How to conduct a content audit on the website
Content is undoubtedly one of the most important aspects of a website, which – created and presented in a thoughtful manner and in line with the audience’s expectations – can directly translate into profits. Content is not only a way to increase visibility in organic results, although of course its role in this area is invaluable, but also a very important component of building trust in a brand.
Preparation for content audit
Conducting a content audit requires proper preparation, which not only affects the turnaround time, but also the effectiveness, which ultimately translates into real benefits for the business.
Identification of purpose
The first step to start with is to define the purpose of the audit, which on the one hand will allow us to focus on those aspects that have an impact on our business, and on the other, will structure the work and give value to the individual elements of the analysis. Regardless of the type of business or service profile, the aim of a content audit may be:
- Definition of the optimum paths to reach the target audience
- Building user trust and loyalty
- Identification of audience preferences in terms of topics of interest to them
- Locating gaps in content that need to be filled
- Improving conversions on websites that generate traffic but have a low quality of visits.
Identification of target group
The next step before conducting a content audit is to determine the profile of the target audience for our products or services. How the content will be created, what message it will convey and by means of which keywords or issues it will reach specific needs, depends on who our recipient is. And, consequently, how they make individual choices, whether they make decisions on impulse or whether they are preceded by thorough analysis, etc. It will also be important to determine the age and gender of the audience, which greatly influences the form of content that will best reach them. The more precisely the target group is defined, the greater the chance that the content on the website will be closely matched to the expectations and behaviour of the audience.
Identification of the business goal
An important stage that will influence the way content is analysed is to identify the business goal that the content on the website is supposed to achieve. In one case it may be to sell a product or service, in another to build brand recognition or user loyalty, and in yet another to educate the recipient and establish yourself as an expert in a particular industry. The business goal largely determines the form of the content, its length or tone of voice, so it should be defined clearly and without ambiguity.
Preparation of tools
The last step before starting the content audit is the selection of tools that will allow us not only to carry out the analysis, but also to structure the collected data.
First of all, you will need a spreadsheet for collecting the results of the analysis to allow for their further processing.
It will also be extremely helpful to have Google Analytics and Google Search Console correctly configured; these are free of charge and highly useful products offered by Google.
For large websites or online shops, it will also be necessary to collect all URLs to be included in the analysis. If we are not able to generate such a list on our own, we can use a freeware tool called Screaming Frog. Download it to your computer and run it to generate all the URLs for a given domain.
Preparation of keywords
Before we start content analysis and further work on it, it is necessary to perform an in-depth analysis of keywords that define our business and which users use when searching for given services or products on the Internet. Their skilful use on the website will be a key element of optimising the website for search engine robots, which will translate directly into obtaining high positions for queries that may generate traffic to the website, and consequently – sales. If we have an active Google Ads campaign, then we can perform a full keyword analysis using the keyword suggestion tool. If you do not have or do not intend to use paid, professional tools for keyword analysis, it is worth using free solutions such as https://neilpatel.com/ubersuggest/, which allows you to check several queries per day.
Another source of knowledge allowing for an accurate selection of key phrases for our website may be checking competitors’ websites and finding out what words appear in their services, especially in headings or metadata texts that are visible in search results. A helpful tool can be the search engine itself, where after typing in one word, suggestions of other similar popular queries appear.
For large shops with a complex offering, it is worth employing an SEO specialist who will perform a professional keyword analysis for us, taking into account both our business goals and the trends and interests of users.
First stage of content audit – content clustering
After this sound preparation, you can finally get down to the actual part, the content audit. At this audit level, all URLs should be broken down by content type, taking into account the 3 basic stages of the purchase path:
In the first case, these will be subpages that aim to subtly and unobtrusively present the user with a solution to their need. This type of content should first and foremost reinforce in the recipient’s mind the feeling that we are providing them with the knowledge to solve their problem.
At the consideration stage the user will already be showing interest in our website, product or service, so the role of the content we present to them should be to strengthen our position, authority and opinion, and to build a relationship with the recipient. This is not yet the moment to sell – for this will be done at the next stage, which is decision-making.
This is where we can convince the user of our product, highlight its advantages and superiority over competitors’ products. This is also the perfect time to offer users discounts or other promotions to help them make a profitable purchase decision while reassuring them that it is the best possible choice.
Now that we know what the basic stages of the purchase path are, we can proceed to cluster the content in our shop according to the above characteristics.
We can build user awareness with blog and how-to content. If our shop has such a section, it should be assigned to this stage of the purchase path. However, if we do not have it in the structure of our website, it is a good idea to consider creating it. This will allow us to supplement our in-store content with content that will allow us to reach a wider audience. This is the easiest way to turn readers and viewers of our content into customers who generate real sales for us over time.
