How to Audit a Site Group

Practicing good digital hygiene helps you build more integrated, compelling experiences for your target audiences.

Graphic showing technology circuits on a yellow field.

Everyone loves shiny, new content. But once the initial promotion window closes, many promising webpages get buried by the next big initiative and eventually forgotten. Periodically taking stock of the Nature.org content you manage and improving its impact helps drive TNC’s mission.

Follow this step-by-step guide to auditing your site group to reach your audience, improve the user experience of your content and achieve your marketing goals.

But first, why audit your site group?


Page views. The total number of times an article or landing page has been visited

Visitors. The number of people (associated with individual IP addresses) who have visited an article or landing page

Engagement time. The average length of time visitors spend actively interacting with text, photos, videos and other features of a page

1. Retrieve a list of articles in your site group.

In this tutorial, we advise using Parse.ly, as it's both user friendly and available to all AEM contributors. Learn more about Parse.ly and other analytics tools in the Marketing Analytics Resource Center.

  1. Select “Pages” in Parse.ly’s main navigation menu.
  2. To view analytics over an extended period of time, select “Historical” and “Monthly.” Click on a series of months, up to one year.
  3. Below the timeline, select “Path” in the gray filter area. You can either build out the
    whole URL path for your site group, or select a country/region. U.S. authors and publishers may use the arrows in the path builder’s upper right corner to find and select your state. If you want to review articles you’ve published in a shared site group (e.g. Places We Protect, Media), reach out to a publisher in that section. You can submit a digital request if you’re unsure who owns a site group.
  4. After ensuring you’ve highlighted the desired timeline, select “Export” and the spreadsheet option to download your data.
Placeholder placeholder © TNC
DEMO (1:25, video loops automatically) In the video above, the user starts on Parse.ly's overview of Nature.org, then navigates each step of the process for downloading a year of the Virginia site group's performance analytics.  

2. Organize your list.

Example statistics for nature.org pages.
VIRGINIA AS A MODEL In this example, site group analytics are organized in terms of page views, and color coded to acknowledge other important editorial criteria. More details are provided below. © TNC

The Analytics Lens

Compare overall traffic over the past month/year to page-specific KPIs and sitewide
benchmarks. (See the section Site Group Performance Use Cases in the article “Web, Email and Social Media Data” to learn how to set appropriate KPIs and where to find benchmarks.) In short, every site group is different and receives different amounts of traffic due to promotion, SEO and other factors. It’s a good idea to compare your site group to others with similar qualities, but feel free to compare your pages against others in your own section for your first audit.

  1. We suggest organizing your list according to total page views at first—examine the
    trend in the context of your site group’s performance.
  2. Note any pages driving significantly more views than average. In the example above, these pages are highlighted in green.
  3. Next, note which of these pages are driving both high traffic and high engagement time. Above, these pages are highlighted in yellow. (There’s no science to how many pages you prioritize. Here, we’ve selected pages which have driven 1,000 or more views and more than a 2-minute engagement time on average.)
  4. Now, note any pages with lower traffic, and high engagement time. In the example
    above, these pages are highlighted in purple.
  5. The pages above may be good candidates for UPDATES. The remaining pages yet to be highlighted are all pages driving low traffic.


The Editorial Lens

In the following sections, we’ll share strategies for updating the previous pages. But first, let’s examine pages driving low traffic.

  1. Note pages which serve an important business goal. In the example image above, these pages are highlighted in orange. These pages may be good candidates for UPDATES.
  2. The remaining pages may be best to COMBINE with higher performing pages and DELETE—but first you’ll want to consider their performance trends and potential closely. These pages are highlighted in gray in the image above. (We’ll cover best practices for page deletion in the next section.)
  3. US Authors and Publishers: Use the online dashboard in PowerBI labeled US States Web & Social Dashboard to look at monthly traffic to your pages and site section. Look at your site section’s channel mix (Web Marketing Tab)—does this reflect your marketing strategy? Look at “Time Spent per Visit” of your top pages, are there any that are particularly low? This could be an area where you have room to improve engagement on these pages.

3. First, evaluate your high-performing content in the context of your entire site group.

In our example spreadsheet above, high-performing content is highlighted in green and yellow.


The Analytics Lens

  • Why do you think some pages have driven higher traffic than other pages in your site group? Here are some common reasons to consider:

    • Promotion: Were they promoted heavily from TNC channels (e.g. social, email,
      text) in the selected time frame?
    • SEO: Is Google (the most popular search engine) driving significant traffic to any
      of these pages?

    If so, dive deeper into performance trends for these pages in Parse.ly—are there peaks and valleys throughout the year? Sometimes spikes in traffic occur organically when many people are searching for specific terms relevant to news or events. Often, spikes in traffic align with TNC promotional periods, and slow thereafter.

  • Is traffic high, but engagement time is low?

    • Is your page particularly short and/or scannable? If so, low engagement time may not be a problem. Consider ways to measure whether your audience is engaging in meaningful ways with your content—such as by downloading, sharing or subscribing to an email list.
    • Is your page long, text-heavy or otherwise complex? Consider whether adding visual breaks (e.g. subheaders, block quotes, maps) could help visitors digest the content on your page easier.
    • Does your headline and promotional messaging accurately describe what’s on the page? Consider whether there are key questions or information visitors may expect to find which are missing from the page.
    • Are there broken images that let visitors know right away the page is outdated?
  • Is average engagement time high, but traffic low? It’s possible this page could be beneficial to audiences, but they are having trouble finding it. So, how can you improve visibility?

