As the saying goes, you need to walk before you can run. In managing website content, you
need to know what you already have and how you could fix it before you build entirely new
In this tutorial you’ll learn how to analyze your current “content assets” or, more simply, the
pages on your website so you can determine which ones could be updated or re-purposed.
The goal is to determine whether or not your current pages are any good and, if they’re not
good, how you can change them quickly to boost your rankings in the search engines.
STEP 1. CONSOLIDATE
The first step in a site audit is to consolidate existing pages wherever possible. There are several
ways to approach this.
- Map URL’s
This process, covered in a previous tutorial, involves extracting all your web page URLs from
your website and merging them into one document. You can then quickly and easily review
your current pages to see which ones could be consolidated.
Perhaps your site has the following separate pages: About Us, Contact, Privacy and Terms. The
goal would be to consolidate all of this information into one user-friendly page, redirecting the
eliminated pages to the one new page.
Mapping your URL’s is a great time-saver in this process.
- Merge Content
For many years, people have been creating separate pages on the same subject, purpose or
topic in order to rank higher on search engines.
For example, you might have separate pages for chiropractor, chiropractic, chiropractors,
chiropractic clinic. However, you really don’t need 20 different pages for 20 specific key words
just to improve your SEO. Merge this information into one page that deals with your overall
topic, and redirect the old pages to the new one.
- Why You Should Merge Content?
A somewhat little-known fact about SEO: the more web pages you have, the harder it is for
each page to get a high ranking.
If we talk about it in terms of money, let’s say you have a site worth $10 overall. This means
that the five pages that make up your site are only worth $2 each. When you consolidate those
five pages into two, those two pages are now worth $5 each–more than double their original
value. Going back to SEO, this means you’ve more than doubled your chances of ranking high
for the keywords on those pages.
SEO rankings can increase substantially when you consolidate pages, and you don’t have to
create anything new. Instead, all your assets are now in one very valuable location.
- Combine Pages That Are Too Similar
This often happens on retail sites where a company will offer many variations of a product.
However, no one really searches for all the variations of an item. They just search for the item.
Rather than building content for each similar product, create one user-friendly web page that
includes all the product variations, and redirect the old pages there.
Whether you’re selling Bulldog stickers or key chains put all the different models on one page. If
you end up reducing your total pages from 10,000 to 1,000, those remaining pages will be very
valuable in Google’s eyes and give you a huge jump up in the SEO rankings.
To save yourself time and money, don’t create–consolidate.
STEP 2. RE-PURPOSE FOR BETTER CONTENT
Another aspect of an internal site audit is to improve your existing content by changing or
redesigning it. Your goal is to look for boring content and make it better. This dull content is
often created just to have pages rank high for certain keywords, but these worthless pages
really don’t help you.
As you check your rankings, you may discover that your page ranks second for a certain
keyword and is the top viewed page overall, but the content is uninteresting. You can re-
purpose this page by adding pictures, new ideas, or graphics.
Make the content great so people want to read it, and don’t worry if it’s not perfectly optimized
for the search engines. Just adding a video or images to the page, an easy update, will make it
more attractive and your ranking will probably go up because of it.
Give customers a way to get information without having to read through a lot of text. This can
include a great header and pictures placed in an area on the page that’s easy to find. Rather
than concentrating on keyword optimization, focus on making the page extremely user-friendly
with awesome content and a strong call to action. This is the kind of page that will convert
browsers into buyers on your site.
STEP 3. 404 ERROR REPORT
A 404 Error page is one that, for any number of reasons, no longer shows up online. If you’ve
already built pages that just aren’t being found, why build them again? Instead, find these
pages and fix them.
great tool for finding your 404 pages is Open Site Explorer (OSE). Start by typing in your
domain name. After doing a search, click on the Top Pages tab and then click Download CSV to
have your information download into an Excel spreadsheet. Choose the Filter option, then click
on the header in Column C, HTTP Status, and deselect everything except the 404 pages so only
they will show on the report.
Go through the pages and decide which ones you want to either fix yourself or send to your
web designer to fix. You obviously want to fix your most valuable pages so they will be found.
Other pages might need to be re-purposed or redirected to other pages as part of a
STEP 4. TOP PAGES REPORT
The last step in an internal site audit is to figure out your Top Pages.
To do this, you would again use Open Site Explorer (OSE) and download the same CSV file as in
Step 3. This time, you will choose Filter and click on any of several columns: Page Authority,
Number of Linking Root Domains, Most Facebook Shares, Twitter Shares or Google+1 Shares.
Column F, Number of Linking Root Domains, is an easy one to use. Custom sort this column
from largest to smallest to see the sites with the most websites linking back to them, i.e. your
most popular pages.
The next step is to figure out why so many links are going back to these pages. What is it that
people like? Why are folks sharing these pages? If you know why your current content is
popular, you can use the same formula for any new pages you create. Analyze this data before
you build new pages and you won’t have to reinvent the wheel.
TIP #1: STAY ORGANIZED
The easiest way to do this is to download and understand your Content Inventory Document.
As you go through your audit and find new pages to redesign, re-purpose or redirect, add them
to this document.
This template is specifically designed to help you keep track of the many pages you’ll be pulling
to review and fix as you audit. Without the template, there are many things you are likely to
miss, especially if you’re working on a site with 50 pages or more.
To successfully perform an Internal Site Content Audit, follow these steps:
- Consolidate your information by merging similar content into single web pages whenever possible.
- Re-purpose boring content by adding pictures, graphics or other user-friendly ways to find information.
- Find any 404 error pages and fix, re-purpose or consolidate them.
- Find your most popular pages (Top Pages) and understand why they are popular before you build new pages.
Knowing what content you currently have and what part is working can save you the time and
expense of creating new pages from scratch. You can also improve your SEO with very little
effort by combining content to reduce pages.