Many business owners launch their blog with high hopes of ranking on page one of Google right away—only to discover the time and effort involved. Feeling like there’s too much to keep up with is also one of the top 4 reasons why small businesses don’t invest in SEO.
That being said, SEO is so valuable for business growth that it can’t be overlooked. Don’t let SEO pricing stop you, either. SEO is perhaps the most reliable long-term method of generating traffic and leads for your business.
Ensuring that your SEO efforts are worthwhile begins with an SEO content audit. There’s a lot that goes into such a task, so buckle up and put your search engine hat on. First, let’s look at what an SEO content audit is and why you need one.
What Is an SEO Content Audit?
An SEO content audit is an analysis of your website content’s performance based on SEO and consumer behavior benchmarks. This means you’re looking at your site through the eyes of Google, which receives over 90% of search queries, as well as humans.
Top-performing websites are optimized for search engines as well as readers. Search engine algorithms influence how authoritative and visibile your site is, while humans determine what’s popular and useful.
Your website’s overall SEO success is measured via the following, to name a few:
- Amount of published content
- Average content word count
- Internal link strength
- Sitemap health
- Number, quality, and relevance of backlinks
- Website usability (page load speed, security, navigability)
An SEO content audit provides an accurate view of how relevant your content is to search engines, and how attractive it is to human readers. Improving your content in both areas gives you the best chance to drive more leads and conversions.
Why You Should Be Conducting an SEO Content Audit
If measuring all of these website factors sounds like work, that’s because it is. This may have you asking, “Why should I be conducting an SEO content audit in the first place?”
Done properly, an SEO content audit uncovers your site’s strengths, weaknesses, and growth opportunities. It’s arguably the best way to generate consistent traffic that can grow over time.
Knowing why you’re taking on an SEO audit begins with identifying its benefits. Here are the two main reasons to engage in an SEO content audit:
1. It Helps You Create Higher Quality Content
Content production requires significant time and effort. Completing any piece of content involves ideation, drafting, production, editing, optimization, and publishing.
That’s a lot of work to go through, only to find out that some of your content takes off and the rest flops. With an SEO content audit, you’ll discover which blog posts are ranking and which need immediate attention.
This reveals your working patterns and helps you generate topics of greater relevance faster. As a result, your future content will gain traction sooner, which is one of the 3 reasons to start SEO now vs. later.
2. It Shows You What to Focus On
An SEO content audit also reveals where your site is lacking or broken. It’s not fun to review such information, but you need to in order to grow.
If you’ve written dozens of blog posts and none of them have ranked in Google, you likely haven’t optimized yet. Perhaps you wrote content without SEO keywords, or wrote blog posts that were only a few hundred words long. You also may have used too many keywords, which is one of the 4 spammy SEO mistakes to avoid.
Only with an SEO audit can you spot these deficiencies. By comparing your content against that of other successful websites’, you’ll have your work cut out for you. No more wasted time on ideas that you hope will work; only strategies that generate results.
Given all the data you can uncover from one SEO content audit, how often should you use them? Keep reading for the answer.
How Often Should You Conduct an SEO Content Audit?
When you’re conducting an SEO audit or using an SEO audit checklist, it’s easy for two things to happen. One, you may emphasize the data side of it too heavily and forget to continue producing content. Two, you may audit your site infrequently and miss problems that need immediate attention.
How do you resolve this? By creating an SEO content audit schedule. It’s recommended to audit your content once per quarter, or at least once per year.
The frequency you use depends on the scope of your website. If your business just launched and you only have a few blog posts up, you don’t need another audit in three months. However, if your website already has hundreds of posts, you’ll need bigger and more frequent audits.
Remember, too, that your audit is simply the first step in a comprehensive content improvement plan. The audit shows you what to address; it’s up to you to act on the information in order to get better results.
To keep your mind clear in the midst of so much data, create a reflection document that’s separate from your audit results. Write down what you learned from each audit as you conduct it, including any positive or negative trends. Keep it brief so you can identify priorities instead of trying to fix everything at once.
So, what does it look like to carry out an SEO content audit? It involves defining your goals, documenting your content, and committing to improvement.
6 Steps for Conducting a Successful SEO Content Audit
It’s time to create a framework for the success of your own SEO content audit. This begins by defining the scope of your audit and the key performance indicators (KPIs) by which you’ll measure your content.
Define the Goals and Metrics for Your Audit
The first question to ask yourself in setting SEO goals is, “What do I want to achieve?” Are you focused on generating awareness and attention? If so, generating a lot of traffic is key. Use medium volume keywords that you can rank for quickly and scale up from there.
Are you more concerned about driving leads and conversions? You should be targeting long-tail, buyer intent keywords. These are terms users enter into Google when they’re prepared to buy a product or service.
Don’t stop at strict SEO metrics, either. Think about the experience you want readers to have on your site. Do you want them to see several post likes and shares? If so, is your content novel enough to drive such engagement?
