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SEO Content Audit: Why, How, and Everything You Need to Know

Mo Shehu

Mo Shehu

Learn how to conduct a comprehensive SEO content audit to improve your website's performance, user experience, and search engine rankings.

Table of contents

TL;DR: Conducting an SEO content audit is essential for understanding your website’s performance and making actionable improvements.

From analyzing website structure to evaluating content quality and impact, the audit provides insights to enhance user experience, SEO, and conversions.


SEO content audit: What is it and why is it important?

A blog audit or SEO content audit is like a website health check.

It tells you how you’re currently creating content, how much of it you’re creating, whether existing content is working, and what you can do about it. 

A successful website content audit will give you actionable ways to improve your content strategy and deliver SEO performance improvements.

But it’s not a one-off affair. Content auditing is an ongoing process, and you should ideally carry one out every three to six months.

Let’s dive into the content audit template we use, step-by-step. Credit to Emilia Korczynska, Head of Marketing of UserPilot, for inspiring parts of this guide.


The 5 phases of a comprehensive SEO content audit

Search engine optimization is complex, and so is any content audit meant to deliver improvements. 

We divide our content audit into five phases to ultimately optimize each web page:

Phase 1: Website structure analysis

  • Is your website hierarchy well-structured?
  • Are your URLs well-organized?
  • Are you making the most of internal linking?

Phase 2: SEO metrics analysis

  • How’s your website traffic looking?
  • How much organic traffic do you get?
  • Which keywords do you rank for?
  • What’s your website domain rating?
  • Do you have any broken links?
  • How many backlinks does your website have?

Phase 3: Content planning and production analysis

  • How do you plan your content?
  • How do you produce your content?

Phase 4: Content quality analysis

  • Is your content fresh?
  • Do you have any duplicate content?
  • Is your content well-structured
  • Are your images relevant and optimized?
  • Is your content E-E-A-T optimized?

Phase 5: Content impact and conversion analysis

  • Are your blogs driving conversions?
  • Does your content resonate?

Let’s dig into each phase.


Phase 1: Website structure analysis

Is the website hierarchy well-structured?

Imagine your website as a house. 

You wouldn’t want your guests to wander aimlessly, bumping into walls, and unable to find the bathroom. 

The same goes for your website and blog.

A well-structured website hierarchy is like giving your visitors a map to your house. It makes it easy for them to find what they’re looking for.

A site content audit begins by ensuring the foundation of the house is solid.

Start by checking your primary menu: is your blog easily accessible? If not, add a direct link to it in your main navigation bar.

Next, consider your blog page itself. If you have lots of content across different topics, could you categorize them for easier access?

When you audit PostHog, you’ll see they do this well with their blog. They’ve divided it into different topics so you can dive into the one most relevant to you.

A well-structured website isn’t just about making your visitors happy. 

It also helps search engines understand your website better, which can improve your SEO. 

Recap:

↳ Evaluate your website’s primary menu
↳ Include direct blog links for faster access
↳ Add blog page categories for easier navigation

Are your URLs well-organized?

Look out for long, complicated URLs and reduce these to just ‘head keywords.’ 

A head keyword is a broad and highly competitive term that represents a general topic or concept within a particular industry or niche. 

They tend to have high search volumes and intense competition among websites trying to rank for them. 

Examples of head keywords include “SEO,” “fitness,” or “digital marketing.”

For example, you can shorten

yourwebsite.com/how-to-do-a-content-audit-the-ultimate-step-by-step-guide

to

yourwebsite.com/content-audit

The second version is shorter, cleaner, and easier to read. 

You can edit the post’s title to your heart’s content without having to change the slug every time.

One easy way to handle this change is to export all your post URLs to a Google Sheet, with the titles in one column, the current slug in another, and a separate column for the new slug.

Then, go through each URL and shorten its slug accordingly.

You can typically export lists when running an SEO content audit, such as during an Ahrefs content audit or when using SEMrush.

Use a redirect tool to handle any slug changes. I use WP 301 Redirects Pro.

Recap:

↳ Check the URL structure of your blog articles
↳ Shorten your blog slugs to just the head keywords

Are you making the most of internal linking?

Internal links help your visitors find related content and can boost your SEO

It increases dwell time and signals to search engines that you’re a definitive source on the topic, since visitors are consuming more content on your website.

As part of your content marketing audit, skim each article and check if they contain links to:

  • Relevant product, service, or use case pages
  • Help pages for further troubleshooting
  • Case studies to showcase expertise

Tools like SEMrush, Ahrefs, or AIOSEO can tell you how well your blog articles are linked internally.

