6 Ways to Audit & Refresh Your Website Content
The days are getting warmer and longer, flowers are getting ready to bloom, and birds are fluttering about in that way that tells us spring is almost here.
This time of year also motivates many of us to start our spring cleaning. After all, it’s the perfect weather to get out and clean up the yard or empty that pile of junk out of the garage that you’ve been meaning to get to for a year (no judgment here, I’m speaking from personal experience).
When it comes to your business, spring cleaning can also apply to your marketing collateral. Since you’re already in cleanout mode, it’s the perfect time to audit and refresh things like your website, blog, and email campaigns.
For the next couple of weeks, I’ll be sharing a series of blog posts with tips on cleaning up each of these areas. This will help you ensure your content is all as up-to-date, helpful, and effective as possible.
We’ll start the series by with how to review and update your website content. This post will cover:
Auditing your website content
Improving your keyword strategy
Focusing on location-specific content
Adding fresh content
Updating and optimizing visuals
By the time we’re done, you’ll be feeling as satisfied with your content as you did after cleaning out your basement!
1. Auditing Your Content
The first thing you should do is take inventory of all of your website pages. If you have a particularly large website, you can use a tool like the Screaming Frog SEO Spider, which crawls website URLs to analyze and audit both technical and on-page search engine optimization (SEO).
If you are a small business owner with a basic website, however, you can simply compile all of your pages with details like URLs, meta titles, and meta descriptions in a spreadsheet. Make a column for notes so that you can document any issues or updates that need to be made.
The main items to check and questions to ask as you audit your website content include:
Site pages: Are there any irrelevant, outdated, or broken pages?
Links: Are they all loading and directing properly? Are there any 404s or other errors?
Visuals and other elements: Are all images, videos, other properties functioning properly?
As you review all of your site content, keep in mind both user experience and SEO.
What is the average visitor’s experience like when he or she lands on your homepage?
Are they able to easily find all of the important info they’re searching for?
Are your pages ranking for the appropriate keywords?
Is there an opportunity to rank for new, low-competition search terms?
Use these questions as a checklist as you analyze each page. Once you take inventory of your website’s properties, you can start determining where to focus your cleanup efforts.
2. Editing Readability
Your customer’s experience on your site is most important. It may be your first impression with many of your customers. If your site is easy to navigate and quickly provides them with valuable information, the rest will follow (i.e., increased traffic, leads, and conversions). That’s why readability is so important.
Start by pasting the text of each page into a Word or Google doc and read through plain copy. Read it aloud—you may feel funny at first, but this seriously helps. Reading your content on a plain doc without distractions plus reading it out loud will help you determine if you’re getting your message across clearly and concisely.
Obviously, one of the first things you’ll do is look for errors to edit and ensure all information is up-to-date. Check things like your company’s contact info, products and/or services, about page, and team/employee info. This is the easy part.
Readability is much more than fixing typos and errors, though. You’ll want to evaluate how easy it is to understand the content on your website. Most people read at somewhere between a 7th and 9th-grade reading level. You can check this by using a readability tool like Readable.
As you review your content, questions to ask include:
Does it provide value to your customers by showing the benefits?
Does it answer their questions?
Does the tone accurately reflect your brand and industry?
If you find your site has a lot of long blocks of content, break them up into shorter sections. Use headers, subheaders, lists, and shorter sentences and paragraphs. Remember that much of your audience is reading on their phones or tablets with limited time. Make sure your main takeaway is easy for them to absorb even if they’re skimming. Remove fluff copy and anything that doesn’t add value to your site visitors.
Finally, look for keyword stuffing. Worry about the flow of your content and the reader experience rather than how many keywords you can fit in each section. Simply put, write for humans. Believe it or not, if you do, you’ll make Google happy, too. Content that isn’t reader-friendly and includes keyword stuffing can lead to higher bounce rates, which in turn leads to lower rankings and traffic.
This might require removing some keywords but will help with your site’s SEO in the long run. After editing your web content, ask a friend, use a readability tool, or hire a copy editor to review it—or even a combination of all three. Getting some outside perspective is key when evaluating your content’s quality and effectiveness.
3. Improving Your Keyword Strategy
We already talked about avoiding keyword stuffing. You should also focus on different keywords for each page to avoid cannibalization (i.e., when separate pages on your own website compete with each other in the search results). You don’t want this to happen!
