Whether you’re doing images, text, video, infographics – whatever – content is the fuel for your inbound marketing engine.
While it’s one thing to worry about writing faster, publishing more, and getting more good content out the door, it’s rare that we step back and ask, “what’s working?”
Or even better “what’s not working and how can we change that?”
In this article, we will tell you about the content audit necessity and provide the list of intuitive tools to perform this task independently.
What is a Content Audit?
A content audit is a systematic and periodic review of all the content on your website, looking at different aspects to infer the effectiveness of the content and how you may improve and get a greater return on investment (ROI).
In other words, you want to see if what you’ve been writing and publishing is working – if all that time and resources you’ve been spending is actually paying off.
There are tons of different features of content ROI you could look at when you’re doing an audit. Some of these could be:
- Number of visitors from content (low is bad)
- Number of organic visitors
- Content decay and falling rankings
- Losing link velocity
- High and increasing bounce rates
- Lower attributable conversions from content
In some cases, you can even extend your content audit to social media or promotion channels.
For instance, analyzing how many backlinks your content is bringing in is obviously related to the effectiveness of your program, though it’s a correlative indicator of success (whereas auditing conversions from content is a direct, first-order indicator).
Reports like this, and many others that we’ll talk about, can be analyzed via affordable tools (like Ahrefs for example).
Similarly, how many social shares you’re getting (if that’s a goal of yours) could be a really good leading indicator of the overall interest in your content. Again, quite easy to get that information via tools like Buzzsumo.
Remember this: a content audit is used to try to answer important business questions in relation to content marketing. These questions are particular to you and to your business, though many of the tools we can all use are the same.
This post will cover those, but first, let’s briefly cover the benefits of a good content audit.
The Benefits of a Thorough Content Audit
Why do a content audit? Well, clearly, one benefit is that you understand the effectiveness of your overall approach.
That’s on a macro-level.
On a granular level, you can learn tons of cool stuff, like:
- The causes of search engine sanctions
- The pages on which you need to change the content.
- Evaluation of the overall effectiveness of the content.
- Identification of deficiencies in the general preparation of content. For example, the optimal size of your texts. According to an SEMRush study, it was revealed that relatively long content tends to rank first in Google search results. The average word count for the first pages of Google is 1890 words. Though you needn’t always focus on word count to this extent (it’s more important that you satisfy search intent), word count is a good proxy for ranking.
- The reasons your content may not be performing and ranking (new feature snippets? New competitors? A content audit can help you see this stuff).
It’s clear, then, that you can learn many different things from a content audit. Accordingly, there are many different tools for each question and purpose you may need.
The 8 Best Content Audits Tools in 2019
- Yoast SEO Plugin
- SEO Audit Tool by Contentlook
- Google Analytics
- Screaming Frog
Let’s dive deeper into each tool and cover its use cases and pros and cons.
1.Yoast SEO Plugin
Unquestionably, this plugin is one of the best tools to optimize a WordPress site for search visibility.
If your blog is built on WordPress, definitely use this.
It’s got several features, some of which help with site structure and more technical fixes (URL updates and redirects) and then some of which help with content optimization. Their writing audit is one of the most helpful things, helping you optimize an article for a given keyword.
We run all of our articles through Yoast before publishing. It’s such an easy thing to do; it wouldn’t make sense not to use this plugin.
This plugin solves all the main problems of optimization, both in terms of articles and the general structure. With it, you can customize the blog headers, articles, categories, pages, media files, and use a lot of other settings.
This is also one of those tools that helps and gives increasing value the higher scale your blog operatings. In other words, if you’re publishing one a month, sure it will be helpful; but if you’re publishing multiple times a week or more, this will be indispensable for scaling out your blog while maintaining editorial quality.
Ahrefs is one of my all time favorite blog tools (and really marketing tools in general).
Its an SEO powerhouse, giving you access to domain analysis, page analysis, backlink reports, and rank tracking. Those are the core, “typical” SEO reports. They go beyond and have all kinds of cool reports like ‘top pages,’ where you can see which pages on a site (yours or a competitor’s) are the most valuable (a combination metric using traffic and CPC).
Another cool report is “Content Gap,” which lets you see which keywords your competitors rank for, but you don’t.
Overall, if I had to just pick one SEO/content-related tool on this list, Ahrefs would be it. It’s great for content planning and research, monitoring, analysis, and auditing.
Where Ahrefs is my favorite SEO-related content audit solution, Buzzsumo is my favorite for social media and virality.
It’s also great for finding out who the influencers are in a given niche.
