What is a Blog Content Audit?

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on September 17, 2012 in Blog Content Strategy
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Running a successful blog isn't only about the new content you create. It's also about your archived blog posts. Moving forward with strong content is always important. But if you want to improve your blog content strategy, increase traffic and give readers what they really want, you should start with a blog content audit.

What is a Blog Content Audit?

Think of a blog content audit as taking inventory of your blog posts. It's a chance to analyze your existing content so you can make immediate and future changes to improve your blog, even before you publish new material.

A blog content audit helps you identify posts and pages that perform well. And a content audit helps you figure out which pages need improvement. It also helps you find holes in your existing content so you can plan appropriate new blog posts in the future.

What Does a Blog Content Audit Include?

Here are some specific things a blog content audit might include.

  • Creating a master list of all existing content on your blog
  • Making sure every blog post has appropriate meta data and tags
  • Reviewing and improving blog post titles when necessary
  • Analyzing traffic for each blog post so you can identify ones that perform strongly and ones that don't
  • Analyzing incoming links to each page or post on your blog
  • Reviewing the content of each post and editing them as required
  • Looking for ways to tie specific content to revenue sources, if appropriate
  • Identifying categories with too much content overlap or not enough fresh content
  • Analyzing which content gets the most reader interaction

Your blog content audit might include all of these things, or just a few. You can always add other metrics that are appropriate for your blog. The main goal of a blog content audit is to make you a more informed blogger. Until you know what content you already have, and how effective it is, you can't make educated decisions about your blog's future content strategy.

Have you ever conducted a blog content audit? What did yours include? In what ways did it help you improve or grow your blog? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, and indie author. She began writing for clients in 1999 and started her first blog in 2004.

She owns 3 Beat Media - a publishing and client services company which operates All Indie Writers as well as several other websites and blogs including The Busy Author's Guide and BizAmmo. Jenn comes from a background in online PR and social media consulting, having owned a small PR firm for several years before choosing to pursue a full-time writing and publishing career.

Jenn also writes fiction under multiple pen names in the areas of children's fiction, mysteries, and horror fiction. Jenn is an active member of the Horror Writers Association (HWA) and currently serves as the organization's Assistant Coordinator of Promotions and Social Media.


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23 Comments

  1. Cathy Miller October 3, 2012 Reply

    This has been on my To Do list far too long. I tend to do individual updating when I link to an older post from a similar subject.

    But, I want to do the full audit to clean up older formatting, titles (as you suggest) and I didn’t even know what meta data was in the beginning. :-)

    You know we all believe we have earlier posts that were pure gems waiting to be discovered. :-) It may be in our own minds. But, what do you think, Jenn, about remarketing some of the old (like I’ve seen done)?

    • Jennifer Mattern October 4, 2012 Reply

      It’s been on my to-do list forever too Cathy, so you’re not alone. :) This has been one of my biggest issues when changing WordPress themes. It can be a real chore to make sure the formatting on older posts still works with the new stylesheet, especially when you have a large blog with hundreds or thousands of posts to check. Two of my biggest blogs desperately need a formatting audit on the oldest posts.

      I don’t see any problem with promoting old content. I periodically do that on Twitter simply because the best or most relevant content isn’t always the most recent. I probably wouldn’t update the post and then change the publication date though. I’d clean it up with minor edits, but I draw the line at changing past opinions (a pet peeve I’ve developed after seeing other bloggers do this to hide what they’ve said in the past). If your opinions on something have drastically changed, I’d go with an update at the top of the post, and a link to a fresh article on the topic. Other than that, that I say re-market away! :)

  2. Anne Wayman October 4, 2012 Reply

    I occasionally dip in and do some fixing on old content, but hadn’t thought of doing a whole, formal blog audit. Will need to chunk it down in manageable bites, by date, probably. Great idea.

    Here’s a question… is there a way to rearrange and add new categories that makes it easy?

    • Jennifer Mattern October 4, 2012 Reply

      Anne, that will largely depend on how your permalinks are set up right now. Mine (on older blogs) use the category and post name. So if I change categories, I then have to set up redirects. And since all things in the old category won’t necessarily move to a single new category, I’d have to set up redirects for every post individually. That’s the only reason I haven’t changed AFW’s category structure, even though it’s outdated and has some overlap.

      On the other hand, if your permalinks only use the post title / slug (what I’m doing with all new sites being launched), then you should be able to move them around in different categories without any post links breaking. You’d only have to redirect URLs for old category pages if you decided to delete some or change their parent categories.

  3. Sharon Hurley Hall October 8, 2012 Reply

    Add me to the list of people who’s been meaning to do this for a while, Jenn. One of the things I’ve done recently is install WordPress SEO and go back and fix some of my popular posts. However, it will take a while to do a complete audit – another thing to add to my to-do list.

