How To Do A Content Audit (The Easy Way)
If you’ve been blogging for a while now then one of the things you need to do in order to optimize your SEO, marketing, and traffic is a content audit on your blog archives.
You probably have tons of posts in the archives going back to when you first started blogging.
You may practice the Evergreen Post Strategy where you go back periodically to update certain blog posts, but there comes a time when you need to do the same thing to just about every post on your blog.
And that’s where a content audit comes in.
But, if you have tons of posts on your blog, you’re probably wondering how you can do this without having to deal with nasty spreadsheets and CSV exports, right?
Well, read on to discover the quickest, easiest, and most effective way for conducting a content audit on your website. But first…
What Exactly is a Content Audit?
This is the process of revisiting your entire blog archives to bring everything on it to your current standards.
This sounds a lot harder than it actually is, but this basically involves deleting useless posts, doing some updates, and optimizing relevant posts for conversions.
Here are some of the actions you’ll perform as part of your content audit:
Delete outdated blog posts that don’t get traffic
Update all relevant content that’s worth keeping
Centralize content so there isn’t too much overlap on your blog. You can do this by either combining posts or you could just cross-link them.
In the process of conducting a content audit on your site, you’ll also learn some extremely useful information about your website and your target audience such as:
The hot topics that your audience connects with
The posts that are taking up valuable space and not performing well
Any gaps you might have in your existing content that you should fill with new content
Depending on how long and how frequently you’ve been blogging, this may present a huge project.
For most bloggers, it won’t be something that you can do in a single day, or even two. The good news is that this type of project starts out really easy.
You’ll often find that the earliest posts tend to be quite irrelevant now as you’ve probably grown and refined your niche since starting your blog.
But, when you get into optimizing and updating relevant posts, that’s going to take up quite a bit of your time. So, consider this an ongoing project, as opposed to something you’ll be able to sit down and complete in a short space of time.
Ideally, as a blogger, you have to have a tracking system to help you go back and review/update your posts on a routine basis. You’d likely conduct a content audit at least once a year.
That way, your audits wouldn’t take long.
Benefits of Doing a Content Audit on Your Site
The ideal blog is fully optimized and updated. Each and every post in its archives is relevant and serves a purpose.
Each blog post is:
Current and up to date, proving value to anyone who lands on it via search
Cross-linked and fully integrated in your blog – something that greatly benefits your SEO
Optimized for search in all the various factors that matter for today’s SEO
Optimized for use as a marketing asset in the long term
In other words, the blog wouldn’t have useless posts in the archives sitting there, taking up space and not pulling their weight.
The benefits of content audits, from a marketing perspective, are obvious:
If each post in your archives is designed to generate new leads, get people to take action through effective CTAs (calls to action), or any other important purpose in your marketing funnel, then it’s going to be a significant asset to your business.
I know what you’re thinking right about now:
What about the traffic from the posts?
The majority of sites that conduct content audits actually see an increase in traffic AFTER deleting useless content on their sites. If you’re wondering how deleting traffic would help you get more traffic, it’s because as far as Google is concerned, that process actually provides a cleaner footprint, which is what Google wants.
The majority of bloggers think that just because you post a lot, Google is going to love you. But that isn’t necessarily true (You can go ahead and Tweet that!)
Google will love you if you post regularly, it’s true. But only if it’s high-quality, useful content!
So all those irrelevant posts on your site aren’t doing you any favors. Google only wants useful, up-to-date content that your audience finds highly valuable.
Low-value content which never gets updated is something that Google hates to see on a site.
The size of your footprint is directly proportional to how large your archives get. Each post on your site goes into the XML sitemap. Contrary to what many think, your XML sitemap isn’t the main channel for letting Google know what to index on your site.
It is, however, very important for defining the specific pages that you think should be indexed by Google. This can lead to your ‘crawl budget’ getting used up on useless garbage.
What’s a Crawl Budget?
Your crawl budget refers to the number of related systems and concepts that Google and other search engines use in determining which (and how many) pages to crawl on your website.
It’s the attention that your site is given by the search engines.
Since search spiders only have a limited amount of attention to give you, it’s important not to waste that on under-performing content as that will definitely affect your rankings in a negative way.
So clearing out the old, useless content and updating relevant posts means your crawl budget will be spent on content you actually want the search engines to see.
Of course, there’s a lot more to getting traffic to your blog than just deleting a bunch of old posts. But, there’s enough evidence to show that regular content audits are a fundamental component of a great SEO strategy.
But the question remains how to go about this without getting buried under a ton of spreadsheets and CSV files?
Easy Content Audit – Is that even possible?
Different sites do content audits in different ways.
But there are always common themes.
For instance, you’ll find the majority of sites rely on expensive SEO tools, or they get spreadsheet-happy and amass tons of CSV imports and exports, combining data, and so on.
They basically do their best to make this process as complicated as it can be.
