You want your blog to attract traffic and readers. The best way to achieve this is to make sure your site is full of quality content.
But over time, individual pages on your website or older articles might perform poorly. It could be because of out of date content, articles that are too short or posts that were poorly written.
You need to find these pages to improve them, merge with another page, redirect or delete them.
The only way to do this is for you to perform your first website content audit.
What is an SEO content audit?
A search engine optimization (SEO) content audit is a process where you analyze all your published pieces of content on your site or blog.
You want to find both good and poor content performance so you can improve the overall quality of blog posts and pages on your site.
The aim is to maximize your organic traffic by improving the quality of your articles.
You can do this by improving your poor content or landing pages that are not ranking or getting traffic or social shares.
Poor performing content can drag down the overall value of your site and result in much lower organic traffic.
You want to make sure that every post you have is adding value for your readers. The better your overall content is, the more traffic you will get.
Sometimes you might have to resort to content pruning to improve your blog’s organic ranking. It is a bit drastic, but removing very poor content is an option.
Depending on how many articles you have published on your site, the process can be a little time-consuming.
But you don’t have to do it all in one day.
Once you have all the data you need, you can take your time and tackle the job over a couple of weeks or even a few months.
What tools do you need?
When conducting an SEO content audit, you need a content inventory to get started.
The best way is to use a spreadsheet like Excel (or Numbers for Mac) to create your listing.
It will be your list of all the pages on your site with the performance data for each page.
You want to be able to check every page individually and add notes relating to problem pages. Think of it as a scoreboard for all your posts and pages.
You can use color highlighting to mark strong, average, poor, and very weak pages.
Your other two tools will be Google Analytics (GA) and Google Search Console (GSC). If you are registered, you can also use Bing Webmaster Tools.
You can read more about these three services in our article about free SEO tools.
How do you get your page list?
Professional bloggers use a lot of expensive tools to help them perform a content audit.
But premium software like Semrush, Screaming Frog, and Ahrefs are usually way too expensive for most bloggers.
I use Semrush for a lot of my keyword research and tracking.
And yes, it has a great content audit tool that includes social media shares and backlinks.
But I always use Google data to verify page performance before conducting a content audit.
For most bloggers, you don’t need to use expensive tools. You can do a perfectly good content-based audit with free tools.
How to download your data
The easiest way is to get your data is to use Google Search Console.
There is a limit of 1,000 pages, but this should be more than enough for most bloggers.
One important tip is to select your date range to 12 months, or longer if you want to. With a long time range, it will pick up pages that might not have been getting traffic recently.
Also, be sure to select pages and not queries. Now you can export your data for Excel.
Once the download is complete, open the file in Excel or Numbers.
You will see all your data, as in the image below.
It will list every page that has received impressions on Google Search.
You will have the number of clicks, impressions, click-through rate, and average position.
As you scroll down, you will go from your stronger pages down to your weaker pages.
You have all the data you need to start your audit.
If you have more than 1,000 pages, you can use Google Analytics.
Select Landing Pages from the Site Content Menu. Again, select a time range of a year or more.
But before you click export, you need to set the number of entries you want in your spreadsheet. You can download up to 5,000 pages at a time.
Scroll down to the bottom of the page listing and make your selection.
If you have more than 5,000 pages, you have a very large site, so you might want to consider pro tools for the job.
When you download your data, your spreadsheet will have a little more information than GSC.
It includes bounce rate, time on site, and pages per session.
Feel free to choose which method you think is best for you. Or you can download both if you want to cross-check the data.
Either way, you now have all the data you need to start your audit.
How to start your audit
Start by checking the list of your pages in your spreadsheet.
There will be entries that are not actual pages. These can include category pages, images, or hash marks. You should delete these entries because they serve no purpose.
Once you do that, compare the number of pages in your spreadsheet to the post and page listing in your blogging platform.