The beauty of any SEO audit is that it’s customizable for your business. Yes, every company should be focused on metrics like traffic and leads. But given how different businesses are, you may be interested in lots of social media shares where another strictly wants more email subscribers.
Think carefully about what your KPIs are and which SEO activities drive them. Then, observe the performance of each content asset in relation to those goals.
Create an Inventory of Your Website’s Content
With your goals identified, it’s time to document your existing content. If you don’t already have one, create a spreadsheet and list out all of your published work.
This includes blog posts, landing pages, product pages, your About Us page, contact page, home page, and your sitemap. This takes time, so give yourself all the time you need. In order to know where your site can be improved, you have to see which pages are working and which are defunct.
If you’re newer to SEO, it’s easy to think only your blog posts pages are relevant. Truthfully, your sitemap and About Us page are two of the more important URLs on your site, too. Documenting everything that your audience can experience on your site helps you spot the biggest needs quickly.
Check Your Content’s Rankings
Once all of your pages are documented, it’s time to see what content is working. In order to assess rankings, you’ll need access to a tool like SEMrush, Ahrefs, SEO Powersuite, or Moz.
Take each URL from your content spreadsheet and plug it into your SEO tool of choice, one by one. As long as each URL you’re checking has been live for at least 24 hours, you should see rankings within a few seconds.
Check out the results. Are your blog posts ranking for keywords? Better yet, are they ranking for relevant keywords? Be prepared to see a mixed landscape. Some of your blog posts may be ranking well; others may rank on page six or seven, or not rank at all.
Ideally, you’ll discover that at least one or two blog posts are generating organic traffic. That said, you may be underwhelmed by the lack of keywords your content is currently ranking for.
Don’t fret, though. Today’s search engine landscape is so crowded and competitive that it takes a good two to three months to even gain traction.
With your site’s rankings available, you can identify priorities and build a strategic plan around them. Make sure to document each URL’s current rank in Google.
Categorize Your Content
Now that you know which pages are succeeding and which are suffering, you can categorize all your URLs. In your content spreadsheet, make a column titled “SEO Strength.”
Then categorize each of your site’s pages as Weak, Good, or Excellent. Consider using data validation in your spreadsheet, which allows you to create a dropdown menu for each cell–simplifying your categorization process.
The catch is that what’s “weak” versus “excellent” depends on your site. For example, a website that just launched four months ago isn’t going to have as much content as a website that’s been around for five years.
Accordingly, the older website should have more content, and some blog posts will be ranking better than others. An excellent blog post for this website would be one that’s bringing in hundreds of visitors per day, versus one bringing in a few dozen visitors per day.
Then again, some websites that have been around for years don’t have a lot of content. In such a case, an excellent article may be one that brings in lots of new visitors after freshly optimizing it.
Next, categorize your content based on its stage in the buyer journey. Some of your content is top of funnel, meaning it’s useful information or brand awareness content. Other content pieces are bottom of funnel, meaning people read it when they’re close to a purchase decision.
Collect and Analyze SEO Data for Each URL
Once your content is categorized, you can start looking at the hard numbers of your content. This includes each blog post’s number of backlinks, its monthly traffic, session time, bounce rate, and conversion rate.
Create individual columns in your spreadsheet for this information. Be fastidious in your recording of it, which helps you make the right decisions later.
Look at the numbers you’re documenting. Is your content performing as well as you thought it would? If not, it’s not the end of the world. Determine what’s holding it back so you can publish, promote, or optimize differently next time.
Create an Action Plan
Now it’s time to create your action plan. There are four ways to categorize the SEO changes you’ll implement: low effort, low impact; low effort, high impact; high effort, low impact; and high effort, high impact.
As this framework indicates, not every action will yield the same results. For example, internally linking relevant blog posts increases rankings, but adding alt text won’t accomplish the same thing. Your site becomes far more valuable in the eyes of Google with the former rather than the latter.
Take enough time to look at each piece of content in your audit. Ask yourself, “Should I rewrite, repost, or expand this article?” Your answer for each post will determine how much time to spend on each blog post.
With your priorities made clear, spend most of your time on low effort, high impact actions. This gives you quick wins and the motivation to continue. Over time, shift your focus to high effort, high impact actions. This requires more energy on your part, but continues bringing the results you want.
Designate time to compare your site’s current metrics against your previous audit at least once per year. Identify the progress you’ve made, and use it to set new benchmarks for your content.
Mastering the SEO Content Audit
Congrats–you’re now more educated than most people on what an SEO content audit looks like! It’s not fast or easy to assess your content and identify where you can improve.
Remember to document all of your URLs so you have a comprehensive view of your content–then measure it according to your metrics. It’s impossible to get better at something that you aren’t measuring.
Spot the trends that your SEO data is showing you. Let poor-performing content, broken pages, and a lack of conversions inform your next steps. Use this information to develop content that’s attractive to readers and useful for your business.
Need help improving your site’s SEO?
At Main Street ROI, we offer one-time SEO projects to audit and tune-up your website, as well as monthly SEO management services including ongoing auditing, technical fixes, content development, link building, consulting and reporting.