3. Audit existing content
To know where we are going we need to know where we have been! What content, on the current site, is driving the most organic traffic and engagement? You need to analyse this data at a page-by-page level. This ensures you migrate or redirect your most valuable content as well as mitigating any potential traffic losses.
There are several tools you can use to help you with this. You can compile data manually from the following tools:
- Google Analytics (traffic and engagement, such as the amount of time spent whilst on a particular page)
- Google Search Console (ranking and specific keywords).
Alternatively, you can use a platform such as Semrush which will compile most of this data for you, using their ‘Content Analyser’ tool (linking both your Analytics and Console profiles together).
From here, you can start to see what content needs some work to rank better within the organic search engine result pages. You can also see what content you can ditch and what gems you have that absolutely need to migrate as they are! Start to assign an action and group your pages ready for the next stage.
Note: In this process, be mindful of your ‘low-hanging fruit’ content. This is content that you may not love and may be quite happy to ditch but ranks on page 3 or 4 for a low-priority keyword. However, with low priority often comes low keyword difficulty. With a little love, these pages could easily be boosted to page 1 or 2 and your authority could be improved for other related keywords, through internal linking.
4. Create your plan
You are now ready to create your first draft content plan. There is no hard and fast rule with this. It should be a living and breathing document that helps you and your team manage the content you need for launch. It will change and evolve over time as you make it fit your team and business needs.
To get you out of the starting blocks, take the pages from your new sitemap and list them in a spreadsheet. This should be your primary and secondary level navigation pages, not blogs at this stage. Title this column ‘Page name’ and create the following columns:
- Old URL.
- New URL.
Now, using your content audit, map the old content to the new content by establishing the following:
Does this page exist in the new site map? If so, do we want to keep or rewrite the content? Make a note in the action column and make a note of the primary keywords the page currently ranks for. The old and new URLs should be the same.
However, if you are changing folder structures, the URL will change and become a redirect.
For example, thinkdesignagency.co.uk/brochure-design may become thinkdesignagency.co.uk/graphic-design/brochure-design.
This really depends on your sitemap and how complicated you want to make your structure. This is a much broader topic but an important part of your plan. Basically, if your existing page performs really well in organic search, you need to keep the URL the same if at all possible. If you can’t then it’s important to put a 301 redirect in place to the new URL.
Does the page not exist in the new sitemap? It may be that the page has merged with another page or you are ditching it entirely. If so, you will need to create another line at the bottom of your table under the header ‘redirects.’
It will be important to follow all of the above steps if the content you are merging or ditching ranks well, to make sure this is considered in any page rewrite. Alternatively, does it need reinstating at all? If the page does not perform, simply updating the old and new URL columns for redirect planning will be sufficient.
Lastly, add all the blog content you wish to keep to your list and follow the same steps. After completing this process, you will know which content no longer perform well and needs to be rewritten or published more frequently.