Are you still churning out content the same way you did five years ago? What about 12 months ago? If so, your content may not be performing as well as it could. The SEO industry is continually evolving and changing, and so are the thoughts, opinions, and needs of your visitors. Consequently, you may be following the incorrect guidelines or posting irrelevant content. An SEO and content audit will help you identify and fix problems like these.
With so many SEO rules and opinions out there, deciding where to start can be just as tricky as actually performing the audit! That’s why we’ve decided to put together a comprehensive content and SEO checklist that’ll guide you through the whole process. We’ll even share a few of our top tips for conducting an SEO and content audit.
TL;DR: Our content audit and SEO checklists can help you make improvements to your site that will help your content flourish online. Download the complete checklist by clicking the button below.
Let’s get started!
Table of Contents
What Is An SEO And Content Audit And Why Do You Need It?
Essentially, a content and SEO audit will help you identify any areas where you need to make improvements to continue ranking well in search while appealing to your users. It can help determine:
- What is and isn’t working.
- Whether your users find your content engaging.
- Whether there is content that needs to be refreshed.
- If you need to make adjustments for SEO or to your content strategy.
- Whether or not your content is allowing you to reach your business goals.
More importantly, it’ll allow you to correct any mistakes quickly while identifying easy opportunities for improvement.
Website Content Audit And SEO Checklist
Content quality and SEO go hand in hand. You often can’t have one without the other – unless you’re using spammy techniques that might just see you penalized in the long run! Below, we’ll go through each step of the checklist with a short summary of what you need to do.
Set Goals for Your SEO and Content Audit
Before you begin your SEO and content audit, it’s important to set clear goals. This will help you focus your efforts while allowing you to track improvements. Here are a few key goals to consider:
- Identify areas for improvement: One of the primary goals should be to identify areas where you can improve your site’s performance. This might include optimizing your content for specific keywords, improving your site’s user experience, or fixing technical issues that are impacting your search engine rankings.
- Improve your search engine rankings: An SEO audit can help you identify technical issues that may be impacting your pages’ SERP rank. By addressing these issues, you can improve your site’s visibility in search results and drive more organic traffic.
- Enhance user experience: A content audit can help you understand how users are interacting with your site and identify areas where you can improve the user experience. By making your site more user-friendly, you can increase engagement and drive more conversions.
Once you’ve set your goals, you can move forward with the rest of the checklist.
Choose The Right Audit Tools
Choosing the right tools can make all the difference to your audit. While you won’t need all of these tools – and some do come with a hefty price tag – they will certainly help. You can also look for free alternatives where possible.
Here are a few we recommend:
- Google Analytics
- Google Search Console
Feel free to look for alternative tools as well! There are many amazing free tools that can help you along your optimization journey.
Organize and Optimize Your Site Structure
The structure of your website can have a significant impact on your SEO as well as your user experience. It’s important to note that a simpler structure is often better than a deep and complex one.
Here are some steps you can take to simplify and optimize your site structure:
- Map out your site. Seeing a visual representation of your website’s structure will help you identify how to simplify it.
- Simplify your navigation. Your website’s navigation should be simple and easy to use. Use clear and descriptive labels for your navigation links, and group related pages together.
- Use a flat architecture. A flat architecture means that your website’s pages are organized in a simple, shallow hierarchy, rather than a deep one, making it easier for search engines like Google to understand.
By simplifying your site’s structure, you can make it easier for search engines and users to navigate your website, leading to better rankings, more traffic, and improved user experience.
Check If Google Is Indexing the Right Version of Your Website (HTTPS)
There are times where Google will index your site while displaying your domain in one of four ways:
You’d think that all these variations will have the same data, but you’d be wrong! Instead, you need to ensure that Google is indexing only one version, ideally with HTTPS. The best way to do this is to ensure that all variations of your URL always points to a single HTTPS address. If need be, you can implement a 302 redirect. To do this, you can use a plugin if you’re using a content management system like WordPress, or you can edit your .htaccess file to add the redirect code.
Check Site Speed and Core Web Vitals
Site speed and Google’s Core Web Vitals are crucial factors that affect user experience, search engine rankings, and conversion rates. For the best results, you need to make sure your website is loading quickly, running smoothly, and meeting the CWV requirements as much as possible.
Here’s how you can check your current status and identify areas for improvement:
- Measure and optimize your site’s speed.
You can use Google’s PageSpeed Insights, GTmetrix, or Pingdom. These tools will give you a detailed report, including suggestions on how to improve your site’s speed. You can optimize speed by compressing images using tools like TinyPNG, removing unused scripts and plugins, and enabling browser caching.
- Check your Core Web Vitals.
Google has identified three core web vitals: Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), First Input Delay (FID), and Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS). You can use Google’s Search Console to check your site’s core web vitals and identify any issues that need fixing.
