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How to Audit Your Website and Content using Google Analytics

This blog post is a condensed summary of key points that were discussed in Synup’s webinar titled How to Audit Your Website and Content using Google Analytics, featuring Andy Crestodina and Varsha Vishwanathan. Click here to view the full webinar.

As bloggers, business owners, and digital marketers, what we all have in common is that we create content. We spend hours brainstorming topics to write, creating compelling content that is worth sharing, and coming up with ways to promote it. Unfortunately, after spending so much effort and time on the content, we often never go back to it again.

The phrase “Content Audit” has become something that strikes fear in the hearts of even the most experienced marketers and bloggers. As time-consuming and cumbersome as they might be, content audits improve the performance and quality of your content. This, consequentially, contributes to better organic rankings and conversions, and for this very reason, content audits need to be a regular part of your SEO and content marketing process.

Before we dive into the specifics of it, let’s take a closer look at the different ways in which you can improve your website’s content.

Evolution vs Revolution

When a brand goes for a complete redesign, rebranding, or a relaunch, we call it a revolutionary change. This kind of change gives your website and your content a big boost all in one go.

However, when changes and improvements are made to the content gradually over time, the changes can be deemed as evolutionary in nature.

Here’s a graphical representation of what we just spoke about.

The red line denotes a revolutionary change, while the blue one represents evolutionary improvements.

Now, if you’re wondering which type of change your business needs to adopt and implement to improve your content, the answer is, “Whatever works”. There are marketers that make changes that contribute to a 10x improvement, and there are teams that work on making iterative changes that help improve performance by 10%

Here are a couple of things to note, however. While “revolutionary” changes like doing a website relaunch make a big difference to your SEO and content’s impact, you can’t make these changes frequently, since they require a huge investment in terms of time, resources, and effort. A healthy mix of both types of improvements will probably work best for your business, especially if you have an in-house team working on your Marketing efforts, but that choice is entirely up to you.

Now, where do you start when it comes to a content audit?

#1: The Google Content Audit

Every audit needs to begin with an understanding of the size and shape of the website. The easiest way is to do this is actually by running a simple Google search. Use the search operator “site” followed by a colon and type in your domain name on Google. This will immediately show you the relative size of your website (according to Google).

Most of the time, this is not an accurate number, because the results will only show the pages that are indexed and will not reflect the URLs that are not in the form of pages. But that’s alright. You can always expand on this primary investigation with more filters. For example, to know if there are any PDFs on the side, just add “filetype:PDF” to the search query.

People add PDFs to websites as they’re easier to make compared to an HTML page

but this is not a good practice. So make sure everything that’s available as a PDF on the website is also available on web pages. PDFs might be a useful and alternate form of content, but should never be the only source of content on your website, because it’s very difficult to track analytics and usage metrics on PDFs, unlike HTML web pages.

You can further measure the size of your website by checking out the subdomains that are available on the website.

While Google doesn’t do a particularly great job of giving you this information, there are other free tools that can help you assess the content available under subdomains on websites. You can learn more about this in this video.

Make sure you have Google Analytics set up on these subdomains as well to make sure you track the visits and traffic that these subdomains are receiving. Beyond this, you can also run an audit of the tools a website is using with Ghostery, BuiltWith and Google Tag Manager.

#2 Discovering Your Top Performing Pages

Another way to audit your website is by looking at the top performing pages on Moz. This is more of an SEO tracking activity, as the ranking potential of a page is connected to the number of links to that page’s domain. These are the most important web pages on your website, since they are high-authority pages that contribute to a significant amount of your website’s traffic and performance, usually.

What to do with your high-authority URLs?

  • DO NOT MOVE THEM
  • …And if you do (new CMS?) create a 301 redirect for each
  • If they’re articles and they rank, but not well, rewrite that article!
  • Link from these to other pages that rank, but not well

How to check the performance of your navigation

Once you have your Google Analytics set up, go to your homepage click on to ‘behavior’ reports and you’ll see – Acquisition, Behavior, and Conversions.

  1. Click on “Behavior section”
  2. Click on “All Pages”
  3. Click on “Navigation Summary”
  4. Select the page you want to analyze (on default “homepage” is selected)

The Navigation Summary report allows you to select a particular page and see how people are discovering and visiting the page, and where they go next on your website from that page. In essence, it gives you a ‘before’ and ‘after’ snapshot of your content. You can check out Andy explaining this in this video here.

It is interesting to find out how visitors actually navigate on your site, and how the clicks are distributed over different areas. You can discover which internal links get the most clicks.

#3 Pages That Aren’t Top Performers

When you’re going about the exercise that we mentioned above, you’re bound to find some pages that aren’t really performing or converting well on your website. Now, what do you do with them?

What to do with low performing navigation items:

  • Are they important and descriptive? Maybe they’re fine.
  • Rename them
  • Remove them

Here are a few common mistakes you could be making that are driving potential customers to a bad web page:

  • You have poor or no content

Imagine arriving at a website and there’s nothing there. All you have is a picture or two and a few words, but nothing descriptive or informative. Are you going to stick around? No way. You need to capture your visitors’ interest and provide them with what they want.

