SEO Content Audit: A Step-by-Step Guide

Websites are a living, breathing form of communication. Unlike print, online content can be molded as needs change and reformatted to fit the current requirements of the market.

We have a tendency to throw up content and then forget about it, but that’s not constructive and is far from beneficial. The internet is full of content that’s stale, outdated, irrelevant, and boring. That’s not what you want your content or site to be.

In fact, it’s a waste of opportunity to leave your content up without strategizing how to repurpose and share it. Revisiting your web pages, blogs, sales pages, etc. allows you to maximize what you already have content-wise, saving you time and resources.

Now, the word “audit” can be one that leaves us feeling overwhelmed, but it doesn’t have to. Think of a content audit not as a chore that has to be done, but an opportunity to get more out of what you already have.

An SEO content audit will give you some incredible insight into your online presence and enhance your ability to attract readers and customers. All in less time than generating new content will.

Analyze What Content You Already Have

An SEO content audit isn’t about individual pages, it’s about the overarching picture of what your content is saying. You want to clue in on the strengths and weaknesses of your published content in order to drive home the messaging (and keywords) that you’re putting out to the world. Goals can change over time, and so should your content.

With your content audit, you want to answer the following big questions about your existing content:

  • What content do you have published?
  • Which pieces have the best performance?
  • What topics are you connecting with your audience through?
  • What pieces are no longer useful?
  • What direction do new pieces need to take?
  • What simple pieces are you missing that improve SEO?
  • Do you have the necessary resources to maximize your content?

Look at The Big Picture of SEO

An SEO content audit can be transformative for your website. You’ll start with hard data based on how existing content has performed and then move the strategy forward based on what readers are actually responding to and how it has helped your rankings.

By cataloging keywords, image optimization, word count, and page rankings, you’ll be able to uncover what changes are appropriate in order to improve the performance of your site’s natural search ranking using content. Since most traffic on the web is derived from organic searches, it’s critical that you create the kind content that people are searching for to help your website populate in search results.

Content marketing and SEO go hand in hand, so as you improve your SEO you’ll have the opportunity to naturally enhance your content’s readability and accessibility.

Before you get started, realize that this is going to take some time and resources. An SEO audit is one of the most worthwhile ways for you to improve your website, but that improvement comes with effort.

A Step-by-Step Guide to an SEO Content Audit

Now that you know what you’re going to get out of the audit process and you’ve committed to it, it’s time to dig into the nitty gritty of getting it done.

Step 1 – Catalog Your Content Assets

Start off by creating a spreadsheet of your everything that you have. If you have a relatively small site, you can do this by simply entering the URL’s of each page into the spreadsheet. If you have less than 50 pages, then this isn’t too cumbersome.

If you have more than that, consider using a tool like URL Profiler or Screaming Frog to create a downloadable list of your site’s pages. You could also outsource this particular piece of the process to a third party freelancer.

The first column is going to be your URL, with the rest of the spreadsheet open for what comes next.

Step 2 – Catalog Your Asset’s Data

Now for the major work. If you’re using a company like Screaming Frog or URL Profiler, a great deal of this information can be gleaned from those sources automatically. You can always use the AuthorityLabs keyword and ranking tool. Other pieces of this puzzle will be found in your Google Analytics and page descriptions.

Format your spreadsheet or Google sheet with columns for all of the rich information that you need. You’ll want to include a wide variety of columns, cataloging the data that you want to dig deeper into.

Keep in mind that you might not want to include all of this, or you might want to add more areas depending on your goals.  However more data initially can be better in the long run, and it doesn’t necessarily take a great deal more time to add in some of these fields as you’ll find that much of this data is collected from similar places.

  1. URL
  2. Title
  3. Action (No Change, Update, Consolidate, Repurpose, Delete)
  4. Strategy
  5. Word count
  6. SEO Title
  7. META description
  8. Primary Keyword
  9. #Images
  10. Image Alt Tags
  11. Page Headings
  12. Internal links
  13. External links
  14. Broken Links
  15. Last Update Date
  16. Page Visits
  17. Bounce Rate
  18. Entries
  19. Exits
  20. Avg. Time on Page
  21. Etc.

For the analytic data like bounce rate, page visits, etc. – try to have data for the last three months included in what you’re cataloging.

Step 3- Score Your Pages

Now for the qualitative part of this process. Add a column to the spreadsheet titled “score” and then assign a score for each page. This is a personalized process for your pages, and you’ll include a letter or a number score based on your preference. You could use A-F, 1-5, or 1-10. Whatever works for you.

Top scores are for your best performing pages, those that perform well, had a positive effect on rankings and checks on the rows. Low scores are pages that you’re embarrassed to find on your site and should probably be removed asap.

Step 4 – Make Content Change Decisions

The scores that you created in Step 3 are now your guide to making changes. This is the whole reason that you started this process to begin with.

Before making changes, be sure to revisit your big picture questions. The idea here is to get a focused reformatting of your content with an eye for SEO. I can be easy to lose sight of that.

  • Top scoring pages are healthy and may only need a few tweaks, like adding in meta descriptions or updating image tags.
  • Middle scoring pages are those that can be improved with reasonable updates.
  • Lowest scoring pages should be scrapped. It’s better to start from scratch than to try to improve a fundamentally problematic page.

One great option is to consolidate pages that aren’t meaty enough. Always redirect pages that you’ve deleted or consolidated again.

Congratulations! You’ve completed your SEO content audit!

Perform an SEO Content Audit Regularly

The final piece of this process is to do this regularly. Perform an SEO content audit at least once a quarter. You’ll find that tuning your site regularly will drastically improve the quality and quantity of your traffic.

The first SEO content audit is always the most challenging. As you continue to refine your content, the whole thing will become easier. It’s a learning process that helps you to understand SEO and to more intimately understand your own content, website and traffic.

About Ashley Ward

Ashley Ward is a Corporate Speaker for SEMrush, an EPIC all-in-one tool designed to make life simpler for digital marketers. Ashley is passionate about helping businesses and individuals gain longterm ROI through teaching content marketing and social media tactics. With over 6 years in the digital marketing industry, Ashley brings first hand experience and case studies to inspire marketers around the world to better their strategies using the SEMrush platform and unique marketing tactics. She regularly speaks at workshops and conferences like Pubcon, RetailGlobal, SMS, and more. Ashley is also a contributing writer to industry blogs such as Search Engine Journal and AuthorityLabs.

Filed under: Strategy

One Comment

Yasser Moosa

Hi Ashley, thank you for this awesome guide. I’m looking to start offering free SEO audits to local customers in South Africa and looking for ideas for the kind of data I should be reporting to them. URL profiler looks good, thanks for the recommendation.

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