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How To: Conducting a Website Content Audit

To ensure that your website is working at top efficiency, and has content that engages visitors and converts them into paying customers, you’ll often need to conduct a website review. Learn the first step in this process, the website content audit.

The heart of most digital strategies and the place where most activity takes place is the organization’s website. So ensuring that this is providing the right information and services to customers is key. Making certain that your website is working as efficiently as possible, engaging customers and converting them often requires a website review.

Bloated websites will have thousands of pages of content that are never or rarely visited. We often find that barely 200 pages out of 4,000 (that’s 5% of website content) account for 85% of website traffic. So it stands to reason that web managers should focus on that 5% and make sure it is perfect. 

The steps to take for a website review include:

  1. Web content audit
  2. Understanding your top tasks
  3. Organizing your website structure
  4. Defining user journeys
  5. The user experience and design
  6. Launch and promotion
  7. User testing

Conducting a web content audit is the starting point for completing a full website review and re-launch.

Feeling Bloated?

Web content management systems have become so easy to use that they often contribute to bloated websites. Without the necessary workflow and approvals, it can become too easy for all your devolved content contributors to create and publish new content, resulting in a content bloated website. This results in websites with thousands of pages, media items and out-of-date content all adding up to a difficult to navigate and search website. In the public sector this has been compounded by Central Government’s guidance (Central Government developed and promoted the Local Government Service List (LGSL), a list of over 870 navigation topic, each requiring content).

Content audits are often prompted by the need to deliver one of two outcomes:

  1. A new website
  2. A new website content strategy

A content audit will allow you to discover the full extent of all the content that you are managing, including copy and media. You can then evaluate each item’s worth and decide if you want to keep it, amend it or discard it.

Before you start the project, define the scope so you know what you are looking to achieve.

To get a good overview and action plan, use a spreadsheet to capture your content audit, with a line for each page/content item, and different columns for the attributes and rating of the content.

Content Audit Process

A content audit is a two step process to identify and rank your content.

  1. Content inventory — cataloguing your content will take a long time and may be a manual task if you cannot pull any data from your database. You will need to capture data in a spreadsheet so that it can be easily analyzed in the audit. It is also advisable to capture content from other channels, so that you can see how it fits in to the bigger picture.
  2. Content audit — evaluating your content catalogue items will enable you to understand what content is important and should be kept, and what content is not needed and can be removed and archived.

The validity of each piece of content is based on several aspects including Google Analytics statistics, user interviews and organizational policies.

  1. Use analytics to discover dead content, i.e., if you have a page that does not appear in your analytics, work out why — is it a problem with the page or just content that nobody wants; if the latter, delete it.
  2. Rank the popularity of the remaining pages. Analyze external and internal search terms to ensure you are using the language of your audience.
  3. Ensure your goal pages are carefully monitored so you can see where people drop out of the funnel and try to work out why.

Content Audit Tool

A simple spreadsheet can be used to capture information and help make decisions. Columns you will need in your spreadsheet include:

  • Content item
  • Content ID
  • Format
  • Folder/parent
  • Target audience
  • Owner
  • Date last modified
  • Page views
  • Decision
  • Comments

content_audit_tool.jpg

 

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