want to audit the most. Set a benchmark for what amount of organic traffic you aim for and select pages that pass it.
Page copies tend to bring your website down in the eyes of SERPs. A quick run by Ahrefs Content report will show you how many duplicate content pieces there are.
Don't worry if it's a duplicate disclaimer, contact information or such. They can appear on Ahrefs in red. That is normal.
What you should worry about is the actual duplicate content like blog pages, category pages, etc.
There couple of tools you can use to identify duplicate content. The most popular is the Google Search Console:
For a quick check, you can also use Copyscape - a much lighter tool:
Another helpful piece of information that Ahrefs can show you is thin content. Here you're looking for pages with a low word count that don't bring enough traffic or are invisible due to that. These are the pages you can look to update to meet your word count benchmark.
Before this, we covered more technical issues that appeared during the SEO content audit. Now let's dive fully into the content side of things.
Organic search results will show you what content ranks the best and worst on your website. For this, you will need either Google Analytics or you can stick with Ahrefs.
Using Google Analytics here's the quickest way to see your top pages:
With this information, you can determine pages that you should focus on. Also, it can help you choose pages that you need to improve in terms of content length, quality, keywords and so on.
We recommend running all these steps through all top-performing landing and blog pages. If they don't meet your benchmarks or thresholds, now you have a clear plan on how to move forward.
To check organic page rankings, you will need to jump back into Ahrefs.
This data will give you an accurate picture of your organic rankings. You can figure out which keyword each page is ranking for and determine their performance from it. Again, if they don't reach your benchmark, you can add them to the update list.
You can also do this from the other side. Enter the keyword you want to rank on and see the general trend. If it's rising - all good. If it's a downward trend or just stale - your content needs updating.
To set benchmarks for keywords, look for those that rank 3 to 5, or 5 to 10 positions. These are opportunities for rankings that you can take with good content to rank on.
The number of domains referring to your site can significantly boost your page rankings. To check the state of your backlinks, stay with Ahrefs and follow these steps:
Remember, your content authority depends not just on the quality of your writing or the keywords you rank on. It's also dependent on a "popular vote" by other pages referring to your domain. A good benchmark to set here is the number of backlinks and their rankings.
Running an analysis of your content also gives you an idea of what content is missing. Essentially, this is where you look for keywords your competitors rank on, and you don't.
You can run this check with Ahrefs:
If you're struggling with content ideas, a content gap analysis is an excellent way to get you going. From the list of keywords (as shown in the example below) you can build a full content plan.
Research what form of content your competitors use. Discuss with your copywriters and outline a simple plan and calendar to rank on these keywords.
Now you can put together a concrete roadmap of what happens next. Besides the content plan to cover the gaps, you can also work on existing pages and decide what to do with them next.
Each page should pass your established benchmarks or aim for thresholds. Here are the categories of actions you can take with your pages:
Content audits are not a one-time action. They need to be done repeatedly to set up and follow up on a solid content strategy.
That being said, here are a couple of simple guidelines to follow when it comes to the content audit frequency:
Content audits are very data-intensive. It would be hard to conduct properly without some tools. There are 6 main tools the SEO specialists use to run content audits:
Example: Here you can see an SEO overview dashboard from Whatagraph. There are three sources connected to it: Google Search Console, Google Analytics and Ahrefs. Connect them like that and you won't need to go on each tool individually. Plus, you can see trends over time.
Finally, it would help if you had a team. Ideally - and at a very minimum for in-house marketing departments - you will have a senior SEO specialist, a junior SEO specialist and a copywriter. The junior specialist should focus on data gathering and aggregating. Then the senior specialist must take the final decisions and set out plans of action for every content page. Finally, the copywriter can then take over to create, update and otherwise improve content.
While an SEO content audit can be done on your own, it's much more effective to have a dedicated team around you.
Performing content audits is meticulous work. It takes time and patience, sometimes a lot of manual work. But with the right SEO metrics and a bit of practice, your content audits can become streamlined and turn your entire website into a performance-driven conversion machine.
Published on Dec 07, 2021
WRITTEN BYIndrė Jankutė-Carmaciu
Indrė is a copywriter with an undulating passion for reading and finding gems of information. Indrė writes according to a simple motto: a picture is worth a thousand words, but somebody had to write that phrase down for us to read it.
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