If you run a website or a blog, then you would have developed enough content for your organisation’s web presence. How familiar are you with your site’s content?
Do you know what types of content that have been created? Do you know how many web pages you have? Are you aware of which ones are being properly maintained and which ones need to be updated? If you answered “no” to these questions, then you could probably use a content inventory (aka content audit).
This is not the same as a Social Media Audit, which is primarily an audit of social media platforms and their existing use.
A content inventory or audit is an extensive look in to your website or weblog’s existing content. It takes into consideration the different aspects of content when structuring the inventory. You may not need all the data mentioned in the list below, as the content inventory data that you will collect should fit what you require.
1. One of the most important use of content inventories or audits is for the purpose of developing or updating the organisation’s content strategy. Having a content audit enables content strategists and producers to find out what types of content needs to be updated, maintained, created, etc. based on the strategic direction of the organisation at any given time.
2. The content inventory is also useful when the organisation is looking at revamping or redesigning a website. Often, during a site redesign, the main focus is on just the look and feel of the website. There is very little thought that goes in to the actual content that is needed for the site.
3. When your organisation is looking to change or upgrade your web content management system, having a content inventory will help you to map your existing content in to your new system.
4. If you’re trying to improve your website traffic, the content audit will help you to identify areas of improvement for your content’s search engine optimization (SEO) and user experience. Fixing broken links, improving text on certain pages, editing sections and improving information included in some of your site’s content can dramatically improve your site’s web traffic.
1. Identify your content audit goals – In order to find out what types of data you need to collect for this audit, you need to know what you need the data for. There is no point collecting information about content that needs to be updated or edited if you know that you will not allocate any resources for such type of maintenance work.
2. Decide whether you need a full or partial content inventory – A content inventory is a long, tedious task that offers very little shortcut. So, you might want to consider only doing a partial audit if you just want one or two levels of information (eg, pages linked in your navigation and the respective pages directly linked to those). Figure out what you need to do before you jump right in to it.
3. Create or find a template that you can use for your content audit – The most popular tool for this purpose is the MS Excel Spreadsheet. If you use a different type of spreadsheet, that’s fine too, of course.
Here at Vervely, we offer a simple Content Audit Template. The password for this is going to be available to our newsletter subscribers in the August, September and October 2012 issues. If you’re not subscribed yet, please do so. Every month, we offer subscriber-only exclusive content.
4. Collect the required data and provide necessary qualitative assessments. Most of the time, you will need the labour-intensive process of collecting and recording information manually. You might be able to get a programmer or developer to put together a code to help you to automate some of the tasks involved. Some content management systems might also be able to provide you with some of the data that you need. You can also use some of the tools mentioned below. But, most of the tasks would most likely need manual input.
5. Set a regular content audit schedule – It is recommended that a content audit is done at least once every year or two.
If you have a content strategist or web content coordinator in-house, they might be able to do this for you. Otherwise, information architects and user experience specialists sometimes offer this as a service too.
Vervely has had experience in providing a number of content audits for different projects. If your organisation would like us to help you with a content inventory project, please contact us. We’ll be happy to provide you with a quick free assessment for your content audit needs.
Shai Coggins is the Manager and Chief Digital Media Specialist at Vervely, an Australia-based agency serving local and international clients. One of the company's main clients is Microsoft. Shai has been featured in a number of media due to her online work, including being named as one of Fast Company's "Most Influential Women in Technology" list (2009).