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How To Do A Content Audit: The Ultimate Checklist

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How To Do A Content Audit: The Ultimate Checklist


How long has it been since the last time you did a complete inventory and analysis of your content?

This is known as a content audit, and most content creators are so focused on creating new content that they forget to audit what they’ve already created.

If it’s been over twelve months, you may be basing your content strategy on out-of-date information.

Here are a few reasons why you need to audit your content on a regular basis:

  • Goals: Is your content achieving its goals? What is your ROI from the content you’ve produced? You won’t know unless you measure your content’s performance and track it through regular audits.
  • Staleness: Your content can become stale or even outdated over time. Don’t beat yourself up, though. Stale content isn’t always your fault. What was relevant two years ago may simply need updating now.
  • Accuracy: As your content ages, facts and data that once were true can become inaccurate. Running an audit through your content regularly will ensure your post’s accuracy, helping to protect both your brand’s reputation and your search rankings.
  • Know What’s Working: How will you ever know what type of content or which blog post is your most successful if you never go back to audit all of your content pieces? Perhaps pumping out three blog posts a week is really just tiring, and not actually producing any results. You’ll never know if you don’t go back and do a content audit to see which pieces perform best, and which were the worst.

Hopefully one, if not all, of those bullets spoke to you and you now understand why it’s so important to audit your content regularly.

Now, let’s get into the audit breakdown.

Content Details Audit

The first part of a content audit dissects the basics for each piece of content and is a one-time entry on your audit.

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Look at how the content was created, how many people it took to create the content, and the basic publishing information.

Screenshot from Google Sheets, December 2021

You’ll want to track the following for each piece of content in a separate content details audit spreadsheet:

  • URL.
  • Author.
  • Which team produced it (content team, social team, SEO team, etc.).
  • Total Time (how long did it take to produce the content in its entirety).
  • Title.
  • Date.
  • Content Type (is it a blog post, infographic, case study, etc.).
  • Content Goal (what was the point of producing the content: backlinks, traffic, conversions, etc.).
  • Word count.
  • Comments.
  • Shares (break this down by social network and total).

Content Data Audit

Here comes the fun part. The content data portion of your audit needs to come with its own handy dandy excel doc, just like this one I created for you.

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Perform A Past Audit

Before we get into the data, you need to backtrack and audit your past produced content.

Knowing how the content you’ve published performs will help you gauge what kind of content you need to create in the future — and what kind not to create.

This part of your content audit is going to be time-consuming, at least in the beginning.

You’ll need to decide how far back you want to begin your content audit and then gather all of the content URLs for that time period.

I recommend going back at least one year and gathering data for how your content performed the year before.

Collecting all of your past content URLs doesn’t have to be a manual process, though.

Luckily, there are plenty of website analytics tools like Google Analytics or SEMrush’s Content Audit tool that can quickly inventory your content based on your sitemap data. These can provide you with a list of content URLs to audit.

Content AnalyzerScreenshot from SEMrush, December 2021

Prepare Yourself For Ongoing Audits

Once you’ve caught up and added all of last year’s content into your Excel doc, you can repeat this audit activity for new content on a weekly basis.

It will be much easier to keep track of your content and audit it regularly when you’re only having to go back one week to input data.

Add the data from the next section to your Excel doc and upload the most recent numbers and stats on a weekly basis.

Over time, take note of any drastic changes.

Sometimes content, especially evergreen content, can take months before it really takes off.

Metrics To Track

Here are the metrics you’ll want to track for your content data audit:

Comments

A properly moderated comments section can add valuable user-generated content to your blog posts and articles. If one of your content goals is to build a community on your website, you will want to know what content types and topics generate conversation.

Use the UGC link attribute to ensure you’re compliant with Google’s requirements for link markup.

If you don’t allow comments on your blog, check for comments on your social media posts about your content.

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Social Shares

Some marketers brush off social shares as vanity metrics. However, monitoring your content’s social popularity can help you discover the topics most likely to intrigue specific social audiences.