According to the statistics, 92.1% of people are using their phones to browse the internet. Consequently, it’s become absolutely essential to have a responsive, mobile-friendly site. To test this, you can use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool, which will analyze your website and provide you with a report on its mobile-friendliness.
The best way to know if your site is mobile-friendly is to use a responsive design approach. This means that your website will look good and be easy to use on any device. Optimizing your images and site speed will also improve your mobile-friendliness.
Identify Weak Content That Needs To Be Refreshed
“Weak” content essentially refers to content that’s too short, outdated, or not informative and engaging enough. By performing a content audit, you can find pages that are underperforming, no longer relevant, or not meeting the needs of your audience.
The easiest way to check whether you need to refresh your content is to check engagement metrics. Look at factors such as comments, shares, backlinks, and bounce rate to determine if the content is engaging your audience. You can also evaluate your readability.
Once you know which content needs to be improved, prioritize those pieces that have a high potential to draw more visitors. Ensure the content is accurate, up-to-date, and valuable to your audience. Add new images, videos, and other media to make the content more engaging. You can also repurpose content by turning blog posts into infographics, videos, or podcasts.
Optimize for Keywords
Keyword optimization is an important part of an SEO and content audit. Do you know for which keywords your content is ranking? Are the keywords relevant? Are your pages suffering from “keyword stuffing”? These are just some of the issues affecting your content.
To improve your on-page SEO, start by identifying the primary and secondary keywords that you want to rank for. Next, check the density of these keywords using tools like SEOBook’s Density Checker. Ideally, you want to aim for 1 – 2 % density.
Next check that the keywords appear within the first paragraph of your content, within headings (where appropriate), and in your conclusion. Tools that can help you with keyword optimization include Google Keyword Planner, Ahrefs, SEMrush, and Moz.
Check for Keyword Cannibalization
Keyword cannibalization occurs when multiple pages on a website target the same keyword. For example, let’s say that you have two articles that both use the keyword “social media marketing.” Unfortunately, that makes it difficult for search engines like Google to decide which article it should show for a related user search, leading to a drop in your SERP rank. Luckily, it’s relatively easy to fix.
Here’s how you can spot if you’re dealing with keyword cannibalization:
- Identify the primary keywords you want each page on your website to target.
- Use a keyword research tool to determine which pages are currently ranking for each keyword.
- Look for cases where multiple pages are targeting the same keyword.
- Evaluate which page is currently ranking the highest for the target keyword.
- Determine whether it makes sense to consolidate the content on one page or to adjust the keyword targeting on each page.
Depending on what you learn from your evaluation, you can decide to combine the content, adjust keyword targeting, or rewriting one of the pages entirely. Some tools you can use to identify keyword cannibalization include SEMrush, Ahrefs, and Google Search Console.
Look For Orphaned Pages
An orphaned page is a webpage that exists on your website but is not linked to by any other page on your site. Unfortunately, this often means that Google can’t find and index these pages. Using a website crawler tool, you’ll be able to get a list of all the pages on your website. Cross reference this list with your sitemap to see whether you have any orphaned pages.
Once you’ve identified these pages, you can use an internal linking strategy to connect them to other relevant pages on your site.
Check for Duplicate Content
Duplicate content is pretty self-explanatory – it’s when you have more than a single page on your site covering the exact same topic. Like keyword cannibalization, this means that Google might be penalizing you in search results.
The easiest way to find duplicate content on your site is through a plagiarism checker. Once you’ve found the duplicates, you can:
- Combine the content and set up a 301 redirect from the old page to the new one.
- Remove the duplicate page.
- Use canonical tags to tell search engines which page to show in search results.
It’s essential to avoid duplicate content as much as possible. Not only does it negatively impact your SEO, but it can also confuse your visitors.
Review Article Titles
The first thing a user will see in search results is the name of an article. If that title isn’t eye-catching, interesting, and relevant, you might be missing out on valuable traffic. When evaluating your titles:
- Ensure the title is unique and relevant to the content.
- Include your primary target keyword.
- Is concise and to the point.
- Include numbers where relevant. (Ex. 5 Tips For…)
Don’t be afraid to update old titles either!
Check Meta Titles and Descriptions
Tying in to the point above, meta details are absolutely vital to your SEO. Meta titles appear as the blue clickable links in the search engine results page (SERP) while meta descriptions are the short snippets of text that appear under the title, providing a brief summary of what the page is about. In other words, this is your elevator sales pitch to a potential visitor.
When evaluating your meta details:
- Check for missing meta titles and descriptions.
- Review existing tags to ensure they’re relevant and interesting.
- Ensure each title and description meta tag is unique.
- Use tools or plugins to ensure your meta title and description isn’t too long.
