Easy methods to Do a Content material Audit and Increase Your Natural Site visitors [Template Included]

Final 12 months, we did a content material audit and deleted 31.7% of the posts on the Ahrefs weblog.

So did visitors fall by 31.7%? Under no circumstances.

Two months after we deleted 48 weblog posts, estimated natural visitors to the remaining posts rose from 65,834 to 70,816 visits monthly.

That’s 7.57% extra visitors, in 60 days, with ~⅓ much less content material.


These numbers exclude visitors to new weblog posts printed throughout that interval. There have been additionally no reported main algorithm updates throughout that point.

And we’re not the one ones this has labored for…

Siege Media noticed a ~50% visitors improve for one among their purchasers after chopping ~15% of the content material from the positioning.  

siege media content audit

Equally, Robbie Richards noticed a 79% improve for one among his purchasers.

robbie richards audit traffic increase

And our very personal Sam Oh deleted 74% of content material on his web site and noticed natural visitors improve by over 80%.

He explains extra on this video:


On this submit, I’ll present you the way to carry out a content material audit, and the way to automate the majority of the method.

What’s a content material audit?

A content material audit is the place you analyze the efficiency of all content material in your website to find out whether or not it must be saved as‐is, up to date, deleted, consolidated, or redirected.

The consequence? A more healthy website with fewer underperforming low‐high quality pages.

It’s the web equal of a spring clear. You’re eliminating something and every little thing you don’t want and freshening up the place on your guests—and Google.

Right here’s one of many posts we deleted from the Ahrefs weblog:

old ahrefs blog post

Not solely was this submit 2–three years outdated, it additionally provided little to no worth to guests at simply 271 phrases.

That doubtless explains why it received no natural visitors.

Natural visitors graph by way of Ahrefs Web site Explorer

Deleting ~⅓ of the content material on our weblog led to no negatives in any way—solely positives.

However I do know what you’re pondering: “who’s to say all this isn’t only a coincidence?”  

In case you’re making an effort to audit your website’s content material—which might be time-consuming—then you have to care about your web site and thus, are nearly actually concerned in different advertising actions.

Who’s to say that these actions aren’t the actual reason for the rise in visitors?

That’s a superb query. Correlation ≠ causation. So let’s take a look at the proof.

Right here’s what John Mueller needed to say when requested if low‐high quality pages on a website can have an effect on a website’s total authority:

From my viewpoint, for those who’re conscious of low‐high quality pages in your web site, then that’s one thing I’d attempt to repair and discover a resolution to, be that both eradicating these pages for those who actually can’t change them or, in the perfect case, discovering a technique to make them much less low‐high quality and truly making them helpful, good pages in your website.

John Mueller

There’s additionally the difficulty of crawl finances to consider.

Crawl finances is a time period invented by the website positioning business to point quite a few associated ideas and programs that engines like google use when deciding what number of pages, and which pages, to crawl. It’s mainly the eye that engines like google will give your web site.

Right here’s what Google says about that:

In response to our evaluation, having many low‐worth‐add URLs can negatively have an effect on a website’s crawling and indexing.

My opinion? Except you might have 1000’s of pages in your web site, crawl finances doubtless isn’t one thing price plenty of your consideration. Nonetheless, pruning content material and decreasing the variety of pages Google must crawl is unlikely to be a foul factor.

In case you’re interested in how Google crawls your web site, check out the crawl stats within the outdated model of Google Search Console.

Search Console > Crawl > Crawl stats

crawl stats gsc


Many issues have an effect on crawl finances in addition to low‐high quality content material.

Easy methods to do a content material audit

Right here’s a simplified flowchart of the fundamental choice‐making course of we used to do our content material audit:

You need to use to do a content material audit manually on a web page‐by‐web page foundation.

Understand that you’ll want entry to analytics knowledge and Ahrefs—or one other technique to examine web page‐stage backlinks—to do that.

Let’s run by an instance.

Right here, we now have our checklist of 75 website positioning ideas.

The very first thing I used to be to do is to examine whether or not the web page will get “a significant stage of visitors” in Google Analytics. You may select no matter threshold you want for “significant” visitors.

I’ll preserve issues easy for this instance and say that if the web page has averaged one customer per day for the previous 12 months, then that constitutes significant visitors.