Businesses that know most of their conversions come from Facebook, for example, would want to create content popular with Facebook audiences.

An analysis of which posts had the most social shares on Facebook in the past is a good way to find out what topics may do well in the future.

Organic Traffic

Ideally, your content will receive a lot of organic traffic.

If you aren’t getting organic traffic, that could be a potential red flag.

Perhaps there is something wrong with:

  • Your content strategy.
  • How you’re distributing the content.
  • The content type.
  • The content itself.

By evaluating the organic traffic metrics regularly in your audit, you’ll know when you can pat yourself on the back or when you need to start over.

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Bounce Rate

Are website visitors arriving on your webpages and exiting without engaging with your content? If Google Analytics cannot detect scrolling, clicks, or other interactions with your content before a user leaves, it is considered a bounce.

And if you have a high bounce rate, that could be a sign of bad content.

Ideally, your content is a gateway that leads a user from a search to your website, entertains or informs them, and then guides them to more content, depending on their needs.

An extended time on page in conjunction with a low bounce rate signals “sticky” content that keeps users intrigued enough to continue on to more of your content.

Unsure of what a good bounce rate is?

A range of 26% to 40% is what many consider to be optimal, though on average it could even go up to 55%.

Backlinks

Bring on the backlinks – but only the good backlinks that give us a lot of boost and credibility, please!

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You need to track the backlinks that your content produces on a regular basis for two big reasons:

  • Your backlinks will change over time. The first day you publish a new piece of content, you may gain 2–3 backlinks. Let a week go by and maybe now 10-12 backlinks have appeared. A year down the road, you could have 589 backlinks to one piece of content as it is promoted, discovered, and shared.
  • Not all backlinks are good. Sure, 589 backlinks might sound like a good thing, but not if 500 of those backlinks are potentially dangerous to your website, lead to spam, paid, or lead to a poor website, you may want to consider removing those unnatural backlinks.

Time On Page

If your content is a long-form blog post of 2,500 words and the average time on page is 18 seconds, something is wrong.

This metric will inform you if your content just isn’t right for your audience, or if it is and you need to create more content focusing on topics just like it.

Unique Visitors

We want lots of unique visitors viewing our content and increasing the amount of views the piece of content gets.

The more views, the more chances of ROI from content like conversions, engagement, shares, and backlinks.

Pages Per Session

How many pages is the user looking at after they have viewed your content?

What pages are they going to?

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A blog post about the best winter coats to have can encourage a user to then click on links within the blog post and shop around on your website for different coats. Heck, maybe they’ll even make a purchase (<– goal!).

New Vs. Returning Users

Are you attracting a new audience with this piece of content?

Returning users are great. Returning customers are even better.

But we also need to aim to attract new users with our content. Ideally, you want to see a good mix of both.

Traffic Sources

Learn where your traffic is coming from by defining your main traffic sources.

If a majority of your content’s traffic is coming from Facebook, post more of your content on your Facebook page.

If hardly any is coming from your email newsletters, it may be time to restructure your emails.

Conversions

If your goal for a new piece of content is to generate 100 conversions in the first quarter (let’s say, email opt-ins for your email newsletter), you need to add a column and track the number of conversions coming in from that piece of content.

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Perhaps the first week, there are only two conversions and you begin to doubt the content entirely.

Let two months go by and continue to audit each week. You may notice that now, the content has produced 140 total conversions, not only hitting your goal but surpassing it.

Auditing on an ongoing basis helps to give the figures you’re seeing valuable context, enabling you to make smarter, data-backed decisions.

Additional Information To Track

If you want to add more details about your content, here are some ideas of what to track.

SEO Title & Meta Description

Add columns to your spreadsheet for these SEO fields on each piece of content.

It will help when optimizing your content in the future to see all of the SEO titles and meta descriptions you’ve used in one place.

UTM Parameters

Keep track of specific promotional campaigns for each piece of content by logging any custom UTM parameters you used to track your content.

