The more content your blog has, the more successful it should be (at least in theory). The more articles you publish, the greater the chances that users will find your blog, be it via search engines, social media, or even friends sharing links.
It doesn’t always work out that way, though.
As you publish more and more content, it’s easy for some of your best posts to become outdated. Other articles may simply become “buried.” With hundreds of posts to look through, some of your best, most engaging content can disappear in plain sight.
The goal of an SEO content audit is to help you clean house and to make sure your blog and its content remains in the best shape possible.
The words “SEO audit” might have scary connotations, but there’s nothing to fear. The process involves checking your blog from top to bottom, taking stock of its content, optimizing it, and repurposing it when necessary.
If that sounds too vague, don’t worry. We’re going to break down the entire process from top to bottom. By the end of this article, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a certified (blog) auditor.
I promise that’s a lot cooler than it sounds.
What is an SEO Content Audit?
When you start a blog, it’s easy enough to keep stock of all the content that you publish. You know what its purpose is, what keywords each post is built around, what type of audience they target, and every other small detail.
As your blog grows, keeping track of all that information becomes a nearly impossible task. Add other writers and/or content creators to the mix and suddenly, you might not have an idea of what’s going on with your blog.
Just as in real life, the goal of an audit is to help you bring some order to the chaos. Here’s the type of information a comprehensive SEO content audit can help you collect:
- A full list of all your site’s content. This list should include post titles, target keywords, headlines, meta descriptions, and pretty much any other data that gives you insights into each article’s goal.
- Information about your site’s on-page optimization. Ideally, you’ll optimize every page before you publish it to maximize its ranking potential. A content audit will reveal gaps in your on-page optimization, which you can then fix.
- Data about your site’s linking structure. A great internal linking structure will encourage users to spend more time on your site. A successful audit will point towards problems with that structure (if there are any).
- Ranking fluctuations. Personally, I like going over ranking history when I’m working on a content audit. This helps put into perspective why traffic may be going up or down when seen side by side with recent posts and when seen together with the rest of the data from the audit.
- Any errors that appear on your site. If your site is showing any HTTP error codes, you need to know about it immediately so you can fix them.
I put emphasis on the word comprehensive because, in some cases, you might want to opt for a more focused analysis. A content audit can just focus on your blog posts and not include any of the other data we just discussed.
As far as I’m concerned, though, if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing well. Content audits can take a lot of time, but they’re also the kind of endeavor you only need to do once per year (just like cleaning out the attic).
Our holistic approach doesn’t just focus on the content but also on SEO. An SEO content audit both takes stock of your site’s materials and helps you figure out how to improve its rankings.
The goal of this article is to guide you through the process of conducting a full SEO content audit, not skipping any of the essential steps. We’re also going to share a comprehensive content audit template that will enable you to put all of these steps into action.
There’s still some theory to discuss before we get to the homework portion, though, so let’s take a minute to discuss the benefits of an audit.
What Are the Benefits of a Content Audit?
Ideally, every decision you make for your website should be based on data.
I know that sounds robotic, but if you want your blog to succeed, you need to think about it in terms of business. Running a business based on hunches and intuition can succeed. However, at that point, you’re basically gambling.
Today, you have a massive array of tools and services at your disposal to help you collect as much data as possible concerning your website. For example, tools such as Google Analytics tell you basically everything about where you’re getting your traffic from, what they’re doing on your site, and whether they’re converting or not (depending on how you configure it):
Analytics tools are excellent for day-to-day operations. You can check on them regularly to see how your website is performing, and you get access to so much information you’ll spend a lot of time trying to figure out what to do with it.
A content audit isn’t the kind of process you undertake every month. It involves a comprehensive look at your website from top to bottom, enabling you to take stock of its content, your site’s SEO practices, errors on your website, and more.
To put it another way, a content audit is a “big picture” process. You use it to put your site’s content into perspective, and if you get the correct data, you’ll be able to make important decisions with it, such as:
- Deciding the direction in which you want to take your blog
- Spotting content that needs revising to stay relevant
- Identifying posts that you can combine or maybe ones that are not relevant anymore
- Figuring out what content resonates the most with your audience
Overall, a content audit enables you to take stock of all the assets at your disposal and to see in what condition they’re in. Armed with that data, you’ll have all the information you need to make intelligent decisions concerning the blog.
