This post was written by: Bryan McKeon.
The internet has no shortage of blog content. In fact, more than 7 million blog posts are published every single day.
With all that content being generated daily, what are the chances that all of those posts are still relevant after being published for a few years?
What is a Blog Content Audit and Why Does it Matter?
A blog content audit is a more specific content audit, aimed at analyzing how well the blog content on your site is performing and whether that content should be archived, updated, or kept as-is.
This particular blog content audit template is intended to solve a GOOD problem your blog might have; too much content! While more content can sometimes be better, there is a good chance that some underlying problems like keyword cannibalization will be lurking with each new post that’s added.
What’s great about auditing and pruning blog content is that it will strengthen your blog in the long run. Some of the benefits of a blog content audit include:
- A better user experience
- Removing outdated content
- Improved internal linking
- Showcase your best work
Getting Started on Your Content Audit
I once worked at a company that had been building blog content for more than 15 years. Multiple CMS and content strategies over the years had grown their blog to a whopping 27,000 posts. It was clear that managing that many blog posts was an impossible task. To help explain the audit process better, I will be pulling in examples from that experience.
Step 1: Pull Your Traffic Stats
First things first, you need to pull all relevant traffic data to see what you’re working with. After digging into the data of those 27,000 blog posts, it turns out that 95% of their blog posts garnered less than 50 views per year. Even worse, 24,000 of them had ZERO views during the entire year that was analyzed.
Each blog will have different goals, but at any blog’s core, the following metrics should be explored.
|Google Analytics||Screaming Frog||Internal/CMS Data|
|Pageviews||Post Title||Publish Date|
|Average Time on Page||Word Count||Buyer Stage|
|Bounce Rate||Internal Links|
|Goals (Blog subscribers, assisted conversions, etc.)|
Step 2: Pull Current Search Rankings
In addition to traffic metrics, you should look to see how well your posts are performing organically. Everyone has their own tool preference, but the AHREFs Top Pages reports within Site Explorer is great to quantify how many different search terms a post is ranking for.
Besides individual post performance, I also recommend calculating your ‘ranking health’ as well. Simply determine how many keywords rank for positions 1-3, 4-10, 11-20, etc to see your blog’s ranking breakdown. Add in % of total next to each and this a great metric to monitor over time as you work on improving your search rankings.
Step 3: Determine What Posts to Prune
With all of your data in one place, it’s time to review in Excel or a Google Sheet. First, sort your sheet by page views. Next, visually separate underperforming posts with conditional formatting. Make sure you choose threshold metrics that make sense for your blog! Posts highlighted in this step will be the candidates for pruning. I recommend the following:
- Highlight in red: Posts <= 50 views
- Highlight in yellow: Posts between 51-100 views
Now that you have your underperforming posts highlighted add in some conditional formatting for average time on page, bounce rate, word count, and goal completions. Your thresholds for this conditional formatting are completely up to you. There isn’t a one-size-fits all number because one blog or industry can be wildly different from another when it comes to reading time or bounce rate. For my audit, I chose to flag the following post metrics in red:
- >93% bounce rate
- <300 word count
- <5 ranking keywords
- <120 second time on page
After this last round of conditional formatting, you should have what you need to make some data-driven pruning decisions.
With all things you or your team create, it may not always be easy to archive a post. Maybe you are the author of an underperforming post or know how much work your team spent working on a piece. That’s why I like to add in a column to the audit sheet for “next steps” that include several options.
In addition to marking posts for archiving, this a great place to save posts that deserve a second chance or are too new to have accrued views. For posts you choose to ‘save’, you can also mark them to be edited at a later date. Sometimes all an average post needs are a few tweaks and revisions to improve their organic rankings.
Wrapping Up Your Blog Content Audit
Decision time. Comb through your underperforming posts and make a decision on the future of each.
For posts that were beyond saving, you will need to archive them. In addition to archiving you will need to consider 301 redirecting your archived post if there is a similar post left on your site, or letting your post 404.
In either scenario, it would benefit your users to remove/update the broken links left on your blog after you’re done archiving.
This isn’t something that has to be done overnight. If you see potential in an underperforming post, keep it. Perhaps you see two posts that should be combined together. Maybe you have a 10 year old post that is begging to be refreshed. These posts will be given a second chance. Make it count!
Leaving As-Is Posts
Just as the title suggests. These posts are staying the way they are. An example of posts that ended up in this category for my audit included posts that were only a few months old and didn’t have a chance to grow organically yet.
Recall the blog with 27,000 posts I mentioned in the beginning? After a thorough audit, they ended up with about 1,500 published posts. (a 94% reduction!) After that initial audit, future plans were made to work on consolidating their posts even further to ensure there was no duplicate or cannibalized content.
It’s safe to say that not all blog content audits will be that dramatic. By staying on top of your published posts and having a strategy in place, you can avoid ending up with content bloat that can hinder your blog performance.
At the end of the day, any good marketer should want the best user experience for their blog.
After performing a blog content audit, you will know EXACTLY what content you have and be well on your way to keeping your blog clean and optimized moving forward.
Have thoughts on this particular audit process or have some tricks of your own to share? Feel free to share below in the comments.