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These may come in handy when you’re creating UTM parameters for new content or when you’re looking for data on past content in Google Analytics.

Leads / Sales

If you have conversion events set up in Google Analytics, you can see which landing pages generate the most revenue. Visit the Pages and screens report under Engagement to see which pages on your website are leading to conversions.

This will give you insight into the types of content and content topics that make a positive impact on your ROI.

Email Metrics

How well did your content perform when you shared it with your email list?

If email engagement is an important goal for your content, you’ll want to keep track of your opens, clicks, and forwards to see which content performs best.

Repurposed Content

Have you taken a collection of posts and turned them into an ebook, or vice versa? Keep track of the content you’ve repurposed.

Combine metrics from the main content and additional pieces of related content to see how repurposing benefits your content strategy.

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Top Keyword Ranking

Did a particular piece of content stay at the top of the SERPs for its target keyword phrase?

Note the best keyword rankings and how long they lasted to determine which types of content have long-term search wins and which types have short-term search wins.

Influencer Reach

Did you work with any influencers to get the word out about your content? Note the influencers that generated the most traffic or social shares for content.

You may want to work with them again in the future for similar types of content.

Measure Results

Based on what your original content goals are, you need to decide whether your content is working for you.

Each piece of content you audit will have several data metrics attached to it. These metrics will tell you if you’re hitting the mark or missing it drastically.

For the content that does well, take note of what the details in the audit are telling you. Analyze what type of content it was, the topic, who produced it, and when it was published.

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Repeating your successes can help you create similarly high-performing content.

For the content pieces that don’t hit your goals, take extra note of their metrics.

Sometimes it’s the channels the content was published on. Other times it’s a mixture of things such as the author, timeframe of publication, and/or the content type.

You may be able to apply some of the teachings learned from your top performers to the underdogs to get them ranking better, as well.

Don’t be afraid to try new content types, as long as you’re willing to measure their effectiveness through regular auditing.


Image Credits

Featured Image: Paulo Bobita/Search Engine Journal





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SEO

Daily Search Forum Recap: June 28, 2022

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Here is a recap of what happened in the search forums today, through the eyes of the Search Engine Roundtable and other search forums on the web.


We have yet another unconfirmed Google search ranking update rolling out now. Google said near duplicate URLs with canonicals still can lead to the wrong URL ranking. Google seems to be adding pros and cons to some snippets. Google Shopping Ads is testing a brand/merchant slider. Microsoft Bing autocomplete tab is awkward.

Search Engine Roundtable Stories:

  • Google Search Ranking Update Brewing Again June 27-28th

    After maybe four or five days of calm, we are seeing new signs of more larger Google Search ranking algorithm tremors and volatility. This new one seems to just be kicking off, some of the tracking tools are already picking up on it and we have chatter from within the SEO community about a possible update on June 27th and today, June 28th.

  • Google: Near Duplicate URLs With Canonical Still Can Lead To Wrong URL Ranking

    There is an interesting thread on Reddit on a topic we touched on here several times, the topic of Google ranking the wrong version of the URL in Google Search. It all stems back to the URLs you want Google to rank being near duplicate to the URL Google ends up ranking.
  • Google Adds Pros & Cons To Search Result Snippets

    Normally when someone sends me a sophisticated search result snippet from Google and I dig in, I find a reason for how Google came up with this snippet. But it seems like in this case below, Google is being a bit more sophisticated and showing pros and cons in the snippet without the web site having mentioned pros and cons specifically.

  • Google Shopping Ads Tests Retail Brand Slider

    Google seems to be testing a new feature for shopping ads, where as you slide through the shopping ads carousel, it shows you which stores retail brands are being displayed.
  • Bing Autocomplete Tells Searches To Use Tab To Fill In

    Microsoft Bing is testing a new annotation in the autocomplete search results to communicate to searchers that they can tap the tab key to finish the autocomplete without clicking on the term. Here is a screenshot of this that I can replicate – no you cannot click on the word “tab” but using tab on your keyboard does do the work.

