You know the feeling — leaves budding on the trees, flowers popping up out of a thawing ground, birds chirping in the trees — the feeling of spring! And with spring also comes spring cleaning.
Your spaces are beckoning to get organized and cleaned out in order to work better for you. But it can be hard to get started when you’re faced with such a massive task.
But if you make a plan, carve out some time on your calendar, and take that first step, your motivation will grow as you make progress. Before you know it, you’ll have clean shelves and organized piles of items to keep, fix, or give away.
Do you ever feel like this when you think about auditing your old content? If organizing your archives feels as daunting as tackling a messy garage, you’re not alone!
Your readers’ needs and search interests are constantly evolving so it’s important to regularly assess your existing content and make sure it’s still working for you.
We’re here to help you make those “keep”, “fix”, and “give away” piles for your posts and create an action plan for optimizing your content.
The median performance audit strategy
There are a lot of ways to perform a content audit — one strategy we recommend is looking at your content’s performance in terms of your median performance metrics.
Look at the data for all of your posts and determine what the median performance looks like. You can use any metric, but our suggestion is to look at Google Search Console’s search ranking data.
In your Google Search Console account, find the Performance report and export of all your site’s pages and their average search position. Sort that list by highest to lowest position, and find the post that’s right in the middle. If that post has an average search ranking of 25, that’s now your benchmark for success.
Once you have your median data point, you can start separating your posts into performance buckets and keep track of them using a spreadsheet or the content planning tool of your choice! You can designate your posts above the median as your top performers, and everything below as your poor performers.
Auditing your top performers
Now that you’ve identified your top performing content, it’s time to separate those posts into a “Maintain” or “Improve” bucket.
The “Maintain” bucket
First, find your crème de la crème content — those pages that are working well for you in a number of different ways!
You can and should leave these alone. Even making minor tweaks like changing the title or keywords within the post could affect your search rankings. Let them continue working hard for you!
A post might belong in the “Maintain” bucket if:
- It sits near the top of Google search results
- It has high time-on-page and/or low bounce rate
- It has lots of quality backlinks
- It generates a lot of traffic to your site — pageviews are consistently high
- It earns well
Take a moment to admire these posts and give them a much-deserved gold star!
Schedule a time on your content calendar to check in on these top performers regularly to make sure they continue to do well over time.
If performance starts to fall, you can move the post to the “Improve” bucket and make a plan to optimize the content. Just make sure to take into account any seasonality or other factors that are out of your control.
The “Improve” bucket — aka your golden opportunities
Golden opportunity posts are those that consistently perform above your median data point but also have room to level up and perform even better to bring immense value to your business.
Your post might fall into the “Improve” bucket if:
- It’s falling just short of coveted higher positions in Google search rankings (for example: if the post is currently ranking in the 4th, 5th, or 6th position for a keyword and you want to go for positions 1–3)
- It’s received lots of quality backlinks
- It has low RPM but high traffic
- It has low traffic but a high RPM
- There’s an opportunity to expand and provide richer information — like a brief history on the content or a list of best practices, etc.
- You see ways to increase readers’ time-on-page
- The image or video strategy could be expanded to engage readers with a variety of media
- Your post is missing valuable information that a competitor’s post contains on the same subject matter
With strategic optimizations, the posts in your “Improve” bucket can become crème de la crème content, too! You’ll get a lot of bang for your buck by putting a little more time and effort into these posts. Read to the end of this post for our suggestions on how to optimize your content!
Auditing your poor performers
Now let’s take a look at the other end of the spectrum and audit your posts that aren’t performing up to that median data point — your newly-minted success benchmark.
For these posts, is there a way to optimize them to drive more traffic and revenue or are they not worth spending time and resources on?
Separate these posts into an “Optimize” or “Abandon” bucket.
The “Optimize” bucket
These are those posts that you want to save — you love the content and believe there is enough audience interest to make it worth spending time on improvements.
A post might go into the “Optimize” bucket if:
- It’s received some quality backlinks
- It has a decent ranking in Google search results
- There’s strong audience engagement verified by consistent traffic in Google Analytics
- Time-on-page is average
- Bounce rate is low
- It has a decent RPM but low traffic
- It gets decent traffic but has a low RPM
- It has moderate or low overall earnings
Like your “Improve” bucket posts, these can also benefit greatly from making optimizations. You’ll find our suggestions for improvements to make at the end of this post!
The “Abandon” bucket
You may decide that some of your poor performers are just not worth spending time on, and these can go into the “Abandon” bucket. These posts are likely to be the absolute bottom performers and ones that you don’t want to workshop anymore.
Posts might belong in the “Abandon” bucket if:
- The page is very thin and offers minimal value to your site visitors
- It’s off-topic for your site
- It’s not as well written as your other content or not as original
- It hasn’t received any backlinks
- It has very low rankings in Google
- It gets little or no traffic
- It has low time-on-page and/or high bounce rate
- It has a low RPM
- It gets low or no overall earnings
You may opt to prune some of the content in your “Abandon” bucket by archiving or redirecting to a more comprehensive post on the same topic, but proceed with caution and, ideally, expert guidance.
Check out HashtagJeff’s guide on dealing with old, outdated, thin, or duplicate content (AdThrive publishers have free access).
Find new content opportunities
While you’re taking the time to look closely at all of your existing content, you may spot some areas where you can expand and share more expertise on a topic. Now is a great time to make plans for new content to support the existing content you’re updating.
The “Iterations” bucket
Scour your existing content to get ideas for the “Iterations” bucket — topics where you’ve established some expertise already and can build out your authority further.
Posts might fall into the “Iterations” bucket if:
- You see “topic cluster” opportunities. Can you create new posts on subtopics that delve further into a parent topic you already have great authority on?
- You have a lot of posts that share common themes and you could create a post to go for a parent keyword that would tie them all together.
The “New Content” bucket
Ready to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard? To find new content ideas, ask:
- What’s trending on social media or in the news that I’m not covering on my site?
- Do I have content gaps on my site?
- What other areas of expertise do I want to claim for my brand?
After you’ve identified some new ideas, validate interest with keyword research and see if you can build out a topic cluster with the idea. Use the insights gained during your content audit of what works well for your site to optimize your post from the get-go to save time down the road in your next performance audit!
Optimize your posts
Now that you’ve got your content organized — way to go, that’s no easy feat! — it’s time to actually make those improvements so you can reap the benefits of all your hard work.
But “how to optimize?” is the question!
At this step, it’s crucial to understand how tweaking published content can affect your Google search rankings.
Thankfully, AdThrivers have free access to the SEO Mastermind Course by expert Jeff Hawley, aka HashtagJeff, where he’s got a ton of in-depth resources and recommendations for how to successfully optimize old content for success. (And if you’re an AdThriver and haven’t joined the course yet, what are you waiting for? Sign up here!)
For your content that’s NOT risky to update, because it’s not currently performing well in Google search, here’s a handy checklist of simple optimizations:
We create tons of publisher-exclusive resources like this for our community, so if you aren’t part of our awesome network of publishers yet, we’d love to hear from you!