But don’t overdo internal linking. Too many links in a post can be confusing and make your content look spammy. 1-2 internal links per paragraph should suffice.

One success signal of good internal linking is seeing visitors arriving on your content from internal links. Google Analytics can show you this in the Path Exploration page (for GA4 setups).

Recap:

↳ Check your blog posts for internal links to product, service, help, or use case pages
↳ Use tools like Ahrefs, SEMrush, or AIOSEO to manage internal links
↳ Avoid too many internal links per post


Phase 2: SEO metrics analysis

How’s your website traffic looking?

Organic traffic analysis is a key aspect of any SEO content audit.

You can check the organic traffic (number of visitors) in the last day, week, month, quarter, or year(s) using Google Analytics. 

Google Analytics breaks your traffic into different buckets, such as organic search traffic, direct traffic, organic social media traffic, and referral traffic.

Look out for sudden drops or spikes in website traffic or browsing sessions. These could indicate:

  • A new page ranking well – did one or more pages get indexed recently?
  • A change in your audience’s behavior – is it seasonal or industry-wide?
  • A problem with your website – what recent changes have you made?
  • A recent algorithm update – has Google changed its algorithm?
  • Social media content performance — have you recently gone viral or run ads?

A good sign to look out for during content auditing is seeing a steady increase in traffic over time. 

This indicates your website is attracting more visitors and growing in popularity. An Ahrefs content audit, for example, could show you this growth visually.

But traffic is just one indicator of your website’s health. 

You also need to consider other factors like engagement, conversion rates, and user experience. We’ll touch on these in later sections.

Note that Google Analytics merely records your website’s demand capture activity. 

These visitors could be hearing about you first on other channels not recorded or measured in Google Analytics.

For example, a radio ad might send people searching for you online, but when they land on your website, it’ll be recorded as ‘Direct’ traffic or ‘Organic traffic.’

Don’t then rush to drop all your other demand creation channels. 

Consider where these people might be coming from to get a nuanced view of your marketing effectiveness.

Recap:

↳ Monitor your organic traffic using Google Analytics
↳ Compare traffic growth week-on-week, month-on-month, and year-on-year
↳ Watch for sudden drops or spikes and determine what may have caused them

How much organic traffic do you get?

Inbound marketing is every content marketer’s dream. 

Because of this, your content marketing efforts should ideally prioritize organic traffic.

Organic traffic refers to visitors who find your website through a search engine, rather than through paid ads or other channels. 

Depending on your niche and target audience, you likely want more organic traffic than paid traffic. 

This is because organic traffic compounds on itself over time, while paid traffic stops once you turn off the ads.

However, not all traffic is created equal. You want visitors who are interested in your content and are likely to convert, not just random passersby.

Also, keep an eye on your bounce rate. This is the percentage of visitors who leave your website after viewing only one page. 

A high bounce rate could indicate your content isn’t meeting your visitors’ needs, and Google can ding your website for that.

A steadily increasing amount of organic traffic is a good sign, but ensure it’s high-quality organic traffic.

You want visitors who are engaged, who spend time on your website, and who take action.

Recap:

↳ Determine the percentage of organic traffic in total traffic acquisition
↳ Track your bounce rate and engagement rate (dwell time)
↳ Optimize your content inventory for high intent searches

Which keywords do you rank for?

Keywords are the bread and butter of SEO.

They’re the words and phrases people type into search engines when looking for content like yours. 

An SEO keyword audit helps you answer the following questions:

  • Which keywords bring people to your site?
  • Are you ranking for those keywords in the top 3 positions in search engine results pages?
  • Are your keywords too popular and thus hard to rank high for in search results?
  • Which content type is popular? Is it reviews, alternatives, guides, or something else?
  • Are there longer, specific phrases (long-tail keywords) you should use to lead ready buyers to your site?
  • Do you distribute your main keywords in each blog post’s title, meta description, and image tags?
  • What keywords do your competitors use that you can also try to rank for?
  • What hot new keywords in your industry should you track?
  • How well do your keywords perform over time and what changes do you need to make?

SEMrush, Ahrefs, or any other content audit tool can help you find out the answers to these questions.

However, beware of keyword stuffing. This is when you overuse a keyword in an attempt to game search engines, and you could get penalized for that.

Also, keep an eye on your keyword golden ratio. Per the linked article:

“Keyword Golden Ratio is the number of Google results that have the keyword phrase in the title divided by the monthly search volume, where the search volume is less than 250.”

