10 essential content audit metrics to include for SEO success

content audit

Content audits become essential in a range of circumstances. You may be analysing a corpus of content for its SEO performance over time, identifying opportunities to revive pages which aren’t performing or fixing issues such as broken links and orphan pages. 

Whatever the reason for your content audit, there are some essential metrics you should consider including in your analysis that will set you up for success. However, before you embark on your auditing journey, you’ll need to ensure you have some goals in place… 


Before you get started, ensure you set up measurable goals for your content audit. This ensures you will get the best results from the process. 

The best way to do this is by going in with a specific focus.  

Here are some examples of measurable content audit goals:

Once you have identified your goals, set up specific KPIs you want to achieve. 

Your content audit goals will impact the specific metrics you measure when you begin your analysis, but there are several factors you need to consider.  

Here are our top 10 essential content audit metrics to include for SEO success.

1. Organic traffic 

Arguably the most obvious metric for any content audit, you want to know what the organic traffic has been for the page you are analysing. 

You may want to look at traffic purely from the last month, you could go further and do the last quarter, or you could compare multiple time periods to see if traffic has increased or decreased.

While you will likely be keeping an eye on your overall site traffic in a tool like GA, potentially keeping the real-time traffic view open in a browser tab during your workday, it can be useful to dig deeper on a regular basis and see if your content is making an impact or not. 

You may realise that some pages are getting no traffic at all, in which case they should be marked for an overhaul. On the other hand, you could discover that some pages are doing better than you realised, in which case you can work out what you’re doing right and replicate this approach for other pages.  

2. Backlinks

Taking a regular look at your backlink profile is important, especially if a goal for your content audit is to improve your linking strategy. 

If you are involved in strategy for an enterprise site or a major brand, you may discover that several pages have received backlinks since you last checked. 

You should make a note that these pages are being given more authority now, as you can take action such as inserting internal links to other pages which could do with a boost in link equity.  

3. Backlink toxicity percentage 

An essential part of examining your backlink profile is analysing the percentage of toxicity it currently has. This is because you want to ensure those links are disavowed, as they will be harming your site’s reputation. 

What’s more, Google rolled out a link spam update between December 2022 and January 2023 which removed any SEO boosts caused by unethical link building using black hat tactics.  

It’s fair to make an educated guess that Google will continue to work on penalising dubious backlink profiles, so now is the time to get into the practice of regularly analysing your own, disavowing toxic backlinks – and avoiding unethical link building, if you were guilty of doing that.

4. Title tag and H1 

You want to make a record of your title tag and H1 per URL. If you are managing a large corpus of content – and particularly if content was rolled out years ago, before you joined the company – you may find that several pages have missing title tags or H1s. Alternatively, these elements may not be optimised. 

By keeping track of these elements in a spreadsheet, you can ensure that your metadata is filled out thoroughly and your H1 is optimised for the keyword you are targeting.

5. Word count 

Google itself has said that word count isn’t a direct ranking factor, but it’s still important to keep a record of the word count per page on your site.  

What’s more, tools such as SurferSEO and Frase will analyse your word count in comparison to other sites that are ranking in the top positions in SERP ahead of recommending an average word count you should work on. 

In some situations, you will need to remedy your word count. For example, if you have thin content or no content on certain pages, you will need to decide whether to bulk out this page with high quality content or retire the page.  

In others, however, you will need to make a decision about whether you want to make your word count match that of your competitors. 

Ultimately, quality trumps quantity, so if you consider that your page covers the topic authoritatively in more or less words than what the competitors currently have, then you should stick by your decision.  

What matters is making your page the most helpful, authoritative and trustworthy for your readers – not matching a word count.

6. Focus keyword 

Make a note of the keyword which is currently being targeted for the piece. You will usually find it in the H1 or by scanning the copy and checking for a word or phrase which is repeated.  

It’s important to ensure that the focus keyword still has good search volume and matches the search intent your content is designed for. If this is not the case, you will be able to search for a better keyword, remap the content and benefit from better search traffic over time. You can also ensure that you avoid instances of search intent mismatch. 

7. Keyword rankings 

Check the average position ranking for the focus keyword of your content. You will be able to find this data with a keyword research tool. Export the information into a spreadsheet and analyse whether the focus keyword being targeted is resulting in a good position in the SERP.  

Chances are, you will find some anomalies. For example, you may discover that you’re ranking well for a particular keyword – but it’s a different piece of content that happens to be doing well for the term.  

You could also discover that you’re not even on page 1 of SERP – and instead you’re on page 10. That would explain why your organic traffic has dropped for the page…

8. Current keyword visibility 

It’s important to examine how your pages have been performing in the last month or quarter. You can get this information from Search Console. Take a look at the number of impressions and clicks a given URL has received in a specific time period.  

This exercise will result in some valuable insights. For example, you may find that a page is receiving a number of impressions, but no clicks. In this situation, you may like to review your meta description and title tag to optimise chances of visitor click-through.  

Alternatively, you may discover that your page is visible for keywords that are totally unrelated to your topic. This can be damaging for your SEO, as you run the risk of people viewing your page, being unsatisfied with the contents and clicking away again – resulting in increased bounce rates.

9. Topic cluster 

A well-structured site will send clear signals to search engines about the topics it is most well-known for. These topics will be supported by clusters of content which explore sub-categories in more detail and help with ranking for semantic search queries, long-tail keywords and overall help with the authority of your site. 

Identify which cluster your page belongs to and make a note of the number of pages within that cluster. If you have no other pages in this cluster, make a decision – do you need to write more content to build out the cluster, or is it better to retire the page? 

If the page is already doing well in SERP, it may be worth building out the cluster. However, if the page isn’t completely reflective of your business offering, then it may not be worth bringing in organic traffic for topics which you aren’t best served to help visitors with.

10. Last update 

To ensure your content will be consistently served in the SERPs, you want to remember the QDF metric – Query Deserves Freshness. In other words, if your content was published 5 years ago, then abandoned, don’t be surprised if it’s now subject to content decay and effectively useless. 

Search engines will always value content which is being well looked after. This means you’re going in at regular intervals to update the page, whether you’re adding new information, updating details or inserting new imagery to supplement the content. 

Make a habit of updating your pages regularly – analysing the search volumes for your target keywords, while you’re at it – and you will always be giving yourself the best chances of receiving a healthy influx of organic traffic. 

Need help with your content audit? 

Content audits can be designed in various ways to serve your business and marketing purposes, so if you’re feeling at a loss and unsure what metrics you should be analysing, get in touch and we’ll help you to refine your audit strategy. 

You can also book a Free Acquisitions Workshop, so that you can gain an understanding of your site’s current position in the search landscape and take away actionable insights you can implement immediately. 


Imogen Groome

Content Lead

Imogen is the SEO Content Lead at Skittle Digital. Imogen has worked in SEO since 2016. She helped to define SEO strategy at Metro.co.uk before guiding the newsroom at The Sun Online as SEO Editor. She has more than 5 years’ experience in scaling content strategies that drive revenue for brands through organic search channels. In her spare time, Imogen writes books, watches poor-quality reality TV and hangs out with her cats.

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