How to Do a ROT Analysis: Keeping Your Content Fresh

Almost half of content marketers don’t know how their content is performing, according to our latest research. This tells us three things:

  1. Content is published and then promptly forgotten.
  2. Data collected from legacy analytics tools is difficult to use.
  3. Content strategy is not being fueled by data-driven decisions. 

We also know small content marketing teams are struggling to keep up with demand from their organizations, which means content is not the only thing suffering. A survey from Veritas found that 33% of stored data is outdated or duplicated. 

When content and data are ignored and left to age, they quickly go “rotten.” You probably already recognize some of the signs:

  • Old blogs that need a new meta description or category tags
  • Web copy with outdated or inaccurate information
  • Email subscriber lists with incorrect contact details
  • Outdated or duplicate data that is no longer needed 
  • Broken and misdirected links
  • Blurbs on partner or affiliate sites that need refreshed

Storing old, outdated, or invaluable data and content can cost your organization time and money, and make it difficult for your audience to find what they’re looking for. Fortunately, there are ways to refresh your content and once again make it invaluable to your audience.

Table of contents

Why rotten content and data harm your business

Content becomes redundant, trivial, or obsolete (ROT) if it isn’t created with your content strategy in mind, and then adequately monitored for performance and accuracy. And as we know, content performance is crucial to business growth and ROI

But if your content is outdated or disorganized, it won’t perform to its potential. As content teams struggle to keep up with “more content now, please!” requests, it’s easy to click “publish,” wipe your hands, forget about it, and move on to the next ask. Unfortunately, that’s how content goes rotten.

Saturate your channels with aging, dated content and your audience will likely go elsewhere to find more useful information. Something as simple as updating your tags and meta descriptions regularly can help prevent that channel churn.

Rotten content also factors into performance. The more content you have, the harder it is to accurately measure content engagement. When your measurement isn’t clear, your team can’t gather the data-driven insights they need to make smart content decisions and fix content engagement.


Use these five content marketing metrics to accurately determine how your content is performing.

When it comes to data management, content marketers often believe “it’s not part of my job description.” But the reality is data is a form of content for your organization. If data is duplicated, disorganized, or outdated, stakeholders will grow frustrated because they can’t source what they need to make better content decisions. Having accurate marketing data is critical to pushing the right content at the right time to the right audience.

Needless to say, having to sort through stale content and data wastes valuable time and resources, decreases productivity, and, in the end, hurts the user experience.

That’s why performing a ROT analysis is crucial to keeping your content and data fresh.

What is a ROT analysis?

A ROT analysis is the process of identifying both content and data that should be refreshed and updated. 

Let’s break it down:

  • Redundant: duplicate content or data, either stored internally or published externally
  • Obsolete: content or data that is longer accurate or useful to the end user
  • Trivial: information that is not valuable or necessary to store

A ROT analysis is essentially a content audit with additional steps and action plans based on the end goal of improving content workflows and web performance. Yes, any content audit, especially a ROT analysis, can be overwhelming. But don’t push it off. It’s worth the effort.

Benefits of ROT analysis

Refreshing your data and content benefits your organization in many ways:

  • Improved content engagement and site performance
  • Stronger, more impactful content that addresses audience needs
  • Increased organizational productivity
  • Clean, rich, and meaningful data to drive campaigns
  • Insightful content analytics that lead to stronger decision making

How can ROT analysis impact your site performance?

Content saturation can be a real problem, whether impacting your own channels or market-wide SEO. A ROT analysis will help you establish high-performing content that fills a niche, and optimize content to fit your users’ needs by:

  • Reducing data storage and maintenance costs
  • Increasing site speed and load time
  • Improving SEO performance through simplified web crawling and content optimization
  • Simplifying the user experience
  • Meeting data security requirements and regulations
  • Boosting employee productivity

How to perform a ROT analysis, step-by-step

The ROT data analysis process can quickly become muddy and complicated, so we’ve compiled the steps you should follow for best results.

  1. Gather stakeholders that have a say in content.
  2. Outline your content goals, e.g., improve web performance, increase lead generation.
  3. Form a plan for auditing the content and obtaining performance details.
    • If you have a large amount of data, consider investing in a dedicated audit software.
    • Identify analytics tools to judge content performance. If Google Analytics is your only option, you may not get a complete picture. Instead consider an easier, more robust solution like
    • Create a content tracking spreadsheet with all the identifiers, metrics, and action items needed for each piece.
  4. Perform the ROT content audit to identify:
    • Outdated blogs, resources, data, and web copy
    • Low-performing pages
    • Web accessibility compliance
    • Broken or outdated links and redirects
    • Any posts that need tags or categories updated, new meta descriptions, etc.
  5. Establish a plan for removing and updating ROT data, optimizing content for SEO, and repurposing your top-performing content. Note: Any content two or more years old should be audited, updated, and then stamped with an updated publish date so it can be re-indexed by site crawlers, making it perform better on search engines.
  6. Perform a quality assurance check. Update or redirect any remaining links that may have been missed.

Six ways to keep your content fresh and relevant

Performing the occasional ROT analysis isn’t enough to keep your content fresh. Be proactive, baking in processes to your content creation workflows to avoid unnecessary ROT data wherever possible.

Here are the top six ways to avoid content ROT:

  1. Create a thorough data-retention strategy with regularly scheduled ROT data scans
    1. Outline data audit procedures 
    2. Incorporate a “last edited” date stamp to track changes on live web content
    3. Encourage employees to delete outdated files and update posts
  2. Publish brand and style guidelines to maintain consistency in voice and tone when publishing new content
  3. Invest in professional development for content team members so they can confidently monitor content relevancy against evolving standards and industry best practices 
  4. Establish a firm content development strategy with streamlined workflows and approval processes
  5. Emphasize the creation and maintenance of evergreen content
  6. Stay up-to-date on content marketing tips and trends each year

Final thoughts

As you prepare to execute a ROT analysis, we want to emphasize the importance of using the right tools. Without content performance metrics readily available to everyone involved in your content strategy, it’s impossible to accurately judge ROT content. 

If you’re not already using a content-specific, user-friendly analytics tool like, now’s the time to start.