Does your business website meet your inbound marketing strategy goals? Are you satisfied with how it pulls in traffic and converts visitors to leads and leads to customers? If you do not see the traffic and conversions that you would like to see, a business website content audit may help you meet your content marketing needs.
A professional website content audit can boost the site’s potential for a return on investment (ROI) by bringing in more prospects and converting them to leads and leads to customers. Here are the steps to start moving your content audit.
Step 1: Review Your Business Website Goals and Metrics
Before you begin collecting data and analyzing your business website with a content audit, ensure that you review, analyze, and update your site’s goals and metrics. Reviewing and updating goals and metrics helps narrow down the content audit to keep it manageable.
As you begin auditing the website, you will find that the search engine optimization (SEO) crawler and content inventory give you a great deal of information. If you know what information to look for in your results, you will save yourself quite a bit of time during the audit.
Categories of Content Marketing Metrics
Content marketer, Alina Petrova, of SEMRush, France, divided content marketing metrics into four categories that you can apply to your business website:
- User behavior metrics: She lists page views, average session duration, and bounce rate, as three common user behavior metrics.
- Engagement metrics: Petrova includes likes, shares, comments, and mentions in this category.
- SEO metrics: Here, Petrova lists organic traffic, backlinks, keyword rankings, and dwell time.
- Sales metrics: Specifically, the number of leads, conversion, and ROI make effective sales metrics, within her final category.
Objectives and SMART Goals
For effective results, look at your objectives and, using them, try to set some very specific SMART goals. For example, for a very general objective, like “Improve Website SEO,” you might set one of the following goals:
- Ensure that the webmaster updates the keywords on all pages and posts by the end of this quarter.
- The webmaster will address all manageable technical issues identified by the technical audit before our team inventories the existing website content.
- The webmaster will set up Google Analytics with audit team-decided goals for back links, keyword rankings, and dwell time within 30 days of finishing the business website content audit.
Step 2: Start with a Technical Audit of Your Business Website
Note that each of the goals includes very specific, measurable, achievable results that have been delegated to a specific person for completion upon a specific date. They are SMART goals.
For most business websites, goals should contemplate variables in each of the four categories mentioned by Petrov, and your content audit team should include your webmaster, who should be familiar with Google Analytics and other tools that can help monitor and evaluate your goals and associated variables.
The new content marketing strategy built from your finished website content audit depends upon bolstering your website content. However, if you have great content and publish it on a website full of technical problems, your content has little probability of reaching prospects.
Two Free Business Website Content Audit Tools
Established businesses with a solid marketing budget and a full-time webmaster should conduct a complete business website technical audit with a web crawler, like one of those listed on Curated SEO Tools’ post on SEO Tools. The web crawler gives a very detailed report and the information needed to track down technical problems.
Businesses with the financial resources for a complete technical audit can do the work in-house. Many businees prefer to outsource the work to get a more objective, outside opinion.
Small businesses, with tighter budgets, can use the free versions of many of these SEO crawlers if the staff has a qualified webmaster. Even if your staff does not include a full time tech, a simpler alternative exists.
A Free, Easy-to-Use Website Crawler
Small businesses and start-ups with limited budgets can get a limited free technical audit that actually gives pretty good results. You can learn about it in my post, “A Free Business Website Technical Check-up Tool: Hubspot’s Web Grader,” in the “Client Resources” section of my website.
The freebie audit will not provide all the information needed to track down and resolve specific problems. However, it does give you enough information to let a tech know what’s wrong so that he or she can easily track down the problem. In addition, it does, together with some informative posts, provide enough information to fix most of the easier problems yourself.
Which Crawler Works Best for Your Business?
If you decide to go with the full-blown web crawler, you’ll save yourself some time preparing your content inventory. For example, most crawlers carry out step three, below, “Inventory Your Internal Content,” allowing you to download the content inventory into a CSV or spreadsheet file.
