The Importance of Content Inventories and Content Audits for Successful Website Development, Maintenance and Management

Last Edited October 23, 2015 by Super User in Content Audit

Content Inventories and Content Audits

Throughout this article we are going to talk about the importance of content inventories and content audits, especially when it comes to the success of your website as a whole, its maintenance and overall management.

It’s not uncommon for new (and quite often established) website owners to forget all about content inventories and how valuable they can be, particularly when it comes to the success of a website.

So, what exactly is a content inventory?

In layman terms, a content inventory of the content on your website including all text, images, documents and applications. To gain a true understanding from your content inventory you will need to assess each piece of content on your website to make sure it’s in the proper location and up to date—all of which is imperative.

Website owners can create a content inventory manually or via a software like DYNO Mapper; a software that will automatically generate content inventories for a URL after users create a sitemap using the software.

As you can probably imagine, content inventories can get very large, especially for websites that are information-rich (i.e. blogs). Compiling your inventory on a spreadsheet will allow you to sort and filter through the data with ease. However, it’s important to keep in mind that this can be very time consuming—another reason why utilizing a sitemap generator would be beneficial. DYNO Mapper, for example, allows users to export their inventory to an Excel file with a click of a button. Not to mention the fact that the software will essentially complete the content inventory for you, minimizing your work load so that you can focus on what matters most—improving and growing your business.

What should I include in a content inventory?

Before you set off to complete a content inventory it is important for you to note your inventory goals, why you’re completing the inventory and subsequent audit in the first place and what you intend on doing with the results. Taking note of your goals will help you stay as focused as possible throughout the process, making the inventory much less prodigious.

Once you have determined your goals you will be able to decide what kind of information should be included in your inventory. While content inventories do tend to vary in what they capture, they often include the following data for each piece of website content:

  • Unique Content ID

  • Description (the title of the content item)

  • URL

  • Format (HTML, PDF, DOC, etc. Hard copy, electronic file and links)

  • Author or Provider

  • Physical location (in the content management system, on the server, etc.)

  • Meta Description

  • Meta Keywords

  • Categories/ Tags

  • Dates (created, revised, accessed)

  • General Notes

As you know, performing a content inventory is vital to your website redesign efforts as well as content management, especially when you consider the long-term benefits your website will receive. In fact, performing a content inventory can help to boost your website’s performance and keep it maintained on a healthy level. Even still, it is easy to get lost in the details if you don’t have a clear idea of why you are creating an inventory and what your expected outcome is.  

How to turn a content inventory into a successful and meaningful content audit?

After you’ve completed your content audit you will be ready to turn that inventory into a significant content audit, one that will help to transform your website and its success. It is recommended that you perform an assessment of the raw data the content inventory provided you with. This assessment will vary from user to user depending on what you’re hoping to learn.

Upon completion of your assessment, you can choose what kind of content audit makes the most sense for you and your website needs. It’s common for audits to track what website pages should be removed, whether the content within the website should be revised or revamped, and what website content should be written or added to your website in order to fill in the gaps. Furthermore, a content audit will help you track and understand where content should be mapped to if it’s being moved or redirected.  

The Content Audit Process for Website Management and Success

A content audit is imperative to the success of your website as well as its maintenance, regardless of how established or new your website is. For newer websites, a content audit will help you understand what it will take to compete in your market, what market opportunities you might have and it will allow you to truly understand the importance of blog and high-quality content, especially when it comes to your success. After all, companies that have incorporated a blog into their website get 55% more web traffic than those that don’t.  

Existing websites will have the ability to learn about the health status of their online presence to ensure that their website is optimized at code level and content level. Additionally, website owners of an existing site will learn what inbound links may be necessary for success, find more unique and quality keywords within the market and improve on social media presence.

Keeping all of this into consideration, there’s really not one correct approach to conducting a content audit. That said, the exact steps that a website owner takes will depend on their reason for undergoing an audit in the first place. With that said, it’s typical for content audits to be conducted for two primary reasons including:

  • SEO Purposes. Conducting a content audit for SEO purposes will help you identify any weak spots in your website’s SEO. For instance, by labeling word count, different tags, optimized images and other elements associated with your website content and comparing those elements to your current page rank, you will be able to determine what kind of changes need to happen in order to improve your website’s natural search performance.  Thus, boosting your website’s performance considerably.

  • Content Marketing. Content marketing is a big deal for small to large businesses, ecommerce websites and basically any other website that is looking to surpass their competitors in the search engines (i.e. everyone). A content audit will help you assess the current status of your content marketing efforts so that you can work to improve on those efforts. Instead of looking at page optimization factors, you will want to concentrate on things like page length, visit metrics and social shares in order to determine how your audience is responding to your content and consequently, how you should alter your content marketing efforts from there on out.

Now, a good content audit can be a very time consuming process without utilizing a content inventory tool like DYNO Mapper.  Without a proper software you will find that the undertaking of a content audit will be quite massive, taking a lot of time and energy. There are other options, however, such as utilizing an outsourced worker through various outsourcing websites such as Upwork, Guru or Elance, but a content inventory tool is likely to be much more cost-efficient in the long run as you will need to complete content audits in the future.

What will you get out of a content audit?

The main reason to perform a content inventory and audit is to take action based on the data your audit provides you with. As with any business venture, every website owner will have a different goal to achieve, but more often than not, the following list are just a few things that you can expect to get out of a content audit:

  • Identify any problems throughout your website including performance issues, organic search performance issues, content assets, broken links, etc.

  • Improve your website’s accessibility and usability.

  • Improve SEO.

  • Learn about content marketing pieces on your website and which have performed the best.

  • Determine content gabs, areas of content that are not quite providing your visitors with what they are looking for when they come to your site. After captioning these findings you will be able to add the appropriate content items.

  • Improve your information architecture; use pertinent analytics data including search terms to determine how you can make sure that your most valuable and effective content is easily found by both your visitors and potential customers and by search engines.

  • Locate gaps in the content you’ve provided for different stages of your sales funnel.

Aside from the above, there are a wide variety of benefits that one can expect to experience after performing a content audit; benefits that will make a world of different when it comes to the overall success of your business and website as a whole.

As we have discussed throughout this article, completing a content inventory and audit is a critical practice when it comes to redesigning your website, launching a new one or even when migrating your website to a new Content Management System (CMS). An audit makes it possible for you to ensure that all of the pages within your website are relevant, up-to-date and helpful. Additionally, if the main goal of your audit is to improve your website ranking of keywords or command better website authority you will be able to rely on this analysis to identify any problem areas within your site.

Updating your content based on the results of the inventory and audit will allow you to keep up with the times and properly maintain your website; something that is especially important for industries that are constantly changing. Otherwise your website content will become irrelevant and misguiding in light of the existing state of the industry that you write about. A website content audit will help you identify the changes and developments that have taken place in your industry of choice and consequently help you in updating your content for relevance purposes.

So, does you need to perform a content inventory and audit? The simple answer is yes. It doesn’t matter how long your website property has been active, if you are motivated by success, performing a content inventory and audit utilizing a content inventory tool will help you achieve your business goals and surpass your competitors.

Click here to learn more about the benefits of a content inventory and audit and how you can get started.


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Author: Super User

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