Recently we talked about the basics of blog content audits. In the comments, Joanna Haugen asked about using spreadsheets to track your plans and progress as you go through the content audit process. I promised a simple tutorial on creating one, and that's what you'll find here.
Export Your WordPress Data
The first thing you'll want to do is export key data from WordPress. You can automate this process using WordPress plugins which can pull your post titles, publication dates, authors, custom fields, and more quickly and easily.
For this tutorial we're going to use the Export to Text plugin (currently at version 2.2).
Install this plugin as you would any other WordPress plugin:
- Click or mouseover "Plugins" in your WordPress admin area (in the left navigation column).
- Click "Add new."
- Search for the "Export to Text" plugin.
- Click "Install Now."
- Click the OK button if you get a prompt.
- Click the link to activate the plugin.
Once you've activated the Export to Text plugin, you can find its settings under "Tools" in the left column menu in your WordPress admin area.
Click the "Export to text" link as demonstrated in the screenshot above. You'll be taken to the following screen where you can choose your export settings.
Check the settings you want. Anything you check will end up in your spreadsheet, so choose the things that are relevant to the kind of content you want to audit (just blog posts, posts in a certain date range, posts from a particular author, posts in a certain category, etc.).
Then click the "Download as TXT file" button near the top right of your screen.
Access and Edit Your Spreadsheet
Now that you've downloaded a TXT file of your data, open your spreadsheet software. Then open the TXT file you downloaded in that program.
You should get something that looks like this:
You can see the exported fields (and you can adjust the width for each of them as appropriate).
The last field called "Content Updates?" is one I manually added for audit purposes. It's where I can quickly mark Y (for yes) or N (for no) when I look at the content and ask myself "does this post need to be edited or updated?"
The only problem I found with this export plugin is that all custom fields are lumped into one category. That means my meta title, description, and keywords for each post are all displayed in one field.
That might be fine if your concern is whether or not those things were added. But if you want to see the content of those SEO-related fields quickly for editing purposes, it will be a bit clunky.
In that case, I'd recommend using the WordPress SEO plugin Sharon Hurley Hall previously mentioned here. It lets you easily view and edit meta data in your post archives right from your WordPress admin area.
Of course you can add more fields than the one I added for this tutorial. For example, you might add fields like:
- Comment count
- Tweets (number of times it was shared)
- Google +1s
- Facebook Likes
- Link Updates? (Are there broken links that need to be adjusted? -- I use the Broken Link Checker plugin for this.)
- Formatting Issues? (Is the post consistent with sitewide formatting rules?)
- Incoming links (Check third party sources for estimates so you know which posts are attracting links, and which need offsite SEO help.)
- Attachments, downloads, or images for the post
What you add will depend on the kind of content audit you're interested in and what you're looking to improve (SEO? Social Interaction? On-site consistency?).
What else would you add to a blog content audit spreadsheet? Do you use other WordPress plugins to export this kind of data? Share your tips, suggestions, or recommended resources with us in the comments to help other readers learn about their options.
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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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