Why You Need Content Audits in 2023 and When to Do Them

Kat Shereko, Content Team Lead

Website content is very much alive and requires ongoing maintenance. Even if you think your content is in tip-top shape, there are tons of benefits you can glean from an audit.

But before we dive into reasons why you may need a content audit, let’s start with a quick recap of what a content audit entails..

What is a Content Audit?

A content audit is a qualitative and quantitative evaluation of website content that helps us better understand what’s working and what may be hindering content performance.

A content audit may look at behavioral trends, organic search visibility, and social engagement. An audit could also shed light on things like content relevance, accuracy, and readability. 

Content audit findings help determine content opportunities and the steps to take toward content optimization.

When to do a Content Audit?

A content audit may feel like a heavy lift, especially for websites that have large content inventories. That said, a content audit may unveil opportunities that could help regain your competitive edge, improve user engagement, and generate more leads and sales.

And while we encourage our clients to do content audits regularly, there are several instances where content audits are an absolute must. 

Your Organic Traffic is Down

Many reasons can contribute to a dip in organic traffic. The rise of new and existing competitors, internal website changes, and Google algorithm updates are amongst the most obvious.

And while some traffic variation is expected, major traffic losses over long periods of time can be detrimental to your business. 

To better understand why traffic may be down, take a look at your Google Search Console (GSC) and see if you can spot any major drops in impressions (how often your site appears in Google’s search results) or average rankings.

Once you’re in GSC, go to Performance then Search results. Then, select Total Impressions and Average Position, leaving Total Clicks and Average CTR unchecked. Next, change the date range to display a comparison period over the last three months. This time frame will help you identify glaring red flags.

A screenshot of Google Search Console

From this view, you’ll be able to analyze what search queries are responsible for the dip in your organic traffic and the landing pages associated with them. If certain pages are not ranking as well as they use to, you should run them through a content audit.

GSC aside, you can use tools like STAT, Ahrefs, or Semrush to monitor changes in your keyword performance. While these tools are not free, they’re a phenomenal resource and a huge time saver.

Your Content is Out of Date

Google prefers useful and relevant content. Having fresh and up-to-date content on your website plays a big role in this. If you haven’t updated a piece of content in over two years, keyword rankings and organic traffic will start to dwindle. 

Content updates are especially important for websites that want to be authoritative in their space. To be authoritative, you must be relevant. And to be relevant, you must have an ongoing conversation about what content you need to update or retire.

Updating older content can be more beneficial than creating new content. Even if the older content isn’t ranking well for its target keywords, there’s a good chance it’s ranking for something, and you’re not starting from scratch. Older content may also have backlinks, which give content credibility and a competitive edge. 

But don’t just take my word for it. Check out our study on the benefits of refreshing old blog posts. Whether you rewrite the content from scratch or make minor updates, content edits can help you rank better in organic search.

You’re Out of Content Ideas

It’s not entirely unusual for companies to feel as though they’ve said all there is to say about their brand, product, or service. After all, how much content could you possibly produce about air conditioners?

If you are struggling to come up with new content ideas, content audits can help you get a better understanding of what you’ve written about. Once you have this information, spotting content gaps becomes much easier. 

You’re Adding a New Product or Service

When adding new product or service pages, you should be mindful of how these pages flow with the rest of your site ecosystem. Regardless of whether this update is core to the entirety of your business model or another variation of something already existing, you need to ensure that the new information fits in flawlessly.

If you don’t quite know where to start, think about the user journey and ask yourself the following questions:

  • When visitors arrive on the new landing page, how are they getting there?
  • Does the path make sense? Or do you need to add more copy to help the pages flow together?
  • If a visitor arrives on the page from organic search, are the contents of the page sufficient enough for them to take action?

To answer these questions fully, you must thoroughly understand your content inventory and should, therefore, start with a content audit.

You’re Going Through a Site Migration

Whether you’re finally moving your site from HTTP to HTTPS, experiencing subdomain or subfolder changes, moving to a new server, or undergoing a site redesign, you should always start with a content audit.

The key to a smooth site migration is planning. Before you start, you must know what you’re going to migrate and when. A content audit is your opportunity to get organized and eliminate any redundant or trivial content on your site. 

Think of the site migration as a move from one house to another. Tossing random belongings into a box may help the move go by faster, but this approach will result in more work in the long run. 

Your Competitors are Outranking You

New content from your competitors can emerge overnight. Yesterday you were ranking first for a target keyword, and today, a competitor you didn’t even know existed is outranking you.

Competitors get ahead because they do their research. In other words, they audit you. And once they know what’s worked well for your site, they have an easier time competing with you.

You must beat them at their game to keep your spot in SERPs. First, you’ll need to do a content audit of your website. Then, you’ll want to run the same audit for your competitor. While this can be a manual process, tools like Ahrefs and SEMrush mentioned earlier can cut your labor by half.

In doing so, you’ll have a better understanding of what they’re doing that you’re not and how to fill the most glaring gaps.

You Established a New Voice and Tone

Think of your voice and tone as your brand’s personality. It’s how you express your value proposition, and it’s key to the type of audience you want to attract.

If you’re a law office, or a hospital, your tone and voice will likely be assertive and informative. Most importantly, it will be the exact opposite of, say, a comedy club.

We’ve seen brands get overly caught up in their product or service, neglecting their voice and tone. Sometimes, it could take months to years before a company has a clear direction. Does that sound familiar? If so, check out Portent’s Tone of Voice Generator tool.

Once you have a clear direction for your voice and tone, you’ll need to do a content audit to ensure you use a consistent voice and tone throughout the site. If there’s one thing that’s more important than content quality, it’s content consistency.

Don’t let your audience think, “wait, what did I just read?” 

Final Thoughts

In summary, a content audit should be an ongoing part of your content strategy efforts. Your content should never be stagnant or more than two years out of date. And it must be audited anytime you add a new product or service to your website.

An audit is especially important when making significant changes to your site. And through it all, your content should always have the same look and feel.

So iterate on your current work and leverage old content topics to create new ones. If you don’t, know that your competitors will find a way to use your top-performing content against you.

Kat Shereko, Content Team Lead

Kat Shereko

Director of Organic Strategy
Director of Organic Strategy

Kat is the director of organic strategy at Portent, overseeing all content and SEO efforts for the agency. With a background in psychology research and a wide range of digital marketing expertise, she is passionate about pushing the boundaries of traditional content and SEO to create a singular focus on driving organic growth. When she’s not analyzing user search intent, Kat is avidly planning her next escape abroad or spending time in the mountains.

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