How To Do A Content Audit: The Ultimate Checklist (2023)

How long has it been since the last time you did a complete inventory and analysis of your content?

This is known as a content audit, and most content creators are so focused on creating new content that they forget to audit what they’ve already created.

If it’s been over twelve months, you may be basing your content strategy on out-of-date information.

Here are a few reasons why you need to audit your content on a regular basis:

  • Goals: Is your content achieving its goals? What is your ROI from the content you’ve produced? You won’t know unless you measure your content’s performance and track it through regular audits.
  • Staleness: Your content can become stale or even outdated over time. Don’t beat yourself up, though. Stale content isn’t always your fault. What was relevant two years ago may simply need updating now.
  • Accuracy: As your content ages, facts and data that once were true can become inaccurate. Running an audit through your content regularly will ensure your post’s accuracy, helping to protect both your brand’s reputation and your search rankings.
  • Know What’s Working: How will you ever know what type of content or which blog post is your most successful if you never go back to audit all of your content pieces? Perhaps pumping out three blog posts a week is really just tiring, and not actually producing any results. You’ll never know if you don’t go back and do a content audit to see which pieces perform best, and which were the worst.

Hopefully one, if not all, of those bullets spoke to you and you now understand why it’s so important to audit your content regularly.

Now, let’s get into the audit breakdown.

Content Details Audit

The first part of a content audit dissects the basics for each piece of content and is a one-time entry on your audit.

Look at how the content was created, how many people it took to create the content, and the basic publishing information.

How To Do A Content Audit: The Ultimate Checklist (1)Screenshot from Google Sheets, December 2021

You’ll want to track the following for each piece of content in a separate content details audit spreadsheet:

  • URL.
  • Author.
  • Which team produced it (content team, social team, SEO team, etc.).
  • Total Time (how long did it take to produce the content in its entirety).
  • Title.
  • Date.
  • Content Type (is it a blog post, infographic, case study, etc.).
  • Content Goal (what was the point of producing the content: backlinks, traffic, conversions, etc.).
  • Word count.
  • Comments.
  • Shares (break this down by social network and total).

Content Data Audit

Here comes the fun part. The content data portion of your audit needs to come with its own handy dandy excel doc, just like this one I created for you.

Perform A Past Audit

Before we get into the data, you need to backtrack and audit your past produced content.

Knowing how the content you’ve published performs will help you gauge what kind of content you need to create in the future — and what kind not to create.

This part of your content audit is going to be time-consuming, at least in the beginning.

You’ll need to decide how far back you want to begin your content audit and then gather all of the content URLs for that time period.

I recommend going back at least one year and gathering data for how your content performed the year before.

Collecting all of your past content URLs doesn’t have to be a manual process, though.

(Video) 5 checklist for Website Content Audit | Improve Your the Rank of Web Pages

Luckily, there are plenty of website analytics tools like Google Analytics or SEMrush’s Content Audit tool that can quickly inventory your content based on your sitemap data. These can provide you with a list of content URLs to audit.

How To Do A Content Audit: The Ultimate Checklist (2)Screenshot from SEMrush, December 2021

Prepare Yourself For Ongoing Audits

Once you’ve caught up and added all of last year’s content into your Excel doc, you can repeat this audit activity for new content on a weekly basis.

It will be much easier to keep track of your content and audit it regularly when you’re only having to go back one week to input data.

Add the data from the next section to your Excel doc and upload the most recent numbers and stats on a weekly basis.

Over time, take note of any drastic changes.

Sometimes content, especially evergreen content, can take months before it really takes off.

Metrics To Track

Here are the metrics you’ll want to track for your content data audit:


A properly moderated comments section can add valuable user-generated content to your blog posts and articles. If one of your content goals is to build a community on your website, you will want to know what content types and topics generate conversation.

Use the UGC link attribute to ensure you’re compliant with Google’s requirements for link markup.

If you don’t allow comments on your blog, check for comments on your social media posts about your content.

Social Shares

Some marketers brush off social shares as vanity metrics. However, monitoring your content’s social popularity can help you discover the topics most likely to intrigue specific social audiences.

Businesses that know most of their conversions come from Facebook, for example, would want to create content popular with Facebook audiences.

An analysis of which posts had the most social shares on Facebook in the past is a good way to find out what topics may do well in the future.

Organic Traffic

Ideally, your content will receive a lot of organic traffic.

If you aren’t getting organic traffic, that could be a potential red flag.

Perhaps there is something wrong with:

  • Your content strategy.
  • How you’re distributing the content.
  • The content type.
  • The content itself.

