Content Marketing

How To Plan an SEO Content Analysis (With Templates)

CopyPress

Published: August 12, 2022

Most marketers put a strong focus on SEO when creating content to make sure it has the best chance of reaching the top of the SERPs. But once they start to scale content, they make the mistake of neglecting content performance over time. Today, we’re discussing how to plan an SEO content analysis to check the search health of your scaled content with topics like:

What Is an SEO Content Analysis?

An SEO content analysis is an audit process that lets you look at common SEO factors that affect content ranking and performance. It relies heavily on metrics and data to show whether each piece of content displays at peak performance. If a piece doesn’t, then the analysis can tell you what factors to address to see improvement. An analysis document helps you look at some of the biggest content issues that influence SEO performance, such as:

  • Content titles
  • Meta descriptions
  • Content headings
  • Images

You can run an SEO content analysis on any piece of content that appears in search engine results for your brand, including:

How To Plan Your SEO Content Analysis Document

Use these steps to plan your SEO content analysis document to streamline your data collection and comparison:

1. Create Content

white sheet of paper with pencil and pencil sharpener on tan table ready to plan an SEO content analysis

Image via Unsplash by @kellysikkema

You have to have content or, at a minimum, a content plan before you can do a content analysis. Without any pieces, do you really expect to see any results? If you already have a content repository, then you’re ready to plan your SEO analysis document. If you don’t, you must first make a content creation strategy, which includes the following steps:

  • Setting content goals
  • Understanding your customer’s pain points and needs
  • Researching relevant topics and keywords
  • Determining the right phase of the buyer’s journey for each piece
  • Picking your content type
  • Setting a content calendar
  • Finding high-quality research content, resources, and images
  • Writing and editing content
  • Publishing each piece

You don’t need to have written and published content to start your SEO analysis, but old pieces up for review and optimization have more data and metrics to track. This information gives you a control group you can compare content to as you update it. When you optimize content before publication, your control group metrics are always zero. That means you can track their growth over time, but you don’t have data to show content improvement.

2. Set Analysis Goals

Doing an analysis without a purpose is a waste of time. You might get a spreadsheet full of data and results, but if you don’t know why you’re doing the analysis, the figures won’t make sense. It’s helpful to align your analysis goals with other marketing benchmarks and key performance indicators (KPIs).

For example, if one of your marketing goals is to bring more organic traffic to your website, your analysis KPI might track increases in content conversion rates. Other objectives may include discovering which posts need updates or finding gaps in your content offerings.

3. Collect Informational Data

Informational data gives you the identifiers you need to find and review every piece of content that’s part of your analysis easily. This information tells you where content appears, how it looks on search engines, and what your audience sees when they encounter it online. When collecting this information, you’ll want to note the following in your document:

SERP Identifiers

SERP identifiers come from search engine crawls and appear along with your site listing in organic search results. These identifiers are also the information your audience sees when they conduct a query and the criteria on which they base their click choices. SERP identifiers to track include:

  • Content URL: Copy and paste the live URL into your document for easy access and reference to the content page.
  • SEO or meta title: Include the title exactly as it appears on the SERP. The SEO title may differ slightly from the content title.
  • Meta description: Include the full meta description that appears under your SEO title on the SERP.

On-Page Identifiers

The on-page identifiers include information that search engine bots use to understand the context of your content to index it properly. Readers also use this same information to understand the purpose of your content and to navigate your site. Some on-page identifiers for your document include:

  • Content title: Include the content title exactly as it appears in the title tag of the piece. This title may differ slightly in wording from your piece’s SEO title.
  • Internal link anchor text: Add the anchor text for every internal link in the piece.
  • Internal link URLs: Include the URL links to all additional internal assets to check for duplicate or missing content.
  • External link anchor text: Add the anchor text for every external link in your content.
  • External link URLs: Include the URL links to all externally linked assets to check for broken pathways.

