The Step-by-Step Guide to Conducting a Content Audit in 2023

Alina Petrova

Apr 10, 202318 min read
Guide to Conducting a Content Audit in 2023

Do you want to improve the performance of your content?

Start with a content audit.

What Is a Content Audit? 

A content audit is a systematic review of all the content on a website, such as blog posts and landing pages. It helps you decide what content to update, keep as is, consolidate, delete, or create.

Why Are Content Audits Important?

61% of marketers conduct content audits two or more times a year, according to our 2023 State of Content Marketing Report. 

Content audits help you: 

  • Understand the performance of your content
  • Identify gaps in your content offering
  • Make informed decisions on how to improve your content and achieve your business goals

They can also help you identify and remove duplicate or outdated content, which can improve your website’s SEO performance.

53% of marketers say updating their content helped increase engagement, while 49% saw an increase in traffic and/or rankings.

A bar graph showing results achieved after a content update.

Managing your website is like maintaining your vehicle. You wouldn’t just take it on multiple road trips without doing regular checkups, right? 

Instead, you periodically take it to a mechanic and make sure your tires aren’t bald, that the oil gets changed, and that no other problems exist.

Content audits are the car mechanics of the internet, and we should treat our websites with care.

Now, let’s explore each step you need to take when conducting content audits.

Step 1: Define Your Goals and Metrics

A content audit can be a tedious and time-consuming process.

It’s important to begin with clear, defined objectives for measuring success.

The first step is to think about your business goals. 

What benefits can you gain from a content audit? What are the results you want to achieve?

Here are some goals you can consider setting for your website content audit:

Goal 1: Improve Your SEO Results

Updating your content can generate tremendous results for rankings and organic traffic. 

It’s much easier to try to rank higher for a page that already appears in search results. Hence, you can generate more organic traffic faster while spending less on resources.

Some content audit tactics for improving your SEO metrics include:

  • Identifying outdated and low-quality content that needs to be updated or removed
  • Optimizing your pages to fit search intent
  • Making your high-potential content more comprehensive, useful, and thereby more competitive
  • Checking and improving internal linking

For this goal, make sure you set specific benchmarks. For example, “I want to move this blog post from position 30 to the third position in the SERP for [XX] keyword in [XX] months.”

One way to make quick updates is with SERP Gap Analyzer

It helps identify which results on the first page are not performing at their peak. 

You can use that analysis to identify mistakes in simple SEO metrics and quickly update specific web pages.

Goal 2: Increase Audience Engagement

Improving your content can encourage users to stay longer and share it with others.

As with Goal 1, you should set a specific objective. You might measure:

  • Bounce rate
  • Engagement rate
  • Scroll depth
  • Shares
  • Mentions
  • Comments

For example, “I want to achieve [XX]% increase in scroll depth by [XX] date.”

You can use the Engagement Report in Google Analytics to analyze the on-site engagement and identify patterns. 

For instance, you might notice that some pages have higher engagement than others.

Or, you might spot that engagement has been decreasing on certain content pieces.

Additionally, look at views, comments, and shares on social media. It can help you identify content formats and topics that build momentum.

Goal 3: Improve Conversion Rate

Finally, you could aim to generate more conversions and leads with your content. 

To improve your conversion rate, assess whether your content creates a good user experience and is optimized for conversion. To analyze your pages, ask:

  • Do they have a good structure? 
  • Are they easy and enjoyable to read?
  • Do they provide practical value?
  • Is there a clear call to action?

Next, find content that generates the most leads and identify common patterns.

Match Your Goals to Metrics

Once you have determined your goals, match them with relevant content marketing metrics, which can be divided into four categories:

  1. SEO metrics: organic traffic, backlinks, keyword rankings, CTR in search, etc.
  2. User behavior metrics: pageviews, engagement rate, bounce rate, etc.
  3. Engagement metrics: likes, shares, comments, mentions, etc.
  4. Sales metrics: number of leads, conversion rates, ROI, etc.

For instance, to pinpoint the most popular topics, analyze user behavior and engagement metrics. 

Or, if you want to boost your SEO performance, check the number of backlinks and analyze your rankings in search engines.

Step 2: Take an Inventory of Your Content

Before creating an inventory of URLs and metrics, decide what kind of content you will review. 