A high ratio means you’re doing well, but a low ratio could indicate room for improvement.

Remember though: SEO is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes time to see results.

So, be patient, keep optimizing, and keep tracking your progress.

Recap:

↳ Determine your website’s keyword rankings and ratio using your favorite SEO tool
↳ Analyze the performance and relevance of your top keywords
↳ Incorporate industry-relevant keywords to rank higher

What’s your website’s domain rating (DR)?

Think of your website’s Domain Rating (DR) as its digital credit score. 

The higher it is, the more trustworthy your website appears to search engines. 

Different SEO tools can help you check your website’s DR. A steadily increasing DR shows that your website’s reputation is improving.

But during your content analysis, you might discover a sudden drop in your DR.

Maybe you’ve lost some high-quality backlinks, or perhaps you’ve been hit by a Google penalty.

Just like with credit scores, a high DR doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time and effort to build up your website’s reputation.

Recap:

↳ Check your website’s Domain Rating using Ahrefs or SEMrush
↳ Develop a plan to improve your DR if needed

Broken links occur when a hyperlink points to a non-existent or inaccessible page, resulting in a 404 error message or a dead end for your visitors.

Broken links affect your:

  • User experience: Broken links frustrate users and can lead to a poor impression of your website, discouraging visitors from exploring further.
  • SEO impact: Search engines consider broken links as a negative signal when ranking your website. They indicate a lack of maintenance and may result in lower search engine visibility.
  • Reputation and credibility: Broken links can undermine your website’s credibility and professionalism.

Here’s how you can fix broken links:

  • Regular link audits: Conduct periodic checks using tools like Google Search Console or online link validators to identify broken links on your website.
  • Update or redirect: Once identified, update the broken links by replacing them with the correct URLs or redirect them to relevant, functioning pages on your website.
  • Remove or fix external broken links: If you have outbound links pointing to external websites that no longer exist or return errors, either remove them or find alternative reputable sources to replace them.

Recap:

↳ Regularly audit your website for broken links using tools like Google Search Console.
↳ Update or redirect broken internal links to relevant pages.
↳ Remove or fix broken external links pointing to non-functioning websites.

Backlinks are the digital equivalent of referrals. They’re votes of confidence from other websites, telling search engines that your website is worth visiting. 

The more high-quality backlinks you have, the better your website looks to search engines. SEO tools like SEMrush or Ahrefs can help you determine how many backlinks are pointing to your website. 

Of course, not all backlinks are created equal. The value of each backlink depends on the Domain Rating of the website linking to yours.

From Ahrefs:

“When a domain’s DR is higher, more “link juice” is transferred to linked domains. The source domain splits its rating equally amongst the domains it links to. So: a DR-10 domain which links to three other domains can influence your DR more than a DR-80 domain which links to a million other domains.”

It’s not about getting as many backlinks as possible, but about getting the right backlinks. A backlink from a high-DR website is worth more than a backlink from a low-DR website. 

A steadily increasing number of high-quality backlinks is a good sign.

Spammy backlinks can harm your website’s reputation and could lead to a Google penalty. You can disavow links you believe are spammy in Google Search Console.

Recap:

↳ Determine the number of backlinks to your website using Ahrefs
↳ Analyze the quality and relevance of your backlinks
↳ Leverage digital PR or create linkable bottom of funnel content to increase high-quality backlinks


Phase 3: Content planning and production analysis

How do you plan future content?

Be wary of planning future content based solely on keyword volume or competition. 

This is a common mistake teams make with their content marketing strategy.

Doing so can lead to website content that doesn’t resonate with your target audience or meet your business goals. 

Beyond just keywords, content planning is about understanding your audience, goals, and resources.

It’s also about exploiting any content gap that your competitors aren’t focusing on.

A good sign is seeing your planned content rank well in search engine results and driving traffic and conversions. 

On the other hand, if you’re not meeting your traffic, conversion, or profit goals, you might need to reconsider how you select which SEO blog post to write.

You have limited time and resources, so prioritize blog content that has direct ties to your bottom line.

Recap:

↳ Determine how the keywords for new content are selected
↳ Prioritize relevant content that could lead to sales

How do you produce your content?

With a content production analysis, you’re looking to determine:

  • How many blogs are produced weekly/monthly
  • Your monthly content creation budget
  • Your content team structure
  • How you create a content brief
  • The number of writers on your team
  • The average cost per post
  • Your content creation tools, and
  • How you perform content inventory updates (and how frequently you do so)

The number of blog posts you have can indicate how active you are in your field.

