Why should I do a content audit?
Your website is a pantry. It’s where you keep content that’s shelf-stable: the white paper industry research that only changes every two to three years (flour), the infographic of cost savings that only refreshes every couple years (sugar). It’s also where you stash some things at the front of the shelf that are perishable, but don’t need refrigeration: product launch campaign assets (multigrain crackers), event landing pages and webinar registration forms (dried cranberries). As with any pantry, new stuff goes in, and existing stuff gets pushed around and shoved farther to the back, until you get ants and you’re compelled to unpack the whole thing and reorganize. Let’s break out some of the parallels:
- Before you can use what you’ve got, you have to know what you’ve got.
- You’ve been filling a need you didn’t even really have, losing both money and real estate.
- Everything expires eventually.
This is where you get the value of a content audit—it’s a proactive, preventative review of inventory and quality, before you get ants. The content audit is your opportunity to dig in and rediscover all the things lurking in the corners of your site. I promise there’s something findable somewhere on your site that you’ve forgotten about, and you should get to decide whether that’s still content you want to serve to customers.
Who does a content audit?
A content audit is generally a solitary click-and-think task for a content strategist, but there are parts of it that can be divvied up or performed collaboratively. If you feel comfortable, you can start yourself with a site crawl or a manually compiled list of URLs. Or you can let a content strategist compile that information, and you can provide input on some key criteria you want to evaluate for. The easiest option for you, of course, is to delegate the entire task to someone who’s totally comfortable with it and surprisingly eager to dig in. Content strategists are passionate about information and data.
What will my audit look like when it’s done?
Content audits are usually performed in Excel, and then the content strategist summarizes the data in a PDF or PowerPoint deck. A lot of content analysis can be quantified, so we can provide visuals to help illustrate content distribution, age, relevance, alignment with messaging, etc.
How long does a content audit take?
This is a question that can only be answered on a case-by-case basis. It depends entirely on your specific site, your goals, how much content you have, what we need to analyze for, and what your budget is.
The general guideline I can provide is that the golden rule of tattooing also applies to content audits: A good audit isn’t cheap, and a cheap audit isn’t good.
What happens after a content audit?
The content audit is a part of a larger process, which generally follows the pattern of (1) audit, (2) analysis, (3) strategy. Here’s a quick case study: In a previous audit for a large corporate client, I identified that 70% of the client’s findable content was aimed at raising awareness. The client wasn’t nurturing customers through the sales cycle because there wasn’t enough content to support further engagement. By highlighting this in a gap analysis, our team identified an opportunity to create highly effective content to address a real need.
Let’s go back to the comparison of your website and a pantry: Your end goal is to make a pie. One of the first steps is to check the pantry and find out what you have (audit) or determine what you need to get at the store (gap analysis). Once all the ingredients are gathered, you follow the recipe (content strategy), mix it all together, and >SCIENCE!< you have pie (measurable business growth). Just like that recipe for pie, an informed content strategy based on a thorough audit and careful analysis can lead to a predictable result.
Where can I learn more about content audits?
Content strategists are friendly people who are passionate about what we do. You can search online for content strategy forums and groups, and review industry blogs (like this one!). I’ve also included a short list of recommended resources for further reading. Now go get that pie!
Resources for digging deeper
What to include: http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/2015/08/analytics-content-audits/
Gravitate’s content lifecycle resources
Crafting Your Content Strategy to Create Useful Content
Why Gated Content Works — and Why It Doesn’t
User Intent: How To Improve Your Keyword & Content Strategy