By evaluating the organic traffic metrics regularly in your audit, you’ll know when you can pat yourself on the back or when you need to start over.

(Video) SEO Audit Checklist [Full Walkthrough]

Bounce Rate

Are website visitors arriving on your webpages and exiting without engaging with your content? If Google Analytics cannot detect scrolling, clicks, or other interactions with your content before a user leaves, it is considered a bounce.

And if you have a high bounce rate, that could be a sign of bad content.

Ideally, your content is a gateway that leads a user from a search to your website, entertains or informs them, and then guides them to more content, depending on their needs.

An extended time on page in conjunction with a low bounce rate signals “sticky” content that keeps users intrigued enough to continue on to more of your content.

Unsure of what a good bounce rate is?

A range of 26% to 40% is what many consider to be optimal, though on average it could even go up to 55%.


Bring on the backlinks – but only the good backlinks that give us a lot of boost and credibility, please!

You need to track the backlinks that your content produces on a regular basis for two big reasons:

  • Your backlinks will change over time. The first day you publish a new piece of content, you may gain 2–3 backlinks. Let a week go by and maybe now 10-12 backlinks have appeared. A year down the road, you could have 589 backlinks to one piece of content as it is promoted, discovered, and shared.
  • Not all backlinks are good. Sure, 589 backlinks might sound like a good thing, but not if 500 of those backlinks are potentially dangerous to your website, lead to spam, paid, or lead to a poor website, you may want to consider removing those unnatural backlinks.

Time On Page

If your content is a long-form blog post of 2,500 words and the average time on page is 18 seconds, something is wrong.

This metric will inform you if your content just isn’t right for your audience, or if it is and you need to create more content focusing on topics just like it.

Unique Visitors

We want lots of unique visitors viewing our content and increasing the amount of views the piece of content gets.

The more views, the more chances of ROI from content like conversions, engagement, shares, and backlinks.

Pages Per Session

How many pages is the user looking at after they have viewed your content?

What pages are they going to?

A blog post about the best winter coats to have can encourage a user to then click on links within the blog post and shop around on your website for different coats. Heck, maybe they’ll even make a purchase (<– goal!).

New Vs. Returning Users

Are you attracting a new audience with this piece of content?

Returning users are great. Returning customers are even better.

But we also need to aim to attract new users with our content. Ideally, you want to see a good mix of both.

(Video) Content Audit Process: Patrick Stox (Ahrefs)

Traffic Sources

Learn where your traffic is coming from by defining your main traffic sources.

If a majority of your content’s traffic is coming from Facebook, post more of your content on your Facebook page.

If hardly any is coming from your email newsletters, it may be time to restructure your emails.


If your goal for a new piece of content is to generate 100 conversions in the first quarter (let’s say, email opt-ins for your email newsletter), you need to add a column and track the number of conversions coming in from that piece of content.

Perhaps the first week, there are only two conversions and you begin to doubt the content entirely.

Let two months go by and continue to audit each week. You may notice that now, the content has produced 140 total conversions, not only hitting your goal but surpassing it.

Auditing on an ongoing basis helps to give the figures you’re seeing valuable context, enabling you to make smarter, data-backed decisions.

Additional Information To Track

If you want to add more details about your content, here are some ideas of what to track.

SEO Title & Meta Description

Add columns to your spreadsheet for these SEO fields on each piece of content.

It will help when optimizing your content in the future to see all of the SEO titles and meta descriptions you’ve used in one place.

UTM Parameters

Keep track of specific promotional campaigns for each piece of content by logging any custom UTM parameters you used to track your content.

These may come in handy when you’re creating UTM parameters for new content or when you’re looking for data on past content in Google Analytics.

Leads / Sales

If you have conversion events set up in Google Analytics, you can see which landing pages generate the most revenue. Visit the Pages and screens report under Engagement to see which pages on your website are leading to conversions.

This will give you insight into the types of content and content topics that make a positive impact on your ROI.

Email Metrics

How well did your content perform when you shared it with your email list?

If email engagement is an important goal for your content, you’ll want to keep track of your opens, clicks, and forwards to see which content performs best.

Repurposed Content

Have you taken a collection of posts and turned them into an ebook, or vice versa? Keep track of the content you’ve repurposed.

(Video) On-Page SEO Checklist (Works in 2023!)

Combine metrics from the main content and additional pieces of related content to see how repurposing benefits your content strategy.

Top Keyword Ranking

Did a particular piece of content stay at the top of the SERPs for its target keyword phrase?

