As Google’s search algorithm continues to become more advanced in understanding the nuances of content, it’s imperative that, as website owners, you deliver the best quality content to searchers.
Too often, content is created as a once-off task and it’s never reviewed periodically for accuracy and freshness. Site owners are often concerned about deleting existing content that is bringing in traffic, so, as SEOs, we’re often faced with a situation where aging & poor content has never been reviewed or updated.
What is a content audit?
A content audit is a process of reviewing the existing content on your website and evaluating it’s freshness, relevancy, quality and impact, against a specific set of metrics.
Why perform a content audit?
A content audit serves a couple of primary benefits:
Through the audit process, we learn which content marketing topics have resonated well with our readers, which have been responsible for bringing in the most traffic, which enables us to create similar content in the future, but for other relevant, high value topics.
Content loses it’s value over time, as search engines are designed to find the most accurate and relevant content for their users. As a result, fresh content is prioritised over aging content and by updating content through one of the many reoccurring SEO tasks, we send signals to the search engine that this content has value and we are updating it to provide the most up-to-date, accurate experience for our users.
In fact, many searchers explicitly search for fresh content themselves:
By pruning outdated/irrelevant content, we also increase the site’s “crawl budget”, meaning as we have fewer pages on the website, Google is able to crawl them for changes on a more regular basis.
What content audit metrics should you choose?
When performing an audit, there are two sets of metrics I recommend. To be fair, I’ve heavily leveraged the metrics used by SEMRush’s excellent content audit module.
1) Determine which pieces of content should be updated or deleted:
For this aspect of the content review, we’re looking to identify content that is of relative quality, but is either outdated, or not performing in terms of traffic for various reasons. The criteria used:
- Last update > 24 months
- > 200 words
- < 20 page views/mth
- No backlinks (any pages with backlinks need to be closely evaluated)
How often should you perform a content audit?
It depends on the size of the website. For large sites, with many hundreds or thousands of pages, I’d recommend a quarterly audit. For smaller sites, biannually will be sufficient.
Should all content be updated/deleted?
No. There are a few types of content that (assuming they are still relevant) either should be left alone, updated to mention they have been reviewed, or de-indexed in Google
Press releases are static and often used to highlight milestones in a business (such as new product launches and time in business). Many businesses like to keep press releases on their websites for credibility and this content should probably stay visible, but be no-indexed in Google after a couple of years.
Interviews are also static, and assuming topics discussed in the interview are still relevant, interviews should probably be updated to mention their review date for accuracy. If they are not bringing in significant organic traffic, they can also be de-indexed after a couple of years.
2) Poor content
These are defined as pages with < 200 words.
Any pages that are so lean in terms of content are typically not indexed by search engines anyway, as it’s extremely difficult to demonstrate value through content with so few words.
Author pages can be a bit tricky, and depend on how many articles have been written by each author, but I’d usually recommend to no-index author pages, as they serve very little value for the end user and search engines.
Thank you pages
Thank you pages are typically presented after submitting a contact form or newsletter signup. These pages serve no value for the search engines, so i’d No index these pages.
These lists can be never-ending, but above I’ve listed the most common content types I’ve come across that fit the definition of poor content.
Performing a content audit on your website a few times per year is essential. You’ll be providing your users updated, relevant and timely content that will more fully meet their needs. As a result, search engines should reward your website with higher rankings and increased traffic.
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