Auditing Your Blog Content
How to Know Whether to Keep, Delete, or Repurpose Old Blogs
One activity that’s important to do every so often, but is easily ignored, is to audit previously created blog content. This can be a big undertaking if you’ve never done it, but can provide fantastic insights into what’s working and where opportunities for SEO and additional content are.
It’s important that you don’t just read and delete posts you no longer like. In order to get the best results, you’ll have to combine the qualitative assessment of the content - readability, getting the main point across, SEO - with the quantitative results of the blogs: sessions, time spent on the page, whether a person clicked-through to other content, etc.
The audit occurs in three steps:
- Creating Criteria
Follow this guide to make sure you get through the project without shooting yourself in the foot, leaving yourself worse off than you were!
Start Your Blog Audit in Google Analytics
The initial research part of the process should start in Google Analytics. This will give you an idea of what posts are working well and which are not. You’ll also be able to figure out what ranges within the metrics you should use as part of your criteria for judging content later.
Start by opening your Google Analytics property and the view that filters out the most spam and internal traffic as possible. Then go to
Behavior > Site Content > Content Drilldown, seen on the right. You should see a folder icon with /blog/ next to it. Click it. Make sure at this point you have the date range set for at least a year (or more if you’re able). From here you should see the various folders of content related to the blog. Depending on your URL structures you may see folders related to the year posts were published, the categories folder, the authors folder, etc. You’ll also be able to download the data to Excel if you want to get technical with your analysis.
Some things to think of while processing the data:
- Are there any posts that are outliers in their performance?
- What seems to be the normal range of page views, average time on the page and bounce rate for your blog posts?
- How many people leave your website from the blog posts versus how many click through to other pieces of content or other webpages?
These questions will be important when you put together the criteria to judge your content by, but there’s a more important metric than traffic data to consider before you begin deleting and repurposing old blog content.
Find the Blogs with Backlinks and SEO Value
Removing content that have backlinks without redirecting them can be potentially dangerous for your domain authority and the user experience for people coming to your site. Nobody likes landing on a 404 page!
To avoid these problems use the Open Site Explorer tool from Moz. This tool allows you to enter your domain’s URL and check for backlinks and any linking opportunities that may be available to your organization.
The only downside of this tool is that the free version doesn’t allow you to download the link metrics to a CSV to make the data more easily digestible. After you have entered in your URL and searched through the Open Site Explorer tool, make sure the three drop-down menus look like the image below:
Limiting the data to only the links that are providing equity to your site ensures you are only dealing with links to your site that are having an impact and have real SEO value to your website. These links are the ones you want to include in your redirect map and put as a priority in your auditing criteria.
By having this information you’ll be better able to make a redirect map and to know whether or not people are linking to your content. You’ll also know which content is adding value to your website beyond the sessions it generates in Google Analytics.
Creating Your Auditing Criteria
The final step before diving into the blog audit is to figure out the hierarchy of factors you’ll use to figure out what to do with your blogs. Other things to have in your back pocket before creating the criteria are your brand standards and editorial guidelines.
You’ll have to figure out your specific criteria, but we’d recommend considering the following:
- Which posts have link equity?
- Which posts have the greatest volume of traffic over the last year?
- What’re the cut off points for traffic volume and other metrics to determine underperforming blogs?
- Are there blog topics or categories that are no longer relevant to your business?
Additionally what are the things that will automatically disqualify a blog post? Consider things like:
- Only editorial content that doesn’t provide additional value beyond the author’s opinion
- Posts that use unreliable sources like Wikipedia
- Posts that don’t cite sources for their statistics
- Posts that copy sections from other websites (This does actually happen)
- Content that would be considered too thin to be helpful
Organizing Your Thoughts While Auditing the Blog Posts
If you have a lot of content to go through, I highly recommend creating an Excel document with multiple spreadsheets titled:
- Posts to Rewrite/Repurpose
- Second Opinion
- Posts to Come Back To
Then in the columns for those spreadsheets, I like to have the column names be:
- Post Date
The reason for this set up, especially when you are going through a lot of posts, is to organize your thinking. When you reach your third plus hour of reading blogs and you’re approaching burnout, you’ll be glad to put posts in the “come back to list.” It also makes it so you can more easily access the blogs you were on the fence about when you’re more mentally fresh the next day.
Once you have all of the research, criteria and spreadsheets set up, you’ll have to execute on the audit. This part is made infinitely easier because of the preparation done to get this point. Risdall recently used this same process to eventually delete nearly 400 of our own blogs.
Don’t hesitate to contact us if you’d like more information on how this process could benefit your organization’s marketing. Or sign up for a
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