If you’re tech-savvy, the crawler will save you some inventory time. If you’re not tech savvy, it will cost you quite a bit of learning time.
Step 3: Inventory Your Internal Content
If you’re using the easy, free Hubspot Website Grader, you’ll need to put together a list of your web pages and URLs. You can do this directly on the website if it has been well-designed. If your site pages have not been completely cross-linked, you may have to review it in WordPress or on your web hosting site.
If you’re using a web crawler, the crawler will put together the list for you. It should generate a table that includes the page or post tags, H1 titles, subtitles (H2, H3, etc.), meta descriptions, URLs, and other information for each URL. Your internal business website content audit should include your business’s blog posts, news, onsite press releases, landing pages, your about page, videos, images, pdfs, questionnaires, games, and your home page. It should include everything on your domain unless you have reasons for omitting certain URLs.
External Asset Inventory
You should also include, in your audit, any external marketing collateral, like authored blog posts or articles on other websites, social media content, directory listings, and other online content that links back to your website. Your crawler will not detect these, of course, and you have little control over their SEO and other technical details. However, having them in your inventory will help you better understand your overall assets.
You can place the data in a spreadsheet for easy review. Again, if you’re using a crawler, the software does this for you. If not, you can use a template, like that suggested by Hubspot.
Step 4: Collect Additional Data
By now you should have quite a bit of information already. If you chose a paid tool, like the SEMrush Content Audit tool to crawl your site, you’ll even have data on social media social signals, backlinks, and website analytics. If not, you’ll need to find separate tools and gather these data one by one, as dictated by your original goals.
You should already have access to Google Analytics and Google Search Console. If not, your webmaster needs to get your website set up there. This is where you will obtain information like the number of sessions, average session duration, page views, average time on page, and bounce rate.
By placing all of your inventory data into a spreadsheet, you have made it searchable and sortable. You can add categories, at the top of columns, in your spreadsheet, as needed. This allows you to classify your pages and posts by buyer journey stage, content type, content format, content size, publication dates, modification dates, authors, or other metrics or categories.
Step 5: Analyze Your Data
The process at this point has probably already shown you a great deal about your website content. You have likely identified missing data, technical errors, and other issues that could affect your website performance.
Checking for Completeness
Missing data anywhere on your new business website content audit matrix may very well point out problems that your technical audit detected. You’ll see missing tags and other information that will help you find and fix these problems.
Checking Your Technical Information
Your site crawl, regardless of whether you used a simple tool, such as Hubspot’s Website Grader, or a more complete tool, like Screaming Spider’s SEO Crawler, will show you technical problems with your website. It will let you know if you have a sitemap, if you have a lot of redirects, or if your pages are loading slowly. It will also suggest possible solutions.
If you know how to fix the problems yourself, that’s great. If not, an experienced webmaster should be able to improve the situation. Most technical fixes have relatively simple solutions for someone who knows what they’re looking for.
Examining Your Site Metrics
Having all of your information in a single spreadsheet will allow you to compare your metrics to the type of content in each URL. For example, you may see that web pages or posts with how-to content are attracting more traffic than others. Or you may find that your landing pages receive a lot of traffic but have very few conversions. You may need to modify your content, call to action, or some technical detail of the page.
Check the content at each level of your sales funnel. Is the traffic what you would expect for each level? Are conversion rates reasonable?
Step 6: Develop Business Website Content Action Plan
As you evaluate the data from your business website content audit, your metrics will reveal which pages and posts meet your business goals.
Often these pages contain evergreen content that stays relevant. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) pages often fall into this category. Likewise, pages with basic information about your business or key protocols, like shopping carts, may have strong metrics. If yours do not, your team needs to take a close look at them and their role in the sales funnel.
You Will Keep Most of Your Content, If it’s Good
Pages, with strong metrics and relevant content, are keepers. Your content auditing team should see if they can determine why they work so well. That information will help determine what to do with pages and posts that are not performing well. The keeper pages should remain on the website, forming part of your post-audit content marketing strategy.