If you’re someone that absolutely loves spreadsheets, then fine. But if you’re like the rest of us, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the tedious effort of keeping that spreadsheet useful over time.
You’ll probably waste hours spinning your wheels trying to compile the spreadsheets filled with Analytics reports, blog posts, word counts, social sharing data, backlinks, and everything else before you can even get started with your content audit.
But, lucky for you, I’m going to share a much better way.
Now, I’m not saying that there’s no advantage to creating such a spreadsheet. A content audit is something you can do any number of ways. The method I present is simply one that I’ve found to be the easiest and most convenient for first timers.
Doing a Content Audit the Smart Way
All your content is already in WordPress, so it stands to reason that you should be able to easily do everything from right in there.
One way you can do it is by using a dedicated plugin like Content Audit.
This can be a very handy tool, but to make the process as effective as possible, you may have to use a combination of the plugins that are listed below:
Advanced Custom Fields
Admin Columns Pro
Worth The Read
The unique powers and capabilities of each of these plugins makes them useful for a lot more than just performing content audits, but when used together, they make it so much easier to conduct a content audit from directly within WordPress.
Let’s take a deeper look at how you’d use them on your own website.
This plugin integrates your website with Google Analytics.
Using the pro version allows you use the Page Insights feature to view traffic stats from within WordPress with a single click.
You can view traffic stats for the past 30 days which is a huge time-saver when you’re doing an audit of your blog content.
With this plugin you’ll be able to use the built-in custom fields in WordPress as part of your interface. You can have various field types, and much more.
You can use this plugin for quite a lot of different things, but for your content audit, you can add tracking fields to your blog posts.
This is an awesome tool which allows you to customize how your content is shown within WordPress.
You can fully control the listings of your content from inside your WordPress admin area. The pro version of this plugin lets you use inline editing, different column sets, and a lot more.
It integrates easily with Advanced Custom Fields.
This is a great plugin to use for social buttons on your site. It comes in handy for your content audit by showing you the total number of shares each blog post has right there on your list of posts.
The last plugin you’ll need is called Worth the Read.
It’s designed to easily calculate each post’s read time. It also shows the reader a progress bar as they scroll down the blog post. The feature that you’ll find useful for your content audit is that it stores post word count in the database as a custom field.
This is yet another important data point that you can bring forward without doing any CSV exports.
These plugins may cost you a bit of money, but the time they will save you makes them worth every cent you spend. Also, you’ll be able to make all of it back and more in increased traffic after conducting a successful content audit.
But, if you really have to, you can probably get along fine with just the free versions.
Putting it All Together
With these plugins operational, you’ll be able to quickly and easily determine whether or not a particular post is worth keeping. And if you’re keeping it, you’ll know what you can do to make that piece of content perform better.
You’ll also be able to set the post to ‘remove’, or ‘edit’ depending on what your decision is. You can see that field in Admin Columns Pro without having to pull up the whole editing interface.
So, with all the fields that you now have built into your system, you can now start at the beginning of your archives and move forward.
Simply go to your list of posts and access Page 1, then work your way up. All the information will be right there for you to enable you to make your decisions easily.
As I said before, most of your work in the beginning will involve deleting posts that are now irrelevant to your current audience. Painful as it may be, it’s vital that you be ruthless in this regard.
Here is the actual process that you can follow:
Go to ‘Content Audit’ screen to view the post’s data so you can quickly get a sense of each post.
Check the ‘Last Updated’ date. If it’s a long time ago, you instantly know it’s an old post.
The ‘Last Review’ date tells you when you last looked at that post. If this is your first content audit, this column will be empty for almost every post. As you proceed, you’re updating this field, and it will tell you when you last looked at the post.
Look at the ‘Shares’ next. If the post gets a decent number of social shares, it’s a sign that you may want to keep that one. If the number is less than 10, you know it’s not performing well.
‘Insights’ shows you the traffic that post brought in during the last 30 days.
‘Words’ shows you the post’s word count. A higher word count typically (but not always) means a higher value since it’s a more developed post than shorter ones.
‘Audit Action’ is what you can use to track the action you take on each post.
‘Next Review’ is the date that you intend to go back and reevaluate that post again
Combining the date, word count, shares and traffic of each post gives you a view of the big picture and allows you to quickly make an educated guess as to the value of each post and what needs to be done with it.
A quick tip before you start deleting everything, consider if the post may not be useful somewhere else.
For example, could you work it into a better-developed post? Or maybe you could use it in one of your newsletters? If you think it may be useful somewhere else, then save it on Evernote before removing it from your blog.
A well-run blog should not be uni-directional.
You need a holistic strategy that allows you to not only publish new content regularly, but also to be able to circle back and update the content you’ve already published.
If your blogging archives have grown significantly since you first started blogging, then use the method outlined above to do a successful content audit on your blog and see your traffic numbers explode.
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Updated: Originally published February 6th 2019