Being able to spot thin content when you’re browsing different websites is usually pretty simple, but it can actually be very hard to detect when dealing with your own website.
Many small businesses today have hundreds or even thousands of pages of content, so it’s tough to find the time to look through all of it and make sure it is optimized. Ranking well on the web today and positioning your website as an authority is all about content — both quality and quantity — so the sooner you can get acquainted with content audits the better.
Auditing your content will help you know what you have to work with each year in case you need to make any major changes. When auditing content, there are several things you’re looking to find and analyze and questions you can ask to get there:
- Is the content still relevant, or are you reporting on an outdated practice?
- Is the information and statistics in the article up to date?
- Are there any broken links or links to what are now poor quality pages?
- Is the content published in the right place on your website, or would it be better suited on another page or in another format?
- Is there an appropriate amount of internal links in the articles?
- Can you re-share the article on social media to gain more visibility?
- Are you changing the article enough that you may want to re-publish it on your website to bring in more traffic?
- Are there any 404 errors?
When asking yourself these questions it’s important to record all of the answers for each URL of your website into a spreadsheet so that you don’t have to analyze every single page every single time. In other words, you want to complete a content audit once every six months. By keeping a lot of what you find, you will be able to see which content you may need to revisit and which content was checked recently. You can check out a sample spreadsheet and learn how to stay organized when recording data here.
Sorting through hundreds of pages of content may seem like a daunting task. To be honest, the first time you complete a content audit might be a little bit overwhelming (which is why it’s so important to keep up with regular audits), but fortunately there are lots of different tools to help.
Use some of the following tools to help break your content down into smaller sections and categories (for example, get rid of duplicate content or identify broken links immediately) so that you have a place to start. These tools will help you be able to delegate work to employees and that first audit finished quicker than analyzing content manually:
1. Screaming Frog
Screaming Frog will create a crawl report of your website and then take the page titles and URLs, status code, and word count. This is a great way to scan through the titles and URLs to see if there are any duplicates. Start there by clicking on the links and removing pages that are the same. Then, you can sort by the lowest to highest word count to see if some of the low-count pages are poorly written or could be improved. Finally, look at the status column to check for 404 errors and remove those pages as well.
2. Online XML Sitemap Generator
Online XML Sitemap Generator is a free tool and one of the most popular for getting a look at the content on your site. It will list out all of the pages, check for broken links, and create an automated sitemap of up to 50,000 URLs, so it’s great for large companies.
3. Google Analytics Content Reports
As you likely already know, there is a lot you can do with Google Analytics. When it comes to content reports, it’s a good idea to use this tool to look and see which pieces of content are bringing in the most traffic. This will help give you a goal of where you want all of your content to be, and you’ll know what content to analyze to see why something is working so well. Google Analytics also makes it easy to export data into a spreadsheet, narrow in on content found only on certain pages (ex. blog), and more.
4. Open Site Explorer
Open Site Explorer is a tool from Moz that will help give you a list of backlinks for each piece of content. This is a great way to also see which pages are getting the most attention on the web and have the highest search authority. It’s quick and easy to use and is one of the most popular when it comes to link building and of course complete a link audit, which you can learn more about here.
This tool will help you see what content is ranking for particular keywords. Again, assessing the SEO of your content is a big part of an audit, so this information will be a good way to help you see where your content isn’t ranking. For an audit, the best report to use is probably the Full report where you get organic keywords and then the pages on your website that correspond to those keywords and then of course the pages’ ranking.
Hint: I would recommend using this tool last after you’ve already fleshed out your content by answering the questions posed in the first section. This is a little bit more advanced and gets more into the optimization side of things than just cleaning up content.