When was the last time you really looked under the hood of your website and scrutinized each and every page? Its probably been a while, right? While it may not be particularly exciting, and its most definitely time-consuming, conducting a site content audit is a necessary part of your search marketing campaign. It helps ensure that your website is always in fighting form.
1. Organize All Your URL's.
Create a spreadsheet with all URL's. Static content, blog posts, white papers, press releases, biographies, product pages and so forth---organize every single URL in a spreadsheet and, using a coding system, organize the flow of your site.
For instance, if your homepage is 1.0 the pages in your high level navigation would be 2.0, 3.0, 4.0 and so forth. As you go deeper into your site your coding system get more detailed (3.1, 3.2, 3.2.1) so you know can keep track of the architecture and hierarchy of your website. This spreadsheet is also how you will keep track of what actions need to be taken so everyone is on the same page the whole time.
You can pull all your URLs from your latest XML sitemap or, better yet, your Google Analytics account. Google Analytics might show that old URLs you thought had been removed are actually still kicking around and being indexed. Flag those URLs to be 301 redirected when you're done with the audit.
2. Separate The Top Performers From The Under-achievers.
Using your Google Analytics account the next step in your site content audit should be to separate the top performers from the under-achievers.
Granted, some pages (like your company mission statement) are never going to get hundreds of organic visitors but look at the pages you consider important to your business. Which pages get traffic and which ones don't? Which pages have the highest bounce rate or the lowest conversion rate? Those pages are under-performing for a reason. Is the content a little thin? Or do you have the opposite problem and you're trying to say too much on one page and overwhelming your visitor? If you were a unique visitor to your site what would bother you about that page? If you cant find anything wrong start asking other people in your company if they notice something you're missing. It could be a fresh set of eyes is the thing you need to make real progress with your site content audit.
Also try to determine what your top performing pages have in common. Is there a certain tone or voice those pages have that under-performing pages don't? Maybe the language is a little more personable and less jargon-dependent. Or perhaps those pages have multimedia elements like videos and infographics that help keep visitors attention span. Use all the data you can pull from your Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools accounts to separate the wheat from the chaff.
You should also take a look at your blog posts (if they are on the same domain as your website) to see which posts get the most organic traffic and what keywords are driving organic visitors your way. Evergreen blog posts can drive visitors for months after they go live. What themes/topics do your top-performing blog posts have in common? That's worth noting for future content creation efforts.
3. Follow A Visitor Through Your Site.
Other than your home page which pages are typical entry points to your site? Remember, each page on your website has the potential to rank in the search engines for various keywords. For instance, do certain product pages do really well organically? Are there a few blog posts that generate a lot of traffic? Depending what your site content audit reveals you might find some pages on your website are doing a lot better organically than you ever really imagined. You might also learn that pages you thought were the most important are actually not getting as much organic traffic as you would like.
Once you figure out how visitors enter your site, the next step is to figure out how they leave. Do certain pages seem to send visitors away more frequently than others? For instance, in Google Analytics the Visitor Flow report shows you what page visitors come in on and where they dropped off. What is the typical path of a visitor once they land on your site at a certain page? Where do you seem to lose the most traffic? The pages that are losing visitors are worth investigating more.
4. Throw Out Old Content And Replace What You Need.
Once you've identified which pages are under-performing and feel like you know why they are falling short the next step is to replace that old content with new content that is well-written, well-optimized, and focuses on your target audience. Keep in mind that this is an ongoing process as very few websites are built, launched and then never touched again. But old, stale and under-performing content has got to go! While there is such a thing as too many cooks in the kitchen, don't be afraid to ask people (customers included) about their opinion. The whole point of doing a site content audit is to turn your website into the best version of itself.
The most important thing to remember about conducting a site content audit is that it is going to take time so be patient! Depending on how large your website is, simply organizing it in a way that makes sense will be a task and a half. If you have the in-house staff to do so, it might be worth getting a few hands involved in the project to help make sure that nothing slips through the cracks, although the most people you get involved the more opinions you'll have to sort through. Keep calm and audit on!