Let’s check out visitors to this web page for a 12‐month interval.

seo tips analytics

That simply meets our threshold of at the very least one customer per day on common.

Following the flowchart logic, the following step is to examine if a superb quantity of that visitors comes from natural search.

organic traffic

It does.

So the advice for this web page is fairly simple: “Go away as is (200).” No must delete, redirect, and so forth.

Right here’s the way to cope with the opposite three attainable outcomes:

Redirect (301) or Replace

This advice happens when:

  • The web page will get no significant visitors from any supply;
  • Has at the very least one adopted backlink.

However which is the proper possibility to decide on? Redirect, or replace?

To an extent, that comes down to non-public choice.

Nonetheless, John Mueller did say this:

There are two approaches to truly tackling this [low‐quality content]. On the one hand, you possibly can enhance your content material—and from my viewpoint, for those who can enhance your content material, that’s most likely the perfect method attainable as a result of then you might have one thing actually helpful in your web site and also you’re offering one thing helpful for the online basically…

John Mueller

So for those who can, your greatest guess is to replace and enhance your content material somewhat than delete it and redirect it elsewhere. If it doesn’t make sense to do this, there’s no downside with eradicating the content material and redirecting (301) to a different related web page.

You may additionally want to merge and consolidate low‐high quality posts with different excessive‐high quality posts.

For instance, once we did our content material audit, we compiled any worthwhile factors from these three outdated articles…


… after which created a brand new full information to disavowing hyperlinks, to which we redirected these posts.

My recommendation? If the web page or submit targets a worthwhile key phrase with first rate natural visitors potential—and is said to your corporation targets—then you must replace somewhat than redirecting elsewhere. This may occasionally give it a lift within the SERPs and produce extra natural visitors to your web site.

How do we all know? Throughout our content material audit final 12 months, we observed that natural visitors to our checklist of the high 100 Google searches was dwindling.

As this web page targets a superb key phrase—”high Google searches,” with three.5K month-to-month searches within the US—we determined to replace and enhance it somewhat than redirecting elsewhere.

Right here’s the results of our efforts:

top google searches update

Due to the content material audit, we had been capable of perceive what plan of action to take with this web page.

The consequence after bettering? ~500% extra natural visitors.

Delete (404)

This advice happens when the web page:

  • Will get no significant visitors from any supply;
  • Has zero adopted backlinks.

Make sense? If the web page will get no visitors and has no backlinks, you could as effectively delete it.

That is 100% true. Nonetheless, once we did our content material audit, we made certain to redirect any deleted pages—even when they didn’t have backlinks—to a different related web page on our web site.

For instance, we deleted this web page…


… then redirected it to the weblog homepage.

Why? As a result of not solely was this submit outdated and outdated, however we additionally realized that the subject didn’t align with our enterprise targets. There’s no level in us having a submit about social media as a result of that’s not our enterprise—we offer website positioning instruments.

That is extra about enjoying it secure than something.

Though the submit had no backlinks on the time, we didn’t need simply to delete it.

It at all times pays to be cautious when making modifications—particularly important modifications like deleting content material.

Manually evaluate

This advice happens when the web page:

  • Will get first rate visitors.
  • Has little (if any) visitors from natural search.

It’s right here the place issues get a bit extra sophisticated as there are a number of potential actions to take:

  1. Go away as is: Is the web page extremely related to your corporation? Maybe it’s a core web page in your website and earns income. If that’s the case, depart the web page as it’s.
  2. ‘Noindex’: In uncommon instances, you could want to preserve visitors from different sources however don’t want the web page to be listed. This could occur whenever you’re cut up‐testing touchdown pages, for instance. Clear up this by including a ‘noindex’ tag to the web page. Be aware. All the time take warning earlier than selecting an possibility like this. Don’t do it except you understand what you’re doing.
  3. Replace: Your web page clearly has some worth; it wouldn’t be getting visitors from elsewhere in any other case. The difficulty might merely be that it isn’t optimized for a related key phrase with first rate search quantity. Verify to see if there’s a greater key phrase for which to optimize the web page. If that’s the case, there’s an opportunity to get extra visitors from natural search.
  4. Redirect (301) and/or consolidate: Do you have already got the same web page in your website that will get natural visitors? It might make sense to redirect this web page to that web page. In case your web page has some backlinks, this course of may also consolidate all “hyperlink fairness” into one place and probably assist increase the opposite web page within the SERPs.