Note the best keyword rankings and how long they lasted to determine which types of content have long-term search wins and which types have short-term search wins.

Influencer Reach

Did you work with any influencers to get the word out about your content? Note the influencers that generated the most traffic or social shares for content.

You may want to work with them again in the future for similar types of content.

Measure Results

Based on what your original content goals are, you need to decide whether your content is working for you.

Each piece of content you audit will have several data metrics attached to it. These metrics will tell you if you’re hitting the mark or missing it drastically.

For the content that does well, take note of what the details in the audit are telling you. Analyze what type of content it was, the topic, who produced it, and when it was published.

Repeating your successes can help you create similarly high-performing content.

For the content pieces that don’t hit your goals, take extra note of their metrics.

Sometimes it’s the channels the content was published on. Other times it’s a mixture of things such as the author, timeframe of publication, and/or the content type.

You may be able to apply some of the teachings learned from your top performers to the underdogs to get them ranking better, as well.

Don’t be afraid to try new content types, as long as you’re willing to measure their effectiveness through regular auditing.

Image Credits

Featured Image: Paulo Bobita/Search Engine Journal

(Video) How To Do SEO Content Audits


How do you prepare an audit checklist? ›

How Can You Create an Internal Audit Checklist for Your Company?
  1. Review the company's policies and procedures. ...
  2. Assess the company's risk level. ...
  3. Tailor the checklist to meet the specific needs of the company.
  4. Include all the essential areas that need an audit.
  5. Check the company's quality management system documentation.
Mar 6, 2022

How do you do a content audit SEO? ›

Let's start from the top.
  1. Step 1: Create an inventory. ...
  2. Step 2: Categorize your posts and pull relevant data for each group. ...
  3. Step 3: Analyze your data. ...
  4. Step 4: Make post-level decisions. ...
  5. Step 5: Follow through with your plan.

What are the 5 phases of an audit? ›

What happens during an audit? Internal audit conducts assurance audits through a five-phase process which includes selection, planning, conducting fieldwork, reporting results, and following up on corrective action plans.

How many steps are in a content audit? ›

Step 1: Define Your Goals and Metrics. Step 2: Take an Inventory of Your Content. Step 3: Collect and Analyze Data. Step 4: Draw Up an Action Plan.

How to do a content audit in 2022? ›

The easiest way is to run a site: search for your website and target keyword, then eyeball the results for other pages seemingly targeting the same keyword. In this case, it probably makes the most sense to merge these posts into one—then use 301 redirects to consolidate the link equity.

What are the 7 steps in the audit process? ›

Audit Process
  • Step 1: Planning. The auditor will review prior audits in your area and professional literature. ...
  • Step 2: Notification. ...
  • Step 3: Opening Meeting. ...
  • Step 4: Fieldwork. ...
  • Step 5: Report Drafting. ...
  • Step 6: Management Response. ...
  • Step 7: Closing Meeting. ...
  • Step 8: Final Audit Report Distribution.

Who prepares audit checklist? ›

Most auditing software programs have a list of standard audit checklist templates that can be used for different types of audits. This document is created and managed by the senior auditor, who is responsible for the overall audit.

What is Stage 1 of a content audit? ›

Collect all your content in one place

The first step in your content audit process is to gather all content in your inventory including blogs, site content, social posts etc.

Which tool is the best fit for doing a content audit? ›

Google Analytics is one of the most popular content audit tools and for a good reason.

What are the 4 C's of auditing? ›

As for directors, there are four features to consider when evaluating the sufficiency of any risk-based audit plan: culture, competitiveness, compliance and cybersecurity – let's call them the Four C's, for short.

What are the 5 contents of an audit report? ›

Audit Report Contents are the basic structure of the audit report which needs to be clear, providing sufficient evidence providing the justification about the opinion of the auditors and includes Title of Report, Addressee details, Opening Paragraph, scope Paragraph, Opinion Paragraph, Signature, Place of Signature, ...

What are the 5 elements of audit finding? ›

There are five elements of a finding:
  • Condition: What is the problem/issue? What is happening?
  • Cause: Why did the condition happen?
  • Criteria: How do we, as auditors, know this is a problem? What should be?
  • Effect: Why does this condition matter? What is the impact?
  • Recommendation: How do we solve the condition?

What is the main purpose of a content audit? ›

A content audit is a process of systematically reviewing all the content you have on your site. This process allows you to look closely at your optimization efforts to see how well you are meeting your business objectives.