Consider a person’s intent when she searches for your business, the product, or the service you offer. What is she hoping to find, and what are her likely next steps?
Choose one to two main keywords for each page, preferably longtail search terms (three to four words) with low competition. The lower the competition, the easier it will be for your site to rank higher. Although these may not have a very high search volume, you will end up with more targeted and qualified visitors.
Then, include these keywords in the right places:
Headers and subheaders
Sparingly throughout the copy
I could go on forever about keyword strategy, but for the sake of time and length, I’ll end this here with the basics. A full SEO and keyword strategy guide will have to wait for a future blog post!
4. Adding Fresh Content
Another important way to continuously improve your site’s SEO is to add fresh content regularly. Now that you’ve reviewed your website’s existing pages, are there any holes? Do you get frequent questions from customers, or have a particularly complex product that you could discuss more in-depth?
Below are a few ideas of pages you could add if you don’t already have them:
FAQ Page: Google has increasingly favored question-based searches, so adding a page with specific questions your customers are asking could have great results.
Specific Service/Product Pages: Do you offer any special service or products that set you apart from your competitors? Does your business have some kind of authorization, certification, or partnership with a very reputable organization? These could be unique selling points worth highlighting on their own pages. For example, marketing agency Impact is a HubSpot Diamond Partner Agency and was named the HubSpot Agency Partner for 2017 & 2018. Impact created a separate page to explain what this means and help potential clients understand why they can trust them.
Tips and Helpful Resources: Do you provide a complex service or product? Are you in an industry like home improvement? There could be a lot of opportunities for you to provide helpful and educational resources for your customers. Think seasonal tips or ideas to help customers save time and money.
Blog: If you don’t already have one, a blog is the best way to regularly add fresh content to your site and boost SEO. I discuss auditing your business blog in much more detail in Part 2 of the Spring Cleaning series!
Spring cleaning your website is the perfect time to establish a content strategy that entails adding fresh content on a regular basis. Just be sure that the info you’re adding provides more value to your audience; don’t simply add fluffy pages for the sake of content.
5. Focusing on Location-specific Content
Location-specific content could be another great addition to your site for SEO purposes. There are several ways you can target location-based audiences, though, so this one gets its own section.
Start by optimizing your homepage for the main location. In addition to mentioning it in the copy on the page, you should include the city and state in your title tags and headings.
Does your business have multiple locations? Any local business should target their geographical areas to attract the right traffic. This doesn’t mean you have to go crazy with hundreds of location pages. It only applies if you have a physical presence in each location, and even then, you don’t need a page for every town or city you’re in. If you have many locations, create landing pages that target the most relevant nearby areas that make sense.
If you’re looking for a lot more detail and ready to dive into your website’s local SEO, check out this amazing guide from Ahrefs.
6. Updating & Optimizing Visuals
When evaluating your website content strategy, there’s more to consider than just the copy! Take inventory of your company’s photos, videos, and other graphics that exist on your site.
Remove outdated photos and graphics and update them with fresh visuals. This will help your brand appear current and professional. If you rely on the same images too long, they’ll start to get stale with your audience. Video typically has a longer shelf life, but you’ll still want to make sure the info in any filmed content is accurate.
These elements are also important when it comes to your SEO. Search engines favor high-quality images, graphics, and videos, so make sure your visuals are as clean and professional as possible. This doesn’t mean you need high production value for every piece of creative, but make sure they are clear and avoid grainy, low-res images and videos.
On the same token, avoid using huge photos and files that will slow down your site. Compress any large photos. This will increase your site load speed, which will, in turn, make Google happy.
You’ll also want to optimize files on your site with titles, alt tags, and descriptive file names. This means adding a main keyword in each of these fields. All of this will help you score brownie points when search engines crawl and rank your website.
Perform an Effective Website Content Audit
It will take you some time, but reviewing, cleaning, and refreshing your website content each year will help you stay in Google’s good graces. Besides, stale content can actually have a negative impact on your site’s ranking. So freshen it up this spring by following these tips!
Ok, so there's a bit more to it than this...
It doesn't stop there! Next, learn how to audit your blog and how you can keep seeing results even from older blog posts.