How to Perform a Content Audit in 2021

  • Felix Rose-Collins
  • 13 min read
How to Perform a Content Audit in 2021

Table of Contents


It can be difficult to put together a good strategy to market your business. Figuring out how to reach your marketing goals can be a challenge, and it’s often a matter of the content you create. Keep in mind that you’ll have to carefully calculate how you’re going to approach your marketing.

If you fail to formulate the right plan for how you’re going to create content for your business, you may end up causing more damage than otherwise. You can save a lot of money by reworking existing content that may already be on your site. If you want to determine the quality of your existing content, you may wish to conduct a content audit to figure out what you should be putting out there.

What Are Content Audits?

Content audits go through all of the content on your website by analyzing it and putting it into groups. By conducting a content audit, you’ll be able to find out what’s wrong with your site as well as what’s working out with it. You will also be able to determine what changes need to be undertaken so that you can establish a content plan for the future.

What Are Website Quality Audits?

Website quality audits are crucial for businesses that wish to improve the efficiency of their sites. A search engine will examine the quality level of a site when it determines what will appear higher in a search results page. The quality score of a site is much more important than a wide range of factors when it comes to the Google algorithm.

This will affect how frequently your site is indexed or crawled by the search engine, which will in turn affect your rankings.

You need to optimize your SEO so that you can enhance your rankings and have Google assign you a higher organic quality score. By increasing this score, you will be able to get a better ranking because your site will be prioritized by Google’s algorithm. Google has a wide range of metrics and tools that they use to figure out how your site is performing.

If you wish to perform quicker and easier audits on your site, you should use the simple and effective Ranktracker Web Audit Tool.

Determining the Quality of Your Website

There are a few things that you can do to enhance how your site’s quality score is ranked by Google, so let’s go over them.

The first step is to ensure that your site is coded and structured properly according to the Google Webmaster Guidelines.

For example, Google prioritizes sites that have quality content that matches the search intent of the people looking for it. The content also needs to have depth. Your site should also get mentioned on a wide range of sites since that’s an excellent gauge of its popularity.

This essentially shows you the lens through which search engines like Google see your content. Knowing the metrics that the Google algorithm uses to determine how highly your site ranks can give you a crucial advantage when it comes to making your website look like it’s of higher quality in the eyes of the search engine.

Putting Together the Content Audit File

Before you get started, you’ll need to establish the base file that you’re going to use for your content audit. Start by creating a sheet and then use a template or add in the following headings:

  • Notes

  • Sections

  • Next step

  • Final URL

  • Pillar

  • URL

  • Title

  • Cluster

  • Meta

  • Last modified date

  • Top keyword

  • Word count

  • Ranking

  • Volume

  • Average top

  • Bounce rate

  • Sessions

  • Impressions

  • Sales

  • Goal conversion rate

  • Conversion rate in dollars

  • Links

  • Lost traffic

  • Percentage change


Create a document with these headers and then copy and paste the info that you got out of your quality audit into it.

Topic Modeling

In this part of our guide, we’re going to explore how topic clusters systems work, also known as the hub and spoke model. Knowing how a site is modeled will allow you to create a quality site that will look good to search engines. Content organization is the building block of topic modeling.

There are many different forms of topic modeling, but the one we’re going to look at is the hub and spoke model, also known as topic clustering. There is one page that forms the backbone of this model, and these pages are known as pillars. This is essentially a hub for the remainder of the posts that are linked to it, which are known as clusters.

Every cluster will be linked to a pillar, and this is a good way to improve your SEO. Organizing your content will allow you to rank more competitively. While pillar posts allow you to demonstrate your knowledge about a particular topic, they will also allow you to link to many other internal pages.

By linking all of these pages together internally, you’ll be able to ensure that various pages on your site are easy to travel between. The pillar pages on your site will essentially act as highways through which your visitors can access the various clusters. These clusters will expand on more intricate and detailed topics.

By clustering your topics, you’ll be able to enhance the UX on your site and it will also make it so that your visitors travel the path that you want them to. Search algorithms are designed to understand these complex interactions, so you're able to improve the quality of your site, which will also improve your search results.

The main advantage of keeping your site organized is that you’re able to strategize when it comes to your content creation. This will allow you to focus on the topics that are the building blocks of your business. In turn, this means that you’re able to target your campaigns more effectively. It will also be easier to determine which resources need to be used when everything is organized.

Topic Cluster Model

Here’s a short overview about what you need to know about the topic cluster model so that you can get better search engine results.

Pillar Pages

These pages are the foundational aspect of the hub and spoke model and they are essentially in-depth pages that extensively go into the topics that your business is related to. You should focus on keywords that are related to the products and services that your business offers in these pages.

