PUBLISHED: May 27, 2020

A 25-Point Content Audit Checklist for Better SEO and Content Strategy

Arkin Khemchandani
A 25-Point Content Audit Checklist for Better SEO and Content Strategy
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A content audit is a process of systematically reviewing all the content you have on your website in order to fix whatever needs fixing and find opportunities for improvement.

When was the last time you took a step back to carefully assess your content’s effectiveness? Sure, it is a time-consuming process, but if done well, performing a content audit is worth every minute.

Why You Must Conduct a Periodic Content Audit

There are a myriad of reasons why doing a content audit frequently is a good idea. To name a few, a periodic audit helps you identify:

  • Parts of your site that acquire the most traffic and generate the most conversions.
  • Content that causes visitors to bounce away.
  • Opportunities for optimizing existing content to improve its search engine rankings.
  • Pages that could be merged together to remove any overlap.
  • Content that lacks relevance and could be eliminated from the site altogether.
  • High performing content that can be used as a baseline.
  • Pages and posts on your site that should be hidden from the search engines.
  • Usability issues that need fixing.
  • Any gaps in your content strategy.

But as it is an extensive, time-intensive process, it is sensible to start out with a clear, defined purpose to do it successfully.

Setting Your Audit Goals

Ultimately, marketing is all about getting the most return on investment (ROI). You want to make sure the audit aligns with your long-term content marketing and business goals.

For instance, your goal could be to:

  • Improve your website’s rankings on Google.
  • Increase audience engagement by refining the user experience (UX).
  • Generate more sign-ups or sales.

So, if you want to figure out which topics are the most well-received by your audience, you should focus your audit on the user behavior and engagement metrics. If you wish to improve your search engine rankings, you must focus more on backlink analysis and on-page optimization.

Now, for conducting a comprehensive audit that analyzes each and every aspect of your site’s content, you need to know all the…

Key Metrics and Quality Factors to Review

Let’s break them down into two groups, one focused on auditing the quality factors for SEO and usability of your content, and the other on auditing its performance metrics or conversion effectiveness.

For Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Usability

SEO and UX go hand-in-hand. If your aim is to improve your content’s rankings and/or usability, here are seventeen things to evaluate in your audit:

1. Titles

Are the titles of your blog posts too lengthy? Are they catchy enough? to make someone browsing the search results want to click through? Do they incorporate the target keyword(s)?

Ideally, the length of your title tags should be between 50-60 characters and certainly no longer than 70 characters, otherwise, it may not display properly and get truncated in search engines like Google.

2. Meta Descriptions

In search results, the short paragraph below the title that summarizes the content in one or two sentences is known as the meta description. As you’d expect, it affects the number of click-throughs to your content.

Check if you’ve explicitly defined a keyword-optimized meta description for all your posts in your CMS, else search engines will pick a part of the post and display it as the meta description without you having any control over it.

3. URL

Review the URLs of every page to check if they are short yet descriptive, instead of long and complicated

4. Keywords

The words or phrases that define what the content is all about in a nutshell, are known as keywords. As you’d expect, they are key to better rankings in search engines. These keywords help the search crawlers better understand your content.

So, check if keywords are sprinkled judiciously (not spammed) throughout your content — in the title, meta description, URLs, subheadings, and of course, in the various paragraphs of the post.

5. Links

Proper linking is crucial for every piece of content. For instance, linking out to spammy or low-quality sites is only going to hurt your SEO, UX, and business reputation. So, verify the following:

  • Internal links: Ensure all your content strategically links to each other as this helps your search rankings.
  • Outbound links: Verify the quality of websites your content is linking out to.
  • Broken links: Check if any of the links on your website are broken (pointing to 404 “not found” pages). If so, remove or redirect them to a different page.

Verify all internal linking, the quality of outbound links, and broken links on every page.

And so, pay special attention to all the links on your website.

6. Images

Do you have images to break up huge slabs of text? Are those images of high quality? Do they have an alt text in case they don’t load or viewed with a screen reader?

Make sure the answers to all these questions is a resounding “yes” for every page on your website.

7. Comprehensiveness

Studies suggest that longer posts perform better when it comes to search engine rankings. A word count of over 2000 words for every post will surely help your SEO. Not to mention it would serve your audience better by answering most, if not all, their questions.

So, review your content for its comprehensiveness and see if the articles can be updated with more information.

8. Readability

What’s the point of writing long-form content if your readers can’t comprehend it. If the content is too technical, tedious, or can’t be easily skimmed through, it isn’t going to be effective.

So, review your articles for quality. Make sure they are a joy to read, easily scannable, and pass the Flesch-Kincaid readability test.

9. Relevancy

Separate content pieces that are out-of-date from ones that are evergreen. Figure out the posts that need to be updated to maintain relevance.

The ones that are completely obsolete may need to be deleted altogether. While identifying evergreen content can help your marketing efforts as you can continue to promote it for years to come.

10. Backlinks Analysis

Your backlinks — the links from other websites pointing to your site — keep changing over time. You want to ensure that your site only has backlinks from credible websites, not spammy ones.

Also, you need to verify if the number of good backlinks is going up or down, as backlinks play a huge role in your search engine rankings.