    • Examine the trend in traffic closely. Are there peaks and valleys around promotional periods or key events? If so, you may want to consider updating and re-promoting your content.
    • Are there videos, images, maps or popular topics which may be encouraging visitors to linger on your page? You can submit a digital request for a mouseflow report of exceptional content to understand how people are interacting with your page.
    • Brainstorm potential keywords and/or external hooks which might interest broader audiences. Try updating the headline, intro, hero image or other prominent features of your page to give it a fresh start. You can submit a digital request for a brief SEO review of your content to understand which keywords people are using to find your pages.

    To reproduce good results, you should try to determine whether promotion or SEO influenced past performance and make a plan to test and measure results after your audit.

The Editorial Lens

  • Are high-performing pages representative of your business unit’s priorities and
    marketing goals?
  • Do these pages have clear audiences and measurable goals? More on this in the next section.
  • Can any of these pages host content from lower performing pages in your site group—or even other site groups? Example: Multiple states collaborated on a new gopher tortoise page to replace low-performing individual state species profiles.

4. Update high-performing pages—and plan to promote and measure their success.

In our example spreadsheet, these pages are green, yellow and purple.

  • Messaging alignment:
    Is the messaging on your page up to date and aligned with other internal stakeholders? Reach out to Global Digital if you would like to be connected to stakeholders in global business units to verify campaign or conservation messaging.
  • Content strategy:
    Is the information on your page clear, compelling and unique within Nature.org? While messaging should generally align, each page on Nature.org should serve a unique approach, angle and/or audience goal. Pages which fail to do so should be combined with other pages.
  • Digital best practices:
    Review every page you update against the page proofing checklist. As you update your pages, ensure they follow accessibility requirements, encourage visitors to click on related pages across the site, include clear/measurable CTAs and provide a modern user experience.

5. Address low-performing pages.

In our example spreadsheet, these pages are orange and gray.

Keep: Content Serving a Business Need

Pages with low-to-average organic traffic may be strategically useful for your business unit if they are regularly shared with stakeholders directly, or serve an important niche audience (e.g. pages that communicate TNC’s tax information). But, consider whether there is a more direct way to reach smaller audiences, such as email or social media, if a page has a shelf life under a year. If you notice a steep and sustained decline in traffic after the promotional period, consider possible SEO and re-promotion opportunities—or another digital channel—to communicate your key messages.

Delete and Merge: Duplicative or Outdated Content

  • Review your content. Migrate any content that’s still relevant to other pages, as it won’t be recoverable.
  • Reach out to the web content team to request page deletion. The web team will redirect your URL to another suitable page to prevent visitors from encountering a 404 error message if they access the link after it is deleted.

Next Steps

Apply your learnings to your editorial calendar and content management plan.

Now that you’ve taken stock of your content, make a plan to promote it, measure success and perform frequent check-ups. Note opportunities for new content or big updates? Submit a content request to the web content team through the Digital Requests Portal.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Analytics Lens:
    • Quarterly. You can schedule these reports in Parse.ly. Once you've completed your first comprehensive audit, the quarterly audits should be lighter touch.
    Editorial Lens:
    • At the beginning of the fiscal year before sharing your annual report.
    • When deciding your professional objectives or “reach” goals.
  • In general, the web team would always like to know of your auditing progress and goals.

    Submit an analytics request for heatmaps before making changes to your pages. The analytics team can also help you measure the results of an audit after changes are published.

    To improve your page views from natural search (Google), submit an SEO request for:

    • Keyword and topic research
    • Page optimization recommendations
    • Redirecting outdated pages

    You can also meet with members of the web team during office hours every Wednesday at 2pm ET/11am PT.

  • Parse.ly is user-friendly and highly visual, making it easier and more enjoyable to find the data you need on demand and understand how to use it.

    However, you can still use Adobe and other analytics tools in addition to Parse.ly.

  • Pick one or two goals from the full process to work on as you can:
    1. Update high performing pages. Bring them in line with digital best practices, fix any broken or outdated links, add or update CTAs and make sure they accurately represent TNC’s current positioning.
    2. Combine content on low-performing pages with higher performing pages.
    3. Make a promotion plan for low performing pages that represent priority business or marketing goals. (Update these pages and test a new content strategy.)
    4. Take stock of your content and understand your performance trends using Parse.ly or your analytics dashboards.
  • The analytics team can tell you how your visitors interact with the page, including whether they're clicking on CTAs or other elements on the page related to your goals.

    The SEO team can tell you the terms that people are using to find the page in Google, its click through rate and ranking data.

OK, but why should I do all this?

Auditing your content regularly ensures your whole section provides value and contributes to your goals. Each page reaches and engages its intended audience, adds new insight or shares regional or global messaging about important conservation topics.

Let's compare auditing a website to gardening. A gardener who doesn't prune or cultivate might let trees get overgrown, blocking walking paths or even crowding eachother and blocking sunlight from smaller trees and the understory. These trees might have broken limbs or dead leaves and flowers. The garden isn't a pleasant place to spend time and it isn't thriving.

A perfectly cultivated bonsai tree at the Japanese Friendship Garden in San Diego, CA.
Bonsai Bonsai trees are expertly pruned to achieve beautiful and healthy trees. Web site sections should get the same treatment. © Lindsay Mineo

Meanwhile, a gardener who prunes and cultivates creates a lovely garden that people want to spend time in. Walking paths are accessible and not blocked by scraggly limbs, fallen branches or dead leaves. Sunlight can reach the smaller trees and understory and promotes a greater diversity of species. These trees flower, produce fruit and provide a home for a diversity of wildlife.

Auditing is like gardening: pruning pages that aren't providing value or contributing to your goals creates a more pleasant experience for your readers and improves your section (and the whole site!). Using the steps in this list will help your site group thrive as it attracts and engages visitors and achieves your marketing and communications goals.