Research Identifiers

Research identifiers come from the planning stages of your content marketing strategy and can help you determine if your content ranks for the right queries. You’ll also see where content meets the search intent of your audience. Some research identifiers to track include:

  • Seed keyword: Add the target seed keyword or phrase for any piece of content to make sure it ranks for the right queries.
  • Related keywords: Include any related target keywords relevant to the seed keyword. For example, if a seed keyword for a piece is “content marketing,” a related keyword phrase may be “content marketing definition.”
  • Stage of the funnel: Add the stage of the marketing funnel you’re targeting with each piece.
  • Featured snippet: Identify whether there’s a featured snippet for the target keyword or phrase for your piece.

Image Information

Image information helps determine if your media adds value to your content and is accessible to all readers. Some image information you’ll want to note in your document include:

  • Image title: Include the title name of each image on the page so you can find each one easier in your media library.
  • Image alt text: Add the alt text for each image to determine its descriptiveness and keyword inclusion.

Publication Information

Publication information tells you which content in your stack is the freshest and which pieces might benefit from an update. The most common publication information includes:

  • Publish date: Add the publication date of the content to determine which pieces are the newest. These may need more time to gather data to show the true extent of their SEO potential.
  • Date last modified: Add the most recent date you’ve updated the content with new material or other SEO changes.

4. Record Quantitative Data

Quantitative data includes all the numerical metrics you track to understand the performance of each piece of content. This information helps you decide which pieces perform best in SERPs and which ones need additional help to perform better. Most of this information you can pull from your current analytics programs and research tools. Consider some of the quantitative data points to cover:

Word and Character Count Metrics

Word counts and character counts ensure you leverage the space search engines give you for content descriptions. These counts also show you how meta descriptions and titles appear in SERPs, which is useful for making sure search engines don’t cut these descriptors short. Check out some of the metrics you’ll want to include in your analysis document:

  • Content title character count: Add the number of characters of the title as it appears in the title tag.
  • SEO or meta title character count: Include the number of characters in the SEO title. According to best practices, the count for this metric should be 60 characters or less to avoid getting cut off in the SERP listing.
  • Meta description character count: Include the character count of the meta description. To ensure searchers see the full description, keep this metric between 155 and 160 characters.
  • Content word count: Include the overall word count of a written piece or media transcript to compare the change in length before and after you make adjustments.

Keyword Metrics

These metrics tell you the potential and difficulty of your content ranking for a specific seed keyword. Some keyword metrics to record in your analysis document include:

  • Keyword volume: Include the keyword search volume to learn how many people search for any given target keyword. You can use keyword research tools like Ahrefs to find this information.
  • Keyword difficulty: Add the keyword ranking difficulty to learn how many backlinks you need to earn to rank on page one for a keyword. You can use keyword research tools to find this information.

SERP Performance Metrics

SERP performance metrics tell you how well your content performs on SERPs and which kind of traffic and viewership it generates for your brand. While this may also be the place to review any kind of paid search metrics, we’ve only included information about organic indicators in this guide. Some SERP performance metrics to add to your document include:

  • Organic page views: Include how many views each piece of content got from appearing in organic search.
  • Click-through rate (CTR): Record the average percentage of clicks your content receives from organic search results.
  • Average position on SERPs: Record the average placement of where each piece of content appears in SERP results for the target keyword. Use tools like Google Search Console to find this information.
  • Position zero: This metric lets you mark if your particular piece appears in position zero, or the featured snippet, for a given keyword.

Linking Metrics

Link metrics tell you more about your link profile and internal and external linking strategies for your content. Include key metrics like:

  • Backlinks: Include the number of backlinks to a particular piece of content on your website.
  • Unique backlinking websites: Record the number of unique websites that backlink to a specific piece of content.
  • Internal links: Add the number of internal links in your content that point to additional assets on your domain.
  • External links: Include the number of external links that point to resources outside your domain.

User Experience Metrics

User experience metrics give insight into how people interact with your content when they visit your website. These factors also show what technical features are holding content back from high SERP performance. Some UX metrics to track include:

  • Time on page: Record the average amount of time people spend browsing a specific page of content on your website. This tells search engines how informative or valuable readers find your content.
  • Bounce rate: Include the percentage of visitors who click on your content and leave immediately. A high bounce rate tells search engines that your content doesn’t match a user’s query or provide the right information.
  • Page load time: Add the average time it takes to load your content before a visitor can start browsing. Consider including separate categories for mobile and desktop load times.
  • Number of images: Include the number of images within each piece of content. Consider creating additional columns for the number of videos or interactive media assets, too.
  • Average read time: Note the average time it takes for visitors to read a single post on your site.

