A content audit is the process of checking each piece of content on a website, and then compiling it into a large list. When you opt to perform a full content inventory, you will make a complete list of every single item of content on the website. This will include all pages as well as any assets like videos or downloadable files. In lieu of this, you may opt to perform a partial content inventory. This is simply a listing of a specific subset of the website's content. A partial inventory could include the top few levels of a hierarchical website, or the most recent content created in a specific time period (like the last 6 months). This will still include all sections of the website. To dwindle it down even further, a content sample is a less detailed collection of content pieces from the website.
You can opt to perform a quantitative inventory. This is a comprehensive record of all content. This aids in devising a plan to figure out where you are exactly on the site and where you need to end up. The quantitative audit will provide all of the cold hard facts about the content. This would include: page type, number of pages, categories, sections, page owner, page location, media types, page functionality, page popularity, and the like—which are all pretty self-explanatory.
When you opt to perform a qualitative content audit, it digs deeper into the data on the level of the page. This will help to measure how well each piece of content meets your various organizational goals. What is included in your audit all depends on your intent, like a website redesign. The information to be collected for a qualitative content audit are a bit more in depth.
If you are performing the content audit in order to gauge how well the landing page is performing in search engines, you might also want to include data such as:
When focusing on optimizing your website's performance, you may also choose to include this data for each page:
The basic purpose of a content audit is to put together a listing of a website's content—generally in a large spreadsheet or a content audit tool. This comprehensive list of content will prove useful at various stages of a website redesign project. Of course how often you use it will depend on how deep your redesign is, but if you are changing the information architecture, you'll refer to this list, when you need to be reminded of the details of a page you will refer back to it, and you will even know the author of each content piece so that you may communicate with them directly with any questions that you may have regarding managing or rewriting the content. If the content will be moving to a new content management system (CMS), you'll use the content audit to keep track of what you started with and what else needs to be moved. Despite all of these great examples, they aren't the only reason that having a comprehensive content audit is important. When you perform the audit, you then become acutely aware of the content and then have a better understanding of it. You are able to find things that you didn't know existed, identify relationships between content, and even spot duplicated content. You will be armed with this knowledge that will aid in a comprehensive analysis of your content.
When using DYNO Mapper to perform a content audit, there are several methods to choose from when creating the sitemap. You may create from a URL, create from XML, create one from scratch, or create it from an existing file. All of your content assets will be compiled in one area. DYNO Mapper's content analysis tool will allow all of the information to be compiled, making the entire process a bit less time consuming.
One helpful tip is that if your website is run from a content management system, you may be able to gain access to a list of all web pages that are on the site. If the CMS is good and the content has been structured, the CMS might even be able to generate a starter audit.
Another thing to remember is that you should not be capturing information that will you will not be using, but do not take shortcuts or skip sections. You need to have an understanding of all content before working on it.
Once you are done with the process of the content audit, it should be used to diagnose any existing or potential problems with content. You can use the results of the audit to work through a content gap analysis. This will determine whether or not there are any holes in your content like missing metadata, content that is out of date, content that needs revision or removing, or even content that is requested by customers but is not available on your site. The content audit may also help to identify gaps in your SEO strategy or files that should be optimized to perform at a higher level. Many times, a content audit is simply the initial step in a complete content strategy overhaul.
You should always be realistic about your content goals as well as your deadlines. You can determine where your content stands by doing a quick audit of one section, but a full content audit does take a great bit of time. Many times, those doing an audit will opt to just take samples from the main areas like landing pages, new blog posts, old blog posts, and the like rather than taking inventory of the entire website right off the bat.
Some website owners might get tender about past content that has been on their site, but the truth is that if it is not helping the conversion, then it is almost worthless. If nobody is visiting these pages, it is essentially a waste of server space—this should be reason enough to get rid of them. Additionally, if you have various authors contributing on community pages, it is easy for the website's content to get out of hand before it is caught. A handy content audit can be the force that governs the new site-wide strategy. Lastly, a completed content audit will aid in getting a full view of the dozens of page metrics that will directly affect whether your website serves as a successful marketing tool or if it is a flop. The process of auditing all of the web pages will appear to be a daunting task, but once it has been completed, it paves the way for you to move about the website more quickly and effectively.
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