So things have been fairly quite around here for some time, and that’s been largely due to the fact that I’ve been flat out busy as usual.
Not just busy with doing my other blogging duties and meeting deadlines with client projects etc, but I’ve also been busy working on my own projects, both online and offline, leaving me very little time to actually write blog content.
Now one of the things that I’ve been busy doing over the last three months or so, has been auditing all of the content on Magnet4Blogging. Including the copywriting on the homepage, about page, landing pages, sales pages and various other pages.
How it all started off
Back in early January of this year (2016), I sat down and began taking a look at my website as ‘a whole package’. I was particularly interested in the existing content and copywriting on my site.
I was coming up to having almost 200 blog posts published, and almost 50 pages as well since I started this blog, and so I asked myself one question:
How good of a job was my content and copywriting doing at connecting, communicating and engaging with my target audience and visitors?
As well as, how much value was my content really providing to people?
Without sounding as if I’m blowing my own trumpet here, I guess a lot of my content must have been doing a pretty good job at providing some value. Because I was already getting emails and praises from people reading my blog, comments, social shares, clients and all the rest of it, way before I even thought about doing a content audit, or improving the copywriting on my pages.
So something was clearly working right?
However, I felt that I I could still make improvements, I could still make my web content better somehow.
And that’s basically what got me thinking about doing a full-blown content audit for the rest of my blog.
And so it begins.
Now design and branding wise, I was fairly happy with my setup. I have made some additional small changes to the homepage since the beginning of the year, most notably above the fold.
I did this to start with, because I wanted to make it much clearer about who I was, my passions, my skills and ultimately what business I was in and what value I could provide to people visiting my site. I wanted my message to have more clarity if you will.
OK enough waffling on, let’s dive straight into this content audit.
Doing A Content Audit For Your Blog The Smart Way. How I Did It
Now I’ll be honest with you, this is only the second time ever in my entire career as a blogger and marketer, that I’ve done a full content audit. The last one that I did was about 4 years ago for my previous blog at Magnet4Marketing.
So, simply updating a few static content pages lead me to start preparing for a full-blown blog content audit. Well I knew this was going to take a considerable amount of time to do, hence why I decided to reduce my posting frequency back in January. I wrote a post about it here actually, explaining that I was going to take a break from blogging.
What is a content audit anyway?
If you’ve landed on this page for the very first time, or perhaps you’re new to blogging or online marketing and aren’t too sure what a content audit entails, here is the low-down in a complete nutshell for you.
A content audit in the online world, is best described as the process of evaluating content elements.
So if you have a blog with lots of content for instance, that’s evaluating all of your blog posts and all of your static page content, and then making a formal decision as to what you want to do with that content, based on a series of measurable factors and how much of your content holds any true value to your blog or website.
Hope that made some sense. If not you can always read more about it here in greater detail.
Why should you do a content audit?
There are way too many reasons why anyone or any blogger would want to do a content audit.
For me it was about wanting to make my website content better, so that it would become more aligned with my goals and objectives (which is to ultimately get more subscribers, and create more leads).
In addition, I also wanted to create a better user-experience on my site for my visitors. I wanted to make every single piece of content on my blog every bit as useful and problem solving, for anybody who was reading it.
So my advice to you is this – figure out why you really want to do a content audit before you set about doing one. Have a clear goal or objective.
54% Increase In Organic Traffic Content Audit Case Study
Now since I began making these changes to my website, in particular my blog content back in January, I instantly began to see the results of my efforts.
Literally, after identifying and removing a handful of thin, low quality and low value articles, one of the things I noticed was the significant increase in organic search engine traffic.
Look at the screen capture image of my Google Analytics below. You will notice how towards the end of January and into early February (around the time of me removing pages and posts), organic traffic increased almost instantly overnight?
If I compare the week where traffic increased, with the previous week in fact, that’s a 55% increase in organic traffic. Not too shabby huh?
So if you’re wondering whether doing a content audit for your blog will help you to improve your search engine rankings, and increase traffic in any way, I can’t really say that it will. Maybe it will maybe it won’t, I guess it depends on many other factors as well.