11. Duplicate Content

One of the most common SEO issues plaguing websites is duplicate content. If you have duplicate content, search engines won’t know which pages you want to be considered landing pages in SERPs, and those pages can even start to compete with one another.

Besides, It would be a waste of time and energy to create duplicate content. So, Review your content repository and delete all the duplicate stuff.

12. Factual Accuracy

Is all your content factually accurate? It may happen that the statistics you cite are from an unreliable source.

So, audit all your articles for factual accuracy as stating the wrong information can seriously hurt readership.

13. Call-To-Actions

Including call-to-actions within and at the end of your posts can be a great way to drive more conversions. Look back at all your content to see if you have opportunities to include relevant call-to-action buttons.

14. Accessibility

Is your content accessible to everyone, including people with disabilities? (such as the visually-impaired?

Review your content for its structural coherence (proper usage of H1-H6 subheadings). Check if the anchor texts are descriptive enough and all form fields have clear labels. Better accessibility translates to better usability and rankings.

15. Author

If you have multiple authors contributing to the content creation on your site, you must ensure that every article has the correct author byline. Furthermore, Make sure that all author bios are updated.

16. Responsiveness

Is the layout of all your content mobile-friendly? That is, are all the pages displaying correctly on mobile devices?

More than half of your audience is consuming content on mobile devices. So, ensuring that your content is responsive — adapts automatically to the screen size on which it is loaded — is critical to your content marketing success.

17. Repurposable

Repurposing is a fantastic way to get the most out of every piece of content. Essentially, Repurposing means converting your blog post into another format, such as an infographic or video.

While auditing, check if every piece of content has the potential to be repurposed into a different format. This will help you expand its reach and capture new audiences without much extra effort.

For Tracking Performance and Business Goals

If your aim is to track your content’s performance and whether you’re hitting those marketing goals you targeted, here are eight things to assess in your audit:

1. Traffic

The amount of traffic your content is able to generate is a big indicator of its performance. If your content doesn’t generate worthwhile traffic, it doesn’t make sense to invest efforts in creating more and more of it.

Perhaps there is something wrong with:

  • Content strategy
  • Content distribution
  • Type of content
  • Quality of content

By evaluating the traffic metrics frequently in your audit, you’ll know if your content marketing efforts are actually paying off.

2. Bounce Rate

Are visitors bouncing right off your content page without navigating to any other pages on your website? Typically, your content is just a gateway that leads a user from a search to your website, entertains or informs them, and then makes them want to tour the rest of your site for their needs.

But if the bounce rate is high (over 60%), it means most people who view your content are immediately going back to the search engine as they likely didn’t find what they came for.

So, you might need to check where your content is going wrong so as to try and make visitors stick around and explore what your site has to offer.

3. Pages per Session

How many pages are the users visiting after viewing your content? Which pages are they going to?

The more pages a user visits per session, the more effective your content is. Such content should certainly be promoted and optimized more.

4. New vs. Returning Visitors

Is one of your articles bringing in many new visitors? Or is a blog post so well-written that it is bookmarked by your audience?

Returning visitors are great. Such content deserves special attention from you.

At the same time, But content that helps you capture new audiences also merits attention. So, reviewing the type of visitors in your audit is crucial to building a robust content strategy.

5. Traffic Sources

Learn where your traffic is coming from by determining your traffic sources. If a majority of your content’s traffic is coming from Google search results, it means your SEO game is strong.

On the flip side, if you’re hardly generating traffic from your social media handles, maybe it’s time to invest in upping your social media marketing.

6. Average Time on Page

If your content is a long-form blog post of over 3,000 words and the average time on that page is thirty seconds, it is an indication that something might be wrong with that piece.

Reviewing the time on page for each piece of content informs you if the content is the right fit for your audience or not. It signals at the higher potential of some topics over others, helping you frame your future efforts.

7. Engagement

Likes, comments, social shares, and mentions are all great indicators that your content is performing very well.

Identifying which blog posts get the most engagement will help you produce more of such content and in turn, reproduce that content marketing success.

8. Contribution to Conversions

At the end of the day, your goal with any type of marketing is to drive more sales. Plain and simple.

With multi-channel attribution modeling in Google Analytics, you can figure out which content pieces contribute how much to your conversions. The ones that truly help bring home the bacon deserve more attention in your existing content strategy…

Updating Your Existing Content Strategy

With the audit done, all that is left now is to use your inferences to improve your existing content strategy.

Analyzing the successes and failures of your past content will help guide your content marketing to reach greater heights than ever before. It’ll enable you to strategize content that will appeal to your target audience, optimize for organic visibility, and boost conversion rates.

For instance, you can look at your least performing posts and compare them with your competitors’ similar content that worked to see how you could improve it. And for the content that is performing well, take note of things like the topic and type of the post, so you can create more of that in the future.

What works today may not work a few months down the line. And so, periodic adjustments in your content strategy based on your audit findings are a must. Performing content audits a couple of times a year is a great way to see if your content marketing efforts are paying off, and how they can be further improved to bring even better ROI.

Arkin Khemchandani

Arkin is a content marketer at Growfusely - a SaaS content marketing agency specializing in content and data-driven SEO. Besides work, he's an ardent recreational runner who loves beaches and trance music. Connect with him on Twitter: @arkin008

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