If your organization has been publishing content for many years, chances are your website has more content than you can keep track of. This makes managing a content strategy harder than it needs to be. When you don’t know what content already exists — or the quality of that content — any efforts to create new content may actually work against your overall search performance. 

To combat this, we recommend conducting an SEO content audit. This process will help you understand everything that has been published on your website so you can make an informed choice about how to use it more strategically. 

A step-by-step guide to SEO content audits 

Step 1: Define your goals 

Before you can start an SEO content audit, you need to know what you’re trying to accomplish. Without clearly articulated goals, the analysis derived from the audit is likely to lack focus and meaningful insights. Setting clear goals provides a framework for prioritizing tasks, evaluating the effectiveness of implemented changes, and demonstrating the impact of the SEO content audit on overall website performance.

When you define specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals for your SEO content audit, you set yourself up to have direction, purpose, and measurable outcomes. Whether the aim is to improve keyword rankings, enhance user experience, increase organic traffic, or achieve a combination of these, well-defined goals are the key to a targeted and strategic approach.

Step 2: Compile a content inventory

The first step in the content audit itself is gathering a comprehensive list of all the content on your website, including blog posts, articles, product pages, and any other destinations where content is crawled. This inventory clarifies exactly what content lives on your site, where it’s located, and its performance data. This lays the groundwork for all the work that comes next. 

Without this information, your audit could miss hidden opportunities or tackle irrelevant content, hindering your SEO efforts. But when you have a full picture of your content ecosystem, you can confidently understand what you have, what you need, and what you can improve.

Step 3: Keyword analysis

Once you have an inventory, review the keywords associated with each piece of content. This process reveals whether your pages are targeting the right search terms, attracting the desired audience, and ranking where they should be. 

Analyzing the keywords that your content targets and comparing them to search trends, competition, and user intent. Doing this will help identify missed opportunities, address keyword cannibalization, and guide your content optimization efforts. 

Step 4: Assess content quality

For each piece of content on your website, evaluate the accuracy, readability, and how closely it maps to search intent. High-quality helpful content is more likely to perform well in search engine rankings, especially after Google’s 2022 helpful content update

An abundance of content on your website that search engines deem “low quality” can have a significantly negative impact on overall search authority. An SEO content audit will help you identify your lowest-quality content, which you can either remove or enhance with a content refresh. Either way, addressing these pieces of content will help you improve your site’s overall search performance.

Step 5: Internal linking

Another aspect of the content itself that should be audited is how other pages are linked within your content. Internal links guide users to relevant content and help search engines understand the relationships between different pages. 

But internal linking is more than simply adding a list of additional resources at the bottom of the page (although that has its place). These should be relevant, contextual links embedded within the content itself. By optimizing internal linking, you enhance the overall SEO performance of your website and contribute to a more seamless user experience.

Step 6: Check for duplicate content

Google’s bots will penalize your search performance if it finds two pieces of content that cover the exact same topic. Not only that but creating duplicative content is a waste of resources. 

Duplication analysis will help you identify instances of duplicate content within your website or across external sites. This isn’t so simple as identifying duplicate keywords, because sometimes different keywords are targeting the same user intent. Expert guidance will help you filter out these instances.

Step 7: Content gap analysis

Now that you know what content you have, it’s time to figure out what’s missing. A content gap analysis helps you identify those missing pieces in your content ecosystem by comparing your existing content with the needs and interests of your target audience.

By understanding what your audience is searching for and comparing it against what you have already published, you can create a list of new relevant content to fill these gaps. This strategic approach ensures that your future content creation will align with user intent while targeting a more comprehensive and strategic range of keywords.

Step 8: Make a plan for each piece of content

With your audit complete, it’s time to analyze the data and make a plan of action. A well-structured plan provides a roadmap for addressing specific issues identified in the content audit and implementing improvements strategically. 

Your plan should include tasks such as refreshing content on low-quality pages, optimizing internal links, or totally removing duplicate content for each piece of content on your website. This will ensure that all your subsequent efforts adhere to the broader content strategy and are tailored to the unique needs of each piece of content. 

An SEO content audit is one component of a broader SEO audit. To learn more about this more comprehensive approach, read our guide: Here’s Why You Should Conduct an SEO Audit, and What You Can Learn From It

About the author

Nick Nelson is our friendly neighborhood writer-man. As the Associate Content Director at TopRank Marketing, he is on a mission to energize brand narratives with smart, fun, sharp wordplay. In his free time, Nick enjoys basking in the misery of Minnesota sports fandom, making cringeworthy puns, and smothering all types of food in buffalo sauce.

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