Surprisingly, very few businesses and individuals realize the overwhelming benefits of auditing website content regularly. A big reason is that content isn’t yet considered as a valuable asset. It simply exists because, well, every website needs some text, some images and in many cases, some videos.
Or, people get website content for better search engine rankings. They hire an SEO writer or a regular content writer, get content written for their chosen keywords and search terms, and then move on. End of the story.
They don’t realize that they need to audit their website content regularly. Just like they need to take care of other business assets like machines, software applications, computer hardware, stationery and even human resources, they need to take care of their website content. They need to make sure that it is up-to-date, relevant and topical.
Why does a website audit seem like a daunting task?
We like new things. New things are full of possibilities. New things are free of judgments. This is why we continuously want to create and publish new content while totally disregarding existing content.
Another reason why a website audit may seem like a daunting task is that normally there are too many web pages and blog posts to audit.
If you have been publishing content, in whichever manner you have been publishing it, over a period of years, you must have published hundreds of them. As you publish more, their number increases.
So, the mere thought of revisiting all those web pages and blog posts that you have published over all these years seems daunting. You know that it may take weeks, even months, to audit all those web pages and blog posts.
Undoubtedly, the process can be tedious and time-consuming. But given the fact that it can tremendously improve your organic search engine rankings and on-site conversion rate, not auditing your website content is a big waste of the opportunity that is lying right in front of you. You need to take the plunge. The benefits overwhelmingly outweigh the effort involved.
How to kickstart your website content auditing plan?
First of all, you have to get hold of all the URLs present on your website. If you are using WordPress to manage your website or blog, you can use a plug-in that exports all the URLs onto a web page or into a comma separated file.
For a non-WordPress website, you can try the various URL crawling tools available on the Internet.
Then you can save these URLs into a spreadsheet.
In WordPress, there is also a plug-in that gives you a ready-made interface for content auditing but I prefer tracking your auditing progress in a spreadsheet because it is more flexible and you don’t have to install a dedicated plug-in for that.
Although you may have your own way of organizing data in your Excel sheet, I prefer that for every auditing exercise you create a separate worksheet in a single spreadsheet. For example, if you decide to start your content auditing in January 2018, you can have a “January 2018” worksheet.
In this worksheet you can have the following columns:
- URL title (page title or blog post title)
- Complete link
- SEO keywords – keywords for which this particular link should be ranking high or is already ranking high
- Conversion goal – why was this webpage or blog post created
- Suggested changes – more content to be added, more optimization to be incorporated, old information to be updated, more or new images to be added, SEO tweaks to be done, and so on
- Audit status – to be audited, being audited or audited, or whatever
- Audit date – when the current audit is complete
- Recheck date – decide the date on which you should check whether the changes that you have made are showing up or not. For example, whether this link is ranking for the right keywords or not or whether its conversion rate has improved or not
Having such a spreadsheet will allow you to track individual links, and also their progress.
If multiple employees or multiple content editors will be working on your content auditing project, you can also have another column titled “Assigned to” where you can put the names of people responsible for that particular link.
5 benefits of auditing your website content
Benefits are a great motivation. Unless you understand the true motive of a thorough website content audit, you won’t be able to carry it out in its true spirit.
Listed below are 5 benefits of auditing your website content:
1. Make your content up-to-date
Are you still giving examples of MySpace and Google Wave? Are you still suggesting your clients to blog using Blogger.com? Are you still giving examples from companies that no longer exist? Is one of your web pages still telling people that Obama is the President? Is your web page copy still making references to Blackberries?
Then it’s time to update your content. The world these days changes very fast. The information that you used a couple of years ago doesn’t matter. The business tools you referred to 5 years ago are no longer available or they have gone through monumental changes.
2. Resubmit to Google
When was it the last time Google crawled and indexed your important links? Although most of the search engine crawlers do this automatically, you are never sure when your website’s turn is going to come.
When you audit your website content and make changes you can manually resubmit your link through the Google search console. This shouldn’t be done without making changes because if you try to submit content that has already been indexed, Google begins to ignore your resubmission requests.
3. Optimize your content for targeted keywords
Perhaps originally when you were creating/writing your content you didn’t pay much attention to its optimization aspect. Maybe now you have gained more experience. Your new links are faring well. You can use that experience to optimize even the older links.
Or maybe you have over optimized.
The Google ranking algorithm has gone through many changes over the years and SEO practices that were legit 5-6 years ago can get your content penalized now.
Maybe you have, unintentionally, overused your keywords. Maybe you have done lots of interlinking. Maybe you have used some black hat SEO tactics to gain better search engine rankings – back then you didn’t know that those were black hat SEO tactics.
Recently when I was auditing my own website content I realized that on many web pages I had stuffed my content with keywords even without realizing it. A few changes, some inclusion of LSI keywords, and suddenly my rankings began to improve for the same keywords.
4. Improve the overall quality of your content
Maybe you hired an ill-trained content writer back then because of budgetary constraints. Or you didn’t have much time to pay enough attention to the quality of your content.
When you audit your website content – provided you have assigned enough time to it – you get the opportunity to improve the overall quality of your content.
You can take care of grammar and spelling mistakes. You can simplify over-complicated sentences. You can organize various bits of content under headings, sub-headings and bullet points. You can link to other web pages and blog posts that can provide additional information.
You can also update the images. Is there a scope that you can reduce the size of the images? Can you use better images? Did you forget to insert the ALT tag information the first time?
5. Get new content ideas out of existing content
Getting new content ideas on an ongoing basis can be a big problem. Around 60% of content marketers re-purpose existing content. According to statistics present on this Smart Insights blog post, 60% content marketers find it very difficult to publish engaging and good quality content on an ongoing basis.
You may also like to read 15 ways you never run out of blogging ideas.
So, these are the 5 basic benefits of auditing your website content on a regular basis.
How regular you want to be, depends on your content marketing strategy, your budget, and the resources that you can employ to audit your existing content.
Having said that, auditing doesn’t always mean you need to change every single web page or blog post. You can also quickly check whether a particular link needs to be updated or not and you can leave it as it is if it does not need any sort of update.