Tools like Ahrefs can help you compare your blog post count with your top 3 competitors.

You’ll know whether you are producing enough content to stay relevant and visible in the eyes of your audience and search engines.

Here are different ways you can measure success:

  • Consistent content production
  • Enough writers and editors to handle the workload
  • A limited number of content writing tools (you don’t need the bloat)
  • A streamlined content production process with clear steps for everyone
  • A fairly predictable content production timeline for different types of content assets
  • Frequently updated content, especially annual roundups, comparisons, and reviews
  • A low cost per content asset compared against conversions (not necessarily cheap content)

Be wary of producing content for the sake of it. Each piece of content should serve a purpose, whether it’s to inform, entertain, or convert.

Recap:

↳ Analyze your content production operations
↳ Ensure you have enough resources to meet your volume goals
↳ Get the most bang for your buck through better processes, writers, or distribution


Phase 4: Content quality analysis

Is your content fresh?

Fresh content is like fresh produce — it’s more appealing and valuable to your readers.

But not all old content is bad. Some content is evergreen and remains valuable over time.

A content freshness analysis is like checking the expiry dates on your content and chucking any old content, revamping what’s left, and adding new content.

Look out for any outdated content piece that no longer aligns with your brand or audience’s needs. This can harm your website’s reputation and your SEO.

Recap:

↳ Determine the percentage of posts that are older (a year old or more)
↳ Archive old content, revamp what’s left, and add new content
↳ Set up quarterly reminders to update your content

Do you have any duplicate content?

During your content audit process, keep an eye out for instances where the same or very similar content appears in multiple places. 

Duplicate content can confuse search engines and dilute the visibility of your pages in search results, negatively impacting your website’s SEO and user experience.

To identify duplicate content, you can:

  • Use Google Search Console to highlight duplicate content on your website.
  • Conduct manual searches for specific keywords using the “site:” or “inurl”: switches on a search engine. This can help identify if the same content appears on your website.

If you find duplicate content, here are some recommended actions:

  • Consolidate similar content: If you have multiple pages with similar or identical content, merge them into a single, comprehensive page.
  • Implement canonical tags: You can use canonical tags to indicate the preferred version of the content to Google and every other search engine. This helps consolidate ranking signals and prevent duplicate content issues.
  • Rewrite or rephrase content: If you find instances of duplicate content on your website or from external sources, rewrite or rephrase the content to make it unique.
  • Use 301 redirects: If you have duplicate content on different URLs, implement 301 redirects to redirect users and search engines to the preferred version of the content.

Is your content well-structured?

Content structure impacts how much of your content visitors read, and can encourage backlinks from other websites.

Bad structure makes readers scroll needlessly. Good content structure improves content performance considerably. 

It makes it easy for readers to find the parts they need quickly and easily. 

Consider the reading experience on mobile devices. You want shorter paragraphs that are easy to consume.

Check if your blog post has a table of contents and a TL;DR (Too Long; Didn’t Read) section. 

These two sections alone improve navigation and information gain considerably.

If you use WordPress, there are many Table of Content plugins available for integration. We currently use Simple TOC by Marc Tönsing.

But beware: too many sections or subheadings can make your content feel rigid and hard to follow. 

Aim for around 300 words per heading, and only include H2 headings in your Table of Contents.

Success signals would be seeing your readers engage with your content, spending time on your page, and interacting with your CTAs.

You can find out this information from the Path Exploration page in your Google Analytics dashboard.

Recap:

↳ Check if your posts are well-structured
↳ Add a table of contents and TLDR section to each blog post
↳ Optimize the reading experience on mobile over other devices

Are your images relevant and optimized?

Images can grab your visitors’ attention, explain complex concepts, and make your content more engaging. 

But they also need to be optimized for search engines, data usage, and server storage.

Firstly, check that your posts have enough contextual images with alt texts. 

Alt texts are like captions for search engines — they help search engines understand what your images are about. 

Contextual in this case means that each image makes sense when considered together with the paragraphs or topic around it. Don’t just insert random stock images.

Also, beware of using too many images or uploading large images. 

They can slow down your page load time and frustrate your visitors, leading to poor content performance.

Larger images require more data to load, which can quickly use up a reader’s mobile data if they’re not on WiFi.

They also require more space on your server, which can eat into your hosting plan and require a more expensive package.

A good benchmark to aim for is 200 KB per image or less, with 2-5 images per page. 

But don’t feel the need to add images to every content piece. Aim to make the posts as useful as possible even without images.

