A content audit, in online marketing terms, is a complete analysis of a website’s content in relation to the owner’s goals so that you can make an assessment and executable plan in regards to what needs to be changed, removed, redirected, or updated on that site. A content audit is beneficial whenever you’re taking the reigns on someone else’s site for the first time, or alternatively it can be helpful to perform on your own site if you have never done it before and you have a content site made up of lots of pages. Let’s talk about what is a content audit now.
What is a Content Audit
Check out my new guide on how to do a web content audit for a full walk-through of the most efficient way of going about doing this.
For now, let’s talk about a few of the major reasons why you would want to perform a content audit.
Cleans up Broken Links and Dead Pages
This one is pretty straightforward, but you don’t want any broken links or dead pages on your site. This hurts your ranking and annoys your visitors, so ensuring everything is in working order is a good place to start. It’s not just making sure your links are working, but you want to make sure that your links are worthwhile, so you might want to use this as an opportunity to clean up your outgoing link profile.
Updates Outdated or Irrelevant Content
Sometimes you’ll find pages which plain and simple don’t fit in with your website’s mission or focus anymore and you may just decide to gut them or do a redirect to something relevant but more current which you have switched your sights to.
Content audits aren’t just about orphaned pages or pages coming up in error, but about assessing each page’s value to the overall site/brand/mission. If you have an informative website based in a niche which is constantly evolving like SEO, you might need to go back every year or so and update a few pages of content here or there so that they are current and relevant.
This is important especially of a page is ranking well for its search terms. If someone is finding your site through an outdated but well ranking page on your site, that’s traffic going to waste which could have been converted into a customer if that person had actually found what they were looking for on your site.
Ensures Your Content is More User Friendly
Your content should be as clear as possible. This is especially true with government based websites which actually legally are required to employ plain speak, or conveying everything in the most simple of terms. When you’re doing your content audit, you may find that you can make a great deal of your content more user friendly, particularly if it were written by someone else in the past.
Ensures Your Content is More Search Engine Friendly
This is another important reason to perform a web content audit, especially if you didn’t create the content which you’re inheriting. Every page or post on your website should be optimized for the search engines. This includes both ensuring that every page is based around a keyword as well as making sure that each of those keywords are represented in the title and meta description/tags for their corresponding pages, as well. Hopefully you know how to do that by now after spending some time on this site.
Ensures Your Site is Fully Navigational for Your Visitors
This one is pretty obvious, but you want to make sure that every page can be reached without too much effort. A search bar helps sift through hundreds of pages of content, and a good menu/category hierarchy helps organize your content in an intuitive way so people can find what they’re looking for.
Removes “Orphaned” Pages
For large sites, you could have hundreds or even (terrifyingly) thousands of pages of content which could date back years and years. Some of these older pages might not even be of the same format as the rest of your content. For instance, most websites operate using content management systems as they make creating, editing, and uploading content decidedly easy and on demand. Examples of a CMS would be WordPress or Drupal.
If the website was migrated from standard HTML format years ago, all of that old content may not have been migrated properly with the new format. This means you could still have orphaned HTML pages of useful content which are potentially ranking in the search engines but don’t fit with or connect with the rest of your site. If someone performs a content audit on your site, they would recognize these orphaned pages and migrate them to a new page.
The best way to do this would be to create a page with the same content in the CMS, then create a 301 permanent redirect from the old HTML page to the new page. This passes on the link juice that the original link was enjoying to the new page on your site, thus anyone going to that old page will be sent to the new page which should have the same content but it will be a part of the new site.
Whether you’re cutting the fat or just trying to deliver a better product to your site’s visitors, it’s good to perform a content audit every so often, dependent upon how many changes your site or niche has gone through since you last performed one.