Which brings me to an necessary level:

You must by no means delete or redirect a web page with out first manually reviewing it—it doesn’t matter what the flowchart says.

Failure to do this may end up in some nasty website positioning fake pas, comparable to deleting your “contact” or “phrases of service” web page as a result of it has no visitors or backlinks. That’s not a web page you need to delete no matter how poorly it performs.

Easy methods to automate the content material audit course of [template included]

The issue with the guide course of above is that it’s very time‐consuming.

When you’ve got a small website, it’s not an excessive amount of of a problem. However for those who’re working with tons of or 1000’s of pages, it’s going to be tough.

The answer? Automation.

Sam Oh and I’ve created a Google Sheets template that handles a lot of the heavy lifting on this course of. All it’s worthwhile to do is pull in your knowledge, and it’ll chill one thing like this:

content audit template suggested actions

This template successfully runs by the automatable elements within the flowchart for every web page in your web site and returns a really useful plan of action. Fairly cool.

fast word

The content material audit we did for the Ahrefs weblog pulled in a number of different knowledge factors, particularly the publish date and phrase depend of every submit. Nonetheless, getting that data right into a spreadsheet might be tough. So we left it out of this template.

Be happy to edit the sheet and add in if wanted.

Comply with the directions under to learn to use this sheet to audit your web site.

Step 1. Make a replica of the template (IMPORTANT!)

Earlier than you do anything, it’s worthwhile to make a replica of the content material audit template in your Google Drive. You can’t edit the template straight—that can damage it for others.

To make a replica, click on right here to open up the template.

Then go to File > Make a replica.

make a copy google drive

Select a reputation for the sheet and put it aside in your Google Drive.

That’s it. Achieved.

Step 2. Import an inventory of the pages in your web site

Earlier than the template can work its magic, it’s worthwhile to provide it with some knowledge.

The primary piece of information is an inventory of all of the pages in your web site.

The simplest technique to get a replica‐pastable checklist is by scraping the URLs out of your sitemap. So discover your sitemap (that is nearly at all times at yourdomain.com/sitemap.xml), then use the Scraper Chrome extension to extract the URLs.

Right here’s the XPath you want: //a[contains(@href,’yourdomain.com')]

Exchange the area along with your area. E.g., //a[contains(@href,’theseoproject.org')]

scraper sitemap

Copy to clipboard. Then paste into the sheet labeled ‘Sitemap’ within the template.

IMPORTANT: When you’ve got different pages in several sitemaps, like a class or video sitemap, then you could need to add these too.

When you’ve got hassle with that methodology and also you’re utilizing WordPress, attempt this plugin.

Nonetheless having hassle and never utilizing WordPress? Run a full audit of your website in Ahrefs Web site Audit. As soon as full, go to Knowledge Explorer, replicate these filters, then export the report:

data explorer filters site audit


The “is indexable web page” half is non-compulsory. It’s possible you’ll want to neglect this filter for those who’re fearful about rogue ‘noindex’ tags in your website hindering your website positioning efforts.

Whichever methodology you find yourself utilizing, paste the ensuing checklist of URLs into the sitemap sheet.

Step three. Import analytics knowledge

Subsequent—import analytics knowledge.

To do that, log in to your Google Analytics and select the positioning you’re auditing.

Go to Behaviour > Web site Content material > All pages

all pages ga

Select an applicable date vary—I like to recommend the final 12 months.

Why 12 months? As a result of that provides us a superb timeframe to grasp how effectively every web page is performing. Nonetheless, this can be a private choice. You can select an extended or shorter interval for those who really feel that’s needed for no matter cause.

Subsequent, add segmented natural visitors knowledge to the report.

Add section > Natural visitors

add segment analytics

Now, to exclude pages with URL parameters, you possibly can set a filter to exclude touchdown pages containing ?. This may weed out single web page visits that will have come from promoting campaigns, and so forth.

advanced url parameter filter


If you understand there are particular forms of pages that you simply don’t need to delete, redirect, or replace (e.g., pages with /class/ within the URL), you possibly can exclude these right here too.

exclude category

Lastly, select to point out the utmost variety of rows (5K). This provides you with all the information you want as long as your website has 5K pages or fewer.

