Blogging is a versatile activity that serves all kinds of purposes. Whether the goal is to bring in web traffic, generate leads, improve on-site SEO, or anything else, you need to have a defined process to measure the success of your efforts. By a “defined process,” I’m referring to a content audit.
What Exactly is a Content Audit?
A content audit is an aspect of a website audit that involves a critical evaluation of your native content assets. The purpose is to take a step back and gauge the success (or failure) of how each piece is currently translating to your goals, as well as what can be done to improve results in the future.
This is you returning to the drawing board to hash out what’s working well, what’s not working well, and what your next approach is. In essence, when you are evaluating your blog section, the content audit should work to answer five key questions:
- Do I need to update this post?
- Should I expand upon this post?
- Should I consolidate this post?
- Is this post perfect the way it is?
- Do I need to delete this post?
The granular details you find on each piece of content should ideally funnel into how you answer each of these questions.
Laying Out Goals
A content audit won’t mean much for your blog section unless you define the “why.”
Before you dive in, you need to have a solid direction for the takeaways you want. Otherwise, conducting the audit will be a lot like steering a ship with no destination – or points of interest along the way.
What are some of the common goals to set when performing an audit?
Chances are, you’re going to have several big goals that flow into the overarching goal of improving your blog section.
Here are a handful of the major ones to take into consideration:
- Classify your best and worst-performing blog posts.
- Identify your most valuable keywords.
- Gain a deeper understanding of your audience preferences.
- Rationalize plans to spruce up your content strategy in the future.
While these are certainly not the only goals you can set when auditing your blog section, the process should end with you having solid grounds to take action.
Gathering/Organizing All Post Data
Step one of any content audit is getting all your assets collected and organized properly. Ultimately, the more organized your audit is, the easier it will be to spot the patterns that provide rationale for your next moves.
Thankfully, pulling all your blog posts together isn’t a super tedious process anymore. Tools like Screaming Frog allow you to simply enter in the URL of your blog section and quickly generate a list of all your content assets.
This will probably look like a jumble at first – images, categories, and other site elements. You’ll have to sort out which pieces of content are your actual blog posts. A good trick to place your blog posts at the top of this list is to sort by “Meta Description 1.”
Note: Screaming Frog is free for the first 500 URLs. If you’ve got a huge inventory of posts, you’re going to need the paid version.
Next, you’ll want to organize all the posts in a spreadsheet with decisive columns pertinent to your goals.
As you set up your spreadsheet, you are wise to create your columns to sort your content assets with the following criteria:
- Blog URL
- Date Published
- Word Count
- Topical Focus
- Focus Keyword
- Keywords – all the search terms the post is ranking for.
- Desired Action – what you ideally want people to do after reading the post.
- 12.Bounce rate
- 13.AVG Time Spent on Page
- 14.Conversion rate
These are just a handful of the foundational criteria you should be identifying in a content audit.
In addition to Screaming Frog, you’re going to need to access your Google Analytics, Search Console, and social media data.
On Google Analytics, go to the “Behavior” tab, then to “Site Content” to see information like:
- AVG time on page
- Bounce rate
Your Search Console (on the “Performance” tab) data is going to show you information like:
- Search queries for your pages
Setting up the master spreadsheet for the audit is the most important piece of the puzzle. This lays the groundwork for the insights you walk away with. If you need help with a template, here is a good one created by GoInFlow:
Putting it in Perspective
Hopefully, by this point, you’ve got everything organized and are ready to start getting down to the business of conducting the audit of your blog section.
The takeaways you get from this process come down to how exactly you define a “good” piece of content. Moreover, you need to know what makes an “excellent” blog post, as well as a “bad” one and a “mediocre” one.
The best thing to do here is to create a grading system.
As you could imagine, the grading system you set up will depend entirely on the goals you have for your blog section. For example, let’s say your overarching goal is to boost brand awareness, and ideally, get more inquiries.
With this in mind, the most important criteria for your grading system for a post might involve:
- Number of keywords it is ranking for
- AVG time on page
- Conversion rate
Given what your data shows you, monthly standards for each grade might be:
- Blog post is ranking for 10+ keywords (each with 100+ searches/month).
- Gets 1,500+ pageviews.
- Gets 150+ shares.
- Averages 5+ minutes on-page.
- Has a conversion rate of 3% or more.
- Blog post is ranking for 6+ keywords (each with 100+ searches/month).
- Gets 1,000+ pageviews.
- Gets 100+ shares.
- Averages 4+ minutes on-page.
- Has a conversion rate of 2% or more.
- Blog post is ranking for 4+ keywords (each with 100+ searches/month).
- Gets 500+ pageviews
- Gets 50+ shares.