    • Jennifer Mattern October 8, 2012 Reply

      You have to love to do lists, right? The amazing neverending document. :)

      Out of curiosity, did you switch to WordPress SEO from another SEO plugin? Is is compatible with other ones you might already be using for meta tags? I hesitate to switch those on bigger blogs because I’ve had one wipe all the data before, whereas others seem to keep it when a new plugin is installed. I’m always a bit nervous if using a new tool might ruin years’ worth of past work.

  4. Sharon Hurley Hall October 9, 2012 Reply

    Yes, I used All in One SEO, then Platinum SEO, then the built in tools in Thesis, then I switched to Genesis (hmm, I think I have a focus problem). Anyway, I used SEO Data Transporter to import the data from the old plugins to the new one. I think it worked, mostly, and I’m sure it didn’t delete anything.

    • Jennifer Mattern October 9, 2012 Reply

      Very cool. I’ll definitely give that a look then. As long as there’s a way to export / import the existing meta data, I’d be thrilled to get rid of some of the older SEO plugins I’m using. My last move was from All in One SEO to Simple Tags (or something like that), because AIO was no longer compatible with another big plugin — I run into that a lot at AFW because of the forum, job board, and directory plugins. :(

      • Sharon Hurley Hall October 12, 2012 Reply

        Yes, keeping all your plugins in sync can be a BIG problem. I’ve cut down a lot on the number of plugins I use and I like WordPress SEO because it replaces a couple of other plugins too.

        • Jennifer Mattern October 12, 2012 Reply

          I’ve only played with it a little bit on this blog so far, but good stuff!

  5. JoAnna October 11, 2012 Reply

    Great site, Jennifer! Question for you: How would you organize this audit? Do you track it on a spreadsheet? What does it look like? I’d like to do this but it seems like such a daunting task.

    • Jennifer Mattern October 11, 2012 Reply

      I’d manually look at every post to decide which need edits and updates. I don’t see any way around that. For the SEO side (like missing meta tags), Sharon Hurley Hall mentioned a plugin that should make things easier — WordPress SEO. I started playing with it today, and I’ll likely use it on my larger sites.

      I’m also lucky in that I have a hubby who’s a developer. And he’s getting into WordPress plugin development. Right now he’s developing a custom plugin for me — an SEO Export plugin that will create a spreadsheet from my database, focusing on things like Authors, publish dates, titles, meta tags, etc. It will allow me use the data both for editorial calendars (which he’s also creating a plugin for — more advanced than the current one out there) and for auditing SEO data to see what’s missing and what’s performing well.

      • JoAnna October 11, 2012 Reply

        Wow! That sounds really complicated. I’m not a tech person, so I’d use the spreadsheet. Do you have any suggestions on how to organize that? Have you used a spreadsheet up to this point, or do you just manually go in and eyeball everything without keeping a paper trail (so to speak) of what you’ve done, measured and learned on each post?

        • Jennifer Mattern October 11, 2012 Reply

          I’m probably just making it sound that way. :)

          I would suggest just using the built-in export feature from wordpress. Export your info and open it in a spreadsheet. Then add columns for things you want to check — like proofreading old posts (because we all improve over time). My hubby’s plugin will just help me export SEO-specific info, including from SEO plugins. But for a basic audit, the default export would work.

          I’ll go test it now, and if it works as I expect it will, I’ll take some screenshots of the spreadsheet and put up another post. :)

          • Jennifer Mattern October 11, 2012

            Crap. I’m complicating things again. :)

            I didn’t mean the WP default export. I mean your database export. For me that’s in PHPmyadmin. For you it could be different. It depends on where you host the blog.

            UPDATE: Every time I fiddle with this, I make it worse (why I removed my WP export xml update if you saw that before). So I’m just going to come up with a simple solution (probably using a plugin so you don’t have to go into your database), and I’ll post a tutorial here later today or tomorrow.

  6. Stef G. October 13, 2012 Reply

    Hi, Jennifer! Thanks for the reminder, and a timely one at that.

    I was listing down topics for new content for my blog last night and thought I’d look back at my older posts for gaps to fill in. I didn’t know this was called “blog content auditing” till I stumbled upon this post.

    • Jennifer Mattern October 13, 2012 Reply

      Glad to see it in practice. :) You should check out the latest post here if you want to find a plugin to help you export post data into a spreadsheet. It can make the audit process a bit easier. :)

  7. Mitchell Allen January 28, 2013 Reply

    Here’s another idea that just might motivate you enough to move this from your to-do to your gitr-done list. Blog to ebook.

    I cringed at the mess my earlier posts presented to the world. In the process of culling my blog for so-called “Best of” posts, I found many things to fix, delete or polish and share.

    @JoAnna, for the how-to bits, Jennifer is bang-on. Be warned, though: simply exporting your content merely converts it from a WordPress muddled mess to a Spreadsheet muddled mess. I have the gory details on my blog.

    Cheers,

    Mitch

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