They can make a judgement based on the content describing the products available in our shop. These could be, for example, category subpages providing guidance on how to choose a particular product based on the user’s needs. On such subpage users can assess which of the offered products meets their expectations and, if they are interested in it, they will direct their attention to the content describing it, i.e. to the product subpage which is the last stage, i.e. making a purchase decision.
With the content on our site already clustered according to the above criteria, we can proceed to the next stage of work.
Second stage of content audit – data collection
The next stage of content audit consists in collecting and sorting data on the basis of which we will draw conclusions about the condition of our website’s content – its strengths and improvement areas. To this end, it is worth preparing a spreadsheet which will collect the following data in columns:
- Purchase path stage (awareness, consideration, decision)
- Content format (text only / video only / text + video)
- Meta title
- Meta description
- Text length (>500 characters, 500-1000 characters, 1000-1500 characters, 1500-2000 characters, >2000 characters)
- Presence of keywords
- Number of sessions (last year, last quarter, last month)
- Session length
- Bounce rate
With the document thus prepared, we can proceed to fill it with data for each subpage entered in the “URL” column. We defined the stage of the purchase path in an earlier step, so we have that out of the way. For “Meta title” and “Meta description” enter the full text, but if the subpage does not have these tags completed in the html code, leave the field blank. The “Content format” and “Text length” columns are completed using the designations indicated above, while for “Headings” we enter a number depending on their hierarchy, e.g. H1-1, H2-3, H3-0, etc.
We then analyse the presence of the keywords using, of course, the previously prepared list. For each subpage, we indicate which keywords appear in its content in both unchanged and changed forms. When completing particular columns, make sure to use fairly consistent nomenclature. This will enable convenient sorting and filtering of data at the analysis stage.
The further part of the document involves Google Analytics and the extraction of specific quantitative and qualitative values.
Third stage of content audit – data analysis and conclusions
We are about to start the last and at the same time the most difficult stage of the audit, i.e. analysis of collected data and drawing conclusions. Try adding another column for analysis and conclusions to our file to make this task easier. The first three columns, i.e. “URL”, “Purchase path stage” and “Content format” are not subject to analysis, the others are.
The assessment is made as outlined below by answering the questions indicated. A “YES” answer equals 1 point, a “NO” answer equals zero points or follow the scoring presented in each area.
Going in turn:
- Meta title:
- Is it present?
- Does it contain at least one key phrase?
- Is it present?
- Does it contain at least one key phrase?
- Does it include CTAs or Emoji characters?
- > 500=0
- H1-1=1, H1=0 or >1=0
- H2-0=0, H2-1 or more=1
- H3-0=0, H3-1 or more=1, etc.
- Is there at least 1 keyword in the text?
- Does the keyword appear at least 3 times in the text?
- Does the keyword appear in the H1 heading?
- Does the keyword appear in the other H headings?
The above outline allows us to assess which subpages of our website are the best and which are the least optimised in terms of SEO (the highest number of points is 16). This in turn will tell us which subpages or even whole sections of the website we need to work on in particular.
The data in the following columns will instead require a more individual and non-schematic approach alongside our objective assessment.
First of all, we should look at pages that generate a lot of traffic but have a relatively short session and a high bounce rate – compared to other subpages. This may mean that the subpages are well optimised for SEO and are therefore highly visible in search results, but the users who end up there:
- do not find what they were looking for and, after a quick scan of the page, leave it
- users found a specific answer to their query, but were not encouraged to explore the website further.
It is therefore important to analyse the content taking into account these two behavioural scenarios and consider how we can improve the user experience on our website.
In the first case, work on supplementing the content with pieces that are better suited to users’ queries. To this end, consider reviewing other search results that appear in the search engine after typing in specific key phrases and see what content your competitors offer or how the content is presented on other sites. Perhaps for a given topic it would be better to present the content as a bulleted list instead of cramming the content into one heavily worded paragraph. Or perhaps our content simply lacks the specific advice the user is looking for? You should also bear in mind that many users do not have the time to read long paragraphs and simply want their question answered quickly. If someone is looking for advice on how to remove a beetroot stain, they probably want to deal with the problem as quickly as possible and will not bother to read about the fact that “beetroot is a popular Christmas Eve food, but it is also often present on our tables for everyday family dinners”. On the other hand, they will appreciate the fact that, upon entering a given subpage, they will see the following tip: “Sprinkle salt on the beetroot stain and leave it for 15 minutes. Then wash it”.
