SEO Audit

Moz does an excellent job explaining how to use an SEO audit to create better, more actionable content. The Moz article focuses on fixing problems. Here’s a template to get started creating the SEO audit, and identifying where the problems are as a first step. The main sections are:

  1. Page Information
    • Name
    • URL
  2. Accessibility
    • Robots.txt
    • Robots meta tag
    • HTTP status errors
    • Page speed
  3. Indexability
    • Page search
    • Search engine penalty
  4. URL Ranking Factors
    •  Short
    • Key words
    • Uses sub folders
    • Use hyphens
  5. On-Page Ranking Factors
    • # key words
    • Key words in top 3 paragraphs
    • Duplicate content

Content Prioritization Matrix

Sometimes, there’s so much to do it feels like nothing can get done. When a team is struggling to identify which area of content to tackle first, a prioritization matrix can break through the conflicting opinions and clarify the priorities.

This prioritization matrix template has 5 sections:

  • The content sections (column 1). These might include “homepage,” “product pages,” “blog articles” etc.
  • The section rankings (column 2). For each content section, identify how important the section is to the business. High = 3, Medium = 2, and Low = 1.
  • The user needs (column 3). For each content section, identify one (primary) user need the section is intended to respond to.
  • The pages (column 4). For each content section, identify the pages that make up the section. There may be several pages within each section.
  • The goals (columns 5-10). List 1 goal in each column. Ideally these goals should come from across the organization. Not every goal needs to be shared by everyone. Then identify, for each page, whether or not it accomplishes the goal. For a yes, write “1,” and for a no, write “2.”

Add up the numbers in a final column, and then add the page numbers for each section. Multiple each section by its ranking (1, 2, or 3). The higher the score of the section, the more it needs attention.

Competitive Audit Template

A competitive audit is a useful way to compare the content on a site to other sites across the industry. This template includes 8 columns, to be filled out for each competitor being evaluated:

  • Competitor’s Name
  • Competitor’s URL
  • Target Audience of the Competitor
  • Goal 1 Score
  • Goal 2 Score
  • Goal 3 Score
  • Key Words
  • Notes

It’s important to note that the three “goals” should be the client’s goals, not the competitors’ goals. In other words, we are evaluating how each competitor stacks up, compared to the client, at achieving the client’s goals.

User Flow Template

A user flow shows the steps a user takes to accomplish his or her goal. One way to start building wireframes is to write out each step (or item of functionality) that the user will encounter, and match it to key messages. The user flow goal worksheet and user flow sketch sheets can be printed, and used to physically create a user flow with a group working together.

The first step in creating a user flow (as a content strategist) is to think through the steps that will get a user to his or her goal. This worksheet will help organize initial thoughts and messaging.

User flow worksheet

Next, a content strategist (ideally alongside a designer) can sketch out the screens. For each screen, consider how many steps will take place, and what messages will be conveyed.

User flow screen

Nomenclature template

A nomenclature chart is made up of 4 sections. Content strategists may choose to change the titles of the 4 columns in order to better reflect the language that their team is comfortable with.

  1. Preferred term: This is the first column to be filled out. The team will likely have a list of key words or brand words. That list becomes the list of preferred terms, since each word is (most likely) the term the team is hoping their prospective customers will search for or use when describing them.
  2. Connotation: This is the definition of the preferred term, as understood by the team. It’s important to note that this is not necessarily the dictionary denotation of the word, but the way the team wants the term to be understood.
  3. Synonyms: These are the other terms that clients or customers might use. For example, the company might sell what they prefer to call “mobile devices,” but their clients call them “mobiles, phones, cell phones, ipads, and tablets.” All of the terms clients use are synonyms for their understanding of the word “mobile devices.”
  4. Associated terms: This last column is useful for identifying situations where the term might be used. It might also be called “Assets” or “Attributes.” For example, if the company has a preferred term “smart” to define how their devices work, and the synonyms are “intuitive, fast, connected” then the attribute would be “mobile devices.”

Here is a template that can be used to create a nomenclature chart. Ideally, the nomenclature chart should not include more than 10 terms.

Content Migration Template

A content migration is incredibly complex. To make it more manageable, a content strategist can maintain a content migration document, with data on each individual URL across the site.

Every migration document is a little different. Here’s a basic content migration template, which can be adapted to suit the needs of a specific migration plan. The sections within it are listed out and defined below.

Section 1: Page Information

  • ID Number: For some content migrations, each page is given a unique ID number, so that content blocks or content elements can be tagged by the ID number and all information can be easily sorted.
  • Level: Is this in the top nav? 2nd level? 3rd level? This column keeps us accountable, and helps us catch sections that are going too far down the rabbit hole.
  • Page Name: Literally, what is the page titled?
  • Current URL: If the page currently exists, or if it is being adapted from a currently-existing page, what URL is it?
  • New URL: Post-migration, what will the URL be?
  • Description: This column is valuable so that multiple people can look at the page in question and weigh in on whether the name and edits make sense given the goals referenced in this description.

Section 2: Plan for Content

  • Task (Write, Edit, Review): What is someone supposed to be doing at this moment for this individual page?
  • Next Deadline: When should the person finish their task?
  • Complete? (y/n): If the page is 100% ready to be migrated, mark this as “Y.”
  • Notes: What does the writer/editor/etc need to know to accomplish the task?

Section 3: Metadata

  • Keywords: What will the page be tagged with?
  • Related content: What other pages (in other sections) connect to this page (that we might want to reference on this page, or include in a sidebar).

Section 4: Content Owners

  • In this section, list out everyone who is responsible for any of the content on the page.

Section 5: Editorial Deadlines

  • Draft 1 due: What date do you expect to have draft 1 handed off to the editor?
  • Draft 2 due: What date do you expect to have draft 2 handed off to the editor?
  • Final draft due: What date do you expect to have a final draft complete?
  • Content entry: When does the content need to be in the CMS?
  • You may also choose to include columns for “edits due.”

Content Inventory Template

The starting point for any content audit, evaluation, gap analysis, competitive audit, or migration plan is to have a simple inventory of all the content an organization has.

Here’s a content inventory template in an excel doc, which strategists can use to get a big picture view of the content available, sorted by type, size, hierarchy, or plan.