The numbers should be approximately the same. But if your spreadsheet lists far fewer pages, it means that you have pages that have never been indexed by Google.
It is always a difficult task to find these non-indexed pages and posts. The only way is to cross-reference your list on your blogging platform with your spreadsheet.
Pages that are not in your spreadsheet are definitely going to be weak content. So, start a separate spreadsheet for these pages and list the URLs for each one.
Checking your content performance
You need to check your pages and posts one by one.
The best way is to use Google Seach Console to see how each page is performing.
Go to Search Results, click the + sign, and then select Page. In the pop-up box, paste your page URL.
Here is the result below. It is a good example of a great page that needs no attention at all.
When one of your posts is performing well like this, do nothing. Perhaps you could highlight the page in green on your spreadsheet.
As you can see, this article is getting regular traffic and is indexed for over 1,000 ranking queries. There is nothing to do here except enjoy the traffic.
But not all posts are going to perform like this.
Here is a post that needs attention.
There is only one ranking keyword, and traffic volume is not good. This is a candidate page for lots of improvement or to merge with a similar page.
At the next level, you can have pages like this one.
This is a post that is a candidate for content pruning and removal. It has gained no ranking keywords and is delivering no pageviews at all.
The only choice is whether to let it go to 404 or to do a 301 redirect to a better ranking page.
What to do with your poor content
You have a few choices when you identify a poor performing article, page, or post.
1. Improve the page with more text, images, or video. This is usually the best option.
2. Merge the content with a similar article. This a good option to avoid duplicate content
3. Delete the page, and 301 redirect it to a better performing page on the same topic.
4. Delete the page and let it go to 404. This is the last option.
Let’s look at each option.
When you find a poor performing page, the best option by far is to improve it. You can extend the text, change your title tags, and rewrite your SEO meta description.
Check the search queries (keywords) that Google has indexed for the page, and focus on adding more information related to them.
You can add more images or screenshots. Another tip is to add an internal link or two from your stronger pages to help give you page some extra link juice.
Of course, you should check your text for grammar and spelling errors. There are plenty of free grammar checkers you can use.
If you have two or more pages covering the same topic, consider merging them into one article. One great article will perform much better than three mediocre ones.
Use your best performing post and add and merge the text from your poorer articles.
You will then need to delete or delete and redirect the poor ones. More on that in the next point.
3. Delete and Redirect
Delete and redirect pages. Even though a page is performing poorly, it might have a few keywords and some traffic.
To protect this, you can use a 301 redirect to take advantage of any traffic that might still come from search engines.
If you have improved or extended a post on say, correct use of commas, and you have deleted two other pages on the same topic, you should redirect the pages you removed.
If you are not confident in editing your .htaccess file on your server, there are free WordPress plugins that you can use.
For some very poor content, the best option is to simply delete it.
Perhaps it is too short on words, or on a topic that is irrelevant to your site.
In this case, just let it become a 404 not found page.
How to analyze your content
You need to be objective about your content. It is not always easy judging your writing.
But you should think about which pages are useful and informative for your readers.
Also, keep in mind the central topic or theme of your blog and remove any content that is way off target.
If you decide that a poor performing page is relevant and useful, work on improving it or merging it with a post on the same topic.
You certainly shouldn’t delete every page that is not getting traffic. Be selective, and always try to improve where you can.
Look at your popular pages and try to decide why they are performing so well. Then try to apply those factors to your weaker pages.
Another good tip is to go a Google search for your topic or keywords for a poor article and look at the top-ranking results.
Look at a few high ranking pages and see if you can take a few ideas from them to improve your page.
A site audit is a vital process to help you improve your site.
But don’t be in a rush to complete it. Once you have your data, take your time, and perhaps look at only a few pages each day.
If it takes you a couple of months, that’s fine. I have just finished a full audit, and it took me six weeks.
But the process is ongoing because you should check any pages you have improved after a month or so. You can always make more improvements.
The aim is to make your site perform better and better.