  • Mundo Bita At Google Brazil Office

    I saw this photo on Instagram, used Google Lens to figure out who this cartoon character is and discovered his name is Mundo Bita. They were at the Google Brazil office I think for some YouTube subsc

Other Great Search Threads:

Search Engine Land Stories:

Other Great Search Stories:

Analytics

Industry & Business

Links & Content Marketing

Local & Maps

Mobile & Voice

SEO

PPC

Other Search

Feedback:


Have feedback on this daily recap; let me know on Twitter @rustybrick or @seroundtable, you can follow us on Facebook and make sure to subscribe to the YouTube channel, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts or just contact us the old fashion way.





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Marketers want better features from their martech solutions

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How did you change up your stack? Take the 2022 MarTech Replacement Survey


Marketing organizations are still doing it. Ripping out martech solutions in favor of alternatives with better features, better integration capabilities and more data centralization.

And that includes mission-critical solutions like marketing automation and CRM.

The 2022 MarTech Replacement Survey showed a continuation of some of the trends detected in 2021. Organizations are still re-training team members to handle new technology rather than bringing on new hires. Proving ROI has always been important, but the importance is growing. Businesses are still switching from homegrown to commercial technologies. And the voice of marketing operations is getting louder.

Solutions replaced. It never ceases to surprise us to see so many marketing teams facing the challenge of trading their existing marketing automation and CRM platforms for something new. It’s easier to swap out SEO tools, and that’s the third most frequently replaced category in this report.

Up this year was the replacement of project management, ABM and e-commerce platforms — but respondents seem to have figured out virtual events in 2020 and 2021, because there was less activity in that category in this latest report.

A deep dive. The survey, based on responses from almost 300 marketers, not only looks at which solutions were replaced, but also:

  • The key reasons for the changes.
  • Who championed the changes.
  • How the new implementations were managed.
  • How long the replaced solutions had been in place.

Download the 2022 MarTech Replacement Survey here. It’s free and requires no registration.

Why we care. Marketing technology is no longer a nice add-on that supports campaigns and creative initiatives. In fact, it stopped being that a number of years ago. The martech stack is at the center of marketing, determining what marketing organizations can attempt and achieve, defining viable and exceptional strategies, and creating the conditions for success — or failure.

Within the constraints of budgets and the need to demonstrate ROI, every savvy marketing team sees the stack as something constantly evolving and hopefully improving. You’re all on a journey — what we are humbly trying to do is help show you the way.


Get the daily newsletter digital marketers rely on.


The 2021 MarTech Replacement Survey is here.


About The Author

Kim Davis is the Editorial Director of MarTech. Born in London, but a New Yorker for over two decades, Kim started covering enterprise software ten years ago. His experience encompasses SaaS for the enterprise, digital- ad data-driven urban planning, and applications of SaaS, digital technology, and data in the marketing space.

He first wrote about marketing technology as editor of Haymarket’s The Hub, a dedicated marketing tech website, which subsequently became a channel on the established direct marketing brand DMN. Kim joined DMN proper in 2016, as a senior editor, becoming Executive Editor, then Editor-in-Chief a position he held until January 2020.

Prior to working in tech journalism, Kim was Associate Editor at a New York Times hyper-local news site, The Local: East Village, and has previously worked as an editor of an academic publication, and as a music journalist. He has written hundreds of New York restaurant reviews for a personal blog, and has been an occasional guest contributor to Eater.



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Mundo Bita At Google Brazil

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Mundo Bita At Google Brazil


I saw this photo on Instagram, used Google Lens to figure out who this cartoon character is and discovered his name is Mundo Bita. They were at the Google Brazil office I think for some YouTube subscriber milestone.

I found the character interesting and fun so figured I’d share it here.

This post is part of our daily Search Photo of the Day column, where we find fun and interesting photos related to the search industry and share them with our readers.





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