5 Steps to an SEO Content Audit for Your Blog
For this tutorial, we’re going to focus on the big-picture steps for an SEO content audit.
To follow along, we recommend that you download our full SEO content audit template.
The template includes a full checklist of all the SEO aspects you need to check, as well as a spreadsheet you can fill with details related to your blog’s content.
Step 1: Take Inventory of Your Blog Content
There are a lot of ways to navigate your blog’s content. The “easiest” approach is to open the blog and make a list of each blog post, including its title and URL (for starters):
The problem with this approach is that it’s not efficient. If you have a blog with hundreds of articles, you’ll waste a lot of time putting together all that data manually. If there’s one thing I hate, it’s wasting time when you can solve a problem elegantly using a little tech.
If your website has a sitemap (which it should have), you can use a tool such as Semrush to conduct a sitemap audit. The audit can focus on specific subdirectories within the site (such as /blog) and help you put together a list of all the pages it includes as well as their titles and ranking information:
This approach is downright simple, but it requires you to pay for Semrush (which is not cheap). My favorite alternative, if you’re using WordPress, is to use a little plugin magic to export all the information you need for the content audit.
Quick note: We can help you create a custom WordPress website for your business if you want to start using the CMS for selling services online or blogging.
For this task, I recommend using Export All URLs. This plugin enables you to export URLs from your website and associated data in .csv format. That means it all comes out in a nice, gorgeous spreadsheet:
The plugin enables you to export a list of URLs and titles for your blog posts by selecting the Posts option under the Select a Post Type to Extract Data: menu. When you’re ready, hit the Export Now button, and the plugin will generate a .csv file for you.
If you use another Content Management System (CMS) it might offer an extension or tool that enables you to export a list of your site’s URLs. If all else fails, you can always opt for the manual approach. It can take a while, depending on how many posts you have to index. However, after the first audit, you can simply update that list in the future to save time.
Step 2: Catalog Your Blog Content
A list of blog post titles and their URLs does not make an audit. If you want to get any type of insight from that list of blog posts, you need to add more context. That means including information such as:
- What is the purpose of the blog post?
- What is the post’s main keyword?
- Who wrote the article
- The total number of words included
- When the article was created and last updated
- The headlines the article includes
- The post’s meta description
- Information about the post’s images
- The internal and external links the post includes
- Social sharing data
I know that is a lot of information, but it’s important to understand this is the meat of the SEO content audit soup. Collecting this data and putting it side by side will give you an unparalleled bird’s eye view of your blog’s content, its purpose, and how it all fits together:
That is a quick view of the SEO content audit template we include to help you collect all of this information. The template includes instructions for each piece of data you add, and it will help you keep all of this information organized.
The bad news is there are no shortcuts to collecting all this information. You’ll need to sit down, go through each blog post on your website, and put together the pieces of the puzzle bit by bit.
Keep in mind there’s no rush with an SEO content audit. There is no IRS breathing down your neck to finish the audit. If you’re part of a team that creates content for the blog, you can divide this task among the other creators as this process goes by much faster if you know the content you’re auditing.
Step 3: Check Your Blog Analytics
If you’re asking yourself, “What are analytics?” I need you to stop reading right now and check out my article on free SEO tools you can use for your website. That article will give you the lowdown on several SEO and analytics tools you can start using right away.
In a nutshell, SEO analytics tools enable you to measure and track the traffic your blog gets. Depending on which tool you use, you’ll get access to information such as traffic sources, how long users spend on your site, what links they’re clicking on, and much more:
If you’re already using an analytics solution, this is the time to check up on it and see what the metrics are telling you. For an SEO content audit, we want to check up on the following information:
- Any sudden shifts in traffic during the past few months
- How each blog post is performing in terms of traffic
- Losses in rankings when compared against the last content audit (yes, you’re going to be doing this again at some point!)