- Averages 2+ minutes on-page
- Has a conversion rate of 0.5% or more.
- Blog post is ranking for 2+ keywords (each with 100+ searches/month).
- Gets 200+ pageviews.
- Gets 20+ shares.
- Averages 1+ minute on-page.
- Has a conversion rate of 0.2% or more.
- Blog post is ranking for less than 2 keywords (each with 100+ searches/month).
- Gets less than 100 pageviews.
- Gets less than 10 shares.
- Averages less than 30 seconds on-page.
- Has a conversion rate of less than 0.02%.
Determining your grading scale is going to take a deep dive into your analytics and a critical look at what is most important to you individually.
According to a study by Skyword, content marketers typically prioritize engagement and conversion levels over traffic by itself. But then again, it all depends on what point you’re at with your website and where you want to go in the future.
If you’re just starting out, maybe traffic is the most important thing for this particular audit!
Now that you’ve established a system to organize your blog posts and assigned them a grade, it’s time to go through each one and decide what you’re going to do with them!
Let’s circle back to our five foundational questions here and the actions they warrant.
1. Do I need to update this post?
The decision to update a blog post can be rationalized in several ways.
- The post’s performance over time.
- The relevance of the topic.
- Availability of new information on the topic.
For instance, say you wrote a blog post giving SEO tips back in 2015. Back in its heyday, the numbers it brought in on a monthly basis classified it in the A to B+ range. However, nowadays it’s earning a C- to D grade.
The relevance of SEO tips is an evergreen topic that isn’t going away any time soon. But, SEO is a field that changes all the time. The tips you gave, keywords you used, data you referenced, and examples you wrote about back in 2015 probably don’t apply as strongly today as they did back then.
So, updating this post with fresh information would be a great idea to (hopefully) regain its former glory.
See how Instapage did this for a post on Google Analytics reports:
2. Should I expand upon this post?
The decision to expand upon a blog post will ideally apply to your best performing pieces – in the A to B range.
This is primarily to maximize the SEO value.
For example, let’s say you have a post about web design that is ranking well on Google searches for a handful of keywords with high search volumes – like web design examples, web design tips, web design tutorial, etc.
Good search rankings for these terms means that Google sees your content as an expert source of information. So, it’s likely that you can get the post ranked well for similar keywords, too.
With this in mind, expanding on the post with new keywords would be a smart move to capitalize on its success.
Or, perhaps there is a new trend that applies to your particular topic.
For example, if you wrote a post about customer review management, you could add on to it with a new tip for businesses to take advantage of the trend. This is a practice that Trustpilot commonly does with their blog section.
Bonus: New insight = Great reason to re-share the post!
3. Should I consolidate this post?
The decision to consolidate a piece of content will probably apply to your posts that fall in the subpar, C+ to D+ range. If it’s not doing so well, it might be a good move to consolidate it into a related piece of content.
Let’s say you wrote a few posts about leveraging different sales tactics for e-commerce. Maybe one is about appealing to the human sense of fear, another is about using altruism, and the other is about appealing to the sense of curiosity. By themselves, the blog posts aren’t doing exceptionally well.
It’s no secret that Google likes longer content. Given this concept, you might decide that these pieces would do better combined into a single, long-form post.
Remember: If you consolidate content, ALWAYS do a 301 redirect.
4. Is this post perfect the way it is?
This action will probably apply to your most successful evergreen posts – in the A to B+ range.
Ideally, this decision will be for posts that can stand the test of time. For example, here is a post from ERC that is ranking highly on Google for the term leadership skills.
The skills listed in this post are:
- Communication skills
- Interpersonal skills
- Problem-Solving/Decision-Making skills
- Delegation/Managing skills
Also, notice that this blog was written back in 2013. A post of this nature is going to be just as relevant now as it was back then. Honestly, these skills would be relevant at any point in human history.
If you have a timeless piece like this that is performing consistently well, leave it be. Why fix something that isn’t broken?
Do I need to delete this post?
5. Why would you ever delete a blog post?
You spent a serious chunk of time putting it together. Why can’t it be updated or reworked to earn a better grade?
Here are some common reasons why you would delete a blog post:
- It’s causing your website to get penalized by Google.
- The messages and claims you made were proven wrong.
- It’s getting tons of backlash.
- The subject is no longer appropriate: imagine if you wrote a post a few years ago about how Subway benefited from having Jared Fogle as their spokesperson…
The decision to trash a blog post is typically a last resort. However, when you need to delete a post, you’ll probably know it right away!
So there you have it! The basics of conducting an audit of your blog section.
Performing periodic audits is crucial in making sure your blogging strategy stays on target and evolves with your business, website, and consumer preferences.
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