When was the last time you took a good, long look at your website? If you have a blog, do you have any idea how many posts you’ve made over the years? How about a mobile version of your site or older versions that are languishing out there untouched, possibly undermining your latest and greatest business objectives?
A content audit is the first essential step before undertaking any content marketing initiative, and it makes good business sense to review your web presence on a regular basis.
Depending on the tools used to conduct the audit, you can gain a very clear understanding of the amount of content you have to work with, the condition of each page with regard to search engine optimization, and the performance of each page with regard to visitor engagement.
The most useful format for content audits is a spreadsheet, preferably with multiple columns that give you an at-a-glance look at the URL, title, meta description, meta keywords.
There are a number of subscription-based paid tools you can use to “crawl” your website, but if your site is 500 pages or fewer, and you really want to focus on the SEO value of each page, the tool that provides the most comprehensive look at each page is Screaming Frog SEO Spider. (If you have a larger site, you can purchase an annual license, or discounted multiple licenses, from this UK-based company).
The spreadsheets produced by the Screaming Frog program are chock full of valuable information. Organized by URL, you’ll get the status code for each page, title and character count, the meta description and character count, meta keywords information, canonical details, h1 and h2 heads with character counts, as well as the number of links to and from each page.
With regard to content audits for visitor engagement, Google Analytics is still one of the best ways to gauge the performance of each page in your site.
By looking at page views, time on page, bounce rate and the percentage of people exiting the site, you can easily see which pages are performing well, holding the visitor’s interest, and leading them to other pages before they leave. Pages that aren’t performing well can be singled out for more intense scrutiny, and rewritten, reworked or removed from the site, depending on your needs.
Before undertaking a full scale audit of your content, these simple content audits can reveal quite a bit about the overall health of your site or blog, and the content it contains. You may be able to better gauge the resources you’ll need to undertake an in-depth content inventory and analysis. You may also be able to determine whether you have the resources you’ll need in-house, or if it makes more sense to outsource this first, most important step in any content marketing project.