5. Review Qualitative Data

Though SEO relies heavily on metrics and numbers to help you make informed decisions about updating your content to rise in SERPs, numerical data isn’t the only information you can get. Quantitative data is all about the metrics, but qualitative data puts those metrics in context to show you content value, engagement, and quality.

This open-ended data comes straight from your readers and viewers rather than from numbers in an analytics program. Use qualitative responses from the sources below to understand what your audience expects when they view your content or learn of any problems that might put your metrics in perspective:

  • Comments: Record helpful responses from the comment section included with your content, such as additional questions you haven’t answered in a piece.
  • Reviews: Look at customer reviews to see what people like or don’t like about the things your organization has to offer.
  • Feedback: Review direct feedback forms like polls and surveys to understand what your audience expects from your brand and the content you produce.
  • Social share posts: Use social listening tools to discover what your audience is saying about your brand and what content they’re sharing across social platforms.
  • Chat or call transcripts: Review customer service calls and chat transcripts to better understand your audience’s expectations, pain points, and needs.

6. Create the Right Filters

In your spreadsheet, you can create custom filters for every column. If you have a lot of content to include in your analysis, this can help you rank, sort, and find information based on any criteria you set. The exact filters you need for your spreadsheet and which columns to use them in may differ with every document. Your goals and the information you want to get out of the analysis will ultimately guide your process.

7. Make a List of Issues to Address

No matter what your primary goal of the SEO content analysis is, collecting the data in one place should help you find a list of items to address to improve your content and its search engine positioning. The issues to address are actionable steps you can take to improve your content’s performance and reach your analysis and marketing goals.

For example, if your primary goal is to get your blog posts to rank at the top of the SERPs, you might address this as:

  • Many of our blog posts appear on page two of SERPs. Compress images to lower page speed and improve user experience to get them to spend more time on each page and lower the bounce rate.

You may include a place for these action items within your analysis spreadsheet, or you may add them to a separate document. Checklists also help make this process easier to track.

4 SEO Content Analysis Templates

SEO content analysis documents often work best as spreadsheets so you can keep track of all your assets in one place. That said, we’ve included some templates that can help you outline your analysis plan and streamline the auditing process. Check them out and get started:

1. Wordstream Content Audit Templates

Wordstream provides a full suite of free content audit templates, including one for SEO. The Google Sheets document provides the right column headings for all your information and gives you a blank canvas to add your own information. Make a copy and save it to your Google Drive to get editing privileges.

2. SEMrush SEO Content Template

For marketers who want to start SEO analysis during content creation, SEMrush has a template just for that. The program generates SEO briefs for new content based on a list of your target keywords. Your team gets recommendations for related keywords, backlinks, readability, and text length. The program also helps prepare basic outline features like a piece’s title, meta description, and headings. You’ll need a SEMrush account to access this program.

3. HubSpot’s How to Run an SEO Audit Kit

HubSpot developed a full toolkit for running an SEO audit on your content. The kit includes Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets compatible spreadsheet templates to help you review the SEO aspects of any piece of content. It’s free to download the toolkit, but you do have to go through a four-step sign-up process to gain access.

4. Backlinko SEO Audit Template

Unlike some other suggestions on the list, Backlinko’s SEO analysis templates work with Microsoft Word, Google Docs, or PDF format for those less comfortable with spreadsheet programs. This outline includes placeholders for both on- and off-page SEO factors, content adjustments, and technical aspects like page speed and indexing. Backlinko’s template is free to open or download without an exchange of information. Google users must make a copy of the template to their drive to enable editing.

Let CopyPress Run an SEO Content Analysis For You

Why make your own analysis document from a template when you can get a complete custom report straight to your inbox? With CopyPress, that’s exactly what you’ll get. Our free content analysis gives you insights into the SEO practices and content gaps you should be targeting. This report is essential if you’re using content marketing to generate traffic and convert leads.

When you get your report, get in touch with our strategy team to discuss your results. You’ll get one-on-one feedback about how to make your content rank so you can grow your business and achieve results.

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