Regularly auditing your website’s content is a must for any successful website. A website audit, also known as a content audit, serves to aid you in discovering the strengths and weaknesses in your website’s content. To be clear, the most important part of any website is its content. Without strong content, a website is nothing. Flashy designs and intuitive web design can only carry a website so far. By routinely auditing your website’s content and correcting any flaws or strengthening weakness you find, you are ensuring your website’s growth and success.
Auditing your websites content is not as intimidating as you may think. It is a fairly straightforward process that does not require a skilled professional. If you have never done a content audit before, you will find that it won’t take long before you get the hang of things.
According to Eric Siu, “A content audit involves taking a look at all the content on your website and assessing its relative strengths and weaknesses in order to prioritize your future marketing activities. It’s a qualitative assessment and evaluation based on the KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) that you select beforehand.” The best part about conducting a content audit is your website will come out stronger than it was before.
Establish Your Why
Before you begin to audit your website’s content, you will need to establish what data and information you would like to get out of it. Maybe your website has too much overlapping data that has become redundant. Or perhaps you just want to keep your content fresh by updating the old content you come across and gain new ideas for future content. Katherine Brown-Hoekstra offers five reasons to do a content audit:
- “You are making major changes to tools or processes (e.g., implementing DITA or another XML architecture and content management).” Streamlining your functionality will always be necessary every now and then.
- “You have acquired another company and need to integrate them with your team.” Again, this keeps redundant material from cropping up.
- “You are just getting started with localizing your content.” You don’t want your blog about Brighton vacations servicing the Lake District.
- “Your localization vendor is complaining about quality issues in the source content or in the processes.” Double-checking your content for quality is a must.
- “Terminology issues are costing you time and money.” Similar to changes in tools and processes, you need the most up-to-date tech to keep you efficient.
It is important to know what you’re looking for in a content audit and what you hope to achieve from it; otherwise you will be faced with an overwhelming amount of information that you won’t know what to do with. Struggling websites need content audits the most. Figure out why your website is struggling and conduct a content audit to strengthen it and resolve any issues.
Create a Spreadsheet
Once you’ve established why you want or need to have a content audit, you will then need to create a spreadsheet of all content you will be reviewing. You will typically find the following in a content audit spread sheet:
- All existing URLS
- Page title
- Navigation title
- Date last updated
- Target keyword
- Facebook likes and shares
- LinkedIn Shares
- Publish date
- Content owner
- Search volume
- Page rank
- Inbound links
- Word count
- Meta description
Content audit spreadsheets vary by who is conducting them and what content assets they are looking to review. Every page on a website should contain solid keywords and inbound links. It is also helpful to know which pages or posts receive the most traffic and shares. You will likely notice a trend that certain content does better, and re-strategize to publish more of the performing content. Maadmob.com.au says, “The main point to remember is that this is a tool for you to use for your project. You should collect whatever will help you best and represent the information however suits you.” Every bit of the collected data in a website audit spreadsheet is valuable and offers helpful insight.
Analyze the Content
Now that you have gathered all necessary data from your content audit, it is time to begin analyzing it. Eric Siu recommends, “To be sure you’re getting something substantive out of your content audit process, you need to establish a set of recommended actions you’ll take once the audit is complete. And in order to do that, you need to dive into the data you’ve collected in order to draw conclusions. It could be as simple as adding one more column to your spreadsheet: ‘Action.’” Doing this also keeps you on track and productive. As you go through your list of data you can mark off each action as you come to them, so that you can come and go as you please and pick up right where you left off.
If you notice there is a lot of content that hasn’t been updated in over a year, then it is time to go through and update everything that calls for it. Up-to-date content lends to your website’s credibility and prevents the content from becoming stale and irrelevant. Go through the keywords in your content and make sure that they haven’t been used too many or too few times or in an awkward manner. Review your content for any misspelled words or grammatical errors. If your content reads like a high school sophomore wrote it, you will lose all credibility and value with your audience.
Write Content Strategy
After you have finally completed your websites content audit, it is time to lay out a strategy to improve upon our website. If you have already set an action next to each item on the spreadsheet, you’re off to a great start. If not, start that process. It best that you take an organized approach to strategizing and improving upon your content. You will also need to set a firm deadline for completing and implementing all actions on your content audit.
How you organize and strategize is up to you and should be however suits you best. You can choose to treat the spreadsheet of information like a list that you work through in starting order, or you can group together content assets to be worked on at the same time. You may also choose to organize what you will work on by order of priority and importance. Bear in mind the changes you intend to make before jumping right in. For example, if you decide to fix all grammatical errors in your content, make sure you have removed all unnecessary or redundant content first, to prevent wasting any time. Don’t allow yourself to become overwhelmed and paralyzed from acting to improve your content. A content audit is only worth-while if the data collected is utilized.
Anyone who owns a website or a blog on the internet that they care about should perform a content audit annually, at least. A content audit is as important to your website as your annual check-up with your doctor is to your health. Content audits serve to increase website traffic, popularity, improve rankings, and maintain relevance. Content audits are important, so if you find that you don’t have the time to complete one consider outsourcing the job to a professional. There are many companies that will gladly audit your websites content and help you understand the results. Some content audits can take weeks, while others may take only a couple of hours. Regardless of the time put into the audit, applied improvements based on the collected data will always yield positive results.