For example, if you search “content marketing” in their content analyzer report, you can find which articles have been shared the most for that topic.
Or we can also find influencers that have “content marketing” in their bios or in the types of posts they share:
This is another product that is very feature-rich; I’m discovering cool new things I can do with it every week.
At its core, though, it’s an absolutely wonderful a) research tool to see what’s popular in your industry in terms of content and influencers and b) audit tool to see how well your content has done via social sharing.
I love seeing trends and especially surprises as to what content has been the most and least shared that I’ve published. I can then learn from that and try to publish pieces that resemble the highly shareable posts.
4. SEO Audit Tool by Contentlook
If you want to get a detailed analysis of the site, check out this tool. You will receive an analysis of the following elements:
- site traffic
- social signals
- authority status
- SEO activity.
Using this tool will get you data on what’s broken on your site and also will give you suggestions on how you can improve these things. I find this to be a good beginner tool but it’s quite powerful and extensive in its feature set as well.
5. Google Analytics
Google Analytics is the absolute gold standard when it comes to web analytics, and I wouldn’t recommend anyone run a website without it (unless you’re using a comparable alternative, like Snowplow if you’re into open-source or Adobe if you’re enterprise-level).
Google Analytics is a powerful tool, but it’s also simple (or at least the basic reports are). You can very quickly identify if your traffic is rising or declining, which channels are most prosperous, and which pages people are viewing the most.
If you set up goals, you can easily look at conversion rates and visualize your website funnel. This helps begin you on the path to improvement and optimization.
In fact, if you want to do any sort of conversion optimization or improve your actual business metrics in any way, this may be the only tool on the list that can help you with that. The others help with off-site metrics, backlinks, social shares, and the content analysis itself – but this one shows you if your efforts are making any money.
As Estelle Leotard, content writer at GrabMyEssay, explains, “It helps you Kknow where your audience is coming from online! If you know where they come from, you can get double down on that channel with your content.”
Grammarly is a great tool to audit, in real time, the actual quality and grammar of your writing.
Most of the tool on this list will give you lagging indicators – in other words, data that rolls in after you’ve published the content. They show you things like links and shares and traffic.
This tool audits the text itself.
When you’re running through a piece of content, sometimes there are phrases that grammar check in Google Docs won’t catch. If you write elsewhere (social media, in WordPress editor, etc.), you have even less protection from grammar errors.
Grammarly is an easy and addictive plugin that can help you avoid typos regularly. Again, this tool is even better if you have a big team who publishes a lot using it, simply because at that scale, it’s harder to keep an eye to the small details.
Hemingway is a great complement to Grammarly.
Instead of analyzing the writing grammar and punctuation, this one analyzes it for readability.
It’ll give you suggestions on optimizing your “grade level” of your content (you don’t want it to be too advanced or complicated), how often you’re using passive versus active voice, how many times you’re using adverbs, etc.
Basically, the app helps you simplify your content.
in turn, analyzes each sentence, taking into account its length and word order from the point of view of the correct construction of sentences. The tool is actively struggling with a passive voice, too complex structures, and unnecessary adverbs. The minimum readability of the text should be 9 (the smaller, the better).
I find that Grammarly and Hemingway are both useful, but they shouldn’t be the only crutch you rely on to improve your content. In fact, sometimes it’s nice to have a complicated sentence here and there. You never want to iron out your style to the extent that it disappears.
It’s really just nice as an extra editorial check. And anyway, it’s almost always the case that writing could be condensed and simplified rather than the opposite.
8. Screaming Frog
Last but not least (actually, probably genuinely the most important content audit tool on the list), we have Screaming Frog.
This is a desktop app that lets you crawl your website. Benefits-wise, this thing has tons of purposes. You can find broken links, messed up title tags, missing meta descriptions, bad redirects, etc. It’s basically technical SEO heaven.
That’s just the start though. This tool is basically a data collection mechanism; you can analyze it and do other interesting things with the data once you have it, though.
For example, if you wanted to visualize your internal linking and automate a lot of the internal linking process, you could do that using your raw crawl data from Screaming Frog.
Final Thoughts on Content Audit Tools
Content audits should definitely be done every once in a while; I like to do them quarterly for most of these metrics (like internal link audits and new content gap analyses), though some you should be doing more often (website analytics, for example).
In any case, just remember to stop and reflect every once in a while and figure out if what you’re doing is working and how you can improve on your efforts. The content audit tools on this list are largely affordable (many are free or have free versions), so there’s no excuse!