What is 10x content? ›

10x content is the term used in content marketing to describe content that needs to be 10 times as good as the content that is already ranking for a given keyword or topic. The term was originally coined by Moz's Rand Fiskin in 2015 in one of his Whiteboard Friday episodes.

How often should you do a content audit? ›

Consideration Content – Audit Every 3-6 Months

Quality consideration content can lead to fast user conversion, so you should keep up-to-date on its performance. Auditing this content every three-to-six months gives you time to respond and adapt to shifts in users' behavior or needs.

What are the three P's in the conduct of an audit? ›

People, Processes, and Products are entities. Each instance of an entity is an object.

What are 3 types of audits? ›

There are three main types of audits: external audits, internal audits, and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) audits. External audits are commonly performed by Certified Public Accounting (CPA) firms and result in an auditor's opinion which is included in the audit report.

What is a process audit checklist? ›

A process audit checklist is a list of questions that you can use to evaluate performance across departments to determine whether processes are functioning effectively. A checklist organizes a company's processes and verifies if they comply with company standards and operations according to their intended purpose.

Do and don'ts during audit? ›

Don't be rude. An angry auditor is not a friendly auditor who may be willing to negotiate possible findings should they arise. Don't spring any surprises on the auditor. Auditors don't like surprises particularly if they have a potentially significant impact on the audit scope, potential findings, or the audit report.

How do you start an audit for a beginner? ›

The Keys to a Successful Audit From Start to Finish
  1. Step #1: Identify the scope and purpose. ...
  2. Step #2: Determine the documentation you need — and how to get it. ...
  3. Step #3: Learn your client's financial workflow to create an audit trail. ...
  4. Step #4: Clearly communicate your results. ...
  5. Sources.

What should you not do in an audit? ›

7 Things Not to Do During an Audit
  • Do Not Lie or Submit False Documents. ...
  • Do Not Be Rude, Unprofessional, or Fail to Cooperate. ...
  • Do Not Do the Government's Job for Them. ...
  • Do Not Make Unnecessary Remarks or Say More Than is Asked of You.

What are the different types of audit checklist? ›

There are two types of audit checklists. These are: Supplier Audit Checklist. Process Audit Checklist.

What is audit process step by step? ›

Although every audit process is unique, the audit process is similar for most engagements and normally consists of four stages: Planning (sometimes called Survey or Preliminary Review), Fieldwork, Audit Report and Follow-up Review. Client involvement is critical at each stage of the audit process.

How to do auditing in Excel? ›

Go to the Formula tab in Excel ribbon tab. In the "Formula Auditing" group click on the Show Formulas option. All the Formulas in the active worksheet will be displayed, so that at once you will get to know which cells contain formulas and what the formulas are. Refer to the below image to see all the formulas.

What are the six parts of an audit report? ›

The audit report template includes 7 parts of elements these are: report title, introductory Paragraph, scope paragraph, executive summary, opinion paragraph, auditor's name, and auditor's signature.

What is the difference between content audit and content inventory? ›

A content inventory lists out the digital content you have and includes aspects such as each pieces' name, format, URL, creation date, author, and metadata. A content audit determines the quality of the content and whether it needs to be updated or removed.

What are key items in audit? ›

High value or key items. The auditor may decide to select specific items within a population because they are of high value, or exhibit some other characteristic, for example items that are suspicious, unusual, particularly risk-prone or that have a history of error. • All items over a certain amount.

What is the difference between 1st 2nd and 3rd party audits? ›

Second-party audits tend to be more formal than first-party audits because audit results could influence the customer's purchasing decisions. A third-party audit is performed by an audit organization independent of the customer-supplier relationship and is free of any conflict of interest.

What are the 3 levels of observations during an audit? ›

There are three different gradings for findings; Major non-conformance, minor non-conformance, and observation/opportunity for improvement.

What is the difference between stage 1 and stage 2 audit? ›

A Stage 1 Audit is usually carried out over 1 or 2 days and typically occurs onsite. For organizations with more than 1 location, the audits are usually carried out at the central function location. The Stage 2 Audit evaluates the implementation and effectiveness of the organization's management system(s).

Which metrics are available in the content audit report? ›

4 Metrics Not To Be Missed in Your Next Content Audit
  • Page load time. Search engines use page speed as a ranking metric. ...
  • Readability. Keeping content straightforward and easy to read is important for both readers and search engines. ...
  • Backlinks. ...
  • Assisted conversions.
Jul 27, 2022

What is content mapping? ›

Content mapping is the process of creating the content plan that addresses buyers at different stages of the customer lifecycle. Each piece within a content map is designed to meet the needs of the buyer at a certain point in their journey — with the ultimate goal of driving them toward a purchase decision.