Pillar pages should mainly include topics that your target audience would be interested in, and they should relate directly to the industry that you’re in. This will allow you to improve your business by driving further traffic to it. These pages should contain everything that your visitors would want to know.

Cluster Pages

The cluster pages act as the spokes on the hubs that are formed by the pillar pages on your site. While pillar pages broach topics in a broader sense, cluster pages go into further detail about the things that are discussed on the pillar pages so that they can support them and create internal links.

Cluster pages will allow you to ensure that more people visit your site because they will draw in visitors who are searching for more detailed topics. For example, if you have info on your pillar page that needs to be supported, you can create a cluster page for it.

These clusters essentially allow you to further flesh out the topics that you’re addressing in your pillar articles.

Hub and Spoke Page Idea Development

Keep in mind that these are just the basics of the hub and spoke model for developing websites. You’ll also need some content ideas so that you can fill these pages up with things that your audience will find relevant.

Finding the right content ideas is crucial because it will allow you to find content that will allow you to emphasize the product or service that your company is selling. Unfortunately, it can often be very challenging to figure out which content ideas will work best for you. Since these ideas will be a central part of your strategy, they need to be solid.

There are a few questions that you should ask yourself when coming up with ideas to ensure that you get the best possible results out of them.

Will this Lead Back to My Business’s Product, Industry, or Service?

We’ve already mentioned that the content that you output needs to be fully in line with what you intend to do with your business. This is a big part of ensuring that the content you put out is applicable to the industry that you’re in.

When you create content about topics that are irrelevant to your industry, then you’re simply wasting your time as well as your resources. If you’re going to use these resources to create content, why not use them to create relevant content?

Make sure that you can always ensure that there’s a link between your topics and the products or services that you’re offering. This means that you’ll always draw in the right audience and that you’ll stay relevant. By bringing in the right audience, you’ll also ensure that you have the best quality traffic.

Creating the best possible content will allow you to generate more leads, but it will also allow you to convert more of those leads into sales.

Is This Something that can be Discussed?

Whether or not you can discuss a topic at length will determine whether or not it will be suitable for content marketing on your site. Researching your topics on Google will only go so far because there’s no guarantee that the topics you find will be worth putting up on your site.

For example, if you want to create content about medical topics, you’ll need to ensure that the info you’re putting out there is valid. Simply making a couple of citations isn’t enough, you’ll need to be sure that what you’re saying is true. This is an oft-overlooked part of the content creation process, so ensure that you know what your subjects are.

In 2018, there was an update to search algorithms that essentially reworked content marketing strategies. After this change, content marketers had to start branching out to a wider variety of topics. While this helped boost business, it also reduced the quality of sites because they were less directly targeted at their audiences.

After Google noticed that sites were essentially putting deceitful info out there, they further refined their algorithms to punish this kind of behavior. If you’re putting out info that is patently untrue or simply outside of your wheelhouse, your search rankings will drop. You need to ensure that your content has the necessary amount of depth and that it’s also popular.

To make sure that your content has a relevant amount of depth, you’ll need to use the pillar and cluster model. Your popularity will depend on how engaging your content is as well as the number of shares that it has.

Don’t create content about topics that you’re not an expert in. Make sure that you keep writing about the topics that your business knows best if you want to be sure that your audience will see you as genuine and authentic.

Pillar and Cluster Page Examples

Let’s say that we’re performing a content audit for a digital agency (perhaps using Ranktracker’s audit software). We’ll start by taking a look at the topics that this hypothetical agency would want to publish relating to their core services. For an agency of this type, the core services would be design, development, PPC, SEO, and social media.

Using these topics, you can then come up with pillar articles for each of them, giving readers a broad overview of these areas. For example, a pillar about technical SEO would likely discuss things like robot.txt, canonical tags, and technical SEO in general. These topics are directly related to services within the industry.

A Look at URL Actions

URL actions are essentially instructions that mention what needs to be included in a particular web page. This is related to web quality audits, though the actions and their classifications will be a little different. Here’s what you need to know:

Leave As-is

This URL action is usually assigned to the more recent pages on your site. As the name suggests, you are going to leave these pages the way they are. While the page may not yet be getting you exceptional results, it might take a bit of time for it to start drawing people in. The worst thing you could do would be to delete a recent page.

Also, if you have an older page that is still drawing in more than 100 visitors per year, you can assume that the page is up to date and that it should be left the way it is.

While pruning pages that are underperforming is usually a good idea, this tag ensures that you won’t end up deleting pages that may not be getting results but still have potential. You should only delete pages that are actively a burden on the site.


Let’s say you have a page that isn’t currently generating any traffic and that isn’t linked to any of your pillars. These pages will need to be redirected because they’re dragging your site down and negatively impacting your search results.

