What a content audit helps you accomplish:
- Better understand the quality of the content you are working with so you can make informed decisions about what to keep and cut going forward
- Better understand the quality of the metadata you are working with
- Identify what content is performing well (by category, by content type, etc.)
- Identify gaps and opportunities in your digital content
- Better understand your client’s area of expertise in general
- Review your content inventory.
If you haven’t already gotten a full content inventory of all the content on your site or product, go ahead and do that part first. This will let you know just how much existing content there is to work with, which is often not possible to fully grasp just by clicking around the website. This will also give you a good idea of the content’s metadata quality and presence. Learn more about getting your content inventory set up.
- Segment your content.
As part of working with the content inventory, you may have already segmented your content into different groups. Explore pushing that a bit further by working with the client’s editorial representative to identify the most useful ways to segment the inventory (e.g. by topic category, by editorial categories, or other).
- Define your goals. Then come up with the audit criteria.
The criteria you evaluate content against will often be slightly different from project to project depending on the goals. Here are the basic information categories that we try to capture at a minimum for every audit:
- Page Title
- Brief Description
- Content Type
- Current URL
- Content Status
- NotesOther possible criteria to consider using to audit your content:
- User Journey Step
- User Goal
- Voice / Tone
- Business Goal
- Amount of Organic Traffic
Find out if your client has any other ideas based on their familiarity with the content. A Content Gap Map can also be a helpful tool to assist you in identifying content gaps for more advanced audits.
- Do the audit.
A lot of patience is required to conduct a thorough content audit. In order to evaluate the content, you need to read it. You need to look at it. You need to try to understand its purpose. Ensure that you have consistent and clear definitions of the audit criteria options before beginning the audit. For example, if you are evaluating the status of content, make sure that everyone agrees on what constitutes (C)urrent content, (O)ut-of-date content, and content to (R)emove.
- Analyze the data.
Find out how much of your content is out of date. Find out how much of your content is targeted to your various audiences. Find out if there are imbalances in your content. Find out if your content is actually meeting your agreed upon business goals. Find out if your content is meeting your users’ goals. Find out what content is getting traffic, and what’s not. See if you can figure out a hypothesis as to why that could be happening.
- Find the insights.
Often, obvious imbalances and gaps will jump out at you. But not always. Experiment with segmenting data in different ways to get multiple perspectives on the same content. At this point you should be very familiar with your client’s content. Use that knowledge to make connections between the patterns you see in the data in relation to the client’s business and content goals. Keep track of the most interesting data points and your thoughts as you go. This will be helpful when compiling your final recommendations report for the client.
- Put together your recommendations.
Your recommendations will be based on the insights you got as you went through and analyzed and examined and reexamined your audit data. Often, it makes sense to do a content audit as part of a larger content strategy effort, so these audit findings and insights are used to inform our strategic recommendations on big-picture content goals and tactical recommendations on how to make progress towards those goals.
A content audit can be done at any stage in a product’s lifecycle, so don’t wait to start. If a client is planning a site migration, convince them to invest in a content audit now to save content migration headaches later. If doing a content audit seems like an overwhelming task, or if you simply don’t have the resources, start with just a small chunk of your content to start to make it more manageable. Reviewing any content is better than reviewing no content.