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Cutting through the clutter – a content audit guide

In this article I will be taking you through the process of performing a content audit. I used this process recently with a client in the charity sector. They create a large amount of content and had not completed an audit on their site since the last re-design. For this reason it was essential we completed an audit before moving forward with the rest of the project. The audit identified around 30% of the content could be removed from the site and another 20-30% would need to be consolidated and/or rewritten.

What is a content audit?

A content audit is the process of reviewing your existing content and categorising it in a meaningful way. If your site fulfills any of the following then you would probably benefit from performing a content audit:

  • You haven’t completed a content audit before
  • There is no structured content governance process
  • You have many content authors
  • Your content that was created without a clear content strategy

Content auditing should always be done after a thorough process of research and discovery to understand both your organisation and your users. This will inform the qualitative analysis process during your content audit.

How will it help?

There are many benefits to completing a content audit, particularly when considering undertaking a redesign of your website. It will help you to:

  • Inform the design of a new site structure based around your organisational goals and user needs
  • Identify the scope of your current site and its content
  • Cut down the amount of content on your site
  • Make it easier for users to navigate your site and find relevant content
  • Make it easier to maintain your content
  • Identify any gaps in your content offering

Starting your audit

Let’s get started with the process! The first step is to create a list of all the pages on your site. This can be done manually but is laborious and time consuming. To help automate this process I use a content audit tool called Trim.

What is Trim?

Trim is a really useful service that crawls your site, generating a list of all your site’s pages, along with providing some really interesting data and metrics for your content. When linked to Google Analytics, the data gathered about your site includes:

  • Page title
  • Word count
  • Reading age
  • Reading time
  • Page views
  • Average time on page
  • Bounce rate

Trim also provides the ability to create custom columns and add notes to your content audit. You can use these features during the qualitative analysis of your content.

Generating our audit

To begin, simply login to Trim and enter the URL of your website. Now, time to relax, go make a coffee, you should receive an email when it’s complete. When crawl is complete you will have a list of all the pages in your site for further analysis.

Customising our audit

Now you have your basic content audit, the next step is to add your custom audit criteria to Trim. These criteria will add value to your audit, typically helping you to understand the goal of your content and who it is for. Your custom criteria are based on the evidence gathered during stakeholder and user research. For this example, use the following criteria:

  • Organisational value
  • User value
  • Status

Add these criteria in Trim by simply creating three custom columns; select the drop down list option and add them in. Other information to consider including might be:

  • Topic
  • Type
  • Primary audience group
  • Success measure

The criteria and analysis

Organisational value

For each page, ask “how well does the content support the organisational goals?” Use a simple scale to rate your content:

  • 1 – Not at all important
  • 2 – Slightly important
  • 3 – Moderately important
  • 4 – Very important
  • 5 – Essential

User value

For each page, ask “how well does the content support the goals of the users, as identified in the user research?” Use the following scale:

  • 1 – Not at all important
  • 2 – Slightly important
  • 3 – Moderately important
  • 4 – Very important
  • 5 – Essential

Status

Based on your assessment and assisted by the organisation and user need, select the appropriate status for each piece of content:

  • Keep
  • Tweak
  • Consolidate
  • Rewrite
  • Delete

Completing our audit

When you have worked through your list of content, reviewing each page and grading it on the criteria described above, you will have a clear, organised list of content on your website and its status. You can now use this to make informed and researched decisions about your content.

Next steps

Once you have completed the audit you will be armed with evidence to restructure and streamline your site. You will likely find that a lot of content can be removed from your site as it doesn’t effectively support your organisational goals or that of your users.

Sharing the content audit internally can be really useful in communicating the breadth of content you generate and how well it supports your organisational and user needs. The next steps might include:

  • Identifying who is going to rewrite/create any content required for the new site
  • Identifying how much time will be available for creating and managing digital content on an ongoing basis
  • Reviewing your existing content governance process.
  • Setting goals/KPI’s for your content and agreeing review dates

 


 

If you are considering redesigning your site or performing a content audit, why not get in touch? I can lead you through a research and discovery programme and assist you in auditing your content, to make sure your content aligns with your organisational and user needs.

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