Most content auditors would 404 a page like this, but using a 301 redirect will allow you to retain a page that has current links and redirects. This is a less heavy-handed way of deleting or renaming pages.

This will ensure that you lead your visitors to pages that have the right info without losing traffic like you would with a 404.


What about situations where you have pages that aren’t valuable to search engines but you still want to leave them visible to your site’s visitors? By archiving these pages,. You can ensure that they don’t end up getting crawled by search engines so they don’t end up affecting your search rankings.

For example, a site like BBC may have relevant content that it wants people to still be able to access but they want to retain their search results. In these cases, BBC will archive their content to ensure that it doesn’t end up dragging down the site’s search results.

This is done by altering the URL structure of the pages that you’d like to archive, such as putting them in an /archives/ URL. This is often a good move for older sites that have a large repertoire of content.

This will allow your visitors to access the content by going through the archive section of your site, but this part of your site will also be blocked off to search engines.


When you have a page that’s losing keyword rankings and traffic, you’ll want to refresh the content, especially if it has potential to rank higher. All you’ll have to do is update the meta title and description, media, internal links, headings, and potentially even the title.

If you’re working with a pillar page and you have excellent content depth, then you may just need to refresh the URL. This means that you won’t lose the spirit of your site, but it will ensure that the changes are significant enough to return to your previous traffic and engagement levels.

You may wish to change up the title tags, add in more keywords, or even change the title so that it baits more clicks. This will allow you to get more traffic to the page without having to rework it entirely.


If you have the same issues as with a page that needs refreshing but the content lacks depth, then you may end up needing to rewrite the page entirely. This will ensure that your content remains relevant. For example, if your page is about the best way to rank in 2019, that simply won’t fly in 2021.

You’ll need to update the content on that page so that it draws in and retains visitors, so you’ll need a content creator to update the information on that page. Keep a close eye on industry patterns so that you don’t end up having to rewrite the article yet again later on.

Rewriting content ensures that your content is always of the highest quality and it makes your site look good to visitors and the search engine that you’re trying to rank on.


If you have a few pages that cover the same thing, then it’s a good idea to merge them so they’re not splitting your traffic.

This will make it a lot easier for your visitors to access the content they need without having to visit multiple pages. This will improve visitor retention.

So how do you merge pages? The simplest way is through a 301 redirect. This will allow you to merge the content into one pillar page that contains everything that your visitors need to know about a particular topic, improving content depth.

If you have content that doesn’t have any of the issues we mentioned above but it’s still not ranking, then you may wish to target it with links. This will ensure that you improve the page’s ranking through a link building campaign that will increase the number of inbound links that target it.

Building a Content Report

When you’ve done all of this work, you’ll need to compile it all into a report that will be easy for your client or boss to go over.

Not everyone has the expertise in SEO that’s required to understand a lot of these technicalities. You need to use this report to make it legible for someone outside of your realm of expertise. Since many of these changes will be major, you need to be transparent about why they’re happening.

Avoid putting together complicated spreadsheets that will just result in headaches for whoever’s reading them. Here’s how your report should be organized:

  1. Start with a brief overview of what the client needs to know.

  2. Move on to what you did to find the information that you have.

  3. Cover what info you gleaned from the processes that you implemented.

  4. Explain the hub and spoke model and then go over pillar subjects that are currently on the site.

  5. Go through the results and then discuss the URL actions that you’re currently suggesting to the client.

  6. Summarize what you found needs changing. Explain why some pages need to be merged and why others may need to be archived.

  7. Give a future strategy for how your client’s content needs to be developed if they want to succeed in their SEO approach.

  8. Perform a follow-up call in which you can have a real-time discussion with your client so that they can more easily ask you questions about any concerns that may still exist.

What to Do After Your Content Audit

Keep in mind that content audits are entirely actionable, so you’ll need to go over the results and see what you can do to make the most of what you see. When you do this, go over the results and assign some of the actions that we mentioned up above to the URLs that you see need help. If you don’t take action on the insights you’ve gleaned, then those insights are useless.

Most of the time, you’ll find yourself either spearheading content mergers or rewrites, though there are cases in which you’ll use the other actions, as well.

When you’ve finished auditing the content and compiled a report, send it to the client (if you have one). Explain what’s in the audit and then outline the steps that your client will need to take so that they can make the most of it. Also, be sure to mention deadlines that the client may have to abide by.


You don’t need to make content auditing a challenge for yourself, and it’s even easier if you’re using Ranktracker’s Audit Software. This software allows you to speed up an otherwise time consuming process and ensures that your content marketing approach is as effective as possible.

What we mentioned above should allow you to make the changes you need without hampering your business.

Start using Ranktracker… For free!

Find out what’s holding your website back from ranking.

Create a free account

Or Sign in using your credentials

Different views of Ranktracker app