Now my goal once again was to ensure that my that blog content was still relevant and still useful to my audience and new visitors, and of course still able to convert those visitors into subscribers and leads.
So what actually goes into a content audit then?
OK so before I finally dive into how I did my blog content audit (I promise you it’s coming), let me just say something very important here.
If you’re going to cary out a successful content audit for your blog too, first ensure that you have a master plan and that you get yourself organised.
Seriously, you’ll pull this off more successfully if you are better organised and better prepared. Don’t just got about stabbing around in the dark and do something silly, like delete posts and pages you think you should be deleting, without doing some analysis first.
Now depending on your reasons for doing a content audit for your blog, you’re going to need to gather a lot of important data about your content.
All of this takes considerable time and preparation, so please be aware that doing a content audit is not an overnight process.
Below I’ve compiled a list of some of the information and data you might want to gather for your website audit. These are also the ones I used for my content audit.
- List of all blog post URL’s (Critical).
- List of all static page URL’s (Critical).
- Content publish date for blog posts.
- Page views for the last quarter, or for whatever length of time you’d like to measure traffic for each post.
- Bounce rate for each post.
- Current search engine position for target keyword if any, for each post.
- Percentage of traffic from search engines for each post.
- Total number of comments per post.
- Total number of social shares per post.
- Page ranking per post.
- Page links per post.
- Page authority per post.
OK so remember what I said about the importance of being organised and prepared?
And remember what I said that doing a content audit takes an enormous amount of time and effort. It will get tedious I kid you not, but it will all be worth it in the end.
So finally, here’s how I got myself organised to audit the content on my blog successfully, and you can follow the same exact steps if you wish too.
3 Steps To Executing A Successful Content Audit For Your Blog
Step 1. Do a complete URL dump
The first thing that I did was to dump all of the URL’s for my blog posts and pages into a spreadsheet.
When you do this for your site, you might also want to include Categories and Tags, but in all honesty you’ll just be making more work for yourself, so just leave it out if you can.
I used my blog’s sitemap to find all of the URL’s for my site. If you have an XML Sitemap generated for your WordPress site, you can use this too. If you don’t yet have a Sitemap, install the Google XML Sitemaps plugin. There’s quite a few sitemap plugin’s about, but this one is the most popular one to use by far.
If you’re using WordPress SEO by Yoast, there’s also a Sitemap feature within this plugin that you could use. However from previous experience with Yoast, the Sitemap feature doesn’t always behave the way it should. That might not be the case for you or everyone else though.
What if I don’t use WordPress?
If you don’t use WordPress, or even if you do, to save time there’s a great tool you can use called Auditor by Kapost. You simply enter your domain name and the software will crawl your entire site and generate a list of URL’s, which you can then download as CSV. You can find that tool here.
OK so going back to dumping URL’s, I used Numbers for the Mac to do my URL dumping and organising, however you can use what ever tool you feel most comfortable with using.
If you are a Windows PC user and have access to Excel, you can use that perfectly well. Otherwise you can use Google Sheets.
Here’s a snap shot of what my URL spreadsheet looked like, pretty basic stuff right?
When I started getting myself organised for auditing my blog content, I had around 250+ URL’s to my spreadsheet. You may have more or less. Remember the more you have, the more time it will obviously take you to do your content auditing.
Step 2. Organise your spreadsheet
Here’s how to organise your spreadsheet. First put all the URL’s in one column under the heading “URL’s”.
Now you’ll need to add some auditing categories.
Categories! What categories?
Using categories will help you make a better decision as to what to do with certain blog posts or pages. I added the following categories to my URL spreadsheet.
1. Keep as.
2. Make good.
4. Remove (Add 301).
5. No-index, (No-follow).
Again, you can follow the same process as above or add your own set of categories. So let me dive deeper into each of these categories and their meaning or purpose if you like.
1. Keep As
Pretty self explanatory stuff. Basically I would keep all the posts and pages that were current and up to date on my blog. These would be content posts and pages with 2,000 words or more, and getting good traffic from all sources, high levels of engagement and converting reasonably well.
2. Make Good
I would make good and keep all the posts and pages that were getting good traffic and engagement, but not converting as well as hoped for.
