More content on your website doesn't necessarily equate to better rankings. Producing one piece of content after another in the hope that they will perform well in search engine results and get ranking is an approach that often turns out to be counterproductive.
About 6 million blog posts are published every day. Unless you take a strategic approach to content creation, you are only adding to the noise.
Accumulating content on your website without a content strategy to guide it only hampers SEO rather than giving it a boost. Increased numbers of webpages that provide no real business value only end up bloating up your website and bringing down its overall authority, thus negatively impacting SEO.
Defining What Value-Adding Content Really Means
If a piece of content has been on your website for more than six months and drives no meaningful traffic, if it has no internal or external backlinks, and if it doesn't rank organically for any of the keywords it targets, then it doesn't add any real value to your website. Such content ideally requires remedial action to ensure it doesn't end up adding to your website's bloat.
There are several options to choose from when deciding the corrective action for such pages: deleting them, non-indexing them, redirecting them, and updating them.
A content audit can help you identify the pages that require remedial action and also formulate a plan of action to deal with them. It can align your existing content with your long-term strategy, bringing you one step closer to the elusive hockey stick growth.
This article will help you conduct an effective audit of your content to help you derive the value from it.
Conducting an Audit of Your Content
The word "audit" is sufficient to send shivers across any content team. It paints a bleak picture of being surrounded by spreadsheets and getting buried under tons of data. But it doesn't have to be that way.
All you need to do is understand the concepts behind conducting a content audit and follow through with some simple steps to unlock the power of your existing content.
Step 1: Collect the data
The first step in conducting a content audit is taking stock of what you have. That involves gathering data about the content you have on your website, including landing pages and blog posts.
If you don't have an extensive website, you can manually collect the data and enter it to a content audit spreadsheet base on your sitemap. Otherwise, you can use Google search console or tools such as Screaming Frog to give you a comprehensive overview of all your webpages.
Export the list into the spreadsheet. If you don't want to reinvent the wheel, you can make use of existing content audit templates and customize them according to your preferences.
Step 2: Analyze the content
By pruning the irrelevant content and low-value pages from your website architecture, you can boost the domain authority of your blog, generate traffic relevant to your business with the best chance of converting, and establish your topical expertise for the search engines.
This process not only makes a positive impact on the existing content but also gives the content you produce in the future a better chance of ranking in the search engine result pages.
Once you have all your content into the spreadsheet, it is time to roll up your sleeves and begin with the actual work. For every webpage that you analyze, ask the following set of questions to help you determine a further course of action:
- Does the page target the right audience and keywords?
- Is the page ranking for any of the keywords it is targeting?
- Does the page receive any organic traffic?
- Are there internal/external backlinks to the page?
- Is there enough content on the page?
These questions help determine the relevance of the content to your overall website and let you plan further-required remedial actions.
Step 3: Plan corrective actions
You have five main options for correcting the issues that you uncover:
- If the webpage doesn't target the right audience, doesn't rank for any targeted keywords, and doesn't receive traffic or backlinks, its value to your website is zero: It has to go. You have to make such pages vanish by deleting them.
- If the content doesn't target the right keywords, intent, or audience, but it does have organic traffic and/or backlinks, it does hold value, but the traffic it brings in isn't highly relevant to your business offerings. You can choose to update the content to make it more relevant to your core offerings, ensuring that it targets the right bottom- and middle-of-the-funnel keywords.
- If your content doesn't rank or it has no traffic but it does have high-quality backlinks from relevant publications, you can perform a 303 redirect and pass along the link equity of the page to another relevant page on your website.
- If you discover pages with thin content as a part of the content audit, on-page optimization of the existing content to ensure it targets the right keywords and has enough content quality to give it a fighting chance is going to be your best bet to get it to perform well.
- Finally, if you discover pages with duplicate content and cannot delete one of them (as in the case of location-optimized service pages or e-commerce landing pages), you can always no-index the page so it won't be crawled by search engine bots and crawlers.
That may feel like a lot to do, but by taking one page at a time and assigning the relevant action to it within the spreadsheet, the entire content audit process can be streamlined. You then need to keep on rinsing and repeating.
Step 4: Take the audit further
Don't get stuck in analysis-paralysis mode. Once you are done with the analysis, schedule corrective actions on your calendar and get started. A content audit is an ongoing process.
And while you are in analysis mode, analyzing your competitor's website to find gaps and planning ahead with your content to fill those gaps is always a good idea.
With the same targeted strategy that you used to identify and retain content that is relevant to your business, you have to plan the future content pieces as well. Analyze your prospective buyers' journey and understand how your content piece would fit into it. Take a targeted approach with keyword research.
All that said, a content audit isn't a one-time affair. Schedule it at periodic intervals to ensure your content stays relevant to your strategy and brings in rewarding business returns.
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