Content Audit. What it is and Why Your Website Needs One Today.
Stuffing your website with low-quality content pages or irrelevant articles does more harm than good to your sites’ authority and bottom line.
A content audit may be just what you need.
Because, at its best, a well-executed audit will analyze various metrics, channels, and content assets to determine:
- How your site is generating traffic, and how said goals are being achieved
- Which pages are performing the best
- Which irrelevant pages to delete
- Refresh underperforming content, or
- Suggest a redirect to authoritative pages on your site
If this sounds like something you ought to have done a long time ago, keep reading to learn what can happen to your site’s traffic once you get rid of a few underachieving blog posts or published articles.
What is a Content Audit?
A content audit is a strategy used to rid your website of low-quality, underperforming pages to increase organic traffic, thus improving your site’s overall health.
Siege Media cut down a whopping 15% of the content from their client’s site, who in turn experienced an organic traffic increase of 50%.
Why would you want to have a 2 to 5-year-old post that’s irrelevant to user searches or has no value to your site visitors?
A content audit is the online equivalent of a spring clean, and it may just be what the doctor ordered.
It gives you valuable insights into the performance of your site’s content, SEO strategies, products and service offerings and more.
There are various paid analytics tools at your disposal.
However, most marketers use Google Analytics because it’s a free and popular content audit tool that’s integrated to your website to collect primary reports including but not limited to:
- Acquisition to show the source(s) of your website traffic and what you can do to improve organic traffic
- Page content which tracks all your site pages, including their performance metrics
- Goals and conversion overview display your website’s goals and performance data
- Measures various Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
Deleting at least 1/3 of underperforming content from an older website that has a ton of articles can seem time-consuming — but the opposite of it is low-quality pages will affect a site’s overall authority.
There is the little issue to do with:
1. Search Engine Crawl Budget.
A crawl budget is the resources a search engine accords a website. Optimizing your website’s crawl budget allows search engines to crawl and index what you deem as the important pages on your site.
Besides gathering vital data for search engine indexing, Google bots also look at a site’s internal and external links to have a better understanding of said web pages.
The last thing you want is a search engine to waste time indexing underperforming irrelevant articles.
According to Google’s analysis, having too many low-value-add URLs can negatively affect a site’s crawling and indexing. Therefore, pruning the number of pages a search engine has to crawl is a positive step toward SEO.
To check your sites’ crawl statistics, check out the Crawl Stats report in Google Search Console — Search Console > Crawl > Crawl stats
The reports you’ll receive will help you identify changes in Google’s crawling behavior, any issues with crawling, and give you more insight into how the search engine sees your site.
Note: While more crawling doesn’t mean you’ll rank better, but if search engines haven’t crawled and indexed your pages, they will not rank high on SERPs.
Newer sites with many pages should be concerned with crawl budget.
While your server might handle a ton of crawling effortlessly, search engines may not be interested in crawling your site because it’s probably not very popular with user queries (yet).
2. Crawl Demand
Google wants to crawl your website.
But, it’s not only your site, though. Google has to prioritize your pages for crawling, including all pages on all other sites on the internet.
Popular pages, including those that experience significant and regular updates, will be crawled more.
Also, authoritative pages or those with more internal or external links will most likely receive priority over stale pages.
3. Crawl Rate Limit
A crawl rate limit is the amount of crawling your site can support before experiencing server stability issues such as slowdowns or pop-up errors.
While Google has a Search Console feature that allows you to limit or slow down how fast Google can crawl your site, it’s not possible to increase the crawl rate.
In fact, most crawlers will abandon crawling efforts if they encounter limiting resources.
Additionally, Google will also adjust based on the crawl health of the site.
If a site can handle heavy-duty crawling, it increases the limit. On the other hand, if your site has compounding errors, the search engine will significantly slow down the crawl rate.
How To Your Site’s Crawl Budget
To ensure your site can support additional crawling and increase your site’s crawl demand, consider implementing the following tips;
- Google crawls pages by downloading data to process them on their end. So, it helps to increase your server speed.
- Increase the number of backlinks and internal links because crawl demand is generally based on page popularity.
- Clean up any issues with broken or redirected page links.
- If you deal with job postings or live videos, check if you’re eligible for Google’s Indexing API
Now to the good stuff.
How to Conduct a Content Audit
Here is what you need to do:
- Determine the threshold you like for “meaningful” traffic of at least one visitor per day on average in Google Analytics.
- If you meet your threshold, check if a good chunk of said traffic originates from organic search. If it does, your action for the page(s) is to either “Leave as is (200).” No need to delete.”
- If the offers no “meaningful” traffic but has at least one authoritative backlink, the recommendation is to update and improve your content rather than delete it and redirect it elsewhere.
- You can also consider merging low-quality posts with other high-quality posts by redirecting (301) to other relevant pages.
Pro Tip: If a page (or post) relates to your business goals and targets relevant keywords with decent organic traffic potential, update it instead of redirecting away.
This may boost its position on SERPs, potentially bringing 500% more organic traffic to your site.
5. A Delete (404) action is recommended if a page gets no traffic and has zero backlinks. Note that Google has treated some redirects (301) to irrelevant pages as soft 404’s.
Pro Tip: Be careful not to delete (404) or redirect (301) a page without manually reviewing it first.
It can cause some significant SEO issues like deleting your Contact Us or Terms and Conditions page because they both have no traffic or backlinks.
Manual audits can be time-consuming, especially when dealing with thousands of pages.
But there’s no substitute for a detailed and regular manual content audit check that might help:
- Uncover content that doesn’t rank in SERPs
- Spot duplicated content pages
- Increase your site’s organic traffic by weeding out dead content, optimizing then installing redirects of underperforming content.
- Refresh outdated topics and keywords to boost traffic, conversion rates, and leads.
The statement “Content is king” rings true in this case.
While, the frequency of updating a site’s content varies from website to website, and topic to topic — content auditing should be an ongoing process.
By refreshing old content or posting new, well-researched, SEO-specific articles, you’ll gradually build up niche authority, which, in turn, pleases Google, your site visitors, and your bank account.
When done right, a content audit will help to identify irrelevant content to ensure your site is free of low-quality, under-serving pages that potentially hinder your SEO efforts.
So, does your site need a long-overdue content audit? Let me know in the comment section.