Let’s take another example: if the content of a subpage is supposed to be about the care of leather shoes, the user will certainly expect some advice on how they can keep their leather shoes clean, good-looking and protected from water on a daily basis. It is then best to include a list of some tips in bullet points immediately after the brief introduction, with the heading “7 ways to keep your leather shoes looking nice”. In the next paragraph, we can present “3 ways to protect your shoes from getting wet”. This way our content will be more readable and the user will easily find those parts of it that are interesting and useful for them. This can have a positive impact on the user experience and thus increase the time spent on a given subpage.
When our content is well suited to the user and they can find what they were looking for on the website, but they leave immediately after reading the advice (point b), we need to encourage them to visit subsequent pages. Depending on what stage of the purchase path they are at – we can redirect them to other advice, a category in the shop or even to a specific product. The content can therefore be enriched with text links or banners with appropriate CTAs that will draw the reader’s attention and at the same time encourage them to stay on the site.
Now let’s look at subpages that generate virtually no traffic (quality indicators in this case are irrelevant, as there is no data on the basis of which they can be analysed). Lack of traffic can be caused by many factors. However, when we exclude the one related to technical errors, which needs a separate study, it can be due to:
- content not optimised for relevant keywords
- low-key, not popular topics
- highly popular and competitive topics
In the first case, the solution is self-evident: you need to populate the subpage with suitable keywords, placing them in the metadata (title and description), in the H1 heading and subheadings, as well as in the body of the text.
When dealing with unpopular content, consider what other, more widespread topic could complement it. Let’s say our subpage focuses on describing the properties of an innovative, proprietary foam used for manufacturing the soles of footwear that we offer. It is likely that not many people will search for information about this foam, especially using its brand name. To drive users to such content, it is worth supplementing it with information on, for example, types of soles or the choice of a specific sole depending on our sporting activity. This allows us to seamlessly guide the user to content that talks about said foam as a recommended solution for a specific audience.
The third case, which is a very popular topic, will require a little more work from us. This is because we will have to verify our content taking into account several aspects:
- a wide range of long tail key phrases, i.e. those which are less popular but more accurately match the query, and different variants of these phrases: synonyms, inflections, phrases in the form of questions. Saturating content with additional key phrases will not only increase the chances of visitors coming to the website, but will also strengthen our “authority” in the eyes of search engines, which will be able to link our content more frequently to a variety of user queries on a given topic,
- competitors’ content and content available on sites that are in the top 10 search results for a given keyword. Try to find out what your competitors are writing about, what information they may be missing from your content, and then expand your own content with it,
- strengthening subpages with off-site activities. Conducting a link building campaign will help increase the visibility of a subpage for specific key phrases and build their high positions. Consider consulting an SEO specialist who can provide you with a suitable link building strategy or to whom you can entrust this task in full.
Such an analysis will allow us to identify any errors and deficiencies in the content present on the website, and then increase its attractiveness from the user’s point of view, which in turn will translate into a greater number of visits and ultimately into sales.
Useful free of charge tools
Awareness of the website’s errors and weak points is only the beginning of the road to improving the website’s condition in terms of content quality. The next step is to implement the changes and fix the diagnosed errors. If you plan to do this on your own, without getting support from a professional SEO agency, the following tools may be useful:
- https://www.highervisibility.com/seo/tools/serp-snippet-optimizer/ – with this tool you can easily check how your metadata will look in search results
- https://www.seoreviewtools.com/html-headings-checker/ – with this tool you can quickly check which H1 to H6 headings appear on a given subpage
- https://sitechecker.pro/website-word-counter/ – using this tool you can check the volume of text, namely the number of characters in the content on a given subpage
- https://www.seoreviewtools.com/keyword-density-checker/ – if you want to perform an automated check of the keywords appearing on a given subpage, this tool will be perfect: it suggests both the type of phrases and the degree of saturation of the text with them.
The role and quality of content on a website, especially in eCommerce, is invaluable. It is what allows us to reach the user, both the one who has specific expectations towards a given brand and the user who is just at the beginning of the purchase path, without clearly defined needs. A skilfully conducted and regularly repeated content audit is one of the key elements of an effective and consciously planned content marketing strategy. Take your time with it, because it is a long-term investment in your website and your business, which will bring measurable results.
An in-depth content audit is a standard part of the Insightland team’s work for every client with whom we start an SEO cooperation and for everyone we support on a daily basis in the area of content creation, optimisation and SEO campaigns or web analytics. Our actions, planned and implemented based on analytics as part of the strategies we prepare, not only generate quality traffic, but also have a significant impact on our clients’ conversion rates and sales.
Do you find this article interesting? Does your website need an audit? Looking for support in other SEO-related areas? Feel free to contact me
Irena Zobniow / email@example.com | T: 888 215 953 | www.insightland.org