The Content Audit: Your digital treasure map

Treasure chest, compass and old map on wooden table

The content on your website is one of your most valuable business assets. It’s a veritable Aladdin’s cave of treasure that has the potential to either draw potential customers in and persuade them to buy, or be covered in sand and forgotten forever.

Like performing an inventory on a cave full of treasure, a content audit helps you understand the value of your website, so you can make better decisions.

What is a content audit?

A content audit is a complete listing of all the content on your website, including text, images, videos and downloadable files. It helps you assess what content you already have and whether it’s any good, so you can determine which areas of your site need the most attention. If you’re looking to improve your website in any way, a content audit should be your first step.

Benefits of performing a content audit

How you use your content audit will depend on your purpose. You may be looking to enhance SEO, improve conversions, create an entirely new website or undertake a brand refresh. No matter what your end goal is, a content audit will help you: 

  • Improve the SEO and performance of your site by spotting broken links, missing title tags and meta descriptions, 404 ‘not found’ pages and other site errors
  • Refresh old, stale content by checking facts and updating information, so you can repurpose it into new content marketing opportunities
  • Identify any gaps in your content that potential customers may be finding elsewhere
  • Understand which pages contain low-quality, short, duplicate, badly structured or irrelevant content, so you can undertake copywriting, editing or proofreading if required
  • Adjust the Information Architecture (IA) of your website, so visitors can find what they’re looking for quickly
  • Highlight any content that needs to be combined with another page or ‘removed’ using a 301 redirect.

How to get started

Before you start a content audit, you’ll need a good understanding of your target audience and the journey you want them to take through your website, from entry to exit. When you’re ready, set up a spreadsheet with the following headings: 

  • Page heading
  • Canonical URL
  • Page title
  • Existing position in the sitemap (e.g. Home > Books > Fiction > A Game of Thrones)
  • Page meta description
  • Call to action (what you want visitors to do after viewing this piece of content)
  • Goal (how this piece of content helps your audience)
  • Notes (the condition of the content and what actions need to be taken)

This will allow you complete a basic audit, but if you want to go all out, you can also include some or all of the following: 

  • Page type (e.g. blog, product, form, landing page)
  • Content type (e.g. text, image, video, pdf)
  • Target audience
  • Target keyword or phrase
  • Date created or revised
  • Word count
  • Author
  • Social media (one column for each channel with how many likes or shares it has)
  • Internal and external links
  • Categories and tags
  • Blog comments

Once your spreadsheet is complete, it’s a matter of making your way down the list, line by line. What’s missing? What’s working well? What can be improved? It’s a tedious process (sorry) and can take some time, so aim for slow and steady progress with rewards along the way.

Most importantly, don’t take any action until you’ve completed the audit. There’s no point checking facts or fixing broken links if it turns out the whole page needs to be moved, rewritten and combined with two other pieces of content.

Your content audit toolbox

Often there are pages or pieces of content on your website that you can’t see but are still being crawled by Google. You should be able to use your CMS (e.g. WordPress) to pull a list of all published URLs on your site, or use Screaming Frog which is a free tool that crawls your site and provides you with a list of all URLs associated with your website. You can also use Google Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics to look for any site errors and see how each page on your site is performing.

Have you performed a content audit on your site? What insights did you gain from the process? 

I'm an SEO copywriter and brand storyteller based in Sydney, who's besotted with words, good stories and hot chips. I'm currently studying a Master of Arts in Creative Writing at Macquarie University.

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