I’m always surprised at how much I learn from every SEO content audit.
Despite repeatedly doing them at least twice a year, there is always a new insight or kernel of knowledge you can walk away with.
But without a solid plan and process, content audits can get messy quickly.
For larger sites, we’re talking about analyzing several data points across hundreds or thousands of pages – so it’s easy to get overwhelmed.
With that in mind, this post will help guide you through doing a complete SEO content audit.
What is an SEO Content Audit?
This means looking for everything from broken links to pages without meta descriptions.
There are a handful of reasons to do an SEO content audit:
- Identifying SEO issues and opportunities
- Identifying content gaps
- Identifying your best and worst pages
- Finding content opportunities
In short, an SEO content audit provides you with a high-level snapshot of what’s working well and what isn’t.
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How to Do a Content Audit
If you’re serious about doing a content audit, you’ll need to get your hands on a crawling tool.
There are a bunch of website crawling tools out there so it’s worthwhile to look around, but here are some good tools to start your search with.
- Paid option: Screaming Frog (£149/year)
- Free option: Rob Hammond SEO Crawler
- Pro-tip: There are some different paid tools out that have a free version or trial which should give you enough time to do an audit.
Another tool that will help for this is URL Profiler. This tool has free and paid versions and gives you some extra URL-level data.
Step 1: Create a Content Inventory
Once you have a crawling tool it’s time to start building an inventory and collecting data. First, prioritize crawling your most important pages, then do a full crawl to check a broader set of pages.
Whether you do this step all in one massive crawl or multiple smaller crawls, make sure you collect and store the data to create a content inventory.
Step 2: Analyze the Data
Once you’ve crawled your whole site, it’s time to start analyzing the results.
I typically approach this step with the goal of answering a few key questions:
1. Can the crawlers find your content?
A page can’t contribute to your SEO if Google can’t find it. One of the first and easiest ways to start the content audit is to make sure none of your pages have an error in the HTTP status.
To do this, simply sort the table of URLs by status. The codes you’re most likely to see are:
- 200 – Everything is okay
- 301 – The page has been redirected properly
- 403 – The resource is forbidden
- 404 – Page not found
- 500 – A generic server-side error
Keep your eye out for any 404 or other HTTP status errors. Correcting these is an easy way to help give your SEO a nudge in the right direction.
2. Is all or only some of your content being indexed?
Next, look to see that all (or at least most) of your content is being indexed. The easiest way to do this is by jumping over to Google Search Console. Here you can quickly see how many of your pages Google has indexed.
Once you know how many pages are indexed, head over to Google and do a quick “site:” search for your website. This allows you to double check that your pages are in fact being properly indexed.
3. Is there any low-hanging fruit for optimization?
Next, we’re looking for changes that can be implemented quickly but will still give you a good improvement in your SEO.
- For instance, filter your URLs by meta description length. If you notice any pages with no or short descriptions, then go back and add or update the description. While meta descriptions don’t impact your SEO, having a compelling meta description will drive clicks.
- Another place that may offer some easy opportunities for optimization is internal linking. There are two main things to look for here. First, make sure that your most important pages have the most internal links. Second, check for pages with 0 internal links.
- Check for duplicate content. We’ve written a lot about the importance of unique content, but in short, duplicate content can lead to pages being devalued and, in some cases, penalized.
- Look for content that can be consolidated. Having two pages attempting to rank for the same keyword isn’t ideal – if you notice pages overlap and don’t offer a unique angle, then consider consolidating the content and 301 redirecting the lesser page.
4. Are there any major content opportunities or gaps?
Taking this high-level view of how your content and SEO are working helps you identify opportunities and gaps.
For instance, which pages are receiving the most backlinks? Not only do backlinks help increase organic and referral traffic, but they can also tell you which content is most popular or noteworthy. If you see that a particular blog topic or product category is grabbing a lot of backlinks, consider how you use this opportunity to your advantage.
To find gaps, group your content by topic or target audience. Is a lot of your content focused on one customer segment? Do you have mostly bottom-of-the-funnel content and little top-of-the-funnel content? Are there any noticeable gaps in your keyword targeting? All these questions are can be answered with an SEO content audit.
Step 3: Update Content as Needed
The final step is updating the content.
In some cases, this is going to be easy like updating a broken link or 301 redirecting an old page. In other cases, updating the content will mean rewriting the majority of an article.
If you’re interested in learning more about this topic, I suggest checking out the articles we’ve written about about how to repurpose old content and how to create awesome content.
If you’re struggling to find the time and resources to revamp old content, consider hiring a team of freelance content writers to rewrite your content. This way you can ensure high-quality content while freeing up more of your time to work on other priorities.
Running an SEO content audit is an important part of a healthy content strategy. While it’s certainly not a small amount of work, a well-run content audit will provide you with a wealth of SEO opportunities.
Do you need unique, quality content to support your SEO goals? Constant Content connects you with thousands of professional writers able to create articles, ebooks, product descriptions and other assets that engage readers while increasing search rank.