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Content Audit Best Practices

6 Content Audit Best Practices to Lift Organic Rankings

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As a content marketer, producing new blogs to grow keyword rankings and traffic is a top priority.  On WordPress alone, users publish 70 million new posts each month.  

 But if you aren’t careful, your blog can turn into a hot mess - fast.

A routine content audit uncovers old, underperforming posts that could use  a refresh or redirect and optimization opportunities to boost  organic traffic.

Read on to discover our content audit best practices and how the process can elevate your organic performance. 

Why Is a Content Audit Useful?

Through the audit process, you improve the quality of your website content and organizational structure to help search engines more easily crawl and surface your content. 

Here are some signs your website could use a content audit:

  • You have a large number of published blog posts
  • You don't have a process for improving old content
  • Organic  rankings and traffic growth have stagnated
  • You have overlapping content
  • You want to improve the quality and educational value of your content
  • You're falling behind competitors and  want to identify new opportunities

Learn more: 4 Steps For Producing Great Content That Search Engines Will Love

6 Content Audit Best Practices, Tools and Tips

Here are the top 6 content audit best practices, tips and tricks that our content team incorporates into our blog audit checklist at Human.

1. Complete a website crawl to compile your URLs

Guess what? The best content audit tools aren’t always the fanciest ones.

An SEO crawling software like Screaming Frog is a great place to start, but their free plan has a 500 URL limit. If you have a vast collection of blogs or pages, you’ll want something more powerful and extensive in capability.

At Human, we use Google Analytics to export and pull all URLs and traffic metrics from websites.

Follow these steps to ensure nothing goes amiss:

  • Navigate to “Behavior” in the left-hand column, and go to Site Content > All Pages
  • Toggle the display to view all pages in a single view
  • Then, hit Export and save as a Microsoft Excel file

Sort the data by page views, so you can get the best sense of where to start. Don’t forget to add custom columns for the specific KPIs you need to track.

2. Focus on data that aligns with your brand objectives

Now that you’ve exported a list of content URLs, it’s time to hone in on the relevant data.

But don’t just track any content KPIs for the sake of tracking them. Be mindful of how each metric attributes to the success of your content strategy - this varies for every brand or website.

For example, if you’re seeing a surge in organic traffic but a decline in conversions for one blog post, you’ll want to understand why that piece isn’t converting as well as before.

Here are a few basic metrics to include in your content audit data analysis:

  • Sessions
  • Session duration
  • Pages per session
  • Bounce rate


Then, be sure to add any other KPIs that are directly related to your brand or client’s goals and objectives.

3. Come up with a strategy for identifying opportunities

Next, determine which blogs or keywords you need to focus on. To pin down the best opportunities, start by considering these factors:

  • Keyword ranking: Is the blog currently at the bottom of page 1 or at the top of page 2 for a valuable keyword? Can we lift this blog’s rankings with a quick update?
  • Keyword movement: Has the blog recently dropped several rankings or declined in organic traffic? You may need to revisit it to see what’s going on.
  • Keyword volume: Are users searching for this keyword regularly? If so, it’s good to ensure your blogs are up-to-date and offering relevant, high-quality information.


Pro-tip:
Use Moz, SEMrush and plain old Google search results to help you narrow down the playing field.

It’s also essential to prioritize blog posts and keywords based on natural user search intent, as well as its impact on your business. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What phrases or keywords is my target audience searching for?
  • Are we providing relevant and accurate information that answers their questions and search intent?
  • What stage of the funnel does this blog belong to, and how might it affect my business? Will it help drive conversions or revenue, or educate and raise awareness?

4. Designate “Impact Ratings”

You’ve collected everything you need to know about all your blog posts. So how do you figure out exactly where to start?

At Human, we use an impact rating (or numerical score) to determine which blog revisions, optimizations or redirects you should prioritize ASAP.

In addition to observing keyword movements and rankings, you’ll want to look at metrics like conversion rate or revenue. Traffic metrics alone don’t always tell the whole story.

Don’t forget to prioritize blogs that are timely or relevant to the current season, product offerings, special events or holidays, etc.

It also helps to add a “Notes” column in your blog audit documentation. Include further context on why you made certain decisions, so it’s easy for others to pick up on your strategy and thought process.

5. Clean up your underperforming blog posts

More blog posts doesn’t mean better. In fact, underperforming content can actually hurt your website authority and rankings.

If you have a high percentage of blog posts that aren’t generating organic traffic, you have 2 options: Optimize the blog post or redirect it to a better performing blog or pillar page.

Ask these questions to determine whether or not to keep an underperforming blog post:

  • Is this blog getting very little traffic, or none at all?
  • Is the content short in length or slim in information and value?
  • Does the bulk of the content overlap with a more popular blog or page? Are you better off moving that information to a more prime location?

If you answered yes to any or all of the above, it might be worth 301-redirecting that blog to a higher value blog or landing page.

Remember: Don’t make drastic changes to any blogs that are ranking or generating revenue.

And, if you’re redirecting a blog, skim the content beforehand and salvage any pieces of information that you don’t want to erase from your website completely. Move that information to a more prominent place on your site.

6. Conduct a competitive analysis

After performing an internal blog content audit, it’s good practice to analyze your biggest competitors and look for opportunities or content gaps you can fill.

At Human, we use SEMrush’s Keyword Gap Analysis to put our clients head-to-head with their top 3-5 competitors. This tool breaks down what keywords our competitors are ranking for and how well they’re performing. We can also see the keywords that our clients are ranking for that we didn’t even know about.

Not using SEMrush? You can also try Alexa’s Competitor Keyword Matrix or Ahref’s Content Gap. These tools are incredibly helpful for blog audits and effective for enhancing your content strategy.

How Often Should You Conduct a Content Audit?

Depending on the amount of content you have or regularly create, you may want to perform a full-scale audit yearly.

However, review traffic patterns and rankings monthly to identify immediate optimization opportunities to incorporate in your content calendar.

What You Can Do to Improve the Quality of Your Site

Conducting a blog audit can help you understand the quality of your content and how you can improve it.

But auditing your blog is only one piece of the puzzle. Ultimately, the overall quality of your entire website influences search engine rankings.

Here are a few pointers Google says they look for when determining the quality of a page or website:

  • Is the information trustworthy? Is the site an authority on the topic?
  • Do the topics or information actually speak to the reader’s intent, or is it simply written in an attempt to rank well in search engines?
  • Is the content edited, proofread and free of grammatical or stylistic errors?

Also, ensure all content published moving forward is organized and follows your internal linking strategy.  To make your life easier, try Blueprint SEO, a new content organization tool that guides you through creating topics and subtopics, identifying internal links, and tracking content performance.  

We know that outsmarting Google’s algorithms is impossible. But by continually analyzing your content performance and prioritizing action items, you’ll have a clear roadmap for achieving your SEO goals.

If you need a hand in reviewing your content or website, or know you need to optimize but don’t know where to start, reach out to Human’s content experts for help today!

Topics: Inbound Marketing | content marketing | blog optimization | seo strategy | Content writing tools