Your team may see little or no need to modify them. However, updating the links, references, and any dated information can help them rank even better. Search engines take into consideration updates. A regularly updated page should receive a better page rank than a similar page without updates.
Poor Performing Pages and Posts
Some pages and posts may not meet your business’s goals. They require some evaluation and decision-making. Some may pull in a lot of traffic but have very high bounce rates and very low view times. If either situation occurs for a particular page, it’s likely that a content refresh or a change in the call-to-action (CTA), may boost the page’s metrics.
Review the content of these poor performers, and look for solutions to increase their effectiveness. If the content has outdated information, update it, trying to make it evergreen.
Evaluate the content to see if it helps site visitors solve a problem or meet some need they have. Relevant content attracts people and search engines.
Some Products and Services Require More Frequent Updates
If your website contains blog posts about the health benefits of Vachellia rigidula, or Blackbrush, your post should note that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not endorse using the plant as a dietary supplement. It may even issue a warning letter to your business if you promote products containing the plant. The FDA does not consider that the …
“… conditions have been met by … marketing products that contain A. rigidula as a dietary ingredient, [and such] … products are deemed to be adulterated.”U.S. Food and Drug Administration
In addition, it should note that the nomenclature has changed from Acacia rigidula to V. rigidula, as noted above. You would also want to reference recent scientific information about the plant.
Likewise, your business website content auditing team should make arrangements to update information about trends, data, or statistics. Any low-traffic or low-conversion content requires a careful review to decide whether it deserves a content refresh or deletion from the website.
Some of this content may be valuable, but not on its own. In that case, it might be useful to take the valuable tidbits and combine them with more successful content on your site. Merge your needed content from the dud post into the content that performs well. That way you conserve the important tidbits without leaving an SEO-killer on your website.
Some Content Merits Deletion
Some content simply does not merit space on the website. If it performs poorly or lacks relevance, consider deleting it. For example, some news items, such as a sidewalk sale on a specific date in the past, may not have any value to current or future site visitors.
Many pages created for seasonal marketing efforts will fall into this category. Does your website still have descriptions for products or services that your business no longer offers? These pages not only make your business look bad, but they can compete with pages that are still relevant.
Your content auditing team should also recommend dumping duplicate content. According to Moz, the SEO experts,
“While not technically a penalty, duplicate content can still sometimes impact search engine rankings. When there are multiple pieces of, as Google calls it, ‘appreciably similar’ content in more than one location on the Internet, it can be difficult for search engines to decide which version is more relevant to a given search query.”Moz
Step 6: Create Entirely New Content
Once you have dealt with the existing content on the website, … refreshing, rewriting, merging, and eliminating, … you can add new content to your marketing collateral. Additions will further improve SEO and user value.
The website content audit will help your team understand what content performs well on the website. As a result, they will probably come up with ideas for new, unique content.
Old Content, But Unique Formats and Media
Your content creators can take existing content and and remold it to create new media, with a unique format. For example, from a series of blog posts on herbal preparations, your business can produce an ebook, adding a new introduction, some content editing, and a few new tricks and tips.
By offering the ebook as an incentive, in exchange for an email address, your business can use it to build a mailing list. It makes a great top-of-the funnel gift.
As you track the metrics on the changes on your blog and website, you’ll quickly see how blogging can contribute to your website’s ROI. Some of the same figures generated by the business website content audit will help you calculate blogging ROI.
An infographic based upon some of your website’s better-performing content may also make good additions to existing content. Slideshows and videos will also work well, especially if you sell to retailers who may use them on in-store monitors, or at trade fairs or other off-site localities.
Rewrite Unsuccessful Website Copy
Sometimes copy simply does not read well. It may have a reading level well above the average readers’ level, or it may have a great deal of passive voice that weakens the message.
Whatever the reason, a rewrite may help make the copy a little more interesting, readable, and attention-grabbing. It may also boost your page’s SEO.