You might analyze:

  • Blog posts
  • News articles
  • Product descriptions
  • Landing pages
  • External publications
  • Videos
  • PDFs
  • Interactive content (quizzes, tests, games)

Collect Your URLs

Now it’s time to start taking inventory. Collect all the URLs of web pages you want to analyze.

If you have a small website, you can start by manually adding all links.

If you have large volumes of content, you can use tools like Screaming Frog

It’ll scan your website for SEO issues, download hundreds of URLs, and even generate sitemaps.

The tool will analyze 500 URLs for free.

View of Screaming Frog interface generating a list of URLs.

If you don’t have a sitemap, use a sitemap generator tool to create one for your website. 

Having a sitemap is not only useful for a content audit, it also makes it easier for search engines to understand your website structure and find all pages you think are important. 

Check out this blog post to discover the top sitemap generators and free WordPress plugins for sitemaps. 

Catalog Your Content

After collecting your URLs, use a spreadsheet to sort them by different criteria. This also helps your team keep track of them.

Include the following fields:

  • URL
  • Page title
  • Page purpose (e.g., “educational guide about running a content audit”)
  • Focus keywords
  • The average ranking position of the primary target keyword
  • Backlinks
  • Content type (e.g., blog post, news article)
  • Content format (e.g., text only, images included, video included)
  • Funnel stage (e.g., awareness, consideration, conversion)
  • Date of publication or last modification
  • Content hub (cluster)
  • Author

It’s also very useful to collect metadata (title, meta description, h1) for each piece of content. This could help you spot potential issues and fix them in the same place.

Your content audit spreadsheet may look like this:

Example of spreadsheet with URLs listed and other information about each link.

Step 3: Collect and Analyze Data

Data collection is a complex and lengthy process. 

Usually, you have to recover data from multiple sources and add it manually to your spreadsheet. 

If you want to capture a wider range of data, here are some analytics tools that can prove useful for a content audit.

Google Analytics

To find information on traffic, on-site engagement, and even conversions, you can use Google Analytics

It’ll help you estimate your content’s effectiveness and identify the top-performing pages.

Head to your Google Analytics account and open Reports >> Engagement >> Pages and Screens.

The Reports menu on Google Analytics.

Here, you can search for any page and see the key metrics for each (for example, the engagement rate, views, and conversions).

Filtered data for several URLs on Google Analytics.

If your blog is located in a separate folder, you can type /blog/ to narrow down your search.

How to filter for blog content in Google Analytics.

Finally, you can download all data as a PDF or CSV file using the icon in the top right corner.

How to download the data in Google Analytics.

From here, you can start filling out your content audit template.

You can also add other relevant data. Tools like Google Search Console and Semrush Position Tracking will help you source SEO-related insights.

Position Tracking

Creating a report in Position Tracking is the best way to track your ranking for the target keywords.

From there, you can spot upward and downward trends and take action. 

For instance, if you see that certain keywords have been declining, you might want to update or revise your content.

The Rankings Overview report in Semrush’s Position Tracking tool.

To download data from this tool, hit “Export” in the upper right corner.

How to export data in the Position Tracking tool.

Google Search Console

Google Search Console is also useful for SEO metrics. 

It details how your website is crawled, indexed, and served to users. 

Google Search Console doesn’t require daily monitoring, and it will send you email updates when there are issues with your website.

You can also use it to track impressions and CTR in search.

For instance, open the “Search results” report and check a specific query or URL.

If you are looking to check how many backlinks each page has generated, use the Backlink Analytics tool.

Screenshot of the Backlink Analytics tool interface.

Site Audit

Finally, use Semrush Site Audit to collect data related to your website’s technical performance.

Overview screen in the Site Audit tool.

You can also see all pages crawled on your website and spot potential issues.

List of crawled pages in the Site Audit tool.

After collecting metrics, your spreadsheet may look like this:

Example of spreadsheet with metrics for each URL.

How to Interpret Your Content Audit Data

Now that you have all data in one place, it’s time to analyze it and determine your next steps.

Examine your content metrics as a whole to gain a clear picture of the state of your site’s content.

Look for various patterns and assess the way various metrics are interconnected. For instance:

  • Is there content that generates more traffic than others?
  • Are there pages where traffic or other metrics have been declining?
  • Do you have content with high volumes of traffic but low conversion rates?
  • Do you spot some general patterns such as issues with engagement rate?

