Content Creation

Content Audits: Why They’re Essential For Growing A Successful Blog

Jordan Bishop
November 25, 2021

Content audits are essential for growing a successful blog. Whether you’re just starting or have been blogging for years, it never hurts to take a step back and analyze what you’re doing. Content audits are all about evaluating your blog’s strengths and weaknesses so that you can make the necessary changes to keep growing.

In this article, I’ll discuss why content audits are important to grow your blog, how you can use them, and some tips on how to perform a quick content audit. I’ll also share my personal experience performing a content audit, removing hundreds of useless posts that were only hurting my site’s SEO, and focusing instead on my star performers, such as a post about investment newsletters and another one about virtual business addresses. The end goal is that by the time you finish reading this article, you will know exactly what content auditing is and why it’s crucial for success.

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What is a content audit, and why do I need one?

A content audit is an evaluation of your blog’s existing content. It helps you determine what you’re doing well, where improvement is needed, and how to grow. Content audits are all about evaluating your blog’s strengths and weaknesses so that you can make the necessary changes to keep growing. Think of it as a self-reflective activity where you take the time to go over everything from your goals, to your social media presence, to your website design. You’ll be able to see what’s working and what isn’t and use this information as a guide for moving forward. 

Content audits are essential for every blogger because they allow you to re-evaluate what you have on your site. Even the best bloggers are constantly growing and learning new things, so it never hurts to take a step back and see where you can make improvements. Content audits also allow you to re-evaluate your goals and check them against what you’re actually doing on your blog.

Once a content audit is done, and once you’ve acted on the information you got from it, your blog should be much easier to navigate, and you will be aware of the types of articles that people find most appealing. This way, you’ll have a higher chance of growing your readership and increasing conversions.

The benefits of performing a content audit

Content auditing isn’t an easy task. It is both time and resource-intensive. Even so, the results are well worth the effort, and there are many different reasons why people might want to perform a content audit on their site. Some of these reasons include:

1. It can help boost your blog’s organic traffic

A content audit is the best way to ensure your site’s search engine optimization strategy remains on point. You can track what goes into each piece of content, see how it compares against current page rankings for keywords in Google and other popular engines like Bing or Yahoo!, identify areas where improvements might need to be made, such as adding more optimized pictures with captions that include relevant words from key phrases used throughout their pages and more.

2. It will help improve your blog’s conversion rate

Content auditing will help you focus your time and effort on topics that are more relevant to your readers. This will help readers find what they’re looking for quicker, so they’re more likely to come back for more content and to follow your CTAs.

3. It’s a great way to evaluate your content marketing strategy

If you’re trying out a new content marketing strategy, a content audit is a perfect tool to use to find out if it’s working. If it is, it’ll help you identify what parts of the strategy worked best so you can replicate them in the future. If it’s not, the audit will also let you easily identify where you’re falling short.

4. It helps you identify content gaps

A content audit is a great way to discover new topics you need to focus on. You’ll be able to see what posts are most popular with your readers, and by checking out their favorite posts, you can get an idea of where your gaps might lie. This is an easy way to find new topics to write about and add to your current content calendar.

5. You’ll be able to identify content that needs to be updated or removed

A content audit can help you spot what’s attracting readers and what’s driving them away, which means that you’ll know if your blog is on the right track or not. It’ll also point out aging content that’s becoming outdated and is losing traffic. By analyzing this content, you’ll be able to decide if it’s better to freshen it up with new data, newer case studies, and more recent sources or if it’s better to take them down.

Step-by-step guide to performing a quick content audit on your blog

Step #1 Set goals for the content audit

The first thing you need to do before starting a content audit is to establish a set of goals. Ask yourself what you expect to get out of it. Is it a boost in SEO? Or are you happy with your organic traffic but need to boost conversions? Perhaps both? This will define the scope of the audit as well as its overall reach.

Step #2 Define your resources

Now that you know the goal and scope of the audit, you need to decide who will perform it and assign the necessary resources. You could do it all by yourself or assign it to one or more employees if you feel your time is more important. You can also assign only some parts of the process to others and take care of the strategic aspects of the audit yourself, or you can outsource it completely to a freelancer or a content marketing agency. The choice is yours and depends on your particular situation.

Step #3 Make a content inventory

If your blog has been running for several years, odds are you’ll have thousands of posts full of content that needs to be checked. Depending on your available time and resources, you can do a full audit requiring a web crawling tool to make a list of all of your content assets. Alternatively, you can do a quick audit and focus only on high-priority, high-impact content like recently decaying content and content currently ranking on the second search engine results page or SERP (positions 11 to 20). You can usually identify these promising pages with the information in your Search Console and export it as a CSV file.

