How To Automate Your Content Inventory

Posted June 8, 2016 by Garenne Bigby in Content Inventory

automate your content inventory

A Content Inventory is simply a list that contains all of the content on a website. The inventory will typically include all text, images, applications, and documents. In order to gain knowledge from the inventory, it is necessary to assess each individual piece of content. Doing this will aid in understanding what exactly is on the site, if it is in the proper location, and if the content is up-to-date. Before the invention of content inventory tools, performing this process would be almost painstaking, and not completely free from errors. Whether someone was performing the content inventory by hand or entering it into a spreadsheet, there is always room for mistakes. With the invention of content inventory tools, like those provided by DYNO Mapper, anyone that has access to the internet can perform a content inventory. This will jumpstart the process of a website redesign, or will simply give the webmaster a look into the sitemap of the website. Once a website's content inventory is assessed, the webmaster can refer back to it when comparing progress on the new site map or redesign of the website.

What Should be Included in a Content Inventory

Before pulling the inventory, it is vital to note the website's goals and scope.


Goals. This is meant to help in understanding exactly why the audit is being done and what the intention is with the results. This will help to focus the activity and make it less overwhelming.

When there is no clear goal of the website, the content will likely feel disorganized, out of place, and uninteresting. Refer to this goal when evaluating the content inventory. Is each piece relevant to the goal? Can all of the content pieces relate to each other? The goal needs to be defined prior to adding or deleting any content from the inventory in order to maintain any vital pieces of content.


Scope. This is to determine which areas of the website or even particular date ranges need to be captured, and it is very important.


The scope should also be determined well before making any changes to the content inventory. What is the purpose of the website? Is the content conducive to providing accurate information in relation to the range of information that the website is aiming for? In addition to this, the information should be current and relevant. If the information is not current but still has useful information, it should be amended or edited to reflect the most up-to-date version.


After the goals and scope are outlined, it will be easier to note which information should be included. Content inventories always vary in what they capture, but most include this raw data for each piece of the website's content:

  • Title
  • Unique content ID
  • URL
  • Author or provider
  • File format (this would be HTML, DOC, PDF, TXT, etc.)
  • Meta description
  • Physical location
  • Meta keywords
  • Date of creation
  • Last date revised
  • Last date accessed
  • Categories/tags


Many times, it is possible to use a crawler or content management system to pull all of this raw data. The information can then be placed in a spreadsheet so that it may be stored and then edited more easily. In addition to this, it is vital to find out if there are any pre-existing redirects in place on the website.

Turning Content Inventory into an Audit

If the intention is to turn the raw data from the inventory into a useful format, it will require someone to go through each piece of the data and perform the assessment. Depending on what you are hoping to learn will influence the type of assessment that will be performed.

Once the goals and scope of the website have been determined, then you may choose the type of audit that will make sense for you. Many times, audits are used to track if content needs to be revised, track which pages should be removed, track where content should be mapped if it is being moved or is requiring a redirect, and track what content will need to be written in order to bridge any gaps.

The goals that are related to the inventory will determine whether or not you will add columns that are related to the editorial process. These will nope if something is being edited, fact checked, approved, or even sent in for development.

Content Inventory with DYNO Mapper

The discovery effort for a website is no longer a long and complicated process. When using the DYNO Mapper content inventory tool, the web application will inventory the website and let the webmaster know precisely how many pages, links, and images are present. When using the additional Inventory Detail feature, the webmaster may filter, search, and sort the information in the inventory based on the type, status, and location of the inventory. When the webmaster has found what they are looking for, they may export lists to view. Each page that is on the website will display the related inventory information along with the inventory pop-up.

Getting Started

When using the DYNO Mapper content inventory tool, it is important to know what you will be working with right from the beginning. DYNO Mapper provides many ways to learn about the website. The website inventory instrument provides a way to budget and plan accordingly. The section aimed for administrators allows the webmaster to use tools that make viewing the content much easier. The content inventory tools may be accessed through mobile devices, allowing for on-the-go tracking. There is also an additional optional pop-up display of analytics for the site maps. Webmasters may inventory the exact number of subdomains, images, pages, files, and link, including bad links and other errors. The webmaster may also filter information by type (image, page, or file), filter by location (internal or external), or filter by status (okay, bad link, or redirect).

The search function within DYNO Mapper's content inventory allows for a quick and easy lookup. Using this, webmasters can find out exactly how many subdomains live within a website. It is also possible to get an itemized count of all of the public facing pages of a website, along with finding all links that exist within the website. The webmaster may identify all of the existing bad links on the site and find out exactly they occur within the website. Lastly, the webmaster may also find the link errors and use this to optimize the website users' experience.