From there, prioritize issues and content that require your attention to draw some conclusions.

Here are some examples of ways you might interpret the data: 

  • High-traffic pages that have a high bounce rate and low engagement

→ This might mean that the users are interested in the topic, but the content doesn’t fully address their questions.

  • High-traffic pages with low conversion rate (CVR)

→ This might mean that your content is not optimized for conversions. It may lack a call-to-action (CTA), or the CTA is out of place.

  • Low-traffic pages with high engagement and/or conversions

→ This could signify the content is not optimized for search. However, if you do optimize it, you could generate incredible results.

Group your content according to the main issues you observe. For example, you might create a category of high-traffic content that needs a CTA, or low-traffic content that requires an SEO audit.

Finally, take into account the different stages of the content marketing funnel

For example, your “Awareness” content may naturally attract more traffic but have a lower conversion rate. 

Or, your “Consideration” content may have less traffic while generating more leads.

Assess Your Content Assets

Using your collected data and your metrics, try to assess each piece of content according to your goals.

Then, assign one of the following actions:


If your content performs well and remains relevant, you probably don’t need to update it (yet). 

Examples: Evergreen content, success stories, FAQs, general information on your business.


If you see that some of your pages perform really well, you might want to reuse and recycle them. 

Example: A blog post is performing really well, generating traffic and converting visitors. In this case, you might use it to create a lead gen piece of content (e.g., a template) and use paid channels to attract even more leads.


The content audit might help you find the web pages that are not performing well. 

Review this content and figure out how you can make it more effective. 

You may also find some content with outdated information that needs to be revised.


  • Blog posts with outdated statistics
  • Important articles with outdated information
  • Low-traffic or low-conversion content


If you are unable to improve a piece of content, removing it from your website may be a good idea.

Remember that keeping low-quality content might hurt your general organic performance. 

So, if you’re sure you’re not going to use the page, it’s better to delete it.

Examples: Content related to a particular event or activity, information about out-of-stock products, duplicate content, and content related to old campaigns.

Now, add a new “Status” column to your content audit spreadsheet to document what you are keeping, repurposing, updating, and deleting. 

Example of spreadsheet with “Status” column added.

Step 4: Draw Up an Action Plan

After assessing your content, create a plan to improve performance.

Your action plan should be based on your goals and the conclusions that you have drawn from your analysis.

Prioritize Your Actions

Before drawing up an action plan for each URL, refer back to the goals you set out in Step 1. 

Every investment in your content plan should align with a business goal.

For example, if your audit’s goal is to generate more ROI with content, you should focus on improving conversion rates on your pages.

Next, prioritize your actions depending on how achievable your business goals are in line with the effort required. 

For example, if your goal is to improve SEO results, you might try:

  • Interlinking your content: It requires very little work and may bring great results
  • Creating an ebook: It requires a lot of work but may (or may not) bring poor results

Add a priority column to your spreadsheet after you’ve weighed up the resources required against the expected results.

Example of spreadsheet with priority column added.

Create an Action Plan for Each URL

Once your priority list is sorted, create an action plan for each piece of content. 

You might add a new column to specify the action you’re going to take for each article.

Example of article headlines with an action item for each.

If you’re looking to quickly find ideas for how to improve your content’s SEO, use the On Page SEO Checker tool.

It’ll highlight potential issues and suggest quick fixes you can add to your pages to rank them higher.

Report from On Page SEO Checker tool.

Here are some actionable tips to include in your website content audit workflow for individual pages:

Action type


Reuse your content

Try to combine different pieces of content to create a new one or publish it in a different format (e-book, infographics, slides, etc.).

Rewrite your content

If you have blog posts that are underperforming, try to rewrite them with new examples, tips, and practical details.

Adjust your content for search intent

Search intent is the reason users type in specific queries. If your content doesn’t reflect the search intent, it might never rank high enough. Review pages that appear on the first page of search results and analyze whether they have drastic structural differences compared to your page.

Expand your content

Consider adding more detail to your existing articles to make your content more comprehensive and useful.

Refresh your content

Sometimes, you don’t need to completely rewrite your article. You can simply add some relevant information (e.g., new stats and trends or new product details).

Update your CTAs

You might have some outdated or irrelevant banners on your blog or other web pages. Replace them with relevant offers to reactivate your content marketing funnel and improve your conversion rates.