These content posts and pages would need major updating, some with content upgrades to boost opt-in conversions. These would mostly be my product review posts, how to articles, resource list posts and pages etc.
I would combine multiple posts that were written on the same topic or subject. These would be posts with low word count, getting satisfactory levels of traffic, but low engagement. These would mostly be quick blogging tips, quick insight posts, quick how to tutorial posts.
Consolidating these types of posts would create more cornerstone content for my site.
4. Remove (Add 301)
I would remove all the posts that were basically dead. These would be content posts and pages with low value, very low traffic, zero engagement and zero conversions.
These would also be a combination of low and high word count articles that simply failed to work.
To avoid creating too many 404 error page-not-found pages, I would add 301 redirection to each post I removed, and have them lead to another relevant and related piece of content on my blog.
If there wasn’t a related post I could redirect to, often I would just redirect to the blog archive page or my custom sitemap page.
You can also choose to create a custom 404 page for your visitors should you wish to.
5. No-Index, (No-Follow)
I would make these posts good and keep them as no-index. A few posts I would also make no-follow as well.
Why no-index or no-follow and not just delete them?
Because truthfully speaking, these would be posts that I spent many days or even weeks researching and writing, but can’t let go of.
Whilst these posts still offered great value, they’d usually be ones that received low to no traffic. So instead of deleting them I would simply make them better, no-index them and promote them further.
So as you can see by adding categories like this, it makes the whole process of auditing blog content easier, but not necessarily faster.
Step 3. Start your content auditing engine
If you’re going to make and use a URL list like this for your blog’s content auditing, go through each page or post with a fine-tooth comb, and again, take your time.
I can’t stress enough on how important it is to take your time with this. Yes it’s going to be extremely time consuming and tedious going through each post, it’s not a quick process at all, but again it will all be worth it in the end.
On average I was spending around 25 to 30 minutes auditing each post or page. Even longer if I had to upgrade some of them with new content.
Whilst my content auditing is now very close to completion, I’m still working on a a few posts and pages here and there, the ones that have escaped my URL dump stage somehow.
Tip: Set yourself a daily minimum goal. I set myself to audit a minimum of 5 to 6 posts per day, just so that I wouldn’t go insane doing it.
Don’t forget that as you go through each post with a fine-tooth comb, to evaluate some, if not all of the data, I shared with you at the start of this post.
Put each post or page in the category you think it should be in, based on the data and information you gathered and analyzed.
How I did this, was to start off with all the posts and pages that were getting at least 50+ page views per month. These would go into either a “keep as” column or “make good” column if I needed to improve the content of a post or page.
Then I focused on the posts and pages that were getting less than 50 page views per month. I would put these URL’s in either one of the three remaining columns to work on later. Either “remove”, “consolidate” or “no-index”.
Content Auditing Tools That I Used
OK so to finish off, I want to share with you some of the tools that I used to help me carry out my blog content audit. Here they are:
- Numbers for the Mac (For Windows use Excel, or Google Sheets).
- Google Analytics with the MonsterInsights Analytics plugin installed.
- Google Webmaster Tools (For tracking any 404-Error pages).
- Social Warfare (For showing social share counts per post in post admin).
- WordPress SEO by Yoast (For managing no-index posts).
- Auditor by Kapost (A time saving free content auditing tools).
- Heatmaps (You can use Clicky Web Analytics or SumoMe).
- LongTailPro (For analysing page authority and page links per post).
So there you have it, a detailed breakdown of how I carried out a reasonably successful and painless content audit for my blog, and how you can do the same without losing your mind or going insane.
You don’t have to be an experienced blogger or marketer either, I’ve given this tutorial so that any newbie can follow the steps above.
I’ll say this one last time, this stuff takes a lot of time to do, so don’t commit to doing a full-blown content audit for your blog if you think you’ll just give up half-way through.
I wish you the very best of luck.
By the way, if you have any tips, ideas, suggestions, tools you’d like to share to make content auditing easier for anyone reading this, please leave them in the comment section below.
I’d also like to hear from you if you have any questions regarding content auditing for your blog. Over and out for now.