When exporting the information from the content inventory, the spreadsheets will be compatible on a variety of platforms. When viewing the report, it is possible to expand the occurrences in order to see precisely where items are linked within the website. The Current Page feature allows the webmaster to export separated lists, Current Sorting feature allows the exportation of pre-sorted information, and the Current Result feature allows exportation of a list of the last filter settings.

When to Perform a Content Inventory

While there is no perfect or specific time to create a content inventory, there are four very particular times when it is most common to perform an inventory: at the beginning of a website redesign, during regular website maintenance, when preparing for a content management system (CME) migration, and after a CMS migration.

Many people actually do not like working with a content inventory. One of the main reasons is that creating a content inventory consumes so much time. Also, if the website is updated frequently, the content inventory will become outdated quite rapidly. Finally, it is not easy to maintain the content and not easy to update inventories when they have become customized.

DYNO Mapper's content analysis tool actually provides relief for all of the above mentioned problems. An application such as this allows strategists and content managers to rapidly and accurately create inventories that are full with data contained on every single page. This data includes all links (inbound and outbound), the quality and nature of all images, documents, downloads, and videos from each page. Page descriptions, page titles, and other metadata may be reviewed, and the inventory can stay updated by locating new, altered, or deleted files. This is vital in maintaining the first-rate quality of the content contained on the website.

Using DYNO Mapper for Content Inventory

Choosing DYNO Mapper to create the content inventory will provide a simple way to regroup and access all of the content contained on a website in just a few simple steps. Without this, it would be near impossible to tread through the website and manually inventory all of the content that is present on the site. While using DYNO Mapper, all that is necessary is to enter the URL of the website, and click the “Create Site map” button. DYNO Mapper will then create a visual site map that is an interactive inventory of all content contained on the website. This will be contained in the website's hierarchy, and will also display analytics, provide simple access to the inventory information, and can facilitate communication for collaboration on a project. There are three different site map styles that may be used, and each can be easily customized and shared through email or any of the popular social media outlets. The flexibility provided by DYNO Mapper allows for use by freelancers, agencies, and even larger enterprises.

The content inventory will be produced in the form of a site map, utilizing a hierarchical structure to display all of the pages and how they relate to one another. Within the hierarchical structure, a full content inventory will include every single content item on the site, which will include all pages and all assets like downloadable videos and files. A partial content inventory will list subsets of the website's content. This would include things such as only the top few levels of the hierarchical structure or the articles produced only in the last 6 months. When redesigning a website, it is vital to perform a full content inventory to ensure that there will not be any hidden data that could possibly lead to broken links or duplicate data.

Content Inventory using DYNO Mapper from DYNO Mapper - Sitemap Generator on Vimeo.

 

When a Content Inventory is Useful

Some webmasters may choose to perform a content inventory periodically while others do it at specific times, as mentioned previously. Having an inventory of all of the content on the website is vital when performing an overhaul on the information architecture of a website, and it is also useful when consulting with authors about their content that may need to be rewritten. It is also important to have when comparing progress on the website redesign, to assess how far it has come and how close it is to the goal.

When not performing a redesign on the site, a content inventory may help to find things that are assistive to the overall structure of the website. It will provide a better understanding of the content and its relationship to all other content. This will spotlight any flaws in the relationship among all content as well as any duplication on the entire website. A full content inventory will also serve as the tip of the iceberg when aiming to perform a more comprehensive analysis of website content.

Gone are the days when performing a content inventory meant painstakingly outlining a website by hand or painstakingly typing everything into a spreadsheet. Thanks to the innovation of DYNO Mapper's content inventory tool, constructing a visual site map for content inventory has literally never been easier. This visual representation makes it easier for webmasters to assess the content that is contained on the website. When approaching the project with a clear goal and a defined scope, the content inventory can be manipulated and formed to make the perfect website for your needs. With this ease of access, the content can be manipulated, moved, or even deleted in a snap. DYNO Mapper is paving the way for anyone who comes face to face with the reality of performing a content inventory, whether they are a simple novice or a seasoned expert.

Garenne Bigby
Author: Garenne BigbyWebsite: http://garennebigby.com
Founder @dynomapper
Garenne Bigby is freelance Chicago developer and founder of DYNO Mapper with over 10 years experience in both agency and freelance roles in design, development, user experience, SEO, and information architecture.

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