- Any notable increases or decreases in conversions during the past few months
- Notable changes in how much time users spend on the site since the last content audit
The beauty of analytics is that you can use that data to give you insights into how your website is doing. For example, if you see sudden drops in traffic during the past few months, it can be due to a myriad of reasons, including:
- Other sites overtaking your content in the rankings for key searches
- Changes in your site’s design that impact its bounce rate
- Changes in the search engine algorithms that affect everyone
- Audiences losing interest in your blogging niche
The biggest “issue” with analytics is that many people try to interpret metrics blindly. If you see spikes or downturns in traffic, but you have no idea what’s going on with your website, it’s impossible to discern why it’s happening.
Putting together this information in an SEO content audit will enable you to draw more informed conclusions. You’ll be able to spot underperforming articles, see pages that need additional SEO work, and more.
Note: Our SEO content audit template includes a checklist you can use to keep track of changes in your blog rankings. If you have access to an analytics tool that tracks individual page performance, you can also add that information to the template.
Step 4: Decide What Content to Keep, Update, or Merge
One of the primary goals of a content audit is to decide what to do with your content. If your blog has been around for a while, it stands to reason a lot of its articles could do with an update. A lot of them might not even be relevant anymore.
This is perhaps the hardest part of a content audit for most people because it requires you to be objective about the content you’ve worked so hard to create over the years. In a nutshell, you need to divide that content into three categories:
- Keep: This content is good to go. It’s still relevant, engaging, and it’s performing well among your audience. You can tinker with it if you believe there are ways to improve it. However, I’m partial to leaving content breathe if it’s doing well.
- Update: If you see blog posts that have begun to slip in the rankings, it might be time to give them an update. By “update” I mean making sure all the content is still accurate, that you’re not providing outdated information and that all links and images are still working.
- Merge: Many people are partial to deleting articles during an audit. Personally, I’m more of a merger person. In some cases, underperforming articles can only be saved by merging them into a longer, more comprehensive post. Longer posts may be more likely to rank better in the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) and they can make your blog look more authoritative.
What you need to do now is work your way down the list of articles in the content audit and note what you want to do with each one of them. I recommend doing this using color coding, so you can see what the plan is for each entry at a glance:
For articles you want to merge, add a note or a comment to the spreadsheet with an overview of what posts could work well together. When merging articles, the combination must make sense. You’ll also need to spend time fleshing out or rewriting part of those articles as simply pasting them together is unlikely to result in a bestseller.
As for the content that needs updating, the audit template includes a section where you can add notes on what changes each article needs. This is essential because not every blog post will need the same kind of work:
For this stage of the process, you’ll need to review each post individually and assess the changes you think are necessary. After you put together a list of all the updates each post requires, once you finish the audit, you’ll be able to tackle these changes in order.
Step 5: Go Through the SEO Audit Checklist
So far, we’ve focused mainly on the content end of the SEO content audit. However, the full audit template includes a comprehensive checklist of SEO aspects you need to check on your blog to make sure you’re not following best practices:
Keep in mind the checklist covers everything from basic on-page optimization to indexing practices and your content and linking structures. The template also includes notes for each point in the checklist, which you can check if you’re unsure about what it means.
The SEO audit checklist is a self-evaluating tool. It will show you if your blog needs further optimization if you put in the time to answer each question carefully. After you complete the checklist, you can either get to work on optimizing your blog by yourself or hire a developer that can help you streamline that process.
Run an SEO Content Audit Today
If you hope to make a business out of your blog, you must treat it like one.
That means ensuring that your content, which is your most valuable asset, doesn’t become outdated or starts to slide down the rankings because you’re not paying attention to it.
The goal of a content audit is to help you take stock of all the articles on your website and to organize that data. Then you can decide what steps to take for each blog post, whether to keep it as is, update it, or merge several articles together.
The SEO portion of the content audit involves ensuring your website is properly optimized. That way, all the efforts that you put into content creation won’t go to waste.
Ideally, you should be running an SEO content audit once per year. This is a process that can take time, so don’t rush it the results will reveal a goldmine of insights you can use to make your blog even better.
If you’re trying to scale your business using content, my free class for entrepreneurs and marketers will guide you through the fundamentals of developing a successful content strategy. Check it out today for free!