The 13-Step Web Content Audit to Boost Visibility in the Search Results

Person auditing website content on laptop.

Content is one of the most important — if not the most important — ranking factor. So reviewing the content on your website should be a regular activity. You want to be sure you’re getting the most from it in terms of visibility in the search results, engagement and conversions.

Here, I’ll go over a 13-step content audit you can perform using a few simple tools.

Why Do a Content Audit?

As websites add more content, it’s important to ensure quality and not just quantity. Remember, Google is laser-focused on quality.

A content audit identifies weak and underperforming content on your website so that you can improve it. For any website, performing a regular content audit is key to maintaining a quality site. And there are few activities that can boost your visibility in the search results and increase your traffic faster.

Divide and Conquer

The first thing to do is to get a big-picture view of your content. You’ll need to create a spreadsheet with all your page URLs listed together with their data. There are tools you can use to do this.

Our SEOToolSet can provide keyword rankings and a list of your URLs along with associated content like titles and meta descriptions (go to Site Analysis > Meta Tags). Google Analytics can show you the top webpages on your site (go to Behavior > Site Content > All Pages). A crawler like Screaming Frog or SEMrush can scrape data of your choice. Used together, tools like these give you plenty of information on your webpages to get going.

Once you have your list of URLs, you’ll divide your content into three categories:

  • Webpages that garner the most rankings and traffic (like those on Page 1 of the search results)
  • Webpages that have the potential to get better rankings and traffic (for example, those on Page 2 of the search results)
  • Webpages that perform poorly and aren’t in either of those categories

Once you have these buckets, focus on strengthening the content in the first two categories. Then you can figure out what to do with the rest, the poor-performing content. Some webpages may need a content refresh or rewrite while others may only need a little optimization to give them new life. And some content may need to be slashed altogether (like with a 301 redirect).

Audit & Improve Your Web Content

Starting with the top-performing pages or those pages that may need a boost, here are some steps you can take right away with each webpage.

1. Define the Purpose

According to Google’s Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines, the purpose of a page is the most important factor when rating a webpage’s quality:

The purpose of a page is the reason or reasons why the page was created. Every page on the Internet is created for a purpose, or for multiple purposes. Most pages are created to be helpful for users, thus having a beneficial purpose. Some pages are created merely to make money, with little or no effort to help users. Some pages are even created to cause harm to users. The first step in understanding a page is figuring out its purpose. Why is it important to determine the purpose of the page for PQ rating? … The goal of PQ rating is to determine how well a page achieves its purpose.

Assuming the intent of your webpage is to help users and not be deceitful, the next step is to ensure the content on the page (including the text, images and media and the way it’s laid out) is supporting the purpose of the page. If not, how could it do better?

2. Assess “Needs Met”

Is the webpage content meeting the needs of your visitor? “Needs met” is a rating in Google’s Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines that highlights the importance of this. Working on this means assessing the intent behind the keywords you are targeting for the webpage.

3. Evaluate Expertise, Authority and Trust

Another concept in Google’s Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines is expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness (aka E-A-T). E-A-T is a quality metric that looks at individual webpages or sites as a whole. Determine if the webpage (or website content as a whole) is living up to the criteria laid out in E-A-T.

For more, read:

4. Optimize Based on Your Competition

While SEO has its best practices and testing is key, it’s not just about throwing spaghetti at a wall to see what sticks. It’s about making strategic moves based in part on what the competition is doing in the search results. So rather than following general guidance, mine the search results to get more data on what the top-ranked webpages are doing for your keywords. This includes analyzing things like content readability, word count, meta information and more.

To learn more, check out:

5. Ensure Keyword Optimization

Ensure the webpage text has keywords appropriate to the page and that they appear in a natural manner.

For more, read:

6. Update the Content

Decide if the information on the page is as up to date as possible. First, make sure there isn’t any false information or outdated offerings. Then, find out if there have been developments in the topic of the page. This is especially important when you are dealing with what Google calls “your money or your life” pages (legal or medical information, for instance). But it’s also important for user experience. If your popular pages aren’t offering the most useful, evergreen information to your users, they aren’t delivering a high-quality experience.

7. Check the  Links

You can identify broken links with a tool such as Xenu Link Sleuth. Also act as a user and look at all the clickable elements on the page, including videos, banners, etc. Check your outbound links on this page to make sure none are broken (there are many browser plugins for this). The SEOToolSet Link Reports can also check your link profile.

8. Add Media

Think about opportunities to add more engaging media. Aside from just the text on the page, what else can you add? Think imagery, video and more. Keep your users engaged as best you can when they are on the page and don’t forget to use Google’s best practices for optimizing multimedia content such as images and videos.

For more, read:

9. Implement Structured Data

Determine if there are elements on the page where you can use schema. Structured data clarifies for the search engine what content on your page is about. Specifically, it helps the search engines understand what type of information you’re presenting. This, in turn, can improve your webpage’s visibility and garner more clicks.

For more, read:

10. Review Page Experience

Ensure you serve the best experience possible by better understanding Google’s page experience metrics and thresholds. The goal is a high-performing website that users can engage with right away — and smoothly.

For more, read:

11. Fix Duplicate Content

Find out if the page is duplicated anywhere else. Assuming you are not scraping content from other sites and claiming it as your own, you’ll be looking at duplicate content between two or more pages on your website only.

For more, read:

12. Analyze Conversions

What conversions are you hoping to achieve on the page? Does the layout and the text best support it? Are there missed opportunities where an offering might be appropriate, but is not on the page? Sometimes it’s as simple as moving key conversion elements around so they are more visible. Then, make sure your Google Analytics is set up properly in goals to track.

Also using your Google Analytics account, go to Behavior > Site Content > Exit Pages. There, you will find the top-exited pages for the site. Even if many of your top-exited pages are the same as the pages with the most pageviews, and even if you’ve run through the entire list already to optimize those pages, there’s still an opportunity to do more.

The goal is often to get people to spend more time in the site or to further engage with the company even after they leave the site. So use the top-exited pages as a place to offer up engagement long after users have exited. Have social media profiles? Have a newsletter? Have an ebook? Offer something of value to them on those top-exited pages to keep them thinking about your brand.

13. Review Your Content Strategy

Doing a web content audit shouldn’t just stop at optimizing the pages you already have. Now is the perfect time to review your whole-SERP strategy to see if there is opportunity to create additional content to enhance your visibility in the search results.

For more, read:

Our free SEO Guide explains search engine optimization tips on 18 different topics, step by step. If you’d like help producing content that performs, we offer content services. Contact us to request a free quote.

Bruce Clay is founder and president of Bruce Clay, Inc., a global digital marketing firm providing search engine optimization, pay-per-click, social media marketing, SEO-friendly web architecture, and SEO tools and education. Connect with him on LinkedIn and other social networks from Bruce's author page.
Comments (2)
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2 Replies to “The 13-Step Web Content Audit to Boost Visibility in the Search Results”

Follow this GUIDE for success :-) Thanks Bruce :-)

There are many people and places that do and offer seo. I have seen quite a few over the last decade and a half from when I was paying attention. I have seen the other side as a rater myself as well. Mr Clay you do have a way simplifying the complex into easily understood essentials. Bravo! Sort of like the mans man of seo, LOL. Already enjoy the newsletter!

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