Correct Use of Header Tags
Header tags, also known as H1, H2, H3, etc., are not to be confused with the meta tags we discussed above. Instead, these headline tags help search engines and users understand the hierarchy and organization of the content on a particular page. You can even see this structure in our articles here on Buzznberry!
Here are a few things to check for, as well as a few tips:
- Only use H1 tags for the main title of your page. It should include your target keyword.
- H2 tags are for subheadings, with H3s being used for sub-subheadings, etc.
- Make sure that your tag hierarchy makes sense. For example: H1, H2, H3, H3, H2, H3, etc. instead of H1, H3, H2, H4, and so on.
In doing so, you’ll make it easier for both users and search engines to digest and understand your content.
Readability is a big one, but it’s often underestimated. You may have written the most detailed, thorough guide on a topic, but if users can read and understand it, your work will go to waste.
A great free tool to use is Hemingway, but Grammarly can also assist with evaluating the readability of your content. Complex sentences and words, an overly formal tone, and long paragraphs are just some factors that could be affecting your readability score.
Did you know that images can also be optimized for SEO? It’s so often overlooked, yet so simple to do. To optimize your images, you need to:
- Compress their size using tools like Compressor.io, Kraken.io, or TinyPNG.
- Use descriptive file names that tell search engines what the images are about. For example, “best-beach-resorts-maldives.jpg” is much better than “IMG-294.jpg”.
- Use your alt tags! Alt tags are used to describe images for visually impaired users and search engines. Use descriptive alt tags that include the focus keyword, but don’t stuff them with keywords.
- Use a plugin that allows images to “lazy load;” i.e., they only load once their on screen.
One significant benefit of optimizing your images for SEO is the chance to earn backlinks. If other sites like your images, they may use them within their own content. If they do that, you can reach out and request a link back to your site as the source.
Broken Links and Pages (404 Errors)
Simply put, broken links are links that lead to pages that no longer exist or have been moved, resulting in a 404 error. Unfortunately, some of these pages may still be indexed or linked to from within your site, resulting in a negative experience for your users and penalties from Google.
To find broken links, you can use Search Console or website crawlers like Screaming Frog, DeepCrawl, and Sitebulb. If you have broken links, you can:
- Update or remove broken pages with a redirect. Do not redirect to your homepage!
- Check for and update broken internal links.
- Check for and contact website owners who link to your pages to update those links.
Verify Schema Markup
Have you ever searched for a recipe or product on Google and found top results that look like this:
That’s due to something called “Schema markup.” In short, it’s a code to help search engines provide more useful and informative results to users. It can also help increase click-through rates by providing rich snippets, such as images, ratings, and other information that appears in search results. There are several plugins available that can help you set up a Schema for your content.
Sitemap And Indexing Issues
A sitemap will tell search engines which pages they need to index, and can be generated through third-party tools or plugins. To improve your SEO, you need to check that it’s up to date and includes all relevant pages on your website. To do that, you can use tools like Google Search Console or XML Sitemap Inspector to identify and fix any issues.
Do you know which sites are linking to your content? Such links are called backlinks, and they can have both a positive and negative impact on your SEO. High-quality backlinks from authoritative websites can improve your search engine rankings and drive traffic to your site. In contrast, low-quality or spammy backlinks can negatively impact your SEO and even result in a Google penalty.
Using a tool like Ahrefs, SEMrush, or Moz, you can see which sites are linking to yours, the authority of those sites, and whether they’re considered “toxic.” You should also check the anchor text of the backlinks to ensure that it is relevant to the content it is linking to and that it is not overly optimized or spammy.
Once you know where your links are coming from, you can choose to disavow bad links using the Google Disavow tool. This tool allows you to notify Google that you do not want certain links to be considered as part of your site’s backlink profile.
An SEO and content audit is not a once-and-done process. Instead, you need to continually evaluate your content and your SEO to ensure your website stays up to date and remains competitive in the search rankings.
Set up a review schedule that includes a full audit at least once a year. Keep your historical data for a comparison to see how you’ve improved, and to identify new challenges and solutions. Continuously optimize your content and SEO strategy based on your data and feedback. Test different strategies and tactics to see what works best for your audience.
Download Our Content Audit and SEO Checklist
Are you ready to get started? Our content audit and SEO checklists can help you make improvements to your site that will help your content flourish online. Download the complete checklist by clicking the button below.
It’s no longer enough to simply create content and publish it online. Instead, you need to optimize your content for search engines while still appealing to your visitors. That’s why an SEO and content audit is so important. It allows you to identify areas of your website that need improvement and make adjustments accordingly.
The checklist we provided above covers everything you need to know about conducting a thorough content and SEO audit. By following these steps, you can ensure that your website’s content is of high quality, optimized for search engines, and relevant to your target audience. So, take the time to perform an audit of your website today and see the results for yourself!