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Is your content performing the best that it could? That's the question that makes many content publishers undertake a content audit and analysis. If you've been running a site for a long time, there's always a risk that some of your content is sub-par. The only way to know for sure is to conduct a content analysis. A content analysis helps you discover what's working and what, if anything, you need to change. Many people will also do a content audit if they are preparing a website for sale. Instead of the physical assets of a brick and mortar business, the content is their digital asset portfolio. There's no denying that this is a time-consuming process, but it's worth it so you get the most out of the content you’re producing. Here's a step by step guide to this essential content management task.
Step 1: Create a content inventory
A content audit generally consists of listing and evaluating all the content on your site. If you have a small site, you may be able to list your content manually, but that won't work for larger sites and companies. Instead, you will need to use an automated method to get a comprehensive listing of site content. You may need to use multiple tools to get all the information you need.
1.1 Use a website crawler to extract URLs The first step is to get a listing of all the URLs on your site. Screaming Frog's SEO Spider is an excellent, free, downloadable website crawler which helps to list and analyze content, checking for broken links, meta descriptions, and more.
The SEO Spider can crawl everything on your site, but Moz recommends omitting images, CSS, Javascript, and anything you’d look at in a technical SEO audit. For more on using Screaming Frog, check out these in-depth tutorials from Tuts+ and Seer Interactive.
When you have finished this step, export the data into a CSV file.
1.2 Get data from other sources

Crawling your pages with Screaming Frog's SEO Spider is only the starting point. To get a holistic picture of your content, you'll need to import data from other sources, too. That's because in addition to information on the URL, page title, and publication date, you’ll also want to add information about which part of your site the content is on, who wrote it, and more. This is why the content audit process is so time consuming. Places to gather data include:
You can also use URL Profiler as a way to gather site data from multiple sources. Import the Screaming Frog data as a starting point, and then add the data from other domain, URL, and social media analyzers.
1.3 Create a keyword matrix Moz also recommends creating a keyword matrix for your site content. This involves tracking and analyzing the pages on your site ranking for important topics. The purpose here is to match up keywords with the best possible page to guide copywriting and on-page optimization efforts.
You can export these to be added to your master spreadsheet (see the next step). This will be useful later for improving old content as well as creating new content.
1.4 Put the information together The tools listed above will help you collect the basic information you need to create your spreadsheet, but at some point you will have to do some manual entry before moving onto the analysis stage. For example, it's important to identify the type of content at each URL (short blog post, in-depth article or guide, infographic, video, presentation, etc) and add this information to the spreadsheet. This will help you assess the span of content across your site. If you need a starting point for your content analysis spreadsheet, check out this example from Inflow and these content inventory templates.
Step 2: Decide on your strategy
Before you undertake the next step (or while your content audit tools are running), decide on your strategy for the content audit. Again, Inflow has a content audit strategies table that can help with this.
There are several paths you can take depending on the size of your site and whether you’re trying to avoid SEO penalties, but some of the key content tasks include:
  • Looking at keywords and prioritizing them based on search volume and relevancy.
  • Identifying content gaps and proposing new pages if applicable.
  • Improving existing content and prioritizing the pages to be improved.
  • Getting rid of content that doesn't work and removing pages from the index.
This will help you set a schedule for continual improvement of your site. For larger sites, you will have to update your site in blocks, starting with the most important pages - your audit will help you identify these.
Step 3: Analyze and act
Once you know what content you have, it's time for some more in-depth analysis. This will focus on:
  • Identifying out of date or duplicated content
  • Finding content that's not in line with current SEO best practices
  • Identifying the best and worst performing pages
  • Discovering new opportunities for content creation
  • Seeing if there's a disparity between the keywords you want to target and the ones you're actually ranking for.
Questions to ask of each piece of content include:
  1. Does this piece of content meet our strategic goals?
  2. Does it help our customers find us online?
  3. Does it meet our customers' needs and provide value?
  4. Is the content accurate, up-to-date and relevant?
  5. Does this content meet our current in-house style, tone and professional standards?
  6. Is the content optimized for search? Conversion?
  7. Is the content mobile-friendly and ready for social sharing?
  8. Is anything missing?
  9. Is the organization of the content logical?
  10. Is there anything we can do to improve it?
Sales Benchmark Index suggests scoring each piece of content according to objective criteria to provide a shortlist of what to change. Once you have your answers, you will be able to decide on the next steps for each piece of content.

How to improve content after an audit

Some pieces of content will be awesome and you'll be able to leave them as is. Other content will need to be improved, either because it is not in line with your current focus or SEO strategy, or because it's become out-dated. Improving this content could mean:
  • Checking for updated information and adding this to the content
  • Adding images that meet current standards
  • Changing the content so it uses long tail keywords within your keyword matrix
  • Fixing broken links
  • Using meta tags to instruct search engines about page indexing (you may want to retain a page for historical purposes without it appearing in search results)
  • Redirecting a page to a better, more relevant page on your site
  • Adding internal links to new content that's relevant to older content
As Copyblogger says, content has to be in great shape to work well for you. A comprehensive content audit and analysis helps you to fill your site with content your customers will love. Have you ever done a content audit? What tools did you use?
Sharon Hurley Hall Sharon Hurley Hall is a professional freelance writer and blogger. Her career has spanned more than 20 years, including stints as a journalist, academic writer, university lecturer and ghost writer. Connect with her on Twitter @SHurleyHall.
Why Every Site Should Conduct A Content Analysis (And How To Do It)
By Sharon Hurley Hall
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