How do you create a content inventory? ›

How to create a website content inventory
  1. Define a goal. First things first, don't do anything without a reason. ...
  2. Select applicable information. ...
  3. Decide which website content inventory tools you're going to use. ...
  4. Organize data in a spreadsheet. ...
  5. Incorporate your information architecture. ...
  6. Add quantitative metrics. ...
  7. Repeat!
Jan 11, 2022

What are the 7 principles of auditing? ›

The ISO 19011:2018 Standard includes seven auditing principles:
  • Integrity.
  • Fair presentation.
  • Due professional care.
  • Confidentiality.
  • Independence.
  • Evidence-based approach.
  • Risk-based approach.

How do you write a good audit report? ›

Let us discuss the above format of the audit report in detail.
  1. #1 – Title. The title should mention – 'Independent Auditor's Report. ...
  2. #2 – Addressee. ...
  3. #3 – Introductory Paragraph. ...
  4. #4 – Management's Responsibility. ...
  5. #5 – Auditor's Responsibility. ...
  6. #6 – Opinion. ...
  7. #7 – Basis of the Opinion. ...
  8. #8 – Other Reporting Responsibility.

What is the golden rule of auditing? ›

1st Golden Rule : Keep your ears open and be sharp to hear an information that will be useful during the course of assignment. There maybe some information we may conclude that it is misleading or confusing but it is better to test everything during an assignment instead of not testing it and later regret for it.

What are 2 key criteria of audit? ›

Some audit criteria examples are: Policies and procedures. Established internal controls. Historical activity.

What is an audit template? ›

Audit templates are pre-built audits that serve as starting points for building audits. As every audit is different, additional customization may be required. Depending on the workflow, the following items and relationships are included in audit templates: Workflow. Items.

What does a content audit do? ›

Definition: A content audit is the process of cataloging and analyzing all of the content on a website, including its performance. Online businesses who publish content and pursue an ongoing content marketing strategy can optimize their benefits by analyzing strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities.

How do you conduct a social media content audit? ›

How to perform a social media audit in 7 steps
  1. Create a list of all your social media accounts. ...
  2. Check in on your branding. ...
  3. Identify your top-performing social media content. ...
  4. Evaluate each channel's performance. ...
  5. Understand your audience on each platform. ...
  6. Take action: Update your social media marketing strategy.

What is content audit tool? ›

It can help you take your content inventory and optimize it for a more complete content strategy. Through content auditing, you can scan for duplicate content, lower bounce rate, and repurpose existing content for a better SEO score.

What are the 5 C's of audit report writing? ›

What Are the 5 C's of Internal Audit? Internal audit reports often outline the criteria, condition, cause, consequence, and corrective action.

What are the four main purposes of content? ›

This diagram represents the four main purposes of content, which include to entertain, to inspire, to educate and to convince. Failure to create content that aligns with these criteria could result in missing out on attracting your potential audiences.

What is the most important thing in audit? ›

Evaluating internal controls

This is arguably the most important part of an audit and where many organizations can find a significant amount of value from having an audit conducted.

What are 4 questions should you be asking when conducting a social media audit? ›

Social Media Audit
  • Does the content posted on your social media platform speak to your customer? ...
  • Are you consistently posting three times a week?
  • Do you vary your content (graphic, video, infographic, article)?
  • Do you utilize data analytics to post at the best time?
Oct 14, 2020

What are three of the six steps you should take when conducting a social media audit? ›

6 Basic Steps to Running an Effective Social Media Audit
  • List All of the Social Media Networks You're Active on. ...
  • Analyze. ...
  • Assign a Value to The Social Media Networks You're on. ...
  • Decide Which Networks to Keep. ...
  • Clean Up Profiles. ...
  • Revisit Your Analytics to Adjust Your Strategy.
Apr 26, 2019

What should a social media audit look like? ›

A social media audit can include impressions, comments, likes, shares, and other interactions, as well as which posts are getting the most engagement and what audience is doing the most engaging. This data provides you with information you can use to make social media more effective for your business.

What are examples of audit tools? ›

Content Audit Tools
  • DYNO Mapper.
  • Seoptimer.
  • Screaming Frog.
  • Marketing Grader.
  • MySiteAuditor.
  • SEO Site Checkup.
  • Site Analyzer.
  • WooRank.
Jan 4, 2021


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