Recap:

↳ Check if the posts have enough contextual images with alt texts
↳ Compress your images for faster load times
↳ Prioritize contextual usefulness over everything else

Is your content E-E-A-T optimized?

E-E-A-T stands for Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness.

It’s a set of criteria that Google uses to evaluate the quality of your content. 

During your SEO audit, check if your content is:

  • Vetted
  • Helpful
  • In-depth
  • Actionable
  • Trustworthy
  • Authoritative
  • Provides expert opinions

Some red flags to look out for:

  • Lack of credible sources or references
  • Lack of author credentials or expertise
  • Inconsistent or conflicting information
  • Poor grammar, spelling, or formatting
  • Misleading or biased content
  • Outdated information

You can fix these by:

  • Citing sources
  • Removing typos
  • Adding subject matter expertise
  • Displaying author credentials (on blogs with multiple authors)

You can measure your content’s usefulness by tracking your:

  • Average dwell-time (should be increasing)
  • Bounce rate (should be decreasing), and
  • Conversion rate (should be increasing)

Recap:

↳ Check if the content is in-depth, helpful, actionable, and authoritative
↳ Include expert opinions and trustworthy, vetted information where possible
↳ Optimize for longer dwell times, lower bounce rates, and more conversions


Phase 5: Content impact and conversion analysis

Are your blog posts driving conversions?

Conversions don’t always have to be sales. A conversion could be a newsletter sign-up, download, or form submission.

How many of your blog posts are driving conversions? And what percentage of all your blogs are they?

Google Analytics can give you these answers. Again, be wary of blogs that get a lot of traffic but few conversions. 

This could indicate a mismatch between your content and your audience’s needs or expectations.

The good news is you can always scale conversions, no matter how few they are at first. 

Getting the first conversion is the hardest, but multiplying it is easy once you know what your conversion growth levers are.

These could include:

  • Optimizing the content itself for better discovery in search
  • Improving the offer by giving away a free lead magnet or offering a time-based discount
  • Running ads against high-quality content to get more eyes – and more conversions – on it

Recap:

↳ Determine how many blogs are driving conversions and what percentage they are
↳ Optimize for increased conversions through lead magnets or better CTAs
↳ Run ads against high-converting content to scale success

Does your content resonate?

Traffic is great, but content resonance is even better.

Resonance is a slightly fuzzier metric by which to measure your content quality, but it signals a deep alignment between your prospects’ problems and your company’s solutions.

You can tell content resonance by:

  • People discussing your content on other channels (e.g., LinkedIn, Slack channels, or podcasts)
  • Prospects bringing up your sales enablement content during calls
  • Investors referencing your content during board meetings
  • Email subscribers responding to your newsletters
  • Job candidates referencing your content
  • Media outlets picking up your stories

Try and recall if any of these incidents have happened recently with your existing content inventory. 

Cross-check with other support, product development, and sales team members to see if they’re picking up any chatter around your content, too.

Whenever such incidents come up, share it with the team to build awareness, excitement, and momentum around content marketing.

Recap:
↳ Optimize for resonance, not just traffic
↳ Track and share incidences of content resonance


SEO content audit tools to use

Your choice of SEO content audit tool boils down to how frequently you’ll perform an audit, how much you’re willing to pay, and how quickly you want to get up to speed.

Some popular options for SEO content audit tools include:

  1. Screaming Frog (free for up to 500 URL crawls, then $259/yr thereafter)
  2. Google Search Console (free to use)
  3. Ahrefs (from $79/mo)


Adjust your content strategy based on the SEO audit

A successful content audit will provide you with actionable insights you can use to improve your content strategy.

But what you do with the insights will depend on how much time, energy, and resources you have available.

For example, if you’re a small business with a limited budget, you might focus on low-cost changes like improving your SEO or navigation bar. 

If you have more resources, you might opt to hire more writers or invest in new channels like a newsletter, podcast, or YouTube channel.

Don’t try to do everything at once. A content audit can be overwhelming, so prioritize and focus on the improvement areas that will yield the biggest impact. 


Wrapping up your content audit journey

We’ve taken a deep dive into the world of content audits, exploring everything from website hierarchy to content production.

As Marcia Riefer Johnston, former Managing Editor of the Content Marketing Institute says, “Get rid of ROT (redundant, outdated, or trivial content).”

Regular audits help keep your content fresh, relevant, and effective, driving your website towards success.

If you’d like our team to conduct a comprehensive SEO content audit for you, get in touch.

Work with us

Grow your business through content.

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