Add visuals

Images and video can help boost on-site engagement and increase your chances of ranking. Our study found that articles with at least one video generate 70% more organic traffic than those without. Adding visuals also increases your chances of appearing in SERP features.

Optimize metadata

Sometimes, it makes sense to optimize your meta titles and meta descriptions. For instance, you might see that your title doesn’t correspond to the search intent. Or, it might not feature a focus keyword.

Optimize internal linking

Regularly optimize links pointing to new articles in blog posts on related topics. This can boost your SEO results. You can also optimize your internal linking according to the buyer’s journey: “Awareness” content should link to “consideration” articles, and “consideration” articles should link to “decision” content.

Add 301 redirects

Make sure to add redirects to pages removed from your website. This allows you to avoid “not found” pages and improves user experience. You could also redirect traffic from old or duplicate blog posts instead of deleting them. 

Step 5: Adjust Your Content Marketing Strategy

When performing a website content audit, it is important to keep your long-term content strategy in mind. 

If you track your successes and failures, you can steer your strategy in different directions as needed to appeal to your target audience and generate better results.

Here are some tips for adjusting your strategy:

  • Take note of what works and expand upon it 
  • Look at your least successful content and learn from your top-performing content
  • Check your competitors’ content to see where and how you could improve your performance 
  • Review your strategy and audit your content at least once a year (you’ll find useful guidelines for establishing this frequency below) 

Keep Up with Industry Changes

If your industry changes frequently, you’ll need to set more frequent review periods (e.g., once a month, or every quarter). 

Keep up with these changes and find innovative ways to keep reaching and engaging with your audiences. 

For example, the cybersecurity industry is changing constantly. 

There are always new security threats to online users and companies. 

Part of your content strategy may be constantly educating new and current clients on rapid changes to online security. 

You may have to send out immediate email alerts or change marketing materials at a moment’s notice to reflect those changes.

Overall, what works today may not work tomorrow, so consistent adjustments should always be on the agenda. 

Content Audit FAQs

What Are the Steps Involved in a Content Audit?

Although a rigorous progress, the steps involved in conducting a content audit typically include the following:

  • Identifying which pages on your website the audit should include
  • Collecting data on the pages’ performance, such as keyword rankings, page views, bounce rates, and conversion rates
  • Assessing how well each piece of content conforms to SEO and content marketing best practices
  • Analyzing the data and identifying areas for improvement
  • Developing a plan for updating and optimizing the website’s content

How Often Should I Do a Content Audit?

You should do content audits on a regular basis. But exactly how often will depend on the size and complexity of your website, and how often you publish new content and update old content. 

A good rule of thumb: Conduct a content audit at least once a year. But for larger or rapidly changing websites, you will probably need to audit your content more often. 


33% of marketers say they do a content audit at least twice a year. But as many as 50% say they update their content when it is outdated.

Bar graph showing triggers for content updates.

What Metrics Should I Use to Evaluate the Performance of My Website’s Content?

Multiple metrics can tell you a great deal about how your website is performing. Some of those metrics are:

  • Page views
  • Bounce rates
  • Conversion rates
  • Engagement rates
  • Rankings for targeted keywords
  • Social media engagement

But the specific metrics you choose should align with the goals of your website or business. 

For example, if your primary goal is to increase sales, measuring page views may not be relevant.

In such a case, conversion rates may provide better insight.

How Do I Analyze the Data I Gather During a Content Audit?

Look for patterns and trends. Compare your chosen metrics for the various content assets you are auditing. 

And look for outliers. 

For example, do some of your blog posts have much higher page views than others? 

Try to dissect why that might be. 

Don’t forget to take notes on your findings.

How Do I Determine Which Pages on My Website Need to Be Audited?

Above all, choose pages for the audit based on their importance to your website’s goals. 

But it’s also important to consider pages you haven’t updated in a long time. 

Or pages where performance is trending down.

However, you might also decide to update content before its metrics start to deteriorate. 

For example, if you have several top-performing, evergreen pages, you might want to regularly review and improve them.

How Can I Make Sure My Website Content Is Up to Date and Relevant?

The best way to keep your content relevant and current is to conduct regular content audits. 

Then use the results of those audits to update pages that need attention. 

What Tools Can I Use to Conduct a Content Audit?

