Why a Good Content Audit Is Your Business’ Best Friend

Why a Good Content Audit Is Your Business’ Best Friend

Would you go so far as to *gulp* audit your content? This article sums up the main points from Cathy’s ICC talk, Executing a Usable Content Audit That Will Immediately Make an Impact on Your Marketing Content. What’s a content audit? For examples of the types of information you might want to collect in your audit, see the section – What data should a content inventory include? Why do a content audit? Among other things, it may identify: Pages that haven’t performed well Outdated pages Misinformation, obsolete information, and incomplete information Invalid SEO information A content audit can help you: Streamline site operations Revamp and improve existing content when appropriate Raise the quality of all content – current and planned – and maintain that quality level Many content strategists point to the content audit as their best friend. When, and how often, should we audit our content? After you have a sense of all the content you could audit, decide which content you will audit – maybe all of it, maybe a subset – depending on your business goals. What should we do during the content audit? How often do you audit your content?

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What would you be willing to do to get reliable guidance on what kinds of content to create more of – and less of – to have greater impact on your business? Would you go so far as to *gulp* audit your content?

Don’t click away! Yes, a content audit can seem like an overwhelming task – “something we think is somebody else’s responsibility,” says Cathy McKnight, founding partner of Digital Clarity Group and speaker at the Intelligent Content Conference. “But it is essential to our jobs” as marketers.

This article sums up the main points from Cathy’s ICC talk, Executing a Usable Content Audit That Will Immediately Make an Impact on Your Marketing Content.

What’s a content audit?

A content audit is a review of existing content. It usually takes the form of a spreadsheet that lists your content assets – all types of content, all channels, all distribution formats – and captures information about each asset. The list itself is sometimes referred to as a content inventory; the audit is the process of assessing each item in the inventory.

There’s no universal set of information you should capture during your audit. Consider your project needs and business goals, and assess your content according to what you want to know. Consider both quantitative information (how much, how many) and qualitative information (who, what, when, where, how, why).

For examples of the types of information you might want to collect in your audit, see the section – What data should a content inventory include? – in this article.

Why do a content audit?

A content audit reveals which aspects of our digital assets need attention. Among other things, it may identify:

  • Pages that haven’t performed well
  • Outdated pages
  • Misinformation, obsolete information, and incomplete information
  • Invalid SEO information

A content audit can help you:

  • Streamline site operations
  • Revamp and improve existing content when appropriate
  • Raise the quality of all content – current and planned – and maintain that quality level

Many content strategists point to the content audit as their best friend. It gives you a high-level view of your content so that you can organize it, manage it effectively and efficiently, keep it current, and make informed decisions about what kinds of new content will probably perform well.

When, and how often, should we audit our content?

It’s time for a content audit if you’re in any of these situations:

  • You’ve never done one.
  • No one remembers the last time you did one.
  • Your content has grown since the last audit.
  • Your content is old, outdated, or underperforming.
  • You are developing a new content strategy.
  • You plan to implement new content management technology.

Cathy draws attention to this last point:

When you move to a new content management technology, content is often the thing that holds up the project. You’re so focused on getting the content system up and running – you’re building it, you’re testing it, you’re looking at the functionality – and then all of a sudden your developer says, ‘OK, guys, where is the content?’ You go, ‘Huuuh! Content?’ It becomes a lift and shift.

A shiny new system won’t do you much good if you lift and shift all your old, unaudited content into it. Do your audit first, and make decisions accordingly.

Paula Land, author of Content Audits and Inventories: A Handbook, recommends updating your content audit at least once a year. “If you create and update content frequently, then update your inventory and audit frequently,” she says. “That way you always understand your content set.”

You may even want to update your audit every month. Whatever pace you set, Cathy says to plan for ongoing auditing: “You don’t want the content audit to be seen as a one-off project – one and done, you ticked it off, you’re moving on.”

What content should we audit?

Before you can decide what content to audit, find out all the…

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