Rewrites can contain the same content, but written in a different style, tone, or voice. Your writer may decide to convert an informational piece into a “how-to” or “tips” post. Sometimes these types of posts attract more attention. Either way, it may read similarly to the original, but with a different structure. Original content helps your website rank high on the search engine results page (SERP).
Rewritten content can also include novel elements, like better examples, additional tips, practical suggestions, and updated references. It does not have to contain exactly the same information as the original. In fact, if it performed poorly, it probably should contain new elements.
Refreshing Content May Yield Better Results
A content refresh requires much less editing than a total rewrite. Some of your business website’s existing content may only need a refresh: updating references, statistics, and trends. Perhaps it just needs a slight twist in the introduction and conclusion paragraphs to improve its relevance and SEO.
If you have pages or posts with good traffic and long viewing times but little conversion, perhaps they just need better calls-to-action. Take a look at your banner and pop-up technology. Is it dated or annoying?
Improved Call-to-Action Copy
What about the wording of your calls-to-action? David Zheng, in The Daily Egg, wrote:
“Many site owners spend hours testing their buttons’ colors, fonts, and other relatively insignificant aspects. But far and away, the most important aspect of a button is not its color, its size, or its font. Its copy plays a much bigger role in determining whether or not users decide to click.”
David Zheng, in The Daily Egg
The copy on your call-to-action buttons can make a big difference in their conversion rates. So, make sure that they all have concise, well-written copy.
Diversifying Page Media
Your website may contain pages with quite a bit of text but nothing to break it up. Videos, photos, tables, and graphs can help chop up large blocks of visually uninteresting text. In addition, they help diversify the SEO elements on your website, making it a better target for search engine attention.
Update Metadata on Poorly Performing Pages
If you used a website crawler that provides detailed reports for your business website content audit, you may find missing SEO elements. Pages without metadata, such as title tags, meta descriptions, H1 titles, and Hn subheadings, will rank poorly.
Likewise, you may have identified pages with missing, incorrectly written, or inappropriate keywords. Updating all of these will undoubtedly help your SEO and make it easier for search engine spiders … the crawlers that search engines use … to crawl your website.
Improve Your Website’s Internal Linking
Internal linking helps a search engine spider understand how your web pages and posts relate to each other. On most, or all, of your website pages and posts, you should make regular references to the other pages and posts on your website.
Internal linking works like adding lots of internal windows to a processing plant. The more windows you have in the plant, the more co-workers you can see, and the easier it is to understand what everyone’s doing in their workspace.
Make Sure that Google Sees Your Updates
As you add content to your website, make sure to inform Google and other search engines about the changes. In the case of Google, for example, the “Fetch as Google” feature of the Google Search Console can help you submit updated pages to the Google index. Once the index knows that the updates exist, it will begin to take them into account when assigning your page ranks.
Step 7: Your Next Business Website Content Audit
Once you have done your first business website content audit, it’s important to plan the next “checkup.” Search engine algorithms change daily, and markets change from season to season and year to year.
Your marketing strategy and, hence, website objectives and goals should change along with the Internet of things (IoT) and market dynamics. Your goals from Q1 may not hold up in Q4, and your star performing pages this spring may be your duds next spring.
Periodic Business Website Content Audits
Take advantage of the information provided by periodic business website content audits to update inbound marketing goals. Learn from both failures and successes, and apply the quantitative and qualitative information from your website metrics to your website content, structure, and sales funnel.
How often should you audit your content? You can bet that website owners in dynamic markets do so more than once a year. Ecommerce website owners who change their products or services very little from year to year may not need semi-annual updates and may go with yearly or even biannual updates.
If you have any reason to believe that your business website falls below expectations, review your inbound marketing strategy goals. Consider conducting a website content audit. If your team follows up on the audit recommendations, you will see how it pulls in more traffic and converts more visitors to leads and leads to customers. Your metrics and sales should show you that the audit brings you a healthy ROI.