5000 rows analytics

Export > CSV

Now: again to our template…

Click on on the GA tab. Go to File > Import… > Add > Drag and drop your GA visitors report right here. As soon as the file has uploaded, click on on “append to present sheet” and click on “okay.”

Step four. Import backlink knowledge

Subsequent up—it’s worthwhile to import backlink knowledge for every of the pages in your website. For this, you need to use the Finest by Hyperlinks report in Web site Explorer.

Web site Explorer > enter website > Finest by Hyperlinks > filter for HTTP standing code 200 > export > full report

best by links 200 filter

Import the exported CSV into the “Hyperlinks” tab within the Google Sheet identical to you probably did earlier than.

Don’t have entry to Ahrefs? One resolution is to make use of Google Search Console as a substitute.

Search Console > Hyperlinks > Prime linked pages > extra > Export > Obtain CSV

top linked pages

Import the CSV into the Hyperlinks tab. The template is sensible sufficient to grasp that it doesn’t have Ahrefs knowledge to work with and can fallback to utilizing GSC knowledge.

Simply understand that there’s one main draw back to not utilizing Ahrefs knowledge:

GSC doesn’t discriminate between adopted and nofollowed hyperlinks. 

Let’s say that you’ve got ten backlinks to an online web page and 9 of them occur to be nofollowed. The backlink knowledge from Google Search Console received’t inform you this whereas Ahrefs will.

Step 5. Assessment the suggestions and take motion!

This quick course of simply saved you hours and even days of labor. Verify this out.

In case you now go to the “Grasp” sheet, you’ll see your whole sitemap URLs, visitors stats, hyperlink stats, and instructed actions.

content audit template suggested actions

However earlier than you are taking these automated strategies as an website positioning motion plan, I need to reiterate a number of necessary factors:

Level #1: We didn’t embody something with ecommerce or purpose monitoring on this template. If that’s one thing that you simply need to add, be happy to.

Level #2: The instructed actions are exactly that—instructed actions primarily based on predetermined standards. For instance, in case your contact or about web page doesn’t have any hyperlinks or natural visitors, then it doesn’t imply that you must delete them.

Level #three: When you’ve got newly‐printed content material—i.e., content material printed within the final 6–12 months—then it’s worthwhile to give it a good likelihood to rank and get visitors. Don’t begin deleting or redirecting them immediately.

The vital level right here is to use some widespread sense and MANUALLY audit each web page earlier than taking motion.

I must also level out which you could modify the best way the template calculates suggestions do you have to so select. By that, I imply which you could simply modify the numbers to be a greater match on your wants primarily based in your tolerance ranges for eliminating pages.

For instance, by default, “significant visitors” is about at 365 guests per 12 months.

In case you’d like to extend that quantity, you possibly can improve the necessities within the desk on the “Begin right here” tab.


Step 6. Take away inner hyperlinks to any deleted or redirected pages

When you’ve gone by your pages and assigned actions, you’ll need to take away any inner hyperlinks to pages you deleted, and both take away or replace inner hyperlinks to pages you redirected.

You are able to do this fairly simply in Ahrefs Web site Audit. Simply run a crawl then go to:

Knowledge Explorer > URL > incorporates > deleted/redirected submit or web page slug

For instance, one of many pages we deleted was https://ahrefs.com/weblog/social-media-content-strategy/ so we’d enter the next in Knowledge Explorer:

site audit url contains

Subsequent, click on on the “No. of inlinks,” and also you’ll see all pages which might be internally linking to your filtered URL. From right here, it’s only a matter of executing your motion and making the on‐web page modifications throughout your website.

Closing ideas

Content material audits must be achieved recurrently. They assist preserve your website freed from low‐high quality content material that could be hindering your website positioning efforts.

Simply do not forget that though automation may also help with this course of, it’s no substitute for widespread sense and guide checks. You must by no means delete or redirect content material with out being certain that it’s the perfect plan of action. In different phrases, don’t take the automated suggestions in our template as gospel—at all times do your analysis!

Do you might have any suggestions for enhancements to our template? Tell us. 🙂

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