Various tools can help you complete a content audit. Website crawlers, analytics tools, and spreadsheet software are common choices. 

Some popular content audit tools are:

How Do I Organize and Present the Findings of a Content Audit?

How you organize the findings of a content audit will depend on the specific goals and audience of the audit. 

One common approach is to create a spreadsheet that lists all of the pages you include in the audit. 

Record key metrics like page views and bounce rates. 

And pair each page and quantifiable metric with more subjective evaluations of the content’s relevance, quality, and user engagement. 

You can then present your audit findings in a report or presentation format. 

Be sure to add visual aids like charts and graphs to communicate key insights.

How Can I Maintain the Improvements Made Through a Content Audit?

After you make improvements based on your content findings, you’re likely to see some positive results. 

But over time, those results may fade.

That’s normal. 

And the best way to keep your results moving in a positive direction is to conduct routine content audits. 

That way, you'll keep improving your content and making sure it’s up-to-date and relevant. And, hopefully, the content continues to perform.

How Do I Use the Results of a Content Audit to Inform My Content Strategy?

Do more of what is performing well. And update the content that isn’t performing.

Your content audit will identify content that is performing well and content that is performing poorly. 

That means you get some immediate direction for your content strategy: Follow what’s working.

For example, if your content audit reveals that short “how-to” guides are performing better than your other content, you could create more how-to content. 

And if your long-form blog articles are not performing well, you could put them in the queue for updates.

You might also take this opportunity to reassess how you distribute your content and if your current distribution strategy is working.

How Can I Involve Different Stakeholders in the Content Audit Process?

Identify the specific content needs and goals of different stakeholders, such as marketing, sales, and product teams. 

Ask them to provide feedback on the findings of the audit and collaborate on the development of a content strategy based on the audit.

How Do I Measure the Success of a Content Audit?

Track the performance of your content before and after the audit.

After you’ve made the changes the audit called for, you should see improvements. 

If the improvements are worth the time and resources it took to conduct the initial content audit, the audit was a success.

How Do I Assess the Performance of Non-Text Content During a Content Audit?

You won’t use all the same metrics to evaluate images, videos, and other forms of non-written content. 

Pick metrics that apply to the type of content you are auditing. 

For example, video completion rates for videos, social shares for posts, and so on.

Then, evaluate your content based on those metrics.

How Do I Measure the SEO Performance of My Website’s Content During a Content Audit?

A content audit is a great place to measure SEO performance on a page-by-page basis. 

Use tools like Google Search Console and Semrush to assess each audited page’s performance for the following metrics:

  • Organic traffic (traffic from search engines)
  • Keywords the pages are ranking for
  • Ranking positions of the pages for various relevant or important keywords
  • Core Web Vitals and similar user experience metrics that Google values

To start auditing your content for SEO performance, create a free Semrush account.

How Do I Measure the User Experience of My Website’s Content During a Content Audit?

You can measure the user experience (UX) of your web content with the following metrics, among others:

To measure your copy’s readability, use AI content writing tools like ContentShake. 

It’ll automatically score the article’s readability and tone of voice, and help you add improvements.

Screenshot of ContentShake’s interface, showing text created and metrics like readability score and tone of voice. 

If you have the time and resources, you may also want to conduct user testing to gather qualitative data on UX as it relates to your website content.

A Website Content Audit Checklist

Before you go, here’s a quick summary of how to conduct a website content audit that you can use as a cheat sheet:

  1. Set up clear business goals for your content audit, such as improving your SEO results, audience engagement, or conversion rate. Match them with relevant content metrics (e.g., organic traffic, bounce rate, shares, ROI).
  2. Collect URLs of your content and catalog your content by buyer’s journey stages, content type, author, and other categories important to you.
  3. Collect data on content assets’ performance with the help of analytics tools. Using set metrics, assess your content assets and assign them to statuses: Keep, repurpose, update, delete.
  4. Prioritize your actions according to the business goals you defined at the first step, and draw up an action plan for each piece of content.
  5. Adjust your content strategy based on the audit results at least once a year.

Now, you’re ready to analyze and improve your content performance!

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Speaker, blogger and Content Marketing expert with more than 5 years of experience in developing content strategy. Creator of the French Semrush Blog, one of the most popular corporate marketing blogs in France. Passionate about languages, modern art and new technologies.