In either case, it’s important to organize all of the information neatly in a spreadsheet where you’ll be able to add all the relevant metrics and other data to each page.

Step #4 Refresh and boost

Posts that have dwindling traffic because they’re no longer accurate or don’t offer fresh content are usually easy to nudge in the right direction to regain previous peak traffic or even increase it even higher. All it usually takes is to find new sources of relevant information (less than two years old), update any facts, statistics, or other types of data that may be outdated, and find new examples and case studies that will help connect better with a newer audience.

In the case of posts nearly in the first SERP, running the content through an SEO content optimizer software may help identify easy fixes that will nudge it into the first page, which will mean a serious boost in organic traffic.

Step #5 Clean up

You would think that having more and more posts would mean more and more traffic, even if most of the posts only provide small trickles of traffic each. However, you’ll be surprised to know that this is not necessarily the case. Having many posts with content that is no longer relevant to your audience and doesn’t get any traffic may hurt your blog’s overall SEO performance. This, in turn, also hurts the performance of your top content, reducing its traffic. In the end, the negative results these posts have on your top-performing posts are much worse than the small but additive amounts of traffic you’re getting from them, so they need to go.

When should you do a content audit

A content audit is like taking your website to the doctor for a check-up. It’s something you should be doing regularly, at least once a year. This will let you stay on top of things and ensure that your readers are always getting the best, most up-to-date information out there, which is what both Google and your readers value most.

However, many situations call for more frequent content audits, albeit not necessarily of all your website’s content. For example, if you’re trying out new content marketing strategies, a new sales funnel, or simply expanding into a new niche, frequent content audits around that new content might be the best way to assess whether or not they were good calls.

As a bit of general advice, whenever you feel like things aren’t going the way they should or you don’t understand why some posts that you thought were just content-gap-fillers are performing better than other cornerstone content posts, it’s time to audit your content to want to figure out exactly what’s going on.

My personal experience with my blog’s content audit so far

For the past seven years, I’ve been running Yore Oyster, a website that helps young entrepreneurs reach long-term financial success, and have had my share of successes and a few downfalls. As with most businesses during the beginning of the pandemic, my business slowed down, so I immediately started thinking of ways to diversify to soften the blow.

The content strategy we adopted was to pump out a large volume of high-quality posts on topics that included online stock brokers, Brazilian credit cards, Airbnb rentals, and online banks, to name a few.

I know new posts take time to rank and that growth doesn’t happen overnight, but after a little under a year of noticing that we were falling far behind on the goals we had set out to achieve at the beginning of the year, I decided to do a full-scale content audit of our 2,000+ published posts.

What the audit revealed

The key takeaways that came out of auditing all of the content on my site were:

  • 80% of our posts were leading to just 10% of our organic traffic.
  • Among one category of posts on our site, 30% of posts were leading to just 2% of that category’s traffic.
  • None of the posts of an entire category were ranking or getting any traffic at all, even though they were very low-hanging fruit with massive search volume.
  • The same thing happened with over 100 posts related to another category.
  • Many posts needed updating since the pandemic brought many changes in the credit card industry (as in all others).
  • Many products that we had reviewed in the past were no longer relevant or had been discontinued.
  • Some of our previously top-performing posts were not performing so well anymore.
  • There was a lot of work to be done on our backlink profile.

The action plan

It wasn’t hard to figure out what to do about most of what the content audit uncovered. The first thing we did was take down all the posts related to discontinued products that were simply not relevant anymore. This included several credit cards that were no longer available.

We also did an overhaul of all the reviewed products that had had a change in features and benefits and their terms and conditions.

The hardest part about the entire process was deciding what to do about the hundreds of posts that never ranked and that I felt were hurting our traffic rather than contributing to it. In the end, I decided they all had to go.

The results

By the time we were done with the content audit, we had taken down over 450 posts and refreshed or updated close to 600 others.

The results didn’t take long to be felt. The first thing I noticed was a definite boost in overall traffic. By removing low-performing posts, we freed up more of Google’s crawl budget for our more important posts, which targeted keywords with much more search volume. We saw an increase in traffic of close to 150% in less than 3 months.

Our efforts in building our backing profile also paid off and we got our DR from under 40 before the content audit to 48 at the time of writing this post.

The bottom line

A content audit is an essential step in growing a successful blog. It’s the process of evaluating your strengths and weaknesses so that you can make necessary changes to keep growing. I recommend doing this at least once per year, but it never hurts to review things more often if major shifts or trends are happening within your industry that needs adjusting.

A content audit is also a great way to see how your blog viewership and overall traffic have changed over the last year. If you want to better understand how your content is performing and to identify any room for improvement, a content audit is definitely the way to go.