The Content Corner: Performing a Content Audit

Mar 9, 2015

Audit. It’s a word that generally has no positive connotations whatsoever. We hear the word audit and we think of tax audits or timesheet audits, etc. The word normally strikes fear or dread in the hearts of most mortals. But it is also a task that all websites will need to perform from time to time, and hopefully after reading today’s column you can view content audits as positive opportunities and not as dreadful chores.

Audit and compliance in word cloud

Rafal Olechowski / iStock / Thinkstock

Trust the Numbers

Based on the size of your site and staff, getting started may mean completely different levels of effort. Generally, the process begins with either a filtered search of your content repository or referencing your site analytics (such as Google Analytics) or a combination of both. Using your site analytics tool is important in understanding what content is of the greatest value to the customer. Commonly, the most popular content on your site is not the content that you think it is or want it to be. Trust your usage statistics and plan your actions around them. One of the greatest mistakes usually made during a content audit is to simply remove content because it is old. Some content is considered evergreen if it remains relevant and popular despite its age.

As you are beginning this comprehensive review, another important thing to keep in mind is to categorize or find themes among your content. A couple of techniques that provide an organic way of dealing with existing content are the content pillar and trending events.

Teach Old Content New Tricks

The creation of a content pillar is a great opportunity to review your existing content for complimentary additions. An infographic can serve as a great template for gathering existing content for repurposing. This is one way your evergreen content, polished up and repackaged as an infographic or as an addition to a new piece of content, can provide a richer user experience with little or no effort on your end.

Another great organic way to deal with old content is via the trending event. Perhaps something in pop culture has started trending, and it perfectly intersects with a content segment that has been lying around your servers collecting dust. A good (but sad) example from recent weeks has been the renewed value of interviews and commercials featuring the iconic actor Leonard Nimoy, who passed away on February 27.

Your Content Strategy is Your Guide

Even without these two methods, natural connections may arise during your content review which will allow you to build out a useful collection based upon a particular theme. These themes or natural connections should always support your greater content strategy. Deleting a piece of content because it no longer fits into your content strategy is a much greater justification than its age. But before deleting, look closely and see if the content can be edited or repurposed so that it does play a role in the content strategy.

Even for content that will definitely remain, it makes sense during this housekeeping to review a variety of things for each piece of content. For example:

  • Can the title or headline be improved to better fit your current strategy?
  • Are the tags or metadata still useful or do they need an update?
  • Are there any broken links inside the content? Can they be fixed or replaced with better ones?
  • Are the images used in the content still relevant? Do they serve a strong purpose of supporting the overall goal of the content?

The items in this list also remind us that when dealing with existing content, we may find items that were created before current strategies or style guidelines existed. Not that any of us have ever done this, but maybe some of the content was rushed online and is missing metadata or tags? Maybe it misses the mark on headline or headings or bullets? Perhaps it was created before the light came on about things like UX or content usability? Now is the time to rehabilitate, if you will, this wayward content.

By looking at content audits as a chance to improve your site and the user’s experience, it takes on a much different feel as compared to just cleaning up old content on your site. It is a great opportunity to make sure that the content you are providing is optimized for your overall content strategy, which also means it is helping your users/customers as efficiently and effectively as possible. And that’s what its all about, right?

You’ve just finished reading the latest article from our Monday column, The Content Corner. This column focuses on helping solve the main content issues facing digital professionals, including producing enough content and making that content engaging.