  • Your page lacks clear direction

Your web page should either have an easy-to-find search box which will allow visitors’ to quickly search for what they’re exactly looking for. Or clear headings that communicated what kind of content visitors’ can expect to see in every section.

There are other user analytic tools like Hotjar, that can even tell you which of the two items on your page gets clicked the most.

#4 The Content Marketing Audit

When we talk content marketing, we’re talking about the informative and educational content that is available on your website in the form of resources, blogs, webinars, and video, etc.

When you go to Google Analytics, there is an ‘All Pages’ report, that will show you the value of all the pages, as long as you have a goal set up with a specific value assigned. Check out the webinar to know more in detail.

Adding value to each of your pages will help you understand which web page is getting you most returns, and that visitors to that page have stronger intent. But sometimes the ‘all pages’ report might be misleading, as the numbers might be the top clicked pages after a visitor has already arrived on the website, and not through search.

Therefore, one of the most impactful reports in Google Analytics is the ‘landing page’ report under Acquisition → Search Console. Using the Landing Pages report, you can find out which pages are earning the most traffic on your website. You can also understand how well they convert visitors into leads as well.

This will give you an idea of the pages that are performing the best – some get much more traffic than the others, and some are better in improving conversions. As a marketer, blogger or a business owner one needs to keep track of this, or you will never get the desired results from your content marketing strategy, otherwise. It’s like not knowing which players in a team are the best.

What to do with these traffic champions?

  • Add CTAs: Link to product/service pages
  • Add CTAs: “Related Articles” with high CTR headlines
  • Add CTAs: “Related Articles” with high conversion rates
  • Add a video
  • Write the adjacent article

Now, how do you find your potential traffic champion?

On the dashboard under Search Console, you can find ‘Queries’. Through this you can find all of the pages that are ranking on top and how are they performing. You can all gather all your keyword data from Search Console.

If you want to know what’s ranking on the search engine’s second column and so on, you’ll need to add the ‘Advanced’ filter.

Once you’ve identified the keyword phrases that you’re web page is ranking for, you can mold your content marketing campaign accordingly. Keyword research not only helps you identify competitive opportunities and trending topics, but also helps you expand on those topics.

To know more about keyword phrases and other alternatives to check the phrases your website is ranking for, you can checkout the full recording here.

What to do with potential traffic champs?

  • Rewrite and Relaunch: Add detail, length, answers & video
  • Rewrite and Relaunch: Improve the keyword focus
  • Build a link! Write a related guest post, link back

Keep a track of your current ranking – your falling stars

In your Google Analytics dashboard make a segment for ‘organic traffic’ under ‘Behavior’—> Site Content —> Landing Pages.

Then choose the date range that you want to compare and analyze. That’ll show you at a glance which page has declining traffic.

What to do with falling stars?

Same as the potential traffic champions!

  • Rewrite and Relaunch: Add detail, length, answers & video
  • Rewrite and Relaunch: Improve the keyword focus
  • Build a link! Write a related guest post, link back

Updating your old content can boost your ranking. Therefore, if you’re only publishing new content without analyzing the previous ones, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity. Your old content pieces will eventually experience drops in performance.

#5 Mousetraps and Conversion Rates

Mousetraps are browser tricks that keep visitors engrossed in a site, with a number of traffic-exchange banners, pay-per-click links, and repeated pop-up windows.

The best way to find this is through ‘Reverse Goal Path’ – this report shows the pages that visitors were on just before they converted and the total number of conversions for each.

If you are using Reverse Goal Path to monitor your website’s performance, it’s better if you create a Google Analytics Goal for your ‘Thank You” page.

To find out the conversion rate, you will need to go back to you ‘all pages’ report, to see the number of views on those pages. So we have the total conversions in one report and the unique pageviews in another.

Total conversions / pageviews = conversion rate.

You can calculate the conversion rate using Google Analytics and Google Sheets.

Step 1:  Get the Google Analytics add-on on Google Sheets

Step 2:  Create a new report for “Conversions”

Step 3:  Create a new report for “Pageviews”

Step 4:  Run the reports

Step 5:  Start a new tab for the final report

Step 6:  Get in the data

Step 7:  Match the pages using a ‘VLOOKUP’

Step 8:  Calculate the conversion rate!

You can check out the step-by-step explanation here.

You now have a fair idea of how to go about running a basic content audit, figuring out you top-performing pages, and calculating your content’s conversion rate. All that remains is expanding on the knowledge that you’ve gained to improve your website’s content and SEO to rank better and improve your website conversions!

Running a content audit will help improve the overall performance of your website, and though it might be time-consuming, it’s definitely worth it.

Do you have more tips and suggestions for running a content audit? Let us know in the comments below.

 

Varsha Vishwanathan

I am Varsha, the Community Manager at Synup. Following and talking to journalists and influencers is not just a part of my job, but something I genuinely love! I cook to de-stress